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ADHD and Over Medicating Our Youth. Kathryn Head November 15, 2005. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common child psychiatric disorder in America (Singh 2004) In 1994 the APA broadened the criteria for ADHD (Dunne 2000)

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Adhd and over medicating our youth

ADHD and Over Medicating Our Youth

Kathryn Head

November 15, 2005

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common child psychiatric disorder in America (Singh 2004)

  • In 1994 the APA broadened the criteria for ADHD (Dunne 2000)

  • Its symptoms include hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention (Singh 2004)


  • For over 40 years doctors have been prescribing stimulants to relieve the symptoms of ADHD (Biederman & Faraone 2005 )

  • The most common drugs prescribed are methylphenidates, brand name Ritalin (Biederman & Faraone 2005)

  • Other common prescriptions are for Adderall and Dexedrine (Dunne 2000)


  • These stimulants increase the alertness of one’s nervous system by stimulating neurotransmitters in the brain (Dunne 2000)

  • Unfortunately they do have some side effects which include tics, appetite and weight loss, stunting growth and can lead to problems later in life with substance abuse (Biederman & Faraone 2005 )

Question time
Question Time!

  • Can you name some arguments for medicating?

  • Now can you name some against medicating them?

The debate
The debate

For Medicating Our Children

  • Calms them down

  • Helps them focus

  • Less aggressive

The debate1
The debate

Against Medicating Our Children

  • Medicating seems like a “quick-fix”

  • Side effects listed before

  • When on medication many complain of not being “the same person”


The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) (Owens et al 2003)

Goal “What treatment, by whom, is most

effective for this individual with that specific problem, and under which set of circumstances?” (Owens et al 2003)

Adhd and over medicating our youth

  • N = 579 (80% male)

  • Age ranged from 7.0 – 9.9 years old

  • Randomly assigned to one of four groups (MedMgt, Beh, Comb, CC)

  • Treatment lasted 14 months

Mta continued
MTA (continued)

  • Initially reported on sex, prior medication treatment, comorbid conduct problems, comorbid anxiety problems, and family receipt of public assistance

  • Also took note of the child’s intelligence and initial severity of ADHD and maternal education and parental depressive symptomatology


  • If the primary caregiver suffers from depression the intervention is not as effective

  • The more severe the disorder to begin with the more difficult it was to treat

  • The higher the IQ the better the response to treatment

Cost effectiveness of adhd treatments
Cost Effectiveness of ADHD Treatments

  • In this article they used the MTA study to see the cost these different types of treatments versus their effectiveness (Jensen et al 2005)

  • Found that for the 14 months of treatment the costs ranged from approximately $1100 (CC) - $7800 (Comb)

  • Carefully monitored medical treatment is the most cost effective way to get the best results

Graduate studies who where what
Graduate StudiesWho… Where… What?

  • Rosemary Tannock

    • University of Toronto

  • Shelley Parlow

    • Carleton University

  • Darlene Brodeur

    • Acadia University

Final question
Final Question…

  • Should we or should we not medicate our children?


  • Biederman, J., Faraone, S. V. (2005). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lancet, 366(9481), 237 – 248.

  • Dunne, D. (2000). Statistics confirm rise in childhood ADHD and medication use. Retrieved October 13, 2005 from

  • Jensen, P. S., Garcia, J. A., Gleid, S., Crowe, M. (2005). Cost- effectiveness of ADHD treatments: Findings from the multimodal treatment study of children with ADHD. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(9), 1628 – 1637.

  • Owens, E. B., Hinshaw, S. P., Kraemer, H. C., Arnold, L. E., Abikoff, H. B., Cantwell, D. P., Conners, C. K., Elliott, G., Greenhill, L. L., Hechtman, L., Hoza, B., Jensen, P. S., March, J. S., Newcorn, J. H., Pelham, W. E., Severe, J. B., Swanson, J. M., Vitiello, B., Wells, K. C., Wigal, T. (2003). Which Treatment for Whom for ADHD? Moderators of Treatment Response in the MTA. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(3), 540 – 552.

Adhd and over medicating our youth