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ADHD and OCD
"Our 13-year-old son has ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and takes a stimulant. Now he's started to hide food in his room. What should we do?"
Observe your son's eating patterns for the next week. If he eats a full breakfast (before his medication kicks in), and then feels hungry after the medication wears off in the evening, odds are, the stimulant is suppressing his appetite, and he's hiding his lunch so you won't get mad at him for not eating it. If so, ask his doctor about lowering his dose or trying a non-stimulant medication.
If you don't observe such a pattern, your son's behavior is likely a symptom of OCD, which is known to cause sneaking and hoarding of food. In this case, the same solution — lowering his dose or switching to a non-stimulant — is probably the best approach, as stimulant medications have been known to make OCD symptoms worse.
Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.