Drugs, Therapy, or Both: The Battle Against ADHD Rages On

May, 13, 2014: As debate among advocates of medication and those that support cognitive therapy continues, we analyze the best approach for coping with ADHD.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has captured the attention of a large number of American parents. It is the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood.

The disorder can cause hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsive behavior among children and restlessness among adults. Other symptoms include being easily distracted, difficulty in focusing on one task, and inability to process information as quickly as others.

The prevalence of ADHD and its treatment methods have been a source of controversy for the past several years. There is also an ongoing debate among scholars regarding the preference of medication over therapy and vice versa.

The efficacy of commonly prescribed stimulant drugs, particularly Ritalin, is being contested among academic circles. According to Dr. Oscar Bukstein, a child psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “It’s obvious that medication has been more effective than behavioral modification in treating the core symptoms of ADHD., but behavioral treatments can produce real improvement, and for certain kids the combination of the two treatments appears to be best.

However, a recent New York Times blog suggests cognitive control exercise as an effective tool to battle ADHD symptoms. Cognitive control is defined by the author as “the delay of gratification, impulse management, emotional self-regulation or self-control, the suppression of irrelevant thoughts, and paying attention or learning readiness.

It is certainly not advisable to completely write off the use of medication for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. However, given some of the possible side-effects of medications, it is essential to avoid medication as a first line of defense.

In such situations, the best option is to go for an inclusive approach which successfully combines the use of medication, mindfulness training and cognitive therapy.

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