Reply To: PLEASE HELP! On the fence about meds…

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1. How old was your child when diagnosed?

She had just turned 9 and was in the third grade. We knew something was going on well before that, but didn’t know what. She was well behind her peers in reading and was ‘immature’ for her age. About 5 months after my daughter was diagnosed, I was diagnosed and my whole life finally made sense to me.

2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?

No, and it was because my husband was apprehensive. He had heard about children turning into ‘zombies’ on medication. Since I had been diagnosed and tried counseling without a lot of progress other than eliminating my anxiety (from not ever being able to get work/projects/planning done), I decided to try medication for myself. Once my husband saw what a difference it made for me, he agreed to let her try it if she wanted to. I tried three meds before landing with Concerta (Adderall XR wore off to quickly and Vyvance made me so irritable I could hardly stand to be in my own skin). When she decided she wanted to try it, we started with Concerta and she has been on the lowest dose for 9 months now.

3. If you waited, what was your final reasoning for opting to medicate vs going with other methods of treatment that don’t involve meds?

I did counseling first and then meds while my daughter did meds and then counseling. Neither are enough on their own. We have to go to counseling to support the medication. The treatment really can’t be just counseling or just meds or just diet, or whatever else you have read ‘works’ to treat ADHD. It has to be a lifestyle change with support from many different areas. My daughter’s behavior is better, her anxiety is much better and I think she is so much happier, but it takes several different interventions to achieve it.

4. Does your child also participate in therapy? If so, did they ever have therapy sessions before medication and did they seem to help at all before you added meds?

See above.

5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage?

Concert, 18 mg. She tried the 27 mg to see if it would give an extra boost (mostly for behavioral issues), but she didn’t feel good on it (shaky, no appetite, pounding heart, etc.). These can be symptoms at the beginning, but usually wear off as the body gets used to the medication; maybe after a week or so.

6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without?

No meds = lots of behavioral issues. We will let her skip it on the weekends (there is no medical reason to do so, but sometimes she just doesn’t want to take it), but there is a very noticeable difference in her behavior. The only days she has received redirections at school (demerits) are on days when she forgot to take her Concerta.

7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?

I regret that we didn’t do it sooner. However, she caught up to her peers and is now above reading level for her grade, and while I don’t think she will ever enjoy reading, at least she can read to learn, which is so very important.

Here is the long and short of it… If your son tries the Concerta and it makes him feel bad, or he can’t sleep or eat, try a different medication or try a different dose. Sometimes there is a lot of trial and error that goes along with the medication journey. I would HIGHLY recommend going to a child psychiatrist who can help you navigate the journey. They are experts at medication and will work with you to make sure everything is going well. I have to pay out of pocket to see my psychiatrist for medication, but it is so worth it.

The other aspect is that stimulants are in and out of his system in 10-12 hours. If he tries it and it’s not good, it’s just one day. In as much, I would recommend trying it over the winter break when he doesn’t have to be at school, just in case he does feel ‘different’. Again, taking it every day will reduce those effects over several days.

I wish you the very best in this journey. I can’t imagine my or my daughter’s life without the medication. It has been that life-changing for us.