Medications, including stimulants such as Ritalin, are often used to treat ADHD. (Some critics contend the drugs have been over-prescribed.) The drugs can have side effects, and one drug, Strattera, is now required to carry a black-box warning that it might prompt suicidal thoughts in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also called for new warning language to be incorporated into the labels of ADHD medications.
The new medication guide -- available at www.parentsmedguide.org -- is actually the second one in what may become a series of guides on mental health issues facing children and teens. The first guide, for parents of children with depression, has been accessed more than 1 million times.
"It's clear to us [that] parents have a lot of questions about disorders, treatments and medications and that's what led us to develop this particular guide," Fassler said.
The guide authors hope it will also be helpful for physicians, including psychiatrists and primary-care physicians.
"Most children with ADHD are first seen and evaluated with a primary-care physician. But the primary-care physician is often totally overwhelmed with the shortage of time they have to provide adequate education and background information to parents at the time of a visit," said Dr. Read Sulik, another member of the ADHD medication guide subcommittee who practices psychiatry in St. Cloud, Minn. "This tool will assist the providers."
"I think it's just a very helpful thing to be used in every psychiatrist's office who's going to be seeing kids with ADHD," added Dr. Adelaide Robb, another member of the ADHD medication guide subcommittee and a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
But the speakers at the teleconference were careful to stress that medication is not the only treatment route.
"We always start medicine after a tho
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