What do ADHD stimulants do

Which drugs work for ADHD?

In addition to psychotherapy and educational measures, treatment with medication is an important part of multimodal therapy for ADHD. So-called stimulants have been used to treat children and adolescents with ADHD since the 1950s. In 70-90% of ADHD cases, a reduction in hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive behavior problems is observed for the duration of use.

Stimulants are among the best-researched substances in children today and are used as the first choice for drug treatment of ADHD. The safety and effectiveness of these drugs has been studied in hundreds of studies over the past few decades.

Further treatment options for children and adolescents include: Retard atomoxetine and guanfacine are available.

When does it make sense to use medication?

The treating pediatrician or child and adolescent psychiatrist decides, after a detailed examination and after consulting the parents, whether treatment with medication should be initiated. The severity of the symptoms is essential for this decision. Depending on how much the behavioral disorders affect the everyday life of the ADHD child and their family and how high the associated level of suffering is, medication can be used at the beginning of ADHD treatment. Or when children do not respond to psychotherapeutic or educational measures after a certain period of time. In the case of pronounced behavioral problems, other treatment measures - such as behavior therapy - may only be possible at all through medication. The drug reduces the symptoms to such an extent that the child can follow a therapeutic session attentively and with concentration. In the case of young children, the doctor tends to be more cautious with the use of medication and first tries to use other treatment options such as educational measures. Only if this does not have the desired effect can treatment with medication be considered.

Why stimulants have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms has not yet been clarified in detail. It is known, however, that they influence the transmission of stimuli in the central nervous system. In order to process the incoming environmental stimuli, messenger substances migrate from nerve cell to nerve cell in the brain and forward the information. In ADHD, this exchange of messenger substances is disturbed. The stimulants seem to have a precise effect on the interaction of these messenger substances in the brain. It is assumed that it increases the concentration of the messenger substance dopamine in the area between the nerve cells and that this means that incoming stimuli can apparently be better filtered and processed.

Do stimulants affect the child's character?

As a rule, when used correctly, stimulants do not calm the children, do not cause character changes and do not make the positive characteristics of ADHD children, such as a special creative gift, disappear. The medication only succeeds in reducing the behavioral disorders typical of ADHD to such an extent that the affected children behave according to their age and can develop their skills better.



Stimulants and competitive sports

All stimulants that are approved for the treatment of ADHD are subject to the Narcotics Act (BtMG) and are therefore particularly protected against abuse. Due to the entry in the BtMG, the active ingredient is also on the doping list of the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). For ADHD sufferers who are treated with stimulants, however, this does not mean a fundamental waiver of competitive sport: You can apply to NADA for a "medical exemption" according to the standard procedure in order to be allowed to take part in competitions. In international competitions, however, the statutes of the respective international professional associations must be observed, as some associations generally do not allow the use of stimulants. In this case, the ADHD sufferer would only have the option of stopping the drug in good time before a competition. Further information on this topic can be found on the NADA website.

Which side effects can occur?

The use of medication is monitored by the attending physician, who also discusses the procedure with the parents. As with other medications, side effects can occur with treatment with stimulants. Are observed z. B. headache or abdominal pain, lack of appetite or sleep disorders. In general, however, these drugs are well tolerated.

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