Paper Example on ADHD and the Zombie Phenomenon

2021-06-17 19:39:56
4 pages
994 words
Vanderbilt University
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The Zombie Phenomenon happens when a child that is taking ADHD medication is overly medicated. In consequence, this causes a complete personality change to the child taking the drugs. In most instances, they will adopt a variant personality characterized by isolation and quietness. Also, the child may stop talking, and this causes them to be a walking corpse, and in this instance, the child is referred to as a zombie, and thus, this is referred to like the zombie phenomenon. Essentially, a child who is a zombie will not be able to feel emotions and has a personality that is different from fellow children because they cannot laugh or play along with others. In essence, this is supported by Schiorring (1981) as his research identified that social isolation, social withdrawal is behavioral characteristics that accompany animals, people, and children after taking certain medications, such as amphetamine administration. Also, Schiorring (1981) findings were supported by Swanson (1992), who pointed out that in some disruptive children, the drug-induced compliant behavior is accompanied by withdrawn, isolated, as well as overly focused behavior. As such, children who take ADHD medication appear to exhibit zombie-like characteristics. According to Tuchman (1996), active sanctioning of disruptive behavior by the teachers may increase the likelihood that children who have ADHD get isolated on social settings. As the author points out, this promotes their stigmatization among their peers. In essence, the medication induces somberness quietness, and stillness, which causes social isolation by increasing the time the children spend alone and decrease the time spent in positively interacting with others (Stroes, Alberts & Van, 2003).

The zombie-like symptoms are in most instances caused by inappropriate medication. Stimulant medication can be effective in controlling ADHD among children, as well as reducing the symptoms. However, for some kids, they experience harmful side effects (Stroes, Alberts & Van, 2003). Essentially, when the side effects become a problem, most of the doctors advocate for changing the dosage, type of medication, or release formula. The trend shows that the medications when inappropriately used cause the children to be like zombies in that they appear to be more isolated.

The trend reveals that medication is the main causes of the zombie-like symptoms. For this reason, getting the right medication is paramount to mitigating the zombie-like symptoms of ADHD medications (Boorady, n.d). It minimizes the side effects. Stimulant medication work by bringing up the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, which are brain chemicals. If a child gets the right medication for the right levels of the two brain chemicals, they will become more focused. However, if the child gets too much of the chemicals, it can subsequently stress out the brain, which subsequently causes negative side effects.

The trends for zombie phenomenon are exacerbated by the individual reaction of the medications by the different children. The medications used, methylphenidate-based and dextroamphetamine-based, have significant side effects. The zombie side effects are adverse effects. The difference in the manner in which the children respond to the medications is caused by the way the children respond to the different release formulas which are the speed in which the medications is absorbed into the blood stream (Boorady, n.d). In essence, short-acting medications are released immediately and usually, last for around four hours. However, long-acting formulas, which release the medications gradually over a period that can extend up to 14 hours (Boorady, n.d). The trend of zombie phenomenon is increasingly occurring primarily because the children undertaking the ADHD medications get unwanted side effects if thy switch the medications and the formulas used.

In effect, this causes mood changes in instances when the stimulant dose is high for a child, making them look sedated or zombie-like, irritable, or tearful. The do not behave normally like the other children, and thus, they have a problem with interacting with others. However, this can be mitigated by adjusting the prescription until the right dose is identified. Even so, there are kids who have these zombie-like symptoms even if they take the right dosage. The symptoms arise when they take the medication but go after they stop taking it.

For this reason, in my opinion, use of stimulants, as it causes adverse effects is not effective in treating ADHD in children. For instance, the use of stimulants in treating the disorder was openly criticized in 1988 at the National Institute of Health Consensus Development Conference on the Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. The conference questioned the validity of using stimulants in treating the disorder. From the evidence collected from Schiorring (1981) and Sawanson et al. (1992), it is clear that stimulants should not be used in treating ADHD. Besides, as Breggin (1999) articulates, it is a grave risk using stimulants in treating ADHD among children. In my opinion, using the stimulants is more damaging, and thus other avenues need to used in treating the condition. To stop the zombie phenomenon trend, it is paramount that other medications should be used. There is enough evidence about the lack of benefit and the negative impact of using these stimulants for ADHD, and thus, using them need to be controlled to mitigate having the negative side effects.


Breggin, P. R. (1999). Psychostimulants in the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD: Risks and mechanism of action. International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, 12(1), 3-35.

Boorady, R. (n.d). Side Effects of ADHD Medication: What to look for, and how to handle them. Retrieved from

Schiorring, E. (1981). Psychopathology induced by speed drugs. Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior, 14(1), 109122.

Stroes, A. D., Alberts, E. D., & Van, D.M. (2003). Boys with ADHD in social interaction with a nonfamiliar adult: An observational study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(3), 295-302.

Swanson, J.M., Cantwell, D., Lerner, M., McBurnett, K., Pfiffner, L. & Kotkin, R. (1992, fall). Treatment of ADHD: Beyond medication. Beyond Behavior 4, 1, pp. 1316 and 1822.

Tuchman, G. (1996, March). ESS presidential address, 1995invisible differences: On the management of children in postindustrial society. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 3-23). Springer Netherlands.

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