ADHD drugs have placebo effect on CAREGIVERS!

manypillsWhy am I not surprised by this?? Once kids are given drugs parents, teachers and other adults in the life of the child feel better…even if there isn’t really any change at all!

From Science Daily:

Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are the accepted treatment to stem hyperactivity in children with attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and improve their behavior.

Now a recent review of research by University at Buffalo pediatric psychologists suggests that such medication, or the assumption of medication, may produce a placebo effect — not in the children, but in their teachers, parents or other adults who evaluate them.

A placebo effect is a positive change in symptoms or behavior after a patient receives a “fake” medication or procedure; in other words, the belief can become the medicine. In this case, the review suggested that when caregivers believed their ADHD patients were receiving ADHD medication, they tended to view those children more favorably and treat them more positively, whether or not medication was actually involved.

“The act of administering medication, or thinking a child has received medication, may induce positive expectancies in parents and teachers about the effects of that medication, which may, in turn, influence how parents and teachers evaluate and behave toward children with ADHD,” said UB researcher Daniel A. Waschbusch, Ph.D., lead author of the review. (read the rest here)

Many of us already know how invested some family members can be in our treatment. Now we know it makes them feel better to know we’re being poisoned. So much better they think our behaviors are better even when they’re not.

It’s about feeling like we can do something to change those we care about. Unfortunately it comes with a very dangerous price tag when we’re talking psych meds.

8 thoughts on “ADHD drugs have placebo effect on CAREGIVERS!

  1. Yes, to me, this is an exampled of the “Psychology dependency” mentioned as part of Adderal, Ritalin et al being a “Schedule II” drug….but what’s an enigma to me is that according the article, Eli Lily along with the Department of Education and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services help fund the study…
    They’re usually the ones pushing the drugs no matter what…


  2. In spite of the differences between the European and the American school system, they seem to have at least this one thing in common, that you need to spend (and I was about to say: waste) 10 to 13 years of your youth on acquiring the factual knowledge, that, otherwise, would take you maybe 5 years to learn, even if you aren’t a genius. If it wasn’t for the non-factual (ideological) “knowledge”, they’re doing everything (even subjecting you to 5 to 8 years of pure boredom) to make you internalize.

    I’d say, we don’t need alternative schools for the “bright, curious and spirited”, but a revolution in the school system as a whole. As it is now, it’s an assault on the kids, and as they often are brighter, and certainly always more curious and spirited than we assume (or: like them to be), they react to the assault. In one way (“ADD”) or the other (“ADHD”).

    These findings don’t surprise me neither. And as you suggest, Gianna, I bet they’d find the same applies to all psych drugs. Probably, the attitude/expectation of one’s surroundings is just as or even more important, when it comes to the effectiveness of psych drugs, as one’s own is.


  3. And the opposite is proven true, with or without a study — when the parents/teachers/doctors think the patient is NOT taking their meds, they are treated poorly, despite the patient’s level of “compliance”.


  4. I was told that if I had seen a Dr. in my teens I would’ve been diagnosed with this crap.

    Thank goodness I dodged the bullet.

    ” “…that’s my brain heaving a sigh of relief.


  5. I’m speechless… I know how hard it is to parent… but cannot imagine giving what amounts to speed to a developing brain (the brain develops until about age 25 in boys)… I hesitate to criticize other parents for difficult choices… but the idealist in me would like to see other options tried and exhausted… and possibly alternative schools for the “bright, curious and spirited”…


  6. The way I’d interpret is that these parents experience their children as uncontrollable and so the mere fact that they’ve persuaded them to take their meds gives the parents a sense of power that they otherwise feel they lack. Plus, they believe that making their kids controllable is the effect of the drug. I don’t think it’s medicinal revenge.


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