ADD is a behavioral disorder which is mostly seen in children below 7 years of age. Usually it is treated either by medication or a combination medication and behavioral therapy. The following article provides information about the various treatment options available for this condition.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is referred to a condition of behavioral and developmental disorder, which is mostly seen in children. About 3-5% of preschool children in the United States are affected by this disorder. Studies show that more than 50% of the ADD cases are due to hereditary factors, and about 20% are caused due to environmental factors like exposure to alcohol and smoke during pregnancy, and exposure to lead after birth. Other causes may include brain injury and certain food additives.
Symptoms of this condition are mostly seen in children below 7 years of age. The symptoms include lack of attention, difficulty in listening, and impulsiveness (disorganization and acting before thinking). ADD along with hyperactivity symptoms is called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Sometimes anxiety, stress, and depression may accompany this condition.
Previously, it was assumed that the symptoms of this condition disappear as the child grows up. However, it is not true, since the symptoms may remain even in adolescence. There are no tests to diagnose this condition; it can only be diagnosed by study of the behavior of the child by a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist, pediatrician, or family physician.
Treatment with Medication
Different treatment methods include medicines, behavioral therapy, and a combination of both. According to some studies, the medication and combined treatments are found to be more effective than the behavioral therapy alone. In some specific cases, the combined treatment proved more effective than medication. In a combined method, lower doses of medication are prescribed as compared to only medication treatment.
The most effective type of medication that has been used is stimulant drugs. Stimulants act on dopamine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain, which is responsible for the normal functioning of the central nervous system. There are different types of stimulants that are prescribed according to the age group of the children. Here is a list of the generic names along with the age group of children to which the drugs are to be given.
- Methylphenidate, Dexmethylphenidate – 6 years and above
- Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine – 3 years and above
There may be some side effects of these stimulants such as headache, loss of appetite, hypertension, change in the blood sugar level, sleep difficulty, depression, etc. It is advisable to discuss with your concerned physician if any of these symptoms are noticed after administration of these stimulants.
Recently, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved another medication called atomoxetine, for treatment of ADD. It is not a stimulant and it acts on norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in the autonomic activity of the nervous system. However, more studies have to be conducted to confirm whether atomoxetine can replace the present stimulants.
Support from family members and teachers are the most important factors for successful treatment of this condition. Every child may show some symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness, or hyperactivity to some extent. Therefore, consult a qualified health specialist for proper diagnosis of this condition.