How Do ADD / ADHD Medications Really Work?

I recently answered this question and thought it was worth sharing. Plus, it really got me thinking. For those of you who do take medications yourself, or have children taking medications, what experience do you have or see as a result?

It’s difficult to say what you changes you might see in your husband without knowing which exact medication he is being prescribed. There are different types, two primary to be exact (stimulants and non-stimulants) along with some “off-label” medications that are for other conditions but have also shown to work with ADD / ADHD.

Depending upon which medication he is prescribed, along with his particular type of ADD / ADHD, his experience of ADD / ADHD, and how his body reacts, there is just know way to tell.

In most cases, there are generally side-effects, and I would encourage you to watch for them, ask him about them, and then have him communicate with his prescribing physician if there is any concern.

As for how they help, the best way I can put it is that the medications are said to improve focus, concentration, and attention so that his brain or his energy can be focused on other tasks. The medication itself does not get rid of ADD / ADHD… It merely relieves symptom experience so he can dedicate “resources” to other tasks.

One friend of mine who has taken ADD / ADHD medication for different periods in his life (a young adult) has shared with me that it allows him to better control his emotional reaction to situations and deal with them more effectively.

Unfortunately, I can’t get you a better answer right now without knowing more about your husband and which medication he will be prescribed. But I hope this helps.

As for whether they work or not (the medications), biologically they do. But again, they are not a cure for ADD / ADHD. They do not suddenly make life miraculously better. There are still lots of things to work on, and the medication is supposed to help with that…but certainly not resolve everything.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or personal experience with medication. Go ahead and share with us all what experience you have had. We’d also love for you to share this with anyone you know who might find this information or your comments useful.

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29 Responses to “How Do ADD / ADHD Medications Really Work?”

  1. Medication for my ADHD son has been a blessing! He was always getting in trouble in school and had significant difficulty staying focused, writing, reading, etc. Very impulsive, trouble respecting other’s space. It was starting to effect his self-esteem and relationships. After a number of other approaches (behavioral, homeopathic) we tried medicine. It was transfomative! It has given him the ability to concentrate in school, pay attention and improve relationships. His handwriting changed comopletely while on medication — because his brain could slow down and focus to match his hands. It improved his relationships and our home life. Yet, he still has his wonderful outgoing personality. We did have to adjust/try a few different medications to find the best one, but it has truly helped my son. It doesn’t solve everything, but he is a much happier and more confident 4th grader. He has been on medication for 3 years and is still healthy, growing.

  2. My son, who is now 13, has struggled in school for years and has “classic ADHD”. After trying lots of herbal “remedies” and supplements, I made the decision to start him on medication. He is currently on 15mg of Focalin XR and it has enabled him to focus much better in school and bring his grades up from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s the last two years. I do not give him the medication if he is not in school, although, he “functions” much better when he takes it. Without the med, he is extremely impulsive and constantly antagonizing his brother. Overall, I would recommend that anyone who feels that they are just not able to focus, try a very small dosage of ADHD medication. As resistant as I was to it, I now would recommend it.

  3. I have a client who was not responding at all to the methods that had worked very successfully with many other students. Wea were attempting to deveop word retreival and sentence organisation skills. After 18 months of not really progressing they agreed to see the pediatriacian and the effect of the medication has been extraordinary for him. He is learning, visually able to pay more attention amd generating longer responses in structured tasks. Still a long way top go but he is not as restless and his relationship with his brother is much better as well. We are thrilled to now start making the gains that we expected to see 12 months ago.

  4. With regard to saying (Dr.Stern)saying he thinks medicine has a place but would like to try other things first – I think that by the time it gets to the point where a child is diagnosed with ADHD – all the other things were already tried, and didn’t work, which is how the child probably got diagnosed in the first place!

    Both my 11 year old son and myself responded very well to medication (Adderall XR). My son was taken off his medicine by his father, and has problems – he is older now, and gifted, so he can function without getting kicked off the bus anymore, but he does not do NEARLY as well as when he was medicated. Especially socially, and cooperating in the family, and being happy – he was much better on the medication. He knows this, and wants his medication back, but his father doesn’t ‘believe’ in ADHD, thinks my son’s problems were all caused by parenting (mine, of course), and believes I fooled the doctors into diagnosing him and treating him. So the child suffers. He wants to try other things (as though we haven’t been trying the other things for years). He is short and is afraid our son will be short from taking Adderall. Even negative reports from teachers saying how he is not coping well after being taken off the medication don’t trouble his father. He just ‘knows’ that medication must be bad. It is very frustrating to deal with this kind of attitude – I know several people who also choose not to medicate their diagnosed children – the kids struggle on, have difficulty with friendships, and homework, and so on, and their parents also think ‘medicine is bad’. My eldest son got A’s and B’s and some C’s – was very disorganized (also gifted) – he was treated with medicine and gets A+’s and A’s and is happy and functions well. People don’t get that the brain is missing the neurotransmitter in the right places or the right proportions, and giving the medicine takes them back to ‘normal’ (sort of). I think it is a mistake to think that just because a child does not struggle desperately every moment of every day, that they would not benefit from medication. It certainly changed my life and my perception of the world and my awareness of many social issues. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is child abuse not to give a child medicine that has been prescribed for him, but I do consider it somewhat neglectful, when it can help a person cope with the demands of their life and help them feel good about themselves.

  5. It was a tough decision to try medication for our son! But, in 5th grade as I observed him in class as a suggestion by his loving teacher, I could not believe how difficult it was for him to move from one assignment to the next. He shuffled his papers endlessly, could not focus on one project and easily distracted with anything. I started to cry. We started out with a small dose of Metadate on a weekend so we could observe him. It was to my amazement that I watched how he could actually follow through with a simple instruction! In the past, I’d ask him to take out the garbage and would not see him back at the house for a long while and often had to go see where he was. Playing with a stick or something. But after he took the medication, he came back within minutes and asked “Mom, is there anything else you want me to do?” He is now a freshman in High School and still on medication. We have changed from Metadate to Vyvanse. He is still on a lower dose, but makes A’s and B’s in school. His creative outlet is teaching himself how to play the guitar. We still struggle with some issues but he likes himself more when he takes his medication and I see the benefits. We have a knowledgeable Pediatrician and I have learned lots about ADHD and how creative and inter-personally astute our son is. Sensitive, creative, intelligent and a sense of humor like no other! I try to work with his strengths and hold him accountable in creative ways. ADHD has taught this Mom a lot about myself and given me a deeper understanding in ways I would not have had the opportunity to know. It’s not easy, but a learning process for us both. Mainly, keeping him going in the direction of his interests!

  6. Medication is a personal choice and one will more often than not get the opinion of those that recall the days of children seeming zoned out on Ritalin in the 70′s

    But…

    Technology has come such a log way and there are so many medications to try to find a solution to help with ADHD behaviors

    It’s a disservice to anyone with ADHD to not support them trying a few and seeing if one just happens to work!

    Adderall XR in the morning before school and a small dose at 2pm from the school nurse before it’s time for homework and family time has made such a BIG difference in our family life with my 11 yr son!

    We can all tell the difference when my son hasn’t had his meds

    He was 7 yrs and in the 2nd grade by the time I finally got someone to hear me and help identify the fact my son wasn’t just being overbearing to bug people he really needed help chemically and behavorially

    Spanking him was NOT the answer to our problem!

    Between medication and counseling to learn to relate to his being wired different (I’m ADHD too) and how to parent him in a positive way

    I unfortunately didn’t have that benefit when I was a kid

    I feel much better about myself as a mom!

    I no longer fall asleep at night thinking over the day and of the dozens of times I said something negative instead of positive to my son all day!

    The first time a staff member at my son’s school told me she’d have never known he was ADHD if I hadn’t told her

    I knew I had made the right decision to try medication

    My son’s teacher has another boy that is ADHD seated next to him in class

    His family has chosen to not persue resources for his behavior

    Poor kid is like Taz on speed!

    He’s forever being hounded for being too
    everything!

    She uses my son as a way to help his friend work on self management by taking ques from his being on task when he’s loosing it

    It’s a nice compliment for my son after being reminding to get back on task for so long himself

    I would encourage parents to really look into the pro – con of using medication and get information from their pediatrician if medication is a good choice for their child

    Being told “I like it that you don’t get mad at me anymore” made my heart glad with my son.

    As for concerns about weight management that come with medication use

    Both my kids get a multi vitamin and calcium chewables each morning with their breakfast

    For my ADHD son I found a BIG breakfast before I give him his medication

    Expect he’ll eat a small lunch while medication is at it’s peek

    A snack after school and 2 plates made for dinner

    1st plate he doesn’t eat allot as the medication has almost worn off

    The next plate 2 hrs later he eats all of it and often the leftovers on the 1st one I put in the fridge for later

    LOL

    Mom’s Diner serves at all hours of the day!

    I also serve dessert in my house to add a few more calories

    It’s a balancing act but can be managed once you get a sense of when they are and truly aren’t hungry

    The juggling is worth it to have a calmer home and everyone feeling good about themself.

  7. My son is 12 and is on medication for 2 years. I was resistant to medications as any Mom would be, but by the time he turned 10, I realised that he needed help. So, we started medications from very small dose, increasing it gradually. Medication definitely helps and my son feels now much better about himself. So are we. He is off meds when there is no school, or on a very small dose if there is other activity. It helps him with his social life and he does not have to put extra effort into controlling his behavior.

  8. My son is ten now, and has been on medications since he was six. We started him just a couple days a week, and eventually had to move to using them everyday. He currently is taking a medication that is more of a cross-over medication and it has been life-changing. He also uses a stimulant, but it’s a very low dose. His eating is doing GREAT now, and he is able to sleep at night.

    I can say, in our situation, without medication, I feel that my son would have seriously injured himself or his siblings, or even myself. He was SO impulsive and hyper. Now, with a lower stimulant dose with the anti-anxiety medication, his joy is back, his sense of humor is back, and since we got anxiety under control, his fears have nearly disappeared. He was scared to swim, scared to be with other children, scared to do anything, climb, play. Now, over the summer, he is climbing, swimming, begging for friends to come play, desires going out and about to meet with other children, etc. It’s been life-changing!

  9. Infor Thelonghaul November 10, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    My sons are both 16, one bio and one adopted. The adopted son was diagnosed first with ADHD at around 6. He was so young for his age, incredibly impulsive, hyperactive, and could not respect boundaries across multiple fronts. We might have known sooner about his adhd, except he was in such a supportive Montessori school at 5 that tolerated alot of things that would not have been accepted in other schools; but disaster struck in public school in first grade. He lasted one month and then we had to put him back in the private school at the request of the principal of the public school. This son has been on Concerta for 8+ years now. He’s at the maximum dose 3 days per week, and a lower dose on weekends and Monday & Friday, but the medication has been the single most influential factor in his ability to cope and succeed in everyday matters. This is not a miracle story and it’s had some horrendous ups and downs, but right now, he’s got mostly As & B’s, he’s at grade level and he enjoys reading comic books, and enjoys art and dance.

    My other bio son, well it took much longer to diagnose him because his high intellectual ability actually covered up his ADD. He too takes Concerta and it helps some but it’s harder to notice the impact. He still struggles with organization and remembering to turn in assignments, and he lacks a general awareness of his surroundings at times, especially if the interaction is not something critical or that would draw his interest. He also really hyperfocuses. This boy is more rigid emotionally and socially, unwilling to try new things very often, or take suggestions. Thankfully, he’s a pretty easy going boy, loves computer games and D&D and identifies himself as a highly capable teen among his friends. But he rarely reaches his potential, always testing in the top 5 to 1% of students on standardized tests, yet maintaining under a 3.0 gpa in his 6 honors classes. He’s always been in accelerated programs and he’s ambitious in his goals. But his willingness to work and study does not match his ambition. And his unwillingness to critique his own academic weaknesses and do something about them (mainly organization, studying for tests, planning in advance, tracking homework completion and turn in in a more detailed way). He’s not willing to go to after school tutoring, and he’s unwilling to work with an add coach (which I think he could benefit by incrediby). This boy should be going to a prestigious college and should be offered scholarships, such is his gift, but his narrowmindedness is curtailing his own future. My other son, well, I just want to get him through high school and go from there, probably community college.

  10. As a cognition therapist, I’d rather work with an unfettered brain.
    It’s difficult to distinguish attention-deficit behaviors from other behaviors the client may have developed to cope with underlying learning deficits if there’s a layer of pharmaceutical gunk masking the whole thing.
    A lot of behaviors assumed to belong with ADHD/ADD are really just coping behaviors related to auditory-processing deficit, for example. I don’t give much credence to a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD before I get a clear look at what the brain does, because I know from experience that auditory-processing deficit is by far the most common deficit out there today–and it is absolutely fixable.
    It’s easier to fix if there’s no dope in the way. And it can be fixed in the presence of ADD/ADHD behaviors unless those are very severe. So I usually ask parents or the client to try going off the drugs for the 38 hours we plan to work together on re-training the brain. So far, no problem–and great results.

    A suddenly well functioning auditory processor often has remarkable effects on what was assumed to be ADD/ADHD.

    A deep-seated attention problem is the hardest kind of learning deficit to fix, mind you. It takes more time than the other deficits, and sometimes even that doesn’t completely eliminate the symptoms. But, even if a magic wand waved the attention problems out of existence, a remaining auditory-processing deficit or other deficit would still make the client pretty miserable in the average learning environment.

    So, my philosophy is, Fix the fixable stuff first; work on the attention problems by empowering the client/parent to address nutrition and lifestyle issues. Those boil down to this: stop putting electronic gadgets in front of still-developing brains and stop putting processed foods into the mouths attached to those brains, and miracles might well happen.

  11. After going through all the stimulant medications with my son who is now 10 in the last 3 years – and having initial great results – no hyperactivity – no ODD – ability to concentrate in class and behave etc. each one we tried stopped working. Our local kids hospital told us that was it nothing else to try – except parenting courses and maybe a good old fashioned behaviour modification program.
    We ultimately went to the Amen Clinic in Virginia, and our son was put on Lamictal as an off-label use – to calm down his overactive brain – it worked he became happy, affectionate, cooperative still hyper but a pleasure to be around. Now the psychiatrist has added Vyvanse and his concentration has improved dramatically – Our child is certainly much happier and he would still be suffering if we had not found another route to go. Kudos to the Amen clinic seeing the brain scan was a real eye opener – our son had Type 6 -ring of fire ADHD and it made perfect sense why the meds didn’t work.

  12. My son was 9 when he was officially diagnosed and classified in school. We strated medication then also. It made a tremendous difference. As he got older, he didn’t take it on a daily basis, mainly on testing days, which also worked out. Now he is in high school, active in sports. He does not want to take any medication. School is still a challenge,we accept that, but at this age when teens may experiment with drugs & alcohol, I am glad he doesn’t want to take it.On the contrary, his guidance couselor and case manager suggessted trying new medication.I was very surpised.My son is very adamant about not taking meds & I applaud for that. We’ve modified his diet and added supplements w/ omega3. Being physically active in sports definitely helps. My son is a runner & swimmer, he said that working out clears his head.

  13. ADHD like symptoms are only one piece of my 9 year old adopted twin girls challenges. They have a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and a Regulatory Disorder (secondary to the FASD). They do not have a medical diagnose of ADHD. They have an unclear diagnose of ADHD by a neuropshychologist and they only gave this label to help get school support. They recommended a trial of medicine and the school would like them to take medicine. A couple other professionals recommed it too. I am in the process of getting another evaluation done by a neuropsyhchologist.

    My girls pediatrician says no to medicine for them because they have so much sensory problems. The ADHD medicine would work for neurotransmitters such as dophamine and he does not think that would work for them. Every sensory input that goes to affected areas of the brain (from the alcohol) and the medicine won’t change that. Fifty percent of kids with the FASD who take meds it can help but it won’t work for my girls.

    I was relieved that my doctor said no to the medicine for my girls. I am scared of the side effects particularly the ones about suicide. One of my daughters has some emotional outbursts which I read that the medicine can make worse. My other daughter has some complaints which inlude a fast heartbeat which I am concerned how the meds would effect that. They both have had heart issues when infants (before adopted at 15 months old) but have had two healthy heart check-ups in America.

    I am trying to get all the support my girls can possibly get at school. I am doing my best to educate them to see all their needs. They have occupational therapy and speech therapy at school. They have a sensory diet which includes balls as chairs and a trampoline in the classroom. (This support was not easy to get.) They are suppose to have an Adult Assistance as needed (to assist with understanding directions, task accuracy and organization).

    I am working on comparing symptoms of Central Auditory Processing Disorder and ADHD as well as the FASD. They have auditory challenges and I think auditory processing problems need to be addressed at school. I have been consulting with the school audiologist who is relucant to do testing because ADHD needs to be ruled out first…

    My girls have the school behavior therapist involved now. They have displayed some inappropriate self-stimulation in class… which has recently stopped with support. My doctor agrees that this is for regulation. My girls say that it helps them to think or listen.

    I have provided numerous alternatives for my girls at home. These include Listening Techniques. They are currently doing The Listening Program with Bone Conduction. My girls have the added benifit of mom being an occupational therapist but I consult with other therapists. They have also recieved Feldenkrais with physical therapists.

    Yes, my girls show ADHD symptoms, one more than the other and I have listened to others about the meds. I don’t think the risks are worth the benifits. However, I am especially concerned about one of my daughters. One is progressing better than the other one who seems more affected. I plan to continue to get more answers about their disabilities.

    Fri. I get to go to a conference on Auditory Processing Disorders. This seems to be just another piece of FASD. I don’t want my girls to take medicine for ADHD if their problems are related to auditory processing and not the ADHD even if they did not have the FASD…

  14. Our granddaughter is 8 1/2, has severe ADHD, verbal apraxia, and learning difficulties in math, and is on Focalin. Medication has been a huge gift for her, and for all of us who love her. It allows her to order her life for a period of time, and to focus enough on things she isn’t interested in to progress in school. She is mainstreamed in 2nd grade, and has a sign language interpreter. I don’t know how her family could have managed without her medication. She has also been in therapies of one kind or another since she was two. The Focalin wears off after school, and she marches to her own drummer. She continues to amaze and delight us, even while we are all working to help her in every possible way. Betsy

  15. My son was diagnosed at the age of 5 with ADHD. We had been dealing with his behavior issues since the age of 3. After going through two different couselors for behavior modification we had him diagnosed with ADHD and started with medication.

    It wasn’t our salvation, but with additional behavior modification programs and working with different meds, 7 years later we are great.

    Meds are not always the answer but in our case they were part of the answer. We have had our issues with the side effects but have found the right dosages along with combination of different meds to help my son grow into the wonderful young man he is today.

    He is a straight A student with a good group of friends. He is thinking about running cross country in junior high next year. That is quite a jump for him since his sports experiences were a disaster!

    Putting your child on medication is a difficult decision for any parent and should not be the only treatment they receive. However it can be a very beneficial part.

  16. We put our son on concerta in 2nd grade and it worked like a charm for him right away- in school, at home with concentration, impulsive behavior, even hyperactivity. The Dr gave us a few weeks of samples, and when they ran out, we went to buy them. Through our insurance, they’d have cost $150.00 monthly which we couldn’t afford, so we was switched to ritalin, tgaking it twice daily. Worked just as well. But by the 4th grade, he was suffering the side effects with twitching, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, heart rate raising. We tried Vivance which is suupposed to be less stimulating, but that didn’t help. We took him to a naturalpath dr. who steered us in a more natural direction as we took him off the med. Things in school became a disaster; back to square 1. We put him back on the Vivance, but now it seemed like he wasn’t reacting as much to it as before. We switched him to concerta, since my insurance changed and it only cost $45. By now, we switched him to higher doses little by little until it finally waseffecting him. But the side effects were horrible for him, by last Feb., in 6th grade, I took him off altogether. He has been having a hard time in school, socially keeping new friends, and responsibiliies at home. BUT HE’S GROWING PHYSICALLY! It is so sad to feel like we have to make a trade off- mental gelth for physical health. School is retesting him now, another PPT mtg. 11/30 (his 12th b-day) All I can say is it’s a great bandaide, but you have to keep checking the wound, and dont’ expect it to heal just by covering it up. The teen years are crucial times for the body’s growth. He’ll just have to wait it out and hopefully maturate to deal with some of the symptoms as most teens do. Also, we work w/ a metronome, and mind flex at home, but we’re new at it so no major results yet.

  17. Wow.

    I must admit I was a little upset when I saw the title of this post: “How Do ADD/ADHD Medications Really Work,” because NO ONE really knows how any of these medications work. We’ve all been told about the medical theory underlying ADHD, i.e., that ADHD is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain involving certain neurotransmitters and that the medications help regulate such neurotransmitters.

    However, this is only a THEORY. No one really knows what causes ADHD, and NO ONE really knows how any of these medications actually work. As most of you certainly know, ADHD is a symptom driven diagnosis – if you check off enough behaviors on the Conners sheet in enough environments, you will be diagnosed with ADHD regardless of what is actually causing the behaviors.

    If you do the research, you’ll find studies that “prove” inattentiveness and impulsivity can be traced back to many different “causes” — overexposure to media (including television and video games), poor diets and food allergies, nutrition deficiencies (including essential fatty acids), sensory integrations problems, sleep problems or emotional issues, to name but a few. I noticed that some of the previous posts mention such issues.

    But, to Dr. Stern’s credit, he did not try to explain exactly how these medications work, nor did he take a stand on their use. The subject of medication is near and dear to me, and I have blogged about it extensively in the past. While I am certainly not a proponent of medication, I do realize that for some people it is a life changer. I only urge that you try other therapies and approaches, and use medications as a last resort.

    Without getting into the gory details, our son was diagnosed with ADHD, borderline ODD, and PDD by the age of 7. We reluctantly tried medications, and unfortunately for our son, he got hit with nearly every side-effect you could get, from wild mood swings, to hyper anxiety, to facial tics. One med led to another, and to another, as his doctors tried to medicate his side-effects away and get his behavior under control.

    He was a mess, and the cocktail of ever changing meds was only making him worse. When we mentioned trying alternatives ranging from dietary changes to homeopathy to sensory integration work, we were told by every professional that meds were the only proven therapy and the rest was a waste of time and money. However, our son’s downward spiral on the meds, the doctors’ insistence on more meds, and our desperation drove us to explore the alternatives.

    We did, and we have never looked back. It took time and a lot of effort, but by the time our son entered sixth grade, he was completely off all medications and you would never have known there was ever an issue with this child.

    Over that time, we learned a great deal about meds that the doctors never shared with us. First, nearly all studies show that over the long run, these meds lose their effectiveness. Second, these meds almost always have side-effects (although some may argue that the benefits outweigh the side-effects). Third, while rare, there are some serious issues with these medications that have led some to be banned in other countries. Fourth, the effectiveness of such meds is greatly over sold. You see, it depends on your definition of “effectiveness.” If you define “effectiveness” as having some “effect,” then these meds are very effective. If you define “effectiveness” as satisfactorily alleviating the issues for which the medication is given, you’ll find that these meds aren’t nearly as effective as promised.

    In fact, during a Special Education PTA seminar, less than 30% of the parents who tried medications to regulate their children’s behavior thought the meds did what they were supposed to do, and 100%(!!) experienced side-effects. This number was interesting since a psychologist writing on the subject of the effectiveness of psychotropic meds, made a similar distinction, and stated with authority, that such meds had an “effect” 70% of the time, but only really worked about 30% of the time!

    So, I was truly shocked to see how many people responded that their children were helped by meds. I was even more shocked by the apparent lack of those who had awful experiences with medications, like we did. I can only say to those who responded by saying that meds were life savers, I am truly glad that you were able to help your children, and be aware how lucky you are!

  18. My son was diagnosed in 1st grade,and that summer started with a low dose of adderall. He was so excited at soccer camp that he could understand coach!

    Alas, within two weeks, he was terrified to go outside, because there were monsters. Even in bright daylight. So we changed to Concerta.

    Same thing. A great beginning, with terrible side effects blooming in a few weeks. The Psych that prescribed this stuff said the medicine would wear off in 8 hours or less. Unfortunately, the terror and anxiety plagued our family for a year!!

    Meanwhile, I had tutored an autistic kid who was on a wheat- and dairy-free diet. On a whim, I started to feed my son this way.

    His behavior is MUCH BETTER on this diet. We avoid most processed foods, which is cheaper in this economy anyway.

    The diet significantly enhanced his ability to concentrate, to read and write. I see pictures of him as a toddler now, and realize the red cheeks and chapped lips are a result of food intolerances! They profoundly affect his learning ability. I WISH EVERYONE KNEW ABOUT THIS.

    He also had OT because, it turns out, he only had 1/2 the normal grip strength for his age! His behavior in school reflected his discomfort holding a pencil, not a bratty attitude, but he suffered discipline and lost recesses for not writing. His kinder teacher said he could write–look at the first letters on the page–but that he was lazy/easily bored, and wouldn’t continue. His letters got sloppier and sloppier.
    DON’T LET A TEACHER DO THIS TO YOUR KID.

    He also had vision therapy for a year to help him with tracking. He reads for pleasure now!

    The long and the short is, he is a creative, vibrant, kind soul. His need for meds was really a combination of environmental and physical issues.

    I home-school him now. He has a standardized test administered by an independent proctor every year, and tests very high.

    He is currently in 4th grade, social, musical, and unique. He is self-confident and kind.

    I REGRET medicating him profoundly.

  19. my son has only been on meds less than a yr. there is a signifcant difference in his school life. He doesn’t get in trouble anymore. His grades have improved. I have tried other herbal remedies; they some what worked.. they calmed his mood swings but they didn’t change his hyper-activity. I do have a problem when he is coming down off the medicine. The littlest thing that goes wrong will send him into a crying fit.(he has always been sensitive) I still have mixed emotions about having him on the meds. I don’t rely completely on it, no medicine will cover all the bases to ADHD (a multi sympton problem). I limit his sugar intake. exspecially during the school week. It Improves his mood swings. I have recently changed my disipline method..which so far helps with his behavior at home. He tries to test me alot…this new method stops the testing in it tracks, but still gives him respect and me less stress.

    As for symptoms his appetite is somewhat suppressed. I make his lunch for school. I Give him healthy food that I know he will eat. He has trouble sleeping only when he has had a rough day. He loves music..I play a calming CD when he goes to bed..It definately helps his mind to slow down. He can be easily irritated. It is less when the sugar level is kept down and he has a good nights sleep.

  20. Yes they do work, my son is not able to focus with out it. We have tried all the meds you can imagine and have settled on focolin xr. When taken with stattara the side effects from the focolin have subsidded, the eye blinking, and head nodding. He still does have problems in school getting his work done but no behavioral problmes. He is in second grade and his teacher is now letting him bring his work home that he doesn’t finish in school which has heldped. For now we are sticking with the school system and home schooling is not an option at the moment.

  21. We have had mixed success with Strattera and Adderall. We are trying the Adderall again but this time with the addition of something for anxiety and depression. We have had side effects with the medication for anxiety and depression so that has been stopped for now. The Adderall will start again this week. My daughter is 16 so I am now counting on her to let me know how all of this is working. When asked, she could not really explain how the Adderall works for her but she did say that it really helps her in school. When she realized that she was going to start school without it she was not so sure it was a good idea. She did well for a while and then as work began to pile up she just stopped working all together. We will see how the Adderall works this week. She is now seeing a therapist she likes and we have hope that this will help us turn a corner with her. So as you can see we are still working to find the right balance for her. One thing that has really helped her in school is that I have explained everything we are trying to do with her to her teachers and they appear to be responding. Another thing that I think is very important is that learning more about ADHD is essential. I thought I understood it until I read “Driven to Distraction” and “ADHD and Me: What I learned from setting fires at the dinner table”. I realized that there was so much more that I just chalked up to her being a kid who wanted her way and was intollerent of any discomfort. I am not sure how to use all of this information yet on a daily basis but it sure gives me a new perspective.

    So for me, the bottom line in regards to medication is that I believe that it can be helpful when the right balance is found and any co-existing conditions are addressed.

  22. No question that ADHD meds. have worked for me for over 20 years.

    I am 59 and have taken stimulant meds. (Adderall) for most of that time. I started with Ritalin …. then tried Dexedrine …. and finally settled on Adderall.

    When I first took stimulant meds, it was as if my eyes opened for the first time. All of a sudden I felt “grounded.”

    I medicate myself ( 30 mg. ) the first thing in the morning to go to work and then if I have an evening meeting or something social that night, I will take another 15 mg. around 4pm.

    Weekends too …. Adderall allows me to function around the house and to converse with my wife.

    I would be hard pressed to live fully without stimulant meds to treat my ADD ( more dreamy, spacey type than hyper type. )

    Aloha from Hawaii!!

    Robert on Maui

  23. I’d have to agree with the majority of posts. My 10 year old has been on 3 different ADHD meds over the last 3 years. The latest, Datrana Patch, eases him on and off meds which avoids the mood swings. He takes a sleep aid and his appetite is suppressed. We feed him a big breakfast early and try to get the patch off early enough for a big dinner and bed time snack. He is quite small for his age. But school would be nearly impossible for him especialy as he has mild dyslexia and processing problems as well. Off meds, his behavior is very impulsive and makes home life very unpleasant. I’ve tried summers off meds using amino acids and vitamins and watching sugar. His behavior really makes most of the days unbearable for all of us including his 13 year old sister who thinks we are the most upset family in the world. I’m not sure what we would do without the meds as much as I don’t like drugging my child.

    I was intersted to hear Linda’sexperience with Amen clinic. It seems if you can get any more information about the individual childs issues it can only help them!

  24. My son was diagnosed with ADHD in 2nd grade. He takes a very low dose of Focalin XR. His behavior in school and at home improved immediately. He is less agitated and now if he does lose control, he knows it and apologizes for his behavior. His focus has improved tremendously. He has good grades and with extra help his reading skills have improved.
    He doesn’t have a good appetite for lunch, but he makes up for it at breakfast, dinner and in the evening.
    My son also goes for therapy in addition to the medical treatment.

  25. Both my son and I have ADHD. My son has had success with slow release ritalin (Biphentin) right from the beginning.

    My own experience with medication didn’t get off to a good start. I was first started on fast release ritalin 10 mg three times a day. It made feel “on edge” and drastic weight loss. Then the doctor tried me on dexatrine which made me stomach sick, loss of appetite and more weight loss. Finally, I’ve been on slow release (Biphentin) for 2 years.

  26. Great post , I’m going to spend more time reading about this subject

  27. Regan purple heart rec. June 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    When I was three a large log fell and hit me hard on the head. I’m not sure if that wa the beginning of my problems but
    growing up school was difficult. Unable to retain any information. Classes like creative writing, p.e. , Photography I would excell in. However math, history, languages were in possible. I haf never been able to read a book cover to cover in my life.
    As a young adult 24. I was thrown at high velocity into a brick wall from an army humvee serving oversees. Both my knees were shattered, jaw broken, shoulder broker along with ribs, fingers and some other fractures. The worst was my head. I impacted the wall with no Kevlar on my head. My skull was crushed above my right eye. After cutting ear to ear and pulling my face down they removed a largecircular flap from the front of my skull to remove the damaged right frontal lobe of my brain and allow
    room to swell. I survived. Barely.
    After two years of learning to talk and walk again I began noticing the differences missing my frontal lobe. My ADHD went off the charts and Obsessive compulsivity took over my life. Loosing keys, wallet, phone daily. Punching floors breaking my hands because I was so upset At who I was. Last month the va ran a battery of tests with ADHD as the prime culprit. The doctors believe I always had traits of ADHD my entire life do to the extensive struggles I had In school. They weren’t sure if the blow as a toddler affected me but without a doubt the severe traumatic brain injury has handicapped me and made my ADHD one of the highest cases ever obseved.
    I’m writing this, sharing this story. Because up untill two weeks ago I thought this I’d what I am and all I’ll ever be. Unable to read, be around crowds, and just an ass to my family in general. And everyone just turning another cheek because they say well that’s Regan for ya.
    As I write this next paragraph tears are rolling out of my eyes litterly. After all the tests that the Docs were sadly amazed by, they put me on Dextoamphetamin. I’m free. I read my first book ever. Huck Finn. I haven’t missplaced a thing. Procrastination is no longer part of my life. The rouminations of worry that cloud every minute of everyday And night are gone. I feel like I could do something with my life now. I feel like maybe I could even go back to school at 33. I’m most thankfor however for my mood. My poor wife has been so patient with my disabilities. Panic, upsetness, irrability and pure meanness are gone.
    If your child, young adult, grown man, needs help please seek the medication. Because they deserve to live a life that’s so much easier. Thank you for your time.

    Regan S.
    USARMY Purple Heart Recipient

  28. I am 52 years old and was diagnosed with ADD last year. I initially started with adderall, had an allergic reaction to it, then put off for about 6-7 months before trying medicine again. I’ve been on 2 additional different medicines since mid-November with limited success. The 2nd one I tried (Ritalin) caused me bad psychotic side effects. The Concerta XR (generic) I’m on now helps me focus a bit better (until it wears off – about 7 hours). Also it winds me up so much I can’t get to sleep until midnight, then have to get up at 6:15am to make sure my son gets off to his voc-rehab program.

    I am at this point very discouraged, because I feel I am very close to losing my job. Within the last 3 years, we work with a different type of computer program (hotel reservations), which is so totally more complicated, I have a lot of difficulty remembering things. Also I don’t make very good decisions lately with even seemingly simple work projects. It’s gotten progressively worse within this last year. When I’m off the meds though, it’s even worse and I can’t keep my concentration at all.

    I feel like I’m at the end of my rope (I also have chronic depression too). Any suggestions I’d appreciate. I’m really miserable right now, and I don’t know what to do.

  29. Hi, 35 yr. old male, long story, Just switched from being self employed for 13 yrs to a high tech job due to back pains. I dropped out of high school and thought I could make due without. Here I am back in “there world” and it’s a challenge in a stupid way. “A Stupid way” Just wondering if I should give in to medication, maybe it will help? Of course I feel sorry for myself, no one else knows me well enough to feel sorry for me.