If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor has probably explained the next steps to you. Typically the treatment for ADHD involves medication and possibly some counseling. No medicine, however, is the magic bullet that cures ADHD; medications only treat ADHD symptoms. And it is highly likely that ADHD meds will be accompanied by unfortunate side effects. It is VERY important to note that ADHD symptoms may be the result of or occur in conjunction with another disorder that is not addressed with traditional ADHD treatment.
The following medications are all stimulants: Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Daytrana patch, Vyvance, and Dexedrine and Dextrostat, brand names for dextroamphetamine. These are all medications commonly used to treat ADHD. They are used because they seem to have an effect on the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain, especially when it is a true ADHD. They can improve symptoms such as inattention, impulsive actions, and hyperactivity, sometimes quite significantly. So what’s the problem?
Disadvantages of the Use of Stimulants to Treat ADHD
There are numerous, common side effects of these stimulants when they are used to treat ADHD. They can include:
- Decrease in appetite
- Weight loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Racing heartbeat
Additionally, countless children and adults who take ADHD medications report feeling “weird” or like they are on speed. Another common complaint is that these medications cause increased restlessness, and/or uncontrollable anger or rage. This is because the brainwaves involved in the symptoms are actually aggravated by stimulants!
In some cases, personality changes have been observed; outgoing people may become withdrawn, and others lean toward OCD symptoms. Because these are stimulants, heart and blood pressure issues are a concern. In one study, 48% of the 325 patients questioned reported at least one side effect, with more than one-fifth describing the side effects as quite problematic.
One woman wrote about her husband “not being himself” since being put on ADHD medications. He lost his job. He had an accident because of inattention.
There is also concern about ADHD medications’ effect on physical development, particularly in young boys. Boys age 12 to 14, taking ADHD medication, investigated in a University of Sydney study were found to be thinner and shorter than their peers, on average.
What About Non-Stimulant ADHD Medications?
Strattera, or atomoxetine, is not a stimulant. It boosts the brain’s production of norepinephrine. The side effects, however, can be much the same as those with stimulant medications, with the addition of sleepiness. Antidepressants and medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure can also be used to treat ADHD.
Pfizer has recently released a new drug, Quillivant XR, for ADHD treatment. It is a controlled substance because it may lead to dependence and could very easily be abused.
Is there an Alternate Treatment for ADHD?
If you are concerned about the side effects to ADHD medications, be aware that there are alternatives. Brain Changers offers neurofeedback, which can permanently alleviate ADHD symptoms without medications, avoiding side effects entirely! Neurofeedback is a noninvasive, painless process that re-trains the brain to behave normally over time. Additionally, counseling with Brain Changers helps the adult or child address unhealthy thought and behavior patterns related to the symptoms, as healthier patterns of thought and behavior are practiced and new habits are developed.
How can Brain Changers Help?
Brain Changers uses the qEEG, or brain map, to help us determine which areas of the brain have brainwaves that are out of balance. We have helped many children and adults recognize and understand the brain function issues related to their symptoms, and through treatment, we are able to greatly significantly reduce symptoms without medications or side effects. The result is a more focused individual with a healthier outlook toward the future.