When is Medication the Right Treatment for ADHD?
As parents, we want our children to succeed. Yet when we see them struggling in school and other areas of their life, we do what we can to help them. For the more than 6.4 million children diagnosed with ADHD, the choice of how to help is not clear-cut. The highly controversial debate about the “right” treatment for ADHD and whether or not medication is the best solution are two of the many struggles parents must grapple with each day.
According to the CDC, approximately 11 percent of all children between the ages of 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. This is up 41% over the last decade. North Carolina is among one of the states with the highest diagnosis rates of ADHD in the nation. The best treatment for most people with ADHD includes a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. In North Carolina, over 80 percent of children with ADHD are medicated and less than 40 percent receive behavioral therapy. Nationally, less than 1 in 3 children with ADHD receive both therapy and medication.
Should You Medicate?
The best treatment for ADHD is dependent on the unique needs of the child and should take their whole life into consideration, rather than just the classroom challenges. There is a high probability that ADHD is not the only issue at hand. At least two-thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD are also diagnosed with another mental health or learning disorder at some point in their life.
One of the biggest concerns among parents is whether or not their child will need to be medicated for life. Treating ADHD addresses present issues the child faces. The needs of the child can and will change as they grow. Therefore, their needs for ADHD medication will probably also change.
If your child has a mild form of ADHD, behavioral training and classroom modifications in the form of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) may be enough to provide improvement. If your child’s ADHD affects their ability to function on a daily basis, medication alongside behavioral therapy may be the best treatment.
While behavioral therapy works, it takes time. Medication, however, often results in rapid improvement in the symptoms, but can come with side effects. Regardless, medication should be combined with behavioral therapy for the best results.
The decision for how to treat your child’s ADHD should not be taken lightly. If you have questions about ADHD, schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers by calling 910-486-5437 or visit us online.