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Adhd And Stimulant Treatment Essay

1898 words - 8 pages

Over the last two decades, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has emerged as the most commonly diagnosed neurobehavioral disorder in children and adolescents. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is characterized by a delay in cortical maturation. The cortical maturation delay in ADHD is most prevalent in the lateral prefrontal cortex. The lateral prefrontal cortex supports such cognitive functions as the ability to suppress inappropriate responses and thoughts, executive control of attention, evaluation of reward contingencies, and working memory (Shaw et al., 2007). Although predominantly ADHD is diagnosed in children, adults can be diagnosed as well. ADHD can affect all ...view middle of the document...

According to numerous RCTs, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses; seventy percent of children showed short-term improvements in ADHD symptoms (hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention) and academic achievement after treatment with stimulant medication (Johnson & Safranek, 2005). Researchers conducted a large randomized trial of 579 children with ADHD (20% girls) aged 7 to 9.9 years. The trial compared the effectiveness of four treatment strategies: intensive behavioral treatment, standard community care, stimulant medication, and combined stimulant medication and behavioral interventions. After 14 months of treatment, the children in the stimulant medication group and the combined stimulant medication and behavioral intervention group showed more improvement than the other two groups where stimulant medication wasn’t used. The group combining the stimulant medication and behavioral therapy actually showed a slight improvement in anxiety, aggression, social skills, oppositional behavior and academic achievement over the group given just the stimulant medication (Johnson & Safranek, 2005). The study also concluded that higher doses of medication combined with regular school contact and more frequent office follow-up were important factors of successful treatment.
After reading this article, I felt that the research conducted in the study was of significant importance. With so much controversy about which method of treatment is most effective in treating ADHD, I thought this study provided an answer to some of the unknown. What I found most interesting is that stimulant treatment combined with behavioral therapy proved to be more effective than stimulant treatment alone. The article never addressed why the combination of stimulants and behavioral therapy were most effective, I wish the article provided data or an explanation on why that is. The reader can conclude that stimulant medication mainly affects the ability to concentrate and the behavioral therapy is needed for the other symptoms such as hyperactivity, aggression and impulsivity. I think that this study provides a good basis for further research to be conducted on what makes the combination of stimulants and behavioral therapy more effective than just stimulants alone.
How Does Prolonged Use of Stimulants Affect The Brain?
Researchers believe that a dopamine dysfunction in the brain could contribute to the symptoms of ADHD. The use of stimulant medication increases the production of dopamine in the brain, which results in improved symptoms. Research proves that the use of stimulant medication is an effective method for treating attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. That being said, how does prolonged use of stimulant medication affect the brain? Wang et. al (2013) conducted a research-oriented study measuring the dopamine transporter availability in the brain after twelve months of treatment. Researchers compared the brains of eighteen never medicated adult ADHD subjects...

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