ADHD medications remain safe
“These medications have been around for years and have been well researched,” says Dr. David Ng, a child psychiatrist with The Scarborough Hospital’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Clinic. “As with all medications, it should be taken as prescribed and monitored by a physician.”
Dr. Ng adds medication should only be prescribed after a comprehensive assessment that rules out other mental health or physical conditions requiring treatment or monitoring. TSH’s ADHD Clinic, for example, does a thorough psychosocial history in order to screen for pre-existing conditions and /or relevant family history.
Medication should be prescribed cautiously. TSH’s ADHD Clinic’s method of prescribing medication for patients is to start low and go slow.
“We always start patients on the lowest dose and up the medication until the family and teachers report the medication is addressing the ADHD symptoms, while also evaluating that the benefits outweigh any side effects,” says Dr. Ng.
A child’s condition and progress should be monitored on a regular basis. Dr. Ng suggests the monitoring of a child’s overall condition should be through the family doctor and parents should consult the family doctor if they have any concerns. For more complex situations, for example when a child has more than one condition, more specialized care is recommended, such as that provided by TSH’s ADHD Clinic.
If any negative side effects are observed by parents or patients, they should be taken seriously and addressed by a physician. The healthcare professionals at the TSH ADHD Clinic acknowledge there are side effects with most, if not all medications. Most are mild, short-lived and easily managed. On very rare occasions, a side effect could be serious and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
If a child is going to develop side effects they usually do so soon after they start taking a medication and in that case Dr. Ng says it would be recommended the child stop taking the medication, at least until the situation has been reviewed.
Children change and mature rapidly, both physically and emotionally, and it is important to take these life changes into account when assessing and monitoring the usefulness of medication.