A Health Special: ADHD

[Questions that you should be asking about Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. Answers that you should know!]
Just what is ADHD?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) says that ADHD is a psychiatric diagnosis that is based on symptoms, most of which are subjective. In other words, the diagnosis of your child depends a lot on the point of view of the one making the evaluation.

Does a diagnosis of ADHD mean that my child has a mental problem?

No, there can be many different causes that will produce the same symptoms. Often ADHD stems from exposure to toxins, even in the womb, that cause metabolic disorders that can result in a lack of proficiency of the body metabolizing (correctly using or disposing of) certain chemicals or nutrients and in turn can also cause deficiencies. If a child is having problems in any area, the problem should be addressed. Caution should be used when labeling a child with a psychiatric diagnosis.

Why would my doctor recommend Ritalin?

The drug, Ritalin, treats the symptoms. It does not cure the problem. By common practice, Ritalin is the most often prescribed drug for ADHD; there are other drugs used to treat the symptoms of ADHD.

Why should the DEA be concerned?

Ritalin is a class II drug (controlled substance) categorized with cocaine, methadone, and methamphetamine. This means that it is controlled by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Doctors, who prescribe Ritalin, must make three copies, one of which goes to the DEA. The DEA puts manufacturing limits on controlled substances because they know that the drug has a high potential for abuse and addictions. Ritalin directly affects the nervous system.

Is Ritalin dangerous for my child?

The drug Ritalin, or its generic equivalent, is very similar to cocaine... in fact they use the same receptor site in the brain. A recent ABC 20/20 show revealed abuses and incidents in which children are snorting Ritalin. Apparently it is being sold on campuses like illicit drugs. Also, all drugs have side effects and unfortunately the connection between these side effects and the medication are often overlooked. With Ritalin, many years may be spent treating insomnia, rash, irritability, appetite loss, depression, abdominal pain, and decreased growth -- just to mention a few -- before the connection is ever realized. We don't yet know the long-term effects of Ritalin. The long-term studies are being conducted right now on our children.

Should I take my child off Ritalin?

Discontinuation of Ritalin and other ADHD treatment drugs require a slow and lengthy withdrawal period to reduce the risk of serious side effects and depression. For children that have been under treatment for a long period of time, their dosages may have been "upped" on a regular basis as a tolerance to the drug built up. This goes hand in hand with addiction and these children will require closer monitoring during withdrawal. The advice of a physician should always be taken before discontinuing any medication.

What could be the answer for my child?

Every child is different and should be physically evaluated because our physical health ties in with the mental health and affects our attitudes and behavior. However, there are several options in treating an ADHD child, and everyone may not be aware of them. Foremost, is nutrition. In the Official Journal of the Pavlovian Society, January-March 1998 Vol. 33, Number 1, the Drs. Kathryn Dykman, M.D. and Racoe Dykman, Ph.D. report that present results suggest that symptoms of ADHD may be reduced by the addition to the diet of saccharides (fruits and vegetables). Other suggestions include, the reduction of refined sugar and caffeine, and elimination of food allergens. Proper nutritional supplements are often very beneficial. Other therapies include: Aromatherapy, Chinese medicine, Craniosacral therapy, Flower remedies, Herbal medicine, and Homeopathy. There are new approaches being developed each day that bring a broad spectrum of benefits to the ADHD child without the health concerns of drugs.

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By Donna Jones

Donna Jones is a grandmother with an interest in good nutrition which began raising her own children. Plant City (813) 752-5630

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