ADHD Treatment – How Risky Are Different Medications?

There are many conflicting theories and approaches when it comes to ADHD treatment, and there seem to be constant updates to what “works” based on different studies and how risky the treatment was in the first place.

For example, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a study earlier this month which concluded that people who had been taking ADHD medications, like Adderall and Ritalin, were not at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases which include strokes as well. Some have feared that because the number of patients who were found to have any heart problems was surprisingly low, there could be a problem with the sample size and there would need to be a larger study done to really confirm these findings.

The Study

The study, which was funded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, looked at 1.2 million children and young adults who were covered by four U.S. health plans. It identified only 81 heart attacks, sudden deaths and strokes, and there were slightly more among those taking medication than those not taking any. These findings may provide relief to many parents who are concerned about possible side-effects of these drugs, but there are some other things that they can do to enhance and add to the effectiveness of these medications.

  1. In the nutritional sector, there have been some indications that avoiding food preservatives, processed foods and food allergens is almost always beneficial for those dealing with ADHD. It has also been found that some supplements such as fish oil can help the body   deal with some of the symptoms more easily.
  2. Additionally, those looking to reduce the intensity of ADHD symptoms should always get plenty of rest and try to immerse themselves in natural environments, such as nature parks, beaches, and generally areas away from the hectic environment of most large cities. Two studies confirm this; the first, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2004, brought out that children with ADHD showed improvement in symptoms after playing in natural, outdoor settings. A study by the University of Illinois in 2008 supported this by adding that children who had gone out for a 20-minute walk in the park fared much better than those who did the same walk in busy residential or downtown areas.
  3. For parents who are raising children with ADHD, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests behavioral therapy programs which can produce very promising results even without the use of medication. They add that it is very important to train parents that it is much more effective to reward good behavior than to reprimand children when they exhibit “bad” behavior. These programs’ effects and benefits are best observed over the long term, and they require much dedication and loving support from parents as well as patience in seeing results.

There is much to be said about which kind of ADHD treatment is best, and for the most part one will find that there is no “one” solution to treating this disorder. If the suggestions in this article are applied to complement the use of medications, the results can be very positive and rewarding.