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Age at which to Start Child ADHD Treatment with Medicines

Abstract: What should parents know before starting psychostimulant therapy for ADHD?

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Age at which to Start Child ADHD Treatment with Medicines

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Question(s): 
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 24 Jul 2008.

At which age should child ADHD treatment with medicines start?

Answer:

The pharmacological part of the multimodal treatment of ADHD is not dangerous, and you should not expect long-lasting or serious side-effects. But you have to be well informed!

Having made an accurate diagnosis of AD/HD as the primary problem, the health care professional should have a therapeutic talk about:

  • Patient expectations and goals of the therapy. Sometimes more realistic goals have to be defined.
  • It is important to explain the basic effects of psychostimulant medication, but focus on the self-control of the patient. The psychostimulant will not change the behaviour or conduct problem. Every child will be able to misbehave or make jokes. But if the medication is working correctly the child should be able to control and inhibit negative behaviour - if she or he really wants to.
  • A basic principle of self-monitoring of the symptoms and possible adverse effects should be established
  • Information about the risks and benefits of pharmacotherapy
  • Likelihood of adverse effects and problems in the titration of the right dose. The patient and/or parents should be familiar with possible symptoms of lack of medication (rebound) and overdoses.

Start the medication only if you and your child are well educated and familiar with the basic principles of medication and agree with this treatment option! If you or your child have any serious concern do not hesitate to ask for further information. You should also try to connect to other parents in a self-help group!

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