How to Manage Side Effects in Kids

Six common stimulant side effects and the strategies that can help alleviate them.

Side effects are common in kids who take stimulant medications. Here are six common side effects, along with the strategies that may help alleviate them.

1. Loss of appetite, weight loss

  • Record your child's weight in a medication log every 3 months.
  • Give stimulant medications at mealtimes, and offer high-calorie snacks, like ice cream, in-between meals.

2. Growth problems

  • Record your child's height in your medication log every six months.
  • Attempt weekend and vacation drug holidays.

3. Trouble falling asleep

  • Administer the stimulant earlier in the day.
  • Change to a short-acting form of the stimulant.

4. Dizziness

  • Have your child's blood pressure checked.
  • Increase your child's fluid intake.
  • Switch to an extended-release med, such as Adderall XR, Ritalin LA, or Concerta.

5. Irritability, sadness, moodiness, or agitation 1-2 hours after administering the medication.

  • Lower the dosage.
  • Have your child assessed for depression and other problems.

6. Sadness, irritability, or worsening of ADHD symptoms as the drug wears off.

  • Change to an extended-release form of the stimulant.
  • Overlap stimulant dosing, usually by 30 minutes.

Adapted from Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids, by Timothy E. Wilens, M.D.

TAGS: ADHD Medication and Children, Side Effects of ADHD Meds, ADD Meds: Dosing, ADHD Stimulant Medications, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta

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