Children with ADHD: A Pharmacist/Mom’s Perspective

Good afternoon, my name is Kristen. I’m the co-founder of RxLive and I’m a clinical
pharmacist. Thanks for joining me today. Today I wanted to talk to you about ADHD,
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. As a mom and a pharmacist I can certainly
understand how difficult it is to determine which treatment option is best for your child. So, I’m going start off by laying out the
national guidelines then I’ll give you my own take. In the United States ADHD is one of the most
common childhood disorders. It affects around 11% of children, boys are
3 times more likely than girls to be diagnosed and around 70% of children take medications
for their symptoms. The age of your child will determine which
treatment option is used first. If your child is 4-5 years old, behavior therapy
is recommended first. If this is not sufficient, then medication
such as methylphenidate is second line. Children 6 years of age or older are recommended
to take medication and/or receive behavior therapy, the use of both, in combination,
is preferred. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
starting with any FDA-approved medication for the treatment of ADHD. There are 2 classes of medication, stimulants
and nonstimulants to choose from. The stimulant medicaitons have been around
for longer, have more clinical evidence supporting their use, and are the most effective in children. So, they’re typically used first. The stimulant medications can be further broken
down into two types: methylphenidates and amphetamines. Either can be used first. You likely know these medications by their
brand names: Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse, or Ritalin. The most common side effects with these medications
are Loss of appetite, Insomnia or difficulty sleeping, and Dry mouth These particular side
effects occur in up to 3 out of 10 children additionally anxiety or irritability occur
in up to 1 out of 10 children. If your child cannot tolerate these side effects,
it’s reasonable to switch to a non-stimulant medication. These medications include options like Strattera
and clonidine, they also have side effects; however, they don’t typically follow the
same side effect profile as the stimulants, so it’s reasonable to switch. Now switching gears a little, as a mom and
as a pharmacist, here’s my personal take on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Medicating a child for lack of attention will
technically work to increase attention in anyone – with or without an underlying diagnosis
of ADHD. This is why Adderall is so popular among college
students – it helps them to focus, pull an all-nighter and party harder. It works. It’s also easier to have a prescription
written and filled, rather than schedule, plan, and attend behavior therapy counseling. Which leads me to my next commentary: ADHD
may be misdiagnosed in children who actually suffer from anxiety, have a learning disability
like dyslexia, or come from a stressful home environment. This may be why non-stimulant medications
don’t seem to work as well as the stimulant medications, because these medications will
not work if a patient doesn’t actually have ADHD. If your child is currently taking a medication
and doesn’t seem to be improving, this could be because they’ve been misdiagnosed. This is why I recommend starting with behavior
therapy counseling first. The counselor will be able to further evaluate
your child’s symptoms and provide help to your child to develop valuable coping strategies
to stay focused, which they can then use going forward. Well that’s it for today, I hope you found
this helpful! Thank you so much for joining us. For more information on this and other topics,
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