Tagged: Treating Your ADHD
April 2, 2019 at 6:07 pm #113150
When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with very severe ADHD. At that age, it was shown by extreme hyperactivity and impulsivity and etc. I eventually started taking time release Concerta, which took away my appetite and gave me significant trouble sleeping. I went through several different meds that all ended up giving me worse side effects before I switched to Adderall XR, which I took every single day of my life up until 7th grade. I still had trouble sleeping and eating and was an average student. Halfway through my 7th grade year, I went on a vacation and realized how much better I felt having not taken Adderall for a week, and promptly stopped. Around here, I realized that I had less trouble focusing and more trouble motivating. When my meds weren’t in my system, it was very difficult to get myself to do what I needed to unless I was under immense pressure. By the next year, I was put onto a 10mg immediate release dextroamphetamine dose as needed, which I am still taking now. I often would just take it on weekdays, one pill once or twice a day at school, weekends and vacations I would take off of it, and i felt perfectly fine. But now, in my junior year of high school, schoolwork has been ramping up and I’ve been taking more meds. I’ve met with my doctor and we’ve upped my dosage to 30 mg in the morning and 20 at noon and 20 in the afternoon to account for amounts of work and a bit of a tolerance I’ve built up as I’ve started to take them more. Lately, I’ve realized just how much they’re affecting me. I know that I’m incredibly caffeine sensitive, which explains the tiny dose of these meds I take, since it’s always been tiny. But recently, they’re mostly just making me feel awful, & it refuses to go away. When I take them during the day to get work done, I’m irritable, I don’t eat despite being starving, I have headaches and I almost constantly have several motor tics, which change to new ones every month or so. I’m a great student, however, I turn in all of my work on time, put significant effort into every piece of work I do, and get exceptional progress reports and narratives. When I get home and the meds wear off, though I can’t even get myself out of bed or away from the computer to get in the shower or plug in my phone or go to the bathroom. I’m uninterested in doing anything at all but find myself bored to tears as I switch through the same three apps on my phone. I’m moody and sad and depressed. But I often still can’t go to sleep until around 11 or midnight. I know that many people tend to experience depressive crashes with faster acting meds like dexedrine or what I take, but this is consuming my life. I feel awful when I’m on the meds, and I feel awful when they wear off. If I try to take weekends off, I’m in withdrawal for the entire day, unable to do anything worth doing, sluggish and out of it. Sometimes I still can’t motivate myself even with the meds. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried every single possible solution that I’ve found on the internet to try to get myself out of it but I can’t escape it no matter how hard I try, and it’s consuming my entire life. My meds are all I think about, I have to schedule when I’m going to feel bad so I can get the most work done with the least meds possible, even though I still feel awful when I go off them because of how unproductive I am. I don’t know where to turn. I don’t know what to do. I physically can not get any work done without taking them, and I worry that I’ll always feel this way, even as an adult as I go to college or work a job. Does anyone have any advice for me at all? I’m feeling pretty hopeless.
- This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by maxnordhaus. Reason: just added a few details I realized I left out after reading it over
April 3, 2019 at 10:13 pm #113214amznwmnParticipant
Max, have you talked to your parents about any of what you have written here? If not, I beg you to do so. And sooner rather than later. Please. I have two kids that are both in their late 20’s and that we had to adjust medications for. It can be difficult to find the right one, but what you’ve explained shouldn’t be happening. Not if your prescribing doctor knows what the heck they’re doing.
But let’s start at the top.
You said you were diagnosed with “severe” ADHD and put on Concerta. The first question I would ask is, how were you diagnosed? By your family doctor or pediatrician? A medical diagnosis should be made by a qualified mental health professional with experience in diagnosing and treating ADHD. Otherwise, you run the risk of a general practitioner turning you into a guinea pig as he/she tries a bucketful of different meds at different strengths without knowing what they’re doing. Unfortunately, it sounds like that is what you’ve been going through. If that is the case, I would strongly urge you to find a mental health professional to be medically diagnosed the right way.
Also, you hint that the 30 mgs in the morning, 20 mgs in the afternoon and another 20 mgs after that is a “tiny” dose, and I’m not sure where you got that idea, but taking 70 mg a day of dextroamphetamine is NOT a tiny amount, especially for someone your age, and while I’m not a physician, I would wager to say that the amount you’re taking can pretty much explain almost everything you’ve mentioned in your post. By the way, the FDA recommended daily dose for adults is only 60 mgs. And while you said you were diagnosed with “severe” ADHD, I would still question the dosage.
(I hesitate to say though that, personally, I take 30 mgs three times a day, but I’ve been taking that amt for close to 20 years without needing to increase it because of any tolerance built up.)
When my doctor first talked to me about the diagnosis and medication, he compared having ADD/ADHD with having diabetes and that withholding or “taking a break” from the medication is like withholding insulin. ADD/ADHD is a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain. It is a very physical condition that manifests itself by impairing what are called your “executive functioning skills.” I would suggest doing some research about these skills to better understand what’s going on in your brain.
I understand, given the extreme problems that you’ve had with your medicine, about your wanting to take a break from your meds, but like I said, under normal circumstances, a person shouldn’t feel the need to do that.
So, Max, I’m worried about you! Please, please, find a doctor that knows and understands the unique issues associated with having ADD/ADHD and that can help you better understand to what extent you are affected by this imbalance, and help you find the right medication.
I hope you will come back and keep me updated so I know you’re alright.
April 4, 2019 at 4:49 pm #113274
to answer your question about my doctor and diagnosis, I was diagnosed by my pediatrician initially, but after I took my break from adderall XR in 7th grade, I went to the hallowell center in sudbury MA, (a center specifically for ADHD) where I met with a psychiatrist who talked me through my issues, agreed that I did have a very high-grade case of ADHD, and prescribed me the dextroamphetamine I take today.
as for dosage, up until very recently I was only taking about 20-30mg a day, 10 in the morning and 10 at noon, sometimes 10 when leaving school. even at that point I was feeling the same side effects I feel now, but a month or so ago I started to feel less of the focus and motivation I would get from the 10mg doses. Both my pediatrician and the psychiatrist I met with had told me in the past what I tiny dose I took for someone my size (around 150 lbs.). I did initially decide to up my dosage with my pediatrician, but not before she’d talked to a specialist and they agreed it was the right decision.
I’ve talked to my parents about my problems with side effects, but I’ve tried so many different meds in the past that we’ve kind of agreed that this seems like the only real course of action. Currently I’m excelling in school at the cost of feeling this way, but I’m in a holding pattern right now, and I might be able to get a real break this summer. If they were to take me off the meds, I’d be in a far worse place in every respect than I’m in right now. (We often compare it to taking away my insulin, as I’m also a type 1 diabetic).
I have a method of coping with issues in my life where I just research the hell out of them, and often if I understand every little working piece of something, it clicks in my head in a very fundamental way. I have spent hours learning about the dopamine and norepinephrine that I lack and the ways I can manage that deficiency, through exercise and eating enough and making lists and spending time outside and entertaining myself with video games or anything else. and for the most part, that’s what I’ve been doing to cope. I keep myself at a bearable level by working to fight my meds crash from the moment they wear off to the moment I go to bed. but it’s hard to keep that up, and it’s tiring, and I just get so frustrated that I can’t get myself to do the things I need to do without my meds. April break is coming soon, and I found that after February break, I had a few weeks of really good days, in terms of my meds. I was more motivated, less fatigued, able to manage side effects better, more productive, felt better, didn’t crash as hard, etc. I think that maybe once I get that week long April break away from my meds, I might come out of it feeling better. That’s the hope, anyway.
I really appreciate your concern, and I’m hoping this helps answer your questions.
April 4, 2019 at 10:37 am #113241Brendan09Participant
I am an adult (35+) recently diagnosed with ADHD and I know how you feel because I feel that way sometimes. First thing, give yourself some credit for trying to improve your situation. But because of your age I would advise you to talk to your parents. I think a big mistake people with ADHD, including myself, make is we don’t invest enough time learning non-medication coping skills like exercise, talk therapy, our diets, meditation, etc. I think for me learning to live without my medication has helped me better understand and appreciate the benefits of medication and the compromises I make when I am on medication. Every time I feel a negative side effect, I ask myself “Whats the alternative?”. I did a cost benefit analysis and determined I am willing to live with the side effects of medication. However, the benefits are not as great as I once thought. Initially I thought benefits outweighed side effects 80/20; it is more like 65/35. I am going to have trouble sleeping sometimes. I am going to forget to eat. I am going to be unusually irritable some days. I am going forget to take my medication. My stomach may hurt. I may forget to lock up my medication. You get the point. The medication is not necessarily ruining your life, its just a part of your life you deal with like anything else. It will allow you to overcome adversity but sometimes it will create its own. And you may need to develop an approach to deal with it. Which is why talking to your parents is important. I lived without medication for over 35 years. It was hard. But I figured out ways to make it a good life. I hope everything works out and feel free come back to the forum with any progress you make.
April 4, 2019 at 4:56 pm #113275
I know exactly what you’re saying here, with the trade-off or cost-benefit analysis, and it’s exactly the same with me. I know the meds make me feel awful, and I know that I can’t get any of the things done that I need to without them, so I schedule them almost obsessively. I weigh the pros and cons every single time I take them, and often talk to my parents to set aside time for me to work uninterrupted for a few hours on weekends, so I can only take one dose of meds and get everything done that I need to, or take one dose of meds at the exact right time so that I’ll be uninterrupted for their duration, in order to get as much done as I can with the fewest possible doses. It’s not ruining my life, in fact I think that, overall, I’ve really got my life pretty on track. But it just can feel so awful sometimes, like I’ll feel this way forever or like I’m worse than other people because I have to take them just to get anything done, or like I just want to give up and stop dealing with them altogether and let all of the work I’ve put in be for nothing. But I haven’t caved yet, and don’t plan to anytime soon. Your input here means so much to me, I know so many other people with ADHD but none of them have this same issue that I do and it’s beyond reassuring to know that it’s not just me being weird or something.
April 5, 2019 at 11:04 am #113323Penny WilliamsKeymaster
You’re either on the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. These are side effects that you shouldn’t tolerate. Probably time to see your doc and make a medication change.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
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