Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD: Treatment

-This is one of the only disorders where medication is the first line treatment in children and adolescents.

-There is a 70%-80% response rate to psychostimulants, and medication consistently outperforms behavioral interventions in RCTs.

-For preschool age children, behavioral interventions are first line and medications are considered if there is a poor response to behavioral intervention and functional impairment. 

Psychostimulants 

Methylphenidate (MPH or Ritalin) should be started at 2.5 to 5 mg twice daily (before breakfast and lunch). It can be increased by 2.5 to 5 mg/day reaching an optimal dose of 1 mg/kg/day and a maximum dose of 2 mg/kg/day. 

Side effects include insomnia, decreased appetite, mood disturbance, tics, headaches, GI distress, and rarely psychosis. 

-There are several long-acting preparations including Ritalin XR, Ritalin LA, metadate, Concerta, Daytrana, Focalin XR and several others. The important point about long-acting preparation is they provide a sustained second release with resulting plasma levels lasting 4-12 hours depending on the preparation. 

Amphetamine sulfate (Adderall): should be started at 2.5-5 mg once or twice per day. It can be increased by 5 mg per week with an optimal dose of 0.5-1 mg/kg/day. Dextroamphetamine is twice as potent as amphetamine. The side effect profile is similar to MPH. 

Longer-acting amphetamine preparations include Adderall XR, Dexedrine, Dyanavel XR, and Vyvanse (formulated as a prodrug to reduce the risk of abuse). These will provide coverage for about 12 hours. 

-There is a black box warning for the risk of abuse and dependence. In addition, there is a cardiovascular safety warning regarding the risk of sudden cardiac death in children and adolescents with structural heart defects or other severe cardiac conditions. Patients should be screened for any cardiovascular disorders, family history of sudden cardiac death, and an EKG should be performed. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Diagnosis

-ADHD is the most common physiocratic disorder in children. 

-Its prevalence is 5-11% in school-aged children 

-It often presents with a classic triad of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity 

– However, it can present as mixed, or primarily inattentive or hyperactive 

-Symptoms must include at least 6 signs of inattention and/or six signs of hyperactivity/impulsivity for 6 months. 

-For patients 17 years and older on 5 symptoms are required 

Symptoms of inattention include

-failure to pay close attention 

-difficulty sustaining attention on tasks or activities 

-failure to listen when spoken to 

-difficulty organizing tasks 

-avoidance of activities that require mental effort 

-losing things necessary for tasks or activities 

-distractibility and forgetfulness in daily activities 

Symptoms of hyperactivity

-fidgeting with hands or feet 

-inability to sit still 

-running around when not appropriate 

-difficulty engaging quietly in activities 

-feeling on the go or driven by a motor 

-talking excessively 

Symptoms of Impulsivity

-answering questions before they are completely asked 

-having trouble waiting ones turn 

-interrupting others 

The pattern of behavior must be more severe and occur more often than in other children of the same age. The symptoms of the disorder must be present before the age of 12 years. The diagnosis can be made after 12 years of age but there must be evidence of symptoms before the age of 12. The last important point is the symptoms must occur in two different settings (e.g., home and school). 

Many patients may be familiar with screening scales like the Vanderbilt or Conners which can be used to help confirm the diagnosis usually one is completed by the parent the other by a teacher. 

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