Friday, June 13, 2008

The Hidden Dangers of ADHD

Despite the studies being done on this disorder over the years, majority still harbor the perception that ADHD only affects kids and is an untreatable form of insanity. Even the rich multinational drug companies are part of the problem. Suffer the children?

By: Vanessa Uy

Basing on the scientific studies on the disorder – as opposed to politically charged demagoguery and prevailing speculation – ADHD or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is a treatable non-contagious mental disorder that impair one’s concentration and ability to control behavior. This disorder affects 4 percent of American adults and 3 to 7 percent of American children according to the American Psychiatric Association. Though treatable by a number of therapeutic regimens developed over the years, it is in the method of treatment where ADHD now gets its controversy du jour.

From time to time, everyone has had trouble sitting still or managing time, or completing an assigned task. But the behavior of persons suffering from ADHD goes beyond occasional fidgeting, disorganization and procrastination. For them, performing tasks can be so hard that it interferes with their ability to function effectively – and efficiently – at work, at home, at school, and it even affects their social life in a negative way.

A diagnostic manual compiled by the American Psychiatric Association identifies three types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. A person with inattentive ADHD, previously known as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD has trouble focusing on activities, organizing and finishing tasks and following instructions. Children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are in constant motion, dashing around, touching everything in sight, and jumping on and off furniture. They often blurt out inappropriate comments, don’t wait their turn, show excessively intense emotions, or hurt others when upset. Hyperactive and impulsive adults feel restless, are constantly “on the go” and try to do multiple tasks at once. They are often perceived as not thinking before they act or speak. Individuals with the combined form of ADHD show symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity.

Experts – even at present – still continue to debate whether children can expect to outgrow the symptoms of ADHD by the time they reach adulthood. Behavioral modification therapy via psychotherapist’s counseling is the safest form of treatment due to the fact that it doesn’t involve the use of pharmaceuticals. While the pharmaceutical industry and a large number of doctors question the level of effectiveness of psychological methods used in treating ADHD.

Majority of existing ADHD therapies, especially ones involving amphetamine-like drugs such as methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin) and atomoxetine hydrochloride (Strattera). Scientific research studies done in the previous years by major drug companies that manufacture Ritalin and Strattera have shown that sudden death from heart attacks does occur in children suffering from ADHD while prescribed by the two drugs mentioned earlier. But it occurred with such rarity that the link between the anti-ADHD drugs and heart attacks are yet to be proven.

Just to be on the safe side, the US Food and Drug Administration has just recently approved in the middle of April 2008 a new therapeutic regimen for ADHD. The FDA advised doctors to prescribe Beta-Blockers together with reduced Ritalin and Strattera dose to reduce the dangers of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Especially now in America where childhood obesity is on the rise. Amphetamine-like drugs that are used to treat ADHD can unnecessarily strain our cardiovascular system.
These risks were proven by the fact that Rock Stars who used to take cocaine and amphetamines on a regular basis are putting themselves at risk of suffering cardiovascular problems at a relatively young age. Even after quitting, these “Rock Stars” still need regular check-ups by their physicians for early detection of any heart problems and other cardiovascular complications. Though not often mentioned, the additional financial burden involved since only a few school kids have Rock Star budgets. Maybe parents should ask about ADHD therapies that don’t involve medications with harmful side effects.

1 comment:

K said...

Thanks for the information on ADHD.

We recently wrote an article on if having ADHD affects children in school at Brain Blogger. Having a child with ADHD is hard work, especially when having ADHD affects their school life. There was a study that followed 370 adolescents who have ADHD as well as 740 controls (There were two controls for each adolescent with ADHD.) and showed that ADHD students are absent more, have lower standardized reading scores, dropout of school at higher levels, and are held back more often.

We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.