If ADHD medication is used more intelligently, overtreatment can be reduced. This is evident from new research from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Increasing the dose of the medication, as is usually done, does not always provide a better effect in children.
ADHD, or attention deficiency or hyperactivity disorder, is characterized by persistent problems with concentration and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that can lead to problems at school, at work or in social life. One of the possible treatments to reduce the effects of ADHD is medication. Perhaps the best-known drug is rilatin, which works on the basis of the substance methylphenidate.
“In the Netherlands, the use of methylphenidate is high, but the number of prescriptions for children and young people is decreasing slightly. In Belgium, however, the number of prescriptions is increasing,” says doctoral researcher and child and adolescent psychiatrist Karen Vertessen (UPC KU Leuven). “That is a concern. We know from previous scientific research that not all children with ADHD need medication, and that it does not provide any benefit for certain children, but this is not detected enough in clinical practice. Hardly any scientific practical research has been conducted on this subject. .”
That research is now available. In her PhD, Vertessen examined a hundred Dutch children, all between 6 and 12 years old, who were about to be prescribed ADHD medication. One half of the group received the medication in the usual way: they started with a low dose and gradually increased it.
The other half were prescribed the different potentially suitable doses of methylphenidate, ranging from 5 milligrams to 20 milligrams, and a placebo pill, each for a week and in random order.
The results showed that a higher dose of methylphenidate did not have a better effect for every child, contrary to popular belief. There also appeared to be a significant placebo effect: parents reported positive effects of the drug, while the children were treated with placebo.
“Our research shows that the medication does not have the same effects for every child,” Vertessen concludes. “We are not advocating no longer using medication: if the medication works, it provides good effects. But critical monitoring is necessary: during a trial period it must be determined whether the medication works and which dosage is best. the most suitable treatment can be switched more quickly, and there is less chance of side effects.”
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