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ADDitude's top ADD/ADHD experts answer readers' questions about parenting children with, and about adults living with, ADD/ADHD.

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Archives: September 2014

posted: Friday September 19th - 2:38pm

A Cup of Medication?

A lot of my friends with ADHD say that they couldn't get through a day without caffeine. Can coffee or tea help with ADHD symptoms?

Dr. Sandy Newmark
Caffeine in coffee and tea is a stimulant, as are medications like Ritalin and other psychostimulants. Therefore, it is not surprising that caffeine is helpful to some children or adults with ADHD. There are many adults, diagnosed or undiagnosed, who self-medicate their condition with caffeine. The problem is that caffeine is not as reliably effective as psychostimulants are, and can produce jittery side effects. There are...
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posted: Friday September 12th - 1:08pm

Should I Take It Slow When Stopping Meds?

I am a 31-year-old woman who wants to stop taking Concerta and guanfacine because they don't help my ADHD symptoms. Should I take it slow in tapering off them?

William-Dodson_120px
You can stop taking Concerta without withdrawal symptoms. Everybody "goes off their stimulant medication" when they sleep through the night. Some people do have mild rebound symptoms when a dose of stimulant wears off, but this is not a withdrawal symptom, just the ADHD coming back. Stopping guanfacine may be a different story. Theoretically, stopping any medication that affects blood pressure, as guanfacine does, can result in...
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posted: Friday September 12th - 1:03pm

Mercury and Fish Oil

I give my son fish oil daily. Should I worry about mercury levels in the oil? Also, what kinds of benefits should I see?

Dr. Sandy Newmark
Most reputable fish oil producers remove mercury and other toxins, so fish oils are actually safer than adding fish to the diet. Consumerlab.com is a good resource for checking mercury levels in fish oil. I have seen fish oil benefit many children and adults with ADHD. It can improve focus and decrease hyperactivity and impulsivity. For some kids, these benefits become apparent within days, but for others,...
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posted: Friday September 5th - 10:56am

Do Childhood Vaccines Cause ADD?

As a person with ADD, with a son who has autism, I believe that vaccines are the cause of my ADD and my son's autism, based on my research and gut feelings. Are there any studies that suggest that vaccinations lead to either of these conditions?

StephenHinshawHeadshot_120px
The evidence is clear: Vaccines are not a cause cause of autism spectrum disorders or ADHD. Major studies have shown this. It is true that there are more vaccines now for young children than in the past, and some cases of autism don't materialize until the second year of life. In such cases, a family may attribute the timing of the vaccines to the onset of...
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posted: Friday September 5th - 10:43am

His Anger Is Out of Control — Even When He's on Meds

My 26-year-old brother was recently diagnosed with ADD and was prescribed Adderall. He has daily temper tantrums, to the point where he breaks things and kicks or punches holes in the walls. What can I do to stop these outbursts?

larrysilverthumb
It is possible that your brother is prone to such behaviors and that his medication exacerbates them. If you think these might be true, it would be best if he were not on a stimulant medication. It would be better to explore other medications for treating his ADHD. Discuss this option with the physician treating him. ...
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posted: Friday September 5th - 10:34am

Why Don't All ADHDers Need Meds?

If ADHD is caused by a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, doesn't it follow that all children with attention deficit need medication to correct the imbalance?

Dr. Sandy Newmark
This is an interesting and important question. It does appear that children with ADHD have differences in certain aspects of brain function. The most important difference seems to be in the frontal lobe, which results in problems with executive function. This may be influenced by differences in the production or metabolism of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine. This is the chemical imbalance you refer to. There...
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posted: Friday September 5th - 10:31am

Birth Defects and Stimulants

I was recently told that ADHD stimulants cause birth defects, possibly even the loss of the baby. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant, so this concerns me. Can you tell me if I have anything to be concerned about?

larrysilverthumb
There is no firm or consistent data on how stimulants affect the fetus during pregnancy. The current data suggest that there is no impact. But the information from these studies does not confirm that this is "absolutely correct in all cases." Discuss your concern with your obstetrician. Some families decide that, without definitive data, it is better to err on the side of safety and not...
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posted: Tuesday September 2nd - 12:59pm

My Husband Always Misses School Meetings

My husband refuses to go to school meetings about our daughter and to her doctor's appointments. Shouldn't he find the time to go, so he stays up to speed with our daughter's challenges?

larrysilverthumb
It is best that both parents participate in school conferences about their child. If your husband says that he cannot take off from work too often, ask him to come to the first meeting of the school year. You will attend the others and keep him up to date. Be sure to review the information shared at each meeting. If your husband either doubts the diagnosis or...
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