Pharmacological therapy is one of the first options to treat childhood hyperactivity, especially in the most severe cases. It is true that it is not the only alternative, but its short-term efficacy in reducing the intensity of symptoms makes it an excellent alternative. In fact, the Texas Children’s Medication Projects em> and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend resorting to medications to treat this disorder and especially suggest the use of methylphenidate, a stimulant action psychoactive drug.
Obviously, this is not the only medication that can be used to treat hyperactivity , atomoxetine is also used, which belongs to the group of non-stimulant drugs and is very useful when hyperactivity is associated with anxiety or tics. Likewise, there are other alternatives that have proven effective in specific cases, such as amphetamines, tricyclic antidepressants, bupropion, reboxetine, and a-agonists.
Choosing the most appropriate medication for Childhood hyperactivity depends on multiple factors, from the intensity of the disorder to the conditions of the child’s environment. Therefore, the decision to use one or another pharmacological treatment does not depend exclusively on the psychiatrist but must be taken together with the parents.
Types of medication for childhood hyperactivity
Currently The most effective drugs to treat hyperactivity in children are those with a stimulating action, especially methylphenidate. Its effects have been scientifically proven and best of all, adherence to treatment is very good.
In this sense, it should be clarified that in reality, stimulant medications do not have an exciting effect on children, on the contrary, they have a calming effect. These drugs act by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine, a neurotransmitter of the nervous system that is related to hyperactive behavior. In this way, they manage to reduce the symptoms in a very short time.
However, methylphenidate is not the only drug to treat childhood hyperactivity, there are different options:
1. Immediate-release stimulant
They have been available in Spain since 1981 and have a short-acting effect; that is, its half-life in the body is approximately between 2 and 4 hours. In this way, they must be administered in 3 doses a day, which implies planning each dose to adapt it to the child’s usual schedule.
Often this becomes a problem since that children should take the medicine while they are at school. Thus, the most usual thing is that they end up forgetting it or that they do not want to do it for fear that their classmates will see it and end up stigmatizing it. In this way, the fact of having to take so many doses is a factor that works against therapeutic adherence.
2. Intermediate-release stimulant
This type of medication consists of 50% short-acting methylphenidate and 50% intermediate-acting methylphenidate. What does this mean? It means that after taking the drug, 50% begin to take effect quickly (about half an hour); while the other 50% takes a little longer to be released and remains in the body for up to 7 hours after administration. Obviously, the intermediate-acting drug is much more comfortable for hyperactive children because it often 1 or 2 shots a day are enough to achieve the desired effects.
3. Long-release stimulant
Marketed since 2004, long-release drugs have a much more complex mechanism of action than other stimulants. Its structure allows gradual and gradual release, over 8 to 12 hours, with a single dose in the morning.
Most experts consider that it is the best option because it does not require the child to remember the medication but allows parents to monitor the dose during the morning. In this way, therapeutic adherence is greater and the results are better.
As a final point, it should be clarified that medications that work for one child may be ineffective for another. In fact, it’s not unusual for the medication to be changed as you get older. There are drugs, such as Adderall, Dexedrine and Dextrostat, that can be administered from 3 years of age, while others, such as Desoxyn, Focalin and Ritalin, are indicated only from 6 years of age.
Important note: The information that you have been able to read in this article is indicative, so before using any type of medication you should always go to your doctor so that he or she can inform you exactly depending on of your particular case. This information should in no case be taken as medical advice.