Percentage of children (ages 6-12) who had one follow-up visit with a provider during the 30 days after receiving a new prescription for ADHD medication. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be greatly helped by ADHD medication. Percentage of children (ages 6-12) who remained on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication for 210 days after receiving a new prescription and who had at least two follow-up visits with a provider within 270 days after the initiation phase.
One critical component of care is that children have follow-up visits once they are on the medication. Thor BergersenIn recent blog posts, I’ve written copiously about dopamine, the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for our ability to sustain attention, organize our environment, prioritize tasks and resist our impulses. After a child receives ADHD medication, a primary care provider should continue to assess learning and behavior and help manage the condition.

Excess dopamine recycling in the prefrontal cortex results in relatively low levels of this chemical messenger’s “availability” for nerve cell communication in that part of the brain, resulting in deficient executive functioning.Last time, I wrote about ways in which we can naturally increase our dopamine levels through exercise, good sleep habits and a stimulating environment. Although I discuss changes in lifestyle, therapy and coaching with all of my patients, I also prescribe medications, most of which affect neurotransmitter levels. Of the medications used to treat ADHD, all except one increase available dopamine by inhibiting its recycle rate. The outlier, atomoxetine (brand name Strattera), boosts levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that shares many characteristics with dopamine.The dopamine boosting medications, also referred to as stimulants, are tightly regulated by the DEA and are categorized as “controlled substances” because people sometimes abuse or become addicted to them. During my 16 years of clinical practice, I have encountered patients who, as a result of misdiagnosis and, more often than not, “doctor shopping,” manage to game the system in order to obtain medication that is actually hurting more than helping them.
For the vast majority of people with ADHD who have been properly diagnosed, stimulant medications are far from addictive.

In fact, many people prefer not to take their medication when they are not at work or school.When dopamine boosting medications like methylphenidate (brand names Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana) or amphetamine (brand names Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine) are prescribed to treat ADHD, the effects can be dramatic. The ability to initiate and complete tasks, sustain attention and resist distraction can markedly improve. They can fix the fence, remember their kids’ sports schedules, take out the trash and be on time.As we all know, medications can have side effects. Stimulants can decrease appetite, interfere with sleep, cause dry mouth and anxiety among other things.

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