ADHD And Ritalin & Medication

ADHD and Ritalin, find out the pros and cons. What are the benefits and the side effects?

There has been a lot of controversy over the years regarding the use of the stimulant drug Ritalin to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children and teens. Opponents to Ritalin's use claim that Ritalin is overly prescribed and unnecessary, though many parents and doctors would disagree. ADHD, sometimes called ADD, is a neurological disorder, diagnosed by observing a pattern of behaviors in children that includes inability to pay attention, hyperactivity, restlessness or fidgeting and impulsive behavior. While many people will frown when you mention using Ritalin, most doctors agree that stimulant medications are safe and are appropriate for some kids, and definitely needed by others.

When a diagnosis of ADHD has been confirmed, the parents and doctors should throughly discuss the use of medications before making a decision. Many ADHD kids respond well enough to dietary changes or behavior modification techniques, that they do not need Ritalin. Others, however, can benefit from its use. As with any medication, there are pros and cons to its use, as well as side effects.

How does Ritalin Work?

Doctors aren't really sure how Ritalin works on ADHD kids. Ritalin is a stimulant medication. When you consider that kids with ADHD are already over-stimulated, it is hard to understand how a stimulant drug will help to calm them down. Doctors think it has to do with some of the neurons in the brain. Instead of being balanced as they should, some of the neurons work overtime while others are under worked. For some reason, Ritalin stimulates the neurons that aren't working as they should. The area of the brain that tells one when to pay attention to certain activities and to ignore other ones is "lazy" in ADHD sufferers . Ritalin stimulates those neurons so that the child can pay attention and focus on his activities.

What are the benefits?

Other than helping the child to pay attention when he needs to, Ritalin can help even the most hyper kids to calm down. Other benefits to using. Ritalin includes:

> Reduction in restlessness and fidgeting

> Better control of emotions

> Improvement in handwriting

> Better relationship with family and friends

> Improvement in school work

> Increase in child's self-esteem

Will my child be more likely to abuse illegal drugs?

Not necessarily. Actually, doctors have stated just the opposite may be true. Illegal drugs are used to obtain a "high" feeling or to escape from reality. Ritalin works to improve one's awareness and to improve their attention span and concentration. The two drugs serve two completely opposite purposes. Many counselors have claimed that children that struggle with ADHD, without the help of Ritalin or other prescribed medications, may be more likely to use illegal drugs as a way to help them cope with the stress of ADHD.

What are the side effects of Ritalin?

As with any drug, there are side effects with the use of Ritalin. Some users will experience little or no side effects, while others may have to discontinue its use due to them. Some of the more common side effects include insomnia, decrease in appetite, headaches, stomach aches, and irritability. Whenever a child begins using Ritalin, close observations need to be made. Many doctors recommend that the child start the dosage on the weekend so that parents can see how the medication will affect the child.

Most doctors and counselors that work with ADHD kids will have the parents and teachers fill out a series of forms that record observations of the child's behaviors while on the medication. This helps them to determine if the dosage is correct and if the medication is working.

Should I medicate my child?

The decision to medicate your child should be thoroughly discussed with your child's doctors, counselors and teachers. You must decide if the symptoms that your child displays are severe enough to require medication. Both the parents and the child should understand that Ritalin or any other stimulant drug is not a cure. There is no cure for ADHD, though medication can help to alleviate some of the behaviors. The most important question to ask is, "Will medication help to make the child's life easier?"

The input from doctors, counselors and even teachers is valuable, however, the decision of using medication is up to the parents alone. If you decide that medication may help your ADHD child, talk to your doctor and be sure that you understand the limits of the medication and are aware of any side effects that may occur.

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