Sue Scheff: Top 10 Questions about ADHD Medications... Answered!

Wondering about ADHD medications? Expert answers to common questions about ADD drugs and treatment.

1. How can I tell if my child really needs ADHD medications?

Experts agree that medication should be considered for any child whose symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) interfere with his social, emotional, or academic life. Behavioral therapy and other non-drug treatments can be helpful for controlling ADHD symptoms, but, in most cases, experts say, these approaches are not powerful enough to replace medication.

"If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD and is struggling, he probably needs medication," says Stephen Copps, M.D., an ADHD specialist in Macon, Georgia. "Medication is the cornerstone of therapy. It's appropriate for most children with diagnosable ADHD. It is not a last resort."

Of course, it's essential that your child's diagnosis of ADHD is a reliable one. ADHD-like symptoms can be caused by a range of disorders, including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In some cases, a child's symptoms arise from the frustration associated with having to struggle with a learning disorder.

Make sure the doctor uses the diagnostic criteria spelled out in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM-IV. The doctor should get input from your child’s teacher as well as from you, his parents.

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