ADHD Medication: 7 Things to Keep in Mind Before Starting

ADHD medication: Before starting there are a few things you should consider and discuss with your doctor or your child's doctor.

Deciding to start treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a big choice. Following a thorough ADHD diagnosis from your medical professional, treatment is likely the right choice. Most ADHD treatment plans include a combination of counseling, behavioral therapy, support (at home and school or work) and, of course, medication. Before starting ADHD medication, there are a few things you should consider and discuss with your doctor or your child’s doctor.

7 Considerations Before Starting ADHD Medication

1. Keep a Daily Health Journal

Before beginning ADHD medication, you should record a baseline of either your health or your child’s behavior. You will want a reference for comparing and assessing your post-treatment state. Make note of behavior, sleep patterns, energy, appetite and mood. Continue the journal after starting ADHD medication, so you can use the recorded progress as a discussion and treatment adjustment tool with your doctor.

2. Discuss Current Medications

Be sure to give your doctor a complete list of the medications (prescription and over the counter) you or your child takes. You should also notify them of any vitamins or supplements, to be sure you will avoid any undesirable interactions with the ADHD medication.

3. Ask about Other Potential Interactions

Medications not only interact with other pills, they can also be affected by the things you eat and drink. Talk with your doctor about whether or not you will need to make any adjustments to your diet or alcohol intake while taking medication for ADHD.

4. Find out about Potential Side Effects and What You Can Do to Minimize Them

Depending whether you or your child is prescribed a stimulant or non-stimulant medication, you or your child might experience certain side effects, such as:

  • sleep problems
  • fatigue
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • appetite loss
  • weight loss
  • increased blood pressure
  • nausea and stomach ache
  • headache
  • moodiness, irritability and/or mood swings
  • nervousness
  • tics (rarely)
  • personality changes (rarely)

Keep close tabs on any side effects that you or your child experiences after starting ADHD medication and notify your doctor right away. You can also talk with your doctor about steps you can take to mitigate side effects, such as taking ADHD medication at a particular time of day or with meals.

5. Talk about Your Expectations for Treatment

Ask your doctor how soon you should expect to see results from the medication. While stimulants can take affect within the first hour, non-stimulants sometimes work more slowly.

6. Be Patient with Dose Adjustments

Doctors typically start patients on the lowest possible dose of medication and then make adjustments based on behavioral changes and side effects. It can take several weeks or even months before you or your child is on the right dose of the right medication. Stay in contact with your doctor throughout this initial adjustment period.

7. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

When starting ADHD medication, it is important to take the medication exactly as instructed. In order to achieve the best results from treatment and most effectively regulate behavior, you should also be careful to take your ADHD medication at the exact same time each day.

Check Adult ADHD signs and symptoms.

ADHD Treatment, More Than Medication

With a complete ADHD treatment plan, including medication, education and counseling, you or your child (ADHD in children) can effectively correct the symptoms of ADHD.


  1. Edgar, J. (2014, May 30). Treating Adult ADHD. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from
  2. Low, K. (2018, October 14). 7 Tips for Preparing Yourself to Take ADHD Medication. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from
  3. Sinfield, J., & Gans, S. (2018, October 15). How Long It Takes for ADHD Medication to Work May Depend on the Person. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from
  4. The Understood Team. (n.d.). ADHD Medication Side Effects. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from