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.

Sources:

  1. Edgar, J. (2014, May 30). Treating Adult ADHD. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adult-adhd-treatment#1
  2. Low, K. (2018, October 14). 7 Tips for Preparing Yourself to Take ADHD Medication. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from https://www.verywellmind.com/starting-adhd-medication-20876
  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 https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-it-take-for-adhd-medication-to-work-4140394
  4. The Understood Team. (n.d.). ADHD Medication Side Effects. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/medications/adhd-medication-side-effects

ADHD Treatment and What Happens If You Don’t do that?

ADHD requires medical treatment, and when parents or individuals don't treat it, they can experience serious consequences.

In spite of scientific studies of the condition, many people unfortunately still regard Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a simple behavioral problem that can be fixed with rigorous discipline. However, it is a real neurodevelopmental condition which affects the functionality of the brain and nervous system in children and adults. ADHD causes inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity, which can be seriously detrimental to a child or adult’s ability to participate in school, work, relationships and at home. ADHD requires medical treatment, and when parents or individuals don’t treat ADHD, the choice can have serious consequences.

This Is What Happens When You Ignore ADHD Symptoms in Children and Adults

Children with Untreated ADHD

Each day, children build the foundations on which they will live their entire lives. They learn discipline, how to interact socially, how to make choices and they learn the basic math and reading skills on which their continuing educations depend. With ADHD, children often experience difficulties at home and school. They often fall behind and earn poor grades because they do not learn or remember everything they are taught. They have trouble controlling their emotions, which can lead to socially unacceptable outbursts, making it difficult for them to keep friends. Children with ADHD are also more likely to suffer from depression and poor self-esteem, which makes it difficult for them to cope with these challenges.

As teenagers, the issues compound. School work demands increase and consequences of social choices (regarding dating, drinking, drug use and even driving) become more severe. Forty-eight percent of teens with ADHD cause or have an unwanted pregnancy, compared to 4% of teens without ADHD. Children and teenagers with ADHD also experience more injuries, with more visits to the emergency room than children without ADHD.

Adults with Untreated ADHD

Adults who don’t treat ADHD also face serious consequences. Having trouble with punctuality, meeting deadlines, staying organized, interacting with co-workers and gracefully accepting criticism, adults with ADHD often find it difficult to keep a job. They can be overly emotional and have a difficult time listening, leading them to have problems with relationships and higher divorce rates. They are also more likely to have issues with addiction and substance abuse, car accidents and legal trouble.

Effective ADHD Treatment in Adults and Children

Most adults and children diagnosed with ADHD receive a variety of treatments and therapies to combat the symptoms of ADHD and to help them learn how to interact well with others, meet expectations at work or in school and to better communicate with their friends and family members to foster healthier personal relationships.

ADHD treatment usually includes stimulant or non-stimulant medications (which should be taken exactly as directed by the patient’s doctor), counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress and anxiety management techniques and life coaching to help individuals with ADHD overcome organizational challenges which can hinder their ability to set life goals and successfully navigate each day.

With thorough, consistent treatment and counseling, individuals with ADHD can live very successful and fulfilling lives. Whether diagnosed in childhood and carried into adulthood or first diagnosed as an adult, individuals with ADHD can manage their symptoms and learn the skills necessary to vastly improve their daily lives and relationships, while achieving their personal goals.

Sources:

  1. Bhandari, S., MD. (2018, July 12). Risks of Untreated ADHD. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/risks-of-untreated-adhd#1
  2. Kessler, E. (n.d.). Untreated ADHD: Lifelong Risks. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from https://www.smartkidswithld.org/getting-help/adhd/untreated-adhd-lifelong-risks/

Adult ADHD: Signs and Symptoms

adult adhd

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD in adults, affects about five percent of adults in the United States. Adult ADHD does not develop late in life; ADHD typically develops by the age of twelve (and has been diagnosed in children as young as three). Every adult diagnosed with ADHD also had the condition as a child, but they may have never received a diagnosis or treatment. Some children outgrow ADHD as they enter adulthood, but the condition persists in about 60% of diagnosed children.

As it is in children, ADHD is a chronic neurodevelopmental condition which affects behavior, judgment, the ability to focus and the process of making decisions. In adulthood, ADHD can be detrimental to an individual’s ability to function well in society, succeed at work and maintain healthy relationships.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Adults?

Most often the signs and symptoms of ADHD can be easily detected and diagnosed in children who not only display fairly obvious signs, but also are under the constant observation of their parents, teachers, coaches and other caregivers. Adult ADHD, however, often goes undiagnosed because, although it causes similar symptoms, it presents itself in more subtle ways and while fewer people are watching.

Signs of ADHD in adults include:

  • finding it difficult to follow directions
  • having trouble remembering information
  • inability to concentrate
  • difficulty organizing tasks
  • trouble meeting deadlines

Adults with ADHD also commonly experience:

  • anxiety and depression
  • relentless boredom
  • insomnia, difficulty sleeping and fatigue
  • chronic forgetfulness and tardiness
  • time management problems
  • incomplete projects
  • poor planning and organizational skills
  • mood swings and difficulty controlling anger
  • problems at work and in relationships
  • impulsiveness and rash decision making
  • impatience and a low tolerance for frustration
  • chronic procrastination and low motivation
  • low self-esteem
  • addiction and substance abuse problems

Adults with ADHD also often have driving records, including speeding tickets and distracted driving. Oftentimes they interrupt others during conversation and skip ahead to finish other people’s thoughts. In addition, while most adults know that it is not socially acceptable to fidget constantly and bounce off the walls, they still experience extreme feelings of restlessness when circumstances require that they sit still.

How Is Adult ADHD Diagnosed and Treated?

A thorough medical evaluation must take place before a doctor will officially diagnose an individual with ADHD. The diagnosis will include a complete physical examination, thorough discussion and evaluation of symptoms, blood tests and the ruling out of other potential conditions. Adults diagnosed with ADHD usually receive a combination of treatments and therapies, including:

  • stimulant medications
  • non-stimulant medications
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • relaxation, meditation and stress management training and techniques
  • counseling
  • marriage counseling
  • job coaching
  • life coaching

Adults with ADHD can improve organization and task completion with lists and schedules. They can improve concentration by reducing environmental distractions, and they can manage anxiety with deep breathing.

By recognizing their condition, adults can take a proactive approach to counteracting ADHD. Adults who receive a prescription for an ADHD medication should be sure to carefully follow the instructions for administration and not stop or change dosage without first consulting with a medical professional. With a combination of treatment, counseling and self-improvement, adults can overcome the challenges of living with ADHD to lead successful, fulfilling lives.

ADHD: Signs and Symptoms in Children

ADHD children

Children play, they dream and they sometimes behave inappropriately because they are children still learning how to interact and be responsible and respectable. Children are children, and thanks to that, ADHD in children can be difficult to recognize. The condition, however, can be seriously detrimental to a child’s learning and development without proper diagnosis and management. There are also symptoms of ADHD in adults.

Symptomatic Behaviors Characterize the Three Types of ADHD

ADHD causes three categories of behavioral signs and symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Although all children can be impulsive, inattentive and display seemingly endless energy, these symptoms present themselves differently in children with ADHD. ADHD hinders a child’s ability to function normally in school, at home and with peers.

Signs of Inattention

Children with ADHD can sometimes focus on tasks or topics which they find interesting or entertaining, but they are unable to focus on tasks or topics which they deem boring or repetitive.

  • trouble focusing
  • easily distracted
  • difficulty completing tasks
  • appear not to listen
  • trouble remembering
  • do not follow instructions
  • make careless mistakes
  • have trouble organizing and planning ahead
  • misplace homework, books, toys and other items

Signs of Hyperactivity

Children naturally have lots of energy and are active, but those with ADHD are always moving. They jet between tasks and continue fidgeting when forced to sit still. Hyperactivity is the most easily and commonly recognized symptom of ADHD.

  • endless fidgeting, squirming, toe tapping etc.
  • difficulty resting, relaxing, calming down or playing quietly
  • often climb or run at inappropriate times or when instructed not to
  • excessive talking
  • sometimes have hot tempers

Signs of Impulsivity

By around the age of four or five, most children will learn to control certain impulses, which they recognize as inappropriate or not allowed. Children with ADHD, however, cannot control their impulsivity which can lead them to ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions, interrupt conversations and invade personal space.

  • act before or without thinking
  • guess, rather than solving problems
  • speak in class without being called on
  • interfere with other people’s conversations and activities without being invited
  • interrupt others
  • often say the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • difficulty controlling emotions leads to tantrums and outbursts

The Three Types of ADHD in Children

There are three types of ADHD in children which are categorized by the behavioral signs and symptoms the child displays, including:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive and Impulsive (able to pay attention)
  3. Combined Inattention, Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

Since the three types of ADHD have different symptoms, it can make the condition difficult to recognize in children with the first type. Children who are predominantly inattentive sit quietly and are not disruptive, but they tend to daydream, rather than listen to instructions or pay attention to their surroundings.

Consistency: Key to Treating ADHD in Children

After a medical doctor makes a firm diagnosis of ADHD in a child, treatment will begin to help manage the condition and improve the child’s chances of succeeding at school, making lasting friendships and being more successful at home. Treatment usually includes medications, behavior therapy, support at school and at home, proper nutrition and lots of exercise. If a medication is prescribed, it is essential that the child takes the medication exactly as prescribed in order to stabilize behavior and achieve consistently positive results.