What moms need to know about ADHD medication

21 July 2014

A concerned mom in our SuperMom community recently decided to investigate ADHD and find some answers to the most frequently asked questions moms struggle with. One of the topics she desperately wanted more information on was ADHD medication. Read on to learn what she discovered.

A concerned mom in our SuperMom community recently decided to investigate ADHD and find some answers to the most frequently asked questions moms struggle with. One of the topics she desperately wanted more information on was ADHD medication. Here’s what she found out:

ADHD medication

There are many varieties of ADHD medication available on the market. The most basic distinction between different kinds of ADHD medication is it’s classification as either a stimulant (for example Concerta) or a nonstimulant (for example Strattera). Stimulants are most often prescribed for children.

Finding the medication best suited to your child can be tricky. The first step is to have a detailed discussion with your child’s doctor about prescription of medication as well as dosage. If the side-effect of a stimulant is for instance too severe for your child or you note the prescribed medication is ineffective, it’s a good idea to discuss nonstimulants with your child’s doctor.

Gain as much insight as you can about whatever ADHD drug has been prescribed for your child and keep abreast of any new developments in the field of ADHD medication.

Side effects

There are a few well-known possible side effects of ADHD medication:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Moodiness
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches

It’s important to schedule regular visits with your child’s doctor and ensure your child’s vital signs and growth trajectory is being monitored closely. Ultimately nobody knows your child as well as you do so you need to pay close attention to the ways in which ADHD medication may be diminishing their quality of life.

Tips for minimising side effects

  • Deal with loss of appetite by encouraging healthy snacking throughout the day and serving supper as late as possible, when medication may have worn off.
  • Deal with insomnia by taking the medication as early as possible. If this doesn’t work discuss slow-release medication options with your doctor.
  • Curb upset stomachs and headaches by never taking medication on any empty stomach.
  • Deal with severe mood changes by lowering the dosage or switching to a slow-release medication.

What else can you do?

Educational psychologist and ADHD expert Dr William Griffith says behavioural therapy has been shown to be a successful treatment for children with ADHD. “It is especially beneficial as a co-treatment for children who take stimulant medications and may even allow you to reduce the dosage of the medication.”

Behavioural therapy is based on the following principles: 

  • Setting specific and realistic goals for your child, such as staying focused at homework time or sharing toys at playtime;
  • Consistently providing rewards for desirable behaviour and defining the consequences for bad behaviour, and
  • Remembering to be patient and not expecting short-term results. Also don’t be discouraged if one day goes well and the next doesn’t; over time behavioural therapy can improve the symptoms of ADHD.

Remember

Although life with an ADHD-diagnosed child can be tough at times, there are also positive traits associated with the syndrome. Children with ADHD are often wildly creative, spontaneous, energetic and enthusiastic. Look out for these wonderful traits in your child and heap praise on positive behaviour.

If you have any advice for moms with kids who suffer from ADHD please share your story with us on Facebook.

-Lindsay de Freitas

Sources: m.helpguide.org, webmd.com

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