Millions of kids in the United States struggle with ADHD and the feelings of frustration, isolation, depression, and even failure that often go hand-in-hand with the condition. The good news: Medication can help your child manage their symptoms, especially when it’s combined with behavioral therapy.
At Nevada Pediatric Specialists, our team offers different types of medication for ADHD management in kids at our offices in Henderon and Las Vegas, Nevada, tailoring each therapy on an individual basis. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, here’s what you should know about the medications that can help.
Most commonly, kids with ADHD are prescribed stimulant medications. Ritalin® and Adderall® are perhaps the most widely recognized stimulant medications for ADHD, but there are others. Stimulants have the longest track record for treating ADHD, and they’re highly effective.
How stimulants work
Stimulant medications increase the levels of a brain chemical called dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects motivation, attention, and activity. In kids with ADHD, stimulant medicines help promote concentration and focus, while calming the hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms many patients experience.
Long-acting stimulants vs. short-acting stimulants
Stimulants can either be long-acting or short-acting, which refers to how long their effects last. Short-acting medicines usually last for a few hours and need to be taken 2-3 times a day. Long-acting medicines (also called extended-release medicines) usually last from 8-12 hours, and they’re taken just once each day in most cases.
Stimulants may not be appropriate for all children, and they do carry certain risks. For instance, they can raise heart rate and blood pressure, so some children might not be good candidates. They also may not be the best choice for kids with a history of depression or anxiety, tics, or Tourette’s syndrome because stimulants could exacerbate symptoms of those issues.
Strattera® is probably the best-known nonstimulant medication for treating ADHD in kids, but Qelbree® and Intuniv® are also common. Instead of affecting dopamine, these medicines increase levels of a brain chemical called norepinephrine.
Nonstimulant medications are long-lasting, and while they can help with focusing issues, they may not be as effective as stimulants are in controlling hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, they do offer some antidepressant properties and could be a good choice for kids with depression or anxiety.
Other than stimulants and nonstimulants, some kids may benefit from taking certain types of blood pressure medicine or antidepressants. Our team reviews the pros and cons of various options, so you feel confident in any medication we prescribe for your child.
No matter which type of medication we recommend, you and your child need to be aware of possible side effects. These vary depending on the medication and the dose, and can include issues like:
- Problems sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Nausea or stomach ache
- Mood changes
WebMD offers a side-by-side chart to help you compare side effects and other attributes of a variety of ADHD medicines.
It’s important to pay attention to side effects, especially when your child begins taking a medication or when their dose changes. If you notice symptoms, call the office right away so we can adjust the dose or switch to another type of medication if needed.
You can help your child manage their ADHD
ADHD can interfere with your child’s school performance, but it can also make it difficult for them to make friends and maintain friendships. Over time, your child can be left with feelings of frustration, sadness, and isolation. As a parent, you play a huge role in helping your child manage their ADHD symptoms and enjoy a happier, healthier childhood.
To learn more about ADHD treatment and how we can tailor a plan to meet your child’s needs, call the Nevada Pediatric Specialists team at 702-457-5437 or book an appointment online today.