Posts Tagged ‘Ritalin’

Shock Horror: Sleep Deprived Children Diagnosed with ADHD Instead!

June 18, 2013

 

adhd

What upsets me more than anything when it comes the the explosion of ADHD diagnoses of young children, is that many doctors seem to dismiss other possible causes such as sleep deprivation, family issues and diet way too readily:

More children – and adults – than ever are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Yet many of those may not have the behavioural disorder but could instead be suffering from sleep deprivation, says a leading U.S. doctor. He estimates more than a third of children and a quarter of adults diagnosed with ADHD actually have sleep problems.

Sleep deprivation, especially in children, does not – as might be expected – cause lethargy, but very similar problems to ADHD, including hyperactivity, an inability to focus, aggression and forgetfulness.

The similarity between the symptoms, coupled with many doctors’ poor understanding of sleep disorders, is what is causing the confusion in some patients, says Vatsal Thakkar, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine.

‘While there is no doubt that many people have ADHD, a substantial proportion of cases are really sleep disorders in disguise,’ he says.

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Why Are There So Many Children Exposed to Prescription Drugs?

May 6, 2013

rit

It is my ardent belief that there are far too many children on ADHD medication. Whilst I am clearly no expert, it bothers me when children are prescribed Ritalin and the like, when other factors such as diet, learning difficulties and personal issues have not been properly looked at.

It also bothers me that the amount of children taking prescription medication seems to be escalating markedly. Even the experts are starting to raise doubts about the over prescribing that seems to be taking place.

I sincerely don’t want to end up with the kind of numbers being reported in the US:

One-in-four U.S. teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once — a 33 percent increase in the past five years, experts say.

A survey by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation also found 1-in-8 U.S. teens reported taking the stimulants Ritalin or Adderall not prescribed for them at least once.

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The Rampant Misuse of ADHD Pills

October 15, 2012

 

A few years ago stories like this one were rare. Now few years down the track,  the misuse of medication among students has become a huge concern:

HSC students are taking illegally obtained prescription medication used to treat ADHD to help cram for their final school exams, which start tomorrow.

The Sun-Herald spoke to students from five schools across Sydney last week who admitted to using the medication, saying it improved their focus during study.

But medical experts warn that they are risking side effects as serious as psychosis and heart problems.

As students try to maximise their study hours, some are exchanging tips on internet forums about the most effective methods of combating fatigue. Comments posted on the boredofstudies.org website include debates about the effectiveness of caffeine pills and prescription medication, as well as cocaine and the hallucinogenic drug DMT.

A year 12 student from Ryde Secondary College said mixing crushed Ritalin in energy drinks was common among his peers “to get a good boost during tests”.

He tried the mixture while studying for his trial exams earlier this year, and said that it drastically increased his word rate.

“I was set to write around 2000 words but at the end I noticed I had written over 9000,” he said.

Students asked each other whether or not they sat the exams “natty” (naturally), he said.

He said the Ritalin costs $5 to $10 a pill. Students generally mix two to three with energy drinks, and also report snorting it.

“Usually a student who is prescribed it sells them to get some extra money,” the student said.

Click here to read my post, Who Needs Quality Teaching or Parenting When You Have Medications?

Click here to read my post, Get Your Kids on Ritalin Before Their Grades Suffer

Click here to read my post, It is Doctors Not Teachers Who Are Helping Children Get Good Grades

Click here to read my post, Doctors Create a New Normal by Over-Prescribing Drugs

Evidence that Daydreaming Helps Children Perform Better in Tests

July 3, 2012

I love this research. I am a proud daydreamer – always has been, always will be.

Daydreaming has the capacity to drive teachers insane. In my day it lead to bad reports and vicious lectures. Nowadays it often leads to recommendations for an ADHD diagnosis and the resultant daily dosages of Ritalin.

Well, throw those blasted tablets in the rubbish bin. Daydreaming is here to stay:

Daydreaming could help children concentrate – and even perform better in tests, researchers claim.

The children also feel less anxious and more motivated to perform, according to a review of studies on the value of time to reflect.

Education should focus more on giving children time to think, claim researchers at the University of Southern California.

Research indicates that when children are given the time and skills necessary for reflecting, they often become more motivated, less anxious, perform better on tests, and plan more effectively for the future.

It is also important in helping us make sense of the world at large … and contributes to moral thinking and well being.

Who Needs Quality Teaching or Parenting When You Have Medications?

June 19, 2012

Wake up America!  Your preparedness to prescribe powerful stimulants to children for reasons as slight as a lack of concentration is lamentable. It is a trend that threatens to effect a whole generation. Teachers have got to take a far more passive approach on this issue. Instead of recommending that students take these drugs they should instead concentrate on their own performance. Too many teachers take the selfish choice of trying to restrain a wayward or naughty child rather than focus on their own weaknesses as a teacher. Instead of picking on a childs’ lack of focus, they should be concerned about how engaging their lessons are.

To hear the medical fraternity boast about a reduction in antibiotics subscriptions when the real issue is Ritalin and others of its kind is very disappointing:

The new report also found an uptick in the use of some drugs in children, with stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, leading the pack.

From 2002 to 2010, the use of ADHD drugs grew by 46 percent — or some 800,000 prescriptions a year. The top drug dispensed to adolescents was the stimulant methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, with more than four million prescriptions filled in 2010.

“What the article is suggesting is that the number of children that we are treating for attention deficit disorder has gone up,” said Dr. Scott Benson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and a spokesperson for the American Psychiatric Association.

“For the most part I think the overall increase reflects a reduction in the stigma,” he told Reuters Health. “It used to be, ‘You’re a bad parent if you can’t get your child to behave, and you’re a doubly bad parent if you put them on medicine.'”

Dr. Lawrence Diller, a behavioral pediatrician who has written extensively about ADHD, was more critical of the rise in stimulant prescriptions, noting that the U.S. is far ahead of other countries in its use of the drugs.

“You have to look at how our society handles school children’s problems. It’s clear that we rely much, much more on a pharmacological answer than other societies do,” Diller said. “The medicine is overprescribed primarily, but under-prescribed for certain inner-city groups of children.”

A report in the New York Times last Sunday said stimulant use is becoming a commonly used study drug even among high schoolers, with healthy students easily fooling their doctors into prescribing the coveted drugs.

“There is no objective test, so obtaining the medications is relatively easy,” said Diller.

ADHD Diagnosis a “Convenient Out For Lazy Teachers”: Dunham

May 1, 2012

I commend for her courageous piece on the rising rates of ADD and ADHD diagnosis. Ms, Durham refuses to pull punches, raising a view I have been quite vocal about – the dubious role of teachers in the diagnosis process. Deborah suggests that teachers may be taking the lazy approach instead of the responsible one. She also raises strong arguments about the lack of research about the long-term ramifications of taking Ritalin, the contribution of diet to a child’s mental state and the lack of engagement and stimulation in school.

I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible for doctors, teachers and parents to diagnose kids with anything other than  Attention Deficit Disorder? According to a new study, the rate that kids are diagnosed continues to increase by 5.5% each year, but are there really that many more kids with ADD and ADHD? It seems like this has become a convenient “out” for many lazy teachers, doctors and parents who don’t know what to do with kids who don’t fit the “mold”.

The rates of ADHD diagnosis in the developed world increased annually by an average of 3% from 1997 to 2006 and 5.5% from 2003 to 2007 in the U.S. But researchers wanted to know–as did we–how accurate these diagnoses really are.

Led by a team of researchers at the University of Basel’s Katrin Bruchmueller, 473 child and adolescent psychotherapists and psychiatrists across Germany were surveyed on how they diagnose people with ADD or ADHD. In three out of the four cases, the described symptoms and circumstances did not fulfill ADHD diagnostic criteria. In fact, many mental health practitioners were found to base their decisions on unclear standards.

For example, male patients were more readily diagnosed when they displayed symptoms such as impulsiveness, motoric restlessness and lack of concentration–all things that can be perfectly normal when growing up. Boys were more likely to be diagnosed than girls, and on the same note, male doctors tended to diagnose ADHD more frequently than their female counterparts.

In short, what the researchers found what that ADHD is over-diagnosed because doctors rely too much on their intuition and not on a defined set of criteria.

All of this is troubling because it means that kids are the ones who are suffering as a result. Instead of taking the time to accurately diagnose them (if there is even anything at all wrong besides just being a “kid”), they are put on brain-altering drugs which is risky for anyone, especially someone who is still young and developing.

More than three million kids in the U.S. take drugs for their supposed difficulty focusing. In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of these. And while medications like Ritalin may help increase concentration in the short term, not enough is known about the long-term health consequences–although some say drugs like this can stunt a child’s growth, other speculate that they can cause heart problems and even sudden death.

But is it really possible that three million kids in our country really suffer from ADD or ADHD, or has this just become a catch-all diagnosis by lazy doctors, parents and teachers?

We know that an unhealthy diet, sugar, processed foods, stress and a lack of sleep and exercise can all contribute to someone’s mental state. So, it’s entirely possible that our society has become so unhealthy that we are the ones creating these problems in our kids. And it’s not always synthetic drugs that are the answer.

The other issue that could be a major factor here is that kids are not engaged and stimulated in school enough. Taking millions of kids who all have different learning styles and trying to force them to comply and fit into one method of learning does not work. No one can possibly be expected to sit at a tiny, uncomfortable desk for eight hours a day in a classroom with florescent lights and the blinds drawn on the windows. Yet, when a child doesn’t conform, they are thought to have ADD.

Perhaps instead of jumping to conclusions and forcing our kids to swallow mind-altering drugs in order to fit our ideals of how they should behave, all of us–parents, teachers and doctors–should take more time to fully evaluate the unique learning style and personality that each child has and then alter how we interact with them accordingly. That’s not to say that everyone is lazy (because they aren’t) and there aren’t some legitimate cases of ADD (because there certainly are), but research like this points to the fact that we need to take more time and better understand how to consistently diagnose this disorder.

Experts: Medicate Your ADHD Kid or We’ll Report You To The Authorities

November 21, 2011

I suppose it was only a matter of time.  The writing was on the wall earlier this year when experts were outraged when a mother, Christie Haskel, claimed that coffee had cured her son of ADHD.  The medical experts came out in force against Ms Haskel.  How can this woman treat her child with something other than a drug with pharmacological effects that resemble closely those of cocaine and amphetamines?  And coffee? That could damage the poor child’s health!

Now it seems they have taken their pro-drug, anti-choice platform a further step into the ultra-extreme. Now they are threatening parents – take the drugs or you’ll be reported:

EXPERTS have warned that parents who don’t medicate children with ADHD could be referred to child protection authorities under controversial draft guidelines being considered by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The practice points, to guide doctors who treat the disorder, were drawn up by an NHMRC expert working group to address community concern over the use of stimulant medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They state: “Consideration should be given to the ability of the child/adolescent and their caregivers to implement strategies. As with any medical intervention, the inability of parents to implement strategies may raise child protection concerns.”

Child psychiatrist and Monash University lecturer George Halasz says the situation should not be seen as unique to ADHD and parents who fail to manage serious conditions such as their child’s asthma or diabetes could also be considered to be failing their duty as a parent.

Dr Halasz said the new guidelines were a step in the right direction because they asked doctors to first try to find other explanations for a child’s behaviour before they diagnosed ADHD.

Firstly there is a gulf of difference between a parent’s decision not to administer ADHD drugs and a decision not to treat a child for asthma and diabetes. Secondly, this move does not promote trying alternate methods but reinforces what many suspect; that Ritalin and it’s type have become a one-stop fix for a condition yet to be fully proven.

The British Psychological Society said in a 1997 report that physicians and psychiatrists should not follow the American example of applying medical labels to such a wide variety of attention-related disorders: “The idea that children who don’t attend or who don’t sit still in school have a mental disorder is not entertained by most British clinicians.”

Another problem I have, is how can you even consider reporting parents for not giving their children a drug that has the following possible side-effects:

How about we report lazy doctor to the authorities who prescribe this drug without due process? How about we report bullying tactics by so-called experts? How about we let parents decide for themselves what is in the best interests of their children?

How about you think about the consequences of drugging such a large proportion of our young?

Prescribing ADHD Drugs to 4-Year Olds Seems Irresponsible

October 17, 2011

I am not a doctor, so I do not have the expertise to comment on the ADHD diagnosis becoming a regular feature of classrooms across the globe.  But I can’t help but get agitated as kids younger and younger are being given these drugs.  The cynic in me suspects that this has more to do with pharmaceutical profits and less to do with responsible medicine.

Children as young as 4 years old may now be treated with medications such as Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, under new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The recommendations, the first in a decade, expand the age range of kids who may be prescribed the drugs from preschoolers through 18-year-olds. Earlier guidelines included children ages 6 to 12. ADHD affects about 8 percent of children and youth and is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Expanding the age range will help ensure more children get the appropriate therapy, according to the guidelines. Treating preschoolers may increase their chances of succeeding in school and targeting teens recognizes that ADHD is a long-term condition that may even extend into adulthood.

“Because of greater awareness about ADHD and better ways of diagnosing and treating this disorder, more children are being helped,” said Mark Wolraich, lead author of the report and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City, in a statement.

For preschoolers with the disorder, it’s recommended that parents and teachers first try to manage children with behavior therapy that uses a system of rewards and consequences. If that doesn’t work, then doctors can prescribe medications, according to the recommendations being presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

I have three major issues with the last paragraph in particular.

1.  I don’t believe you can determine such a disorder at such a young age with such confidence as to justify prescribing a Ritalin-like drug to them.

2. The idea that some “behaviour therapy” is all that is tried before a child gets a prescription is just shocking.  There should be many steps before a child warrants a prescription.  Prescribing drugs to a child should be the last resort.  And who checks whether the behaviour therapy was properly administered?  How many teachers say they have tried everything, when you know they haven’t even come close?

3.  This leads me to my third point.  Teachers should not have such a big say in the decision to prescribe drugs to a child.  Teachers are often too easily motivated by the need to teach a civil and restrained class.  Their need to see students calm and manageable often gets in the way of a more considered approach when it comes to the question of ADHD drugs.

Four year olds on ADHD drugs!  Do we really want this to become the norm?

Mum Gives Her Son Coffee to Treat His ADHD

September 8, 2011

Whilst I don’t for a second advocate giving coffee to a child, I applaud Christie Haskel for trying to find an alternative to the drugs doctors prescribe.  As I was watching the abc report on this mother I felt like the reporter was trying to manipulate me into thinking that this woman acted irresponsibly and recklessly by treating her child without consulting a doctor.

But I didn’t fall for the manipulation.  Good on her for resisting Ritalin.  She has every right to find an alternative to a drug many parents are weary of.  Below are some issues I had with the reporting of this story.

1.  The story quotes that “experts say there is no proof it works.”

Well actually I am of the opinion that if it works for some people, as it has worked for this mother it “can” work.  No more proof required.

2.  The piece lists the “potentially dangerous side-effects of caffeine.”

What about the potential side-effects of Ritalin?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Akathisia
  • Alopecia
  • Angina
  • Appetite loss
  • Anxiety
  • Blood pressure and pulse changes (both up and down)
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Diaphoresis (sweating)
  • Dizziness
  • Dyskinesia
  • Dysphoria or Euphoria
  • Formication
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity (including skin rash, urticaria, fever, arthralgia, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme, necrotizing vasculitis, and thrombocytopenic purpura)
  • Lethargy
  • Libido increased or decreased
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • Pupil dilation[45]
  • Psychosis
  • Short-term weight loss
  • Somnolence
  • Stunted growth
  • Tachycardia
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth aka cotton mouth)

3.  A Psychiatrist is presented warning parents not to become deluded into thinking coffee can cure ADHD:

Can drugs cure ADHD?

A meta analysis of the literature concluded that methylphenidate quickly and effectively reduces the signs and symptoms of ADHD in children under the age of 18 in the short term but found that this conclusion may be biased due to the high number of low quality clinical trials in the literature. There have been no placebo controlled trials investigating the long term effectiveness of methylphenidate beyond 4 weeks thus the long term effectiveness of methylphenidate has not been scientifically demonstrated. Serious concerns of publication bias regarding the use of methylphenidate for ADHD has also been noted. A diagnosis of ADHD must be confirmed and the benefits and risks and proper use of stimulants as well as alternative treatments should be discussed with the parent before stimulants are prescribed.

4.  The question is asked how does the mother know that by solving this one problem she isn’t creating several new ones:

I ask the same question about traditianal ADHD medication:

It was documented in 2000, by Zito “that at least 1.5% of children between the ages of two and four are medicated with stimulants, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs, despite the paucity of controlled scientific trials confirming safety and long-term effects with preschool children.”

It is ludicrous to attack a mother for trying to find alternatives to a drug that comes with known side-effects, has stark similarities to cocaine and amphetamines and hasn’t convincingly proven the case against dependency or long-term side-effects.

Coffee isn’t something you’d want to be giving a child but neither is Ritalin.  I know which one I would rather give my child.

 

The Horrendous Over-Prescribing of ADHD Drugs

April 21, 2011

America is running our of Ritalin!  Parents are frantically running around trying to find pharmacies that still have some in stock.  You might think that what I have just written is the making of good fiction, perhaps a Hollywood satire, but I’m afraid that it’s a true story, with potentially huge ramifications.

Nationwide shortages of popular drugs used to treat ADD and ADHD are sending parents scrambling, with some combing multiple pharmacies for the Adderall and Ritalin that keep their kids calm.

Molly Taylor, 46, of Worcester, Mass., was turned away empty-handed this week when she went to pick up prescriptions of Adderall XR for herself and her 16-year-old son, Luke.

“They don’t have them,” an incredulous Taylor told msnbc.com. “You could be waiting several days, which would have a HUGE impact. If you can’t get it that day, it’s very, very difficult.”

In the past two weeks, federal Food and Drug Administration officials added the drugs methylphenidate hydrochloride and amphetamine mixed salts, the generic names for Ritalin and Adderall, to an expanding list of national drug shortages. Some distributors cite manufacturing delays and increased demand as the reasons; others offer no explanation for the shortages.

But the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which tracks drug supply issues, has listed the products in short supply for nearly a month, and there have been regional reports of spotty shortages even before that.

5.4 million children have ADHD

In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have ever been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and 66 percent of those with current ADHD take medication to control the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, that amounted to 152 million units sold of Adderall and Adderall XR, the extended-release version of the pill, 35 million units of Ritalin and nearly 702 million units of generic ADHD drugs, with sales totaling more than $1.2 billion, according to data from Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions.

For millions of children — and adults — the stimulant medications ease the symptoms of ADHD, allowing them to control distracted thoughts and behavior well enough to participate in school, work and social life.

The drugs are taken daily, but when patients miss even one dose, the consequences can be swift, said Ruth Hughes, interim chief executive of the organization CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

“The symptoms come back very quickly,” said Hughes, who is the mother of an adult son with ADHD. “If you start that spiral, within 24 hours you begin to get in the loop of negative feedback. It doesn’t take very long until it has a truly negative impact.”

The current shortages affect various doses of the medications supplied by several manufacturers of brand-name and generic drugs. That means patients who find they can’t get their usual prescriptions might be able to find a similar drug in a different strength, made by a different manufacturer.

However, because the drugs are tightly controlled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, prescriptions are doled out only a month at a time, and patients have to visit their doctors in order to authorize new drugs, which could be more expensive than the old ones.

“Tightly controlled”? You have got to be kidding me!  This is sickening!  How can we sit and watch our kids being prescribed these drugs in the millions and not wonder whether or not these kids really have ADD and ADHD?  How can you get to the point where demand for a drug for children is so readily prescribed that demand exceeds supply?

It seems like pharmaceutical companies are winning, and we are sitting there silently letting them.  It is time for a parliamentary inquiry on this issue.  Doctors and teachers in particular need to be accountable for their role in this situation.

Surely when a drug becomes so rampantly prescribed that drug companies struggle to meet demand, there is something not quite right going on?  Or am I the only one that thinks this is the case?


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