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Adults on Medications for ADHD have Improved Parenting Skills

Update Date: Jul 31, 2014 03:29 PM EDT

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder characterized by symptoms such as difficulties concentrating, problems with control and/or overactive behaviors. Even though ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in young children, it is a chronic condition that can still affect adults. In a new study, researchers examined the effects that medication had for adults with ADHD. They found that ADHD medication can help improve the adults' parenting skills.

"Parents with ADHD are at increased risk to engage in problematic parenting techniques, including inconsistent disciplinary practices, making ineffectual commands and diminished use of praise," James Waxmonsky, associate professor of psychiatry, explained according to Medical Xpress. "Having a parent with ADHD also decreases the chances that children with ADHD will respond to typically effective medication or counseling treatment."

According to the background information provided by the researchers, at least a quarter of all clinic-referred ADHD children have one parent with the disorder. In this study, the researchers recruited 20 parents of children between the ages of five and 12. Both parents were diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers evaluated the parents' condition in order to prescribe them the optimal dose of lisdexamfetamine (Vyanse).

During the first part of the study, the researchers observed the participants' parenting skills during two separate occasions, which involved an academic task and a non-academic task. The researchers found that during the academic portion when the parents had to help their children with their homework, there were no differences in parenting abilities between those that took the drug and those that took a placebo. However, the team noticed that the children of parents who were on medication exhibited less inappropriate behaviors. The drug had an effect on parenting skills when the parents were instructed to play with their children in the non-academic part of the experiment. Parents on lisdexamfetamine were less likely to make negative comments to their children.

During the second portion of the study, the parents performed the same two tasks. This time, the parents had a 50 percent chance of remaining on the medication or a 50 percent chance of being switched to the placebo for the rest of the study. The researchers found that parents on lisdexamfetamine tended to make fewer commands and were more responsive to their children. They also praised their children more frequently in comparison to parents who were switched to the placebo.

"In the laboratory setting, lisdexamfetamine treatment of parental ADHD was associated with significant reductions in children's negative behaviors and improvements in parenting behaviors found to be adversely impacted by ADHD," Waxmonsky said. "Changes in children's behaviors were seen first, with parenting behaviors improving over time in those continuously treated with lisdexamfetamine."

The Penn State College of Medicine's news release can be accessed here.

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