ADHD: To Medicate or Not to Medicate

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ADHD: To Medicate or Not to Medicate

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My wife and I generally take a “holistic” approach to managing our family’s health. We try to prepare organic/healthy foods, encourage physical activity, and ensure a proper sleep environment free of electronic distractions. When our kids are ill, however, we go to the pediatrician and quickly consider whatever Dr. Z deems necessary.

In my psychotherapy practice I spend most of my days assessing students for ADHD. Once a child is diagnosed, most parents almost immediately ask about medication. And yes, stimulants can help one focus, but JUST giving a pill is not the proper solution to this complex situation. There is no cure for ADHD, but there are many ways to improve attention.

The process begins with proper assessment. ADHD symptoms can be caused by a range of issues including depression, anxiety, and learning challenges. If your parental instincts tell you that your child’s struggle to stay on task is more than typical, ask your family doctor or school counselor to refer you to a mental health expert for a proper evaluation.

Once properly diagnosed, effective ADHD treatment hinges on meeting the unique needs of each child. For a student with minor challenges, coaching and accommodation may be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, many will struggle to focus even when modifications are made—that student may truly need pharmaceutical assistance. The decision to medicate should not be taken lightly, but parents should also consider the potential effects of not medicating at all.

To medicate or not to medicate is a personal decision. Be patient and understand that many interventions may be needed to find out what is right for your child. Medication can help the mind function more efficiently, and, with supervision, one can always stop taking the medication if it does not work. Do your homework and make an informed choice.