The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 26, 1996 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 26, 1996
Page 12
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C2 THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 HEALTH THE SALINA JOURNAL Ritalin / Correct diagnosis crucial FROM PAGE C1 When the 5 milligrams of Rital- in Michael was originally prescribed didn't seem to be working, the dosage was upped to 15 mg. "It was really tearing him apart, and we didn't know what to do. The mood swings were terrible. He was Jeckyl and Hyde," his mother said. "I would get calls every day from the school counselor. Second grade was horrible. "At one point, he took a fish hook and shredded his thumb. I kept telling the doctor he was not a happy child." A year ago last spring, after unsuccessful treatment including stress management, therapy and support group meetings at his school as well as medication, Michael was referred to a child psychiatrist who diagnosed manic-depression and took him off all medication for three months before prescribing appropriate drugs. Those months were turbulent as Michael again became restless and impulsive, aggravating everyone around him. But even that was better than when he was on Ritalin: withdrawn, moody and depressed, his mother recalls. Third grade was infinitely better. "He's still really, really hard on himself, always striving for perfection, but now his medications keep him from beating up on himself," his mother said. "They level him out, keep him from hitting the highs and lows. He had a great summer and is looking forward to fourth grade." Making the right diagnosis Warren Weinberg, a pediatric neurologist with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and an expert on attention deficit disorder, said Ri- talin usually makes depression worse. That's all the more tragic because good drugs are available to . treat depression. When depression is misdiagnosed, a treatable disease goes untreated. Children who have attention problems can be divided into two main groups: • Those who tend to have trouble staying alert when they try to concentrate (they tend to get sleepy unless they are busy, moving around and bothering people). • The impulsive, hyperactive children who often have a lot of moodiness. Stimulant medications like Ri, talin can help the first group of children to focus and pay attention to the task at hand. The other group, primarily children who are depressed or have learning disabilities (which can create depression) will not be helped by Ritalin. "In my experience, stimulants usually worsen depression," he ':said. The ever-spiraling use of Rital- in as a cure-all for back-to-school problems spurred the American Academy of Pediatrics last month to publish a new position statement on medication for children with attention disorders. "Medication should not be used without clear evidence that a child's attentional difficulties significantly affect school performance, cause difficulties with social adjustment or are associated with a significant behavioral disorder," the paper states. "Medication should not be continued if Benefits are not observed." Attention Deficit Hyeractivity Disorder is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, distractibility and hyperactivity, and frequently occurs with conduct, mood, anxiety and learning disorders. Most often it is diagnosed in white, middle-class boys. It is a psychiatric diagnosis often complicated by chronic family conflicts and disunity or mental illness within the family. To correctly diagnose the disorder, a physician needs to conduct a complete physical, including blood tests to rule out other diseases and disorders, as well as psychological achievement tests and lengthy discussions with the child and parents, Haber said. The number of children with attention problems has increased, Haber said, because survival rates have increased for premature infants with very low birth weights, who have a relatively high incidence of attentional problems and learning disabilities. Also more children are surviving various maladies such as leukemia, near drowning, major head trauma and meningitis, and more babies born to mothers who have abused drugs and alcohol. All of these children have a higher-than-average incidence of attention deficit-like symptoms. But, in part, there are so many children on Ritalin because of misdiagnosis. "Scientists have yet to find a cause," said Dr. Mary Anne Block, author of "No More Ritalin (Kensington Books, $14). "We are not able to identify the 'chemistry 1 problem, yet you can always find a doctor who will give your child a pill for it. "The main thing parents should know is that Ritalin or any other drug only covers symptoms," she said. "It doesn't cure anything. I'm not sure parents realize that. There are so many ways for our neurochemistry to be out of balance and so many different ways other than drugs to fix it." Block, medical director of the Block Center, a Bedford clinic, treats all ages with allergies and other chronic health problems. "Certainly hypnosis and biofeedback can be valuable for some children, but all the behavior modification in the world won't change a child whose neu- rosystem is going ballistic because of something he tasted, touched or smelled," she said. "It is better to look for the underlying cause of the symptoms. It may be an allergy or a blood sugar problem. "If we can fix the problem, the child can go on to a healthy life without drugs and without labels," she said. Block said Ritalin works almost exactly like cocaine, affecting the same receptor sites in the brain. "I call it 'kiddy cocaine.' " See Us For All Your ock Needs Lockouts / Lock change / Installation & keys Fall Styles are Arriving Daily • Jeans • Boots • Long Sleeve T's • Coats & Jackets HARLEY-DAVIDSON of Salina 700 N. Ohio Salina 913-823-3767 Mid America Arts and Crafts Association ARTS and '- CRAFTS SHOW IT'S HOT! IT'S HERE! Reg. $29.95 NOW ONLY $14.95 19th Annual Friday September 27 Saturday September 28 10am-9 pm Sunday September 29 Noon-6 pm MID-STATE mall 2450 S. 9th St. Saiina, KS *********************************** * * lr * * * * * * * * * * * * * : * * '* * * I Come as you are, leave as a star!!! Glamour Session Includes: Hollywood Hairstyling Complimentary High Fashion Makeover 4 Glamourous Wardrobe Changes Exciting, Professional, 12 pose photo session View proofs in 2-3 hours Last Chance for Christmas Delivery! By Appointment Only. Sign Up Today! See representative to schedule your glamour session. Central Mall - saima * ••* * * *********************************** What do bankers from North Carolina know about the M id west? We couldn't think of anything either. The proposed acquisition of Boatmen's by NationsBank will cause more thanjust sign changes. Decisions that impact our community, local businesses, and you will be made by leadership that is halfway across the country. But change can also be a good thing, and if you are a Boatmen's or Bank IV customer, now is'the time to consider it. You see, for most of the century, UMB Bank has helped people in this part of the country prosper. We approach your business, whether it is commercial, personal or trust, with the values of an organization that has strong roots here. Not just branches. So, if you want service from people you know, a business decision from someone you have actually met and the rock-solid stability of a bank that is not for sale, then we invite you to make a change for the better. Change to UMB. BANK America's Strongest Banks MEMBER FDIC

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