Over the past several decades, highly skilled professionals have attempted to address several issues regarding antipsychotic drugs used to treat school-aged children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The distribution of these ADHD medications have steadily increased over the years, which has, on one hand, presented a possible solution to the escalating diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and on the latter, brought into question the ethics and effectiveness of these medications. Health officials, parents, and the children themselves struggle to come to an agreement when deciding whether or not medication is the best solution.
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” (Duncan, & Sparks, 25). Thus suggesting a growing need for ADHD medications. Understanding the benefits, risks, and limitations of these antipsychotic treatments are crucial components regarding the medication of children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a worldwide condition, which affects children and adults alike. “It is a syndrome of disordered learning and disruptive behavior characterized primarily by symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.” (WebMD, 2007) ADHD is often noticed during the early stages of child’s life and appears more often in boys than girls. Behavioral symptoms of ADHD in school-aged children may include, “failing to give close attention to details in schoolwork, has difficulty organizing tasks, becomes easily distracted, interrupts when other classmates are speaking”, (A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia, 2011) etc.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s definition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), “children who have been diagnosed with ADHD may be at risk for other medical illnesses such as bi-polar disorder and depression.” (A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia, 2011) Both bi-polar disorder as well as depression require medications of their own, dramatically increasing a child’s risk for side effects and other health complications.
Prior to the 1990’s, children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder had been untreated. This was due to the “thought that children would eventually outgrow ADHD. However, recent studies suggest that 30–60% of affected individuals continue to show significant symptoms of the disorder into adulthood.” (Harpin). This makes Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in children a very serious matter and in need of early treatment.
Implications of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Medications
The most popular form of treatment for children and young adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is the use of antipsychotic drugs. These drugs such as, Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin aid those with ADHD by calming their inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity symptoms.
However, many antipsychotic drugs pose serious mental and physical health risks for children. “Antipsychotics have shown efficacy in various pediatric mental disorders, but the use of these medications in children and adolescents merits careful scrutiny as this is a vulnerable population that has more side effects that adults” (Science Daily). The three main types of side effects seen in children utilizing antipsychotic drugs and other ADHD medications are metabolic/hormonal inconsistencies, cardiovascular risks, and abnormal involuntary movements.
According to the article, Risks and Benefits of Antipsychotics in Children and Adolescents, in Science Daily, “there is an increasing concern...