I completely understand where your concerns come from, but I feel that I should point out a few important points:
– the “hyperactivity” portion doesn’t usually present itself as physical hyperactivity in most females. In females, the hyperactivity is usually internalized… more like heightened anxiety and racing thoughts… it sounds like your daughter experiences both of those. Part of the internalization is female genetics and (a large) part of it is how females are socialized in our culture to internalize things.
– you are correct that medications such as anti-depressants and stimulants affect the brain differently, and I understand your fear due to what happened with your nephew, but I will point out that these two types of medication affect the brain VERY differently because they involve different receptors in the brain and affect different areas of brain chemistry. I have to take anti-anxiety medication now as an adult (citalopram) mostly because of the years and years of internalized stress and anxiety my undiagnosed ADHD caused me.
Some food for thought:
Your daughter definitely has classic symptoms of ADHD in females which are usually very different from how ADHD looks like in males. Your daughter is extremely active physically already which is part of the “treatment” for ADHD, as well as the mindfulness meditation you teach her, and it sounds like she gets a healthy well-balanced diet with enough essential nutrients she needs. If her symptoms and diagnosis seem “questionable” right now, it’s because you and she are doing an AWESOME job helping her learn to manage her differences. However, that said… healthy diet, exercise, meditation, and good study/organization habits only go so far. ADHD isn’t behavior based… it’s a physical neurological difference of the brain and how it manages/produces certain nuerochemicals. Basically… in an over simplified explanation… her brain is “interest” based… if it isn’t “interested” then there is no dopamine action going on, and if there is no dopamine action then there is no focus action. Some people with ADHD can literally become so bored that their brain shuts them down so hard that it makes them fall asleep… it’s a neurochemical reaction and beyond their control.
Basically, what ADHD stimulant meds strive to do is to “even the playing field” for an ADHD brain. It’s just trickier to engage our brains unless something “interesting” triggers that elusive dopamine release, and let’s face it… life is FULL of boring crud that still has to be done… but for an ADHD brain it can be like the ultimate grueling challenge because we have to FIGHT with ourselves to do something that others are just naturally more capable of forcing themselves to do. Essentially, an ADHD brain is “hungry” for dopamine… it’s why people with ADHD are at such a high risk for drug addiction if they aren’t properly treated. I bet one reason why your daughter love rock climbing so much isn’t just the physical activity but because of the rush of dopamine that “risky” challenge gives her.
My advise? Let her try the medication, but follow the basic rule of “Start low, and go slow” until you guys can find her optimal dosage and timing. It will take time to really figure out whether it works for her, so you both have to commit to this undertaking with the understanding that you are looking at what could be a few weeks to several months of tweaking… everyone is different. Stimulants are actually pretty safe for people with ADHD to take so long as they are taken AS PRESCRIBED, and there’s lots of great research out there that shows it can help PREVENT people with ADHD from developing drug addictions.
One important caveat to anyone reading this… there are a percentage of people with ADHD who don’t respond well to stimulant medication. If side effects never lessen or get worse, always always always contact your doctor ASAP. The majority of people with ADHD respond well with the right medication and dosage/timing, but there some like myself who do not. There is no way to tell without trying and giving it sincere effort.
You and your daughter should both read a lot of the free articles on this website. There’s loads of great information here, but best of all, there’s information on the ADVANTAGES of ADHD as well as information on how to succeed with it. It’s important for you both to read up on how awesome and unique her brain really is. 😀
P.S. – Seeing a counselor who is trained in treating people with ADHD or working with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist are also extremely useful… not just for learning better behaviors, but to also work through troubling thoughts and emotions. It’s hard to be an “odd duck”, especially for young people. ADHD treatment is multifaceted including diet, exorcise, behavioral training, potentially medication, and psychotherapy to help deal with the emotional load.