Reply To: 15 y/o daughter is begging to be put on ADD meds.

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I apologize in advance that I have not read through everyone’s responses. But I wanted to respond to MyGirlG with some things to watch out for.

My daughter tried both Intuniv and Adderall, and my husband also tried Adderall. Neither of them use it any longer.

Both of them have an unusual metabolism, and they take up medicines into their systems very fully, very quickly, and it takes them a long time to clear them from their system. We never moved beyond the “starting” dose of Adderall with my daughter. My husband never went above 10mg (or mcg, or whatever the measure is). They were both on such tiny dosages that doctors actually doubted that it could have any therapeutic effects. Again, they metabolize it quickly and completely, so it was plenty for them.

The problem we found with stimulant meds is that they deplete your body of magnesium, and magnesium deficiency plays a large part in the severity of ADHD symptoms. So the Adderall would work initially, but then it would stop working. A larger dose was not good, and caused them to experience side effects, while still not helping with any of the focus problems. The Adderall depleted their magnesium, which made symptoms worse, doctor raises the dose, which further depletes magnesium, making symptoms worse. That was our experience. We stopped the adderall.

I did see where someone else posted that ADHD meds don’t cause suicidal thoughts, and I wanted to respond to that. It’s not the ADHD meds themselves, it’s what happens when they wear off, or when you stop taking them. Both my husband and my daughter would get tired and moody/depressed when the adderall wore off. My husband struggled for several months when he decided that he needed to stop the adderall because the way he felt when it wore off was exponentially worse than he felt before he ever started taking adderall. It was bad enough that I had to take some days off of work because he couldn’t function. And now, years later, he looks back and remembers how he was feeling and is scared by how dark and depressed he felt after stopping the Adderall.

It’s a lot more work, but there are enormous benefits from a low allergenic diet (no eggs, dairy, gluten, soy, corn) of fresh, whole foods, the right supplementation, and IEP accommodations at school. Honestly, the best thing we did for my daughter was to have her tested for food sensitivities, and then cut out the reactive foods, and second, she spent her 2nd and 3rd grade years at a private school for kids with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning differences. By 4th grade we had mainstreamed her back into public school, and she is currently a 10th grader in the STEM program, and signed up for AP Biology next year. She’s also been playing the trumpet since 4th grade, and the music seems to support her academics in neurological ways. Math is still frustrating, and she has to work twice as hard (she feels) as her classmates. The first two quarters are usually low B, or high C. But by the 3rd term it starts to click and she’ll finish out the year with As. Still, math class is best for her if it’s in the morning, and we have to do the math homework early in the afternoon/evening. When math is in the afternoon, forget about it, that information isn’t getting in. And when we do the homework late, her frustration gets the better of her.

I hope everything is working out well for your daughter. Do be vigilant for the side effects of when adderall wears off. Personally, having had two people in my household on it, I’m not a fan. As far as the “treat ADHD like any other disease”, I do appreciate where that sentiment comes from. But as with any other disease, I would want to know what the root causes are, and I would want to treat the root causes, not just medicate the symptoms. I know it’s popular to say “if your kid had diabetes, would you deny her insulin?” Well, if the pediatrician said, weight loss through a healthy diet and exercise will reverse her diabetes, than yes, I would. If the diabetes is caused by being overweight, lack of exercise and a poor diet, I would work on those issues before resorting to insulin. In many–not all–cases, diet, supplementation, exercise, and accommodations (like fidget bands to engage the large muscle groups, which can enable mental focus and concentration) tame the symptoms of ADHD into something manageable. In our case, it turned out to be the better way. In the end, the meds were too disruptive and did not provide enough benefit to be worth it.