10 Questions About ADHD
There are a lot of misconceptions about ADHD, particularly when it comes to the impact of medications usually prescribed for the condition. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions, along with answers from our ADHD expert Eileen Bailey.
Only your child’s doctor can determine what medication, and how much, your child should be taking. There are steps parents can take to help their child’s doctor decide if a medication is working. Keeping a daily log is one way. Write down 5 to 10 major symptoms that are disruptive in your child’s life. Score each (from 1 to 10) on a daily basis. You and your doctor can target medications and behavioral strategies for your child’s specific needs.
Start with your local resources. Ask your family doctor, community mental health center or a University Medical School Program. Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD) and Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), national advocacy organizations also have medical professional directories on their sites.
There is no “best” medication for ADHD. There are many different medications on the market today, some are stimulants, such as Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall, and others are non-stimulant, such as Strattera. Each person reacts differently to medication, so there is no way to say how your child, or any child is going to react to each medication. Unfortunately, it is often a matter of trial and error to find which medication, and which dosage works best.
ADHD medications are only available by prescription. There are no over-the-counter medications specifically for ADHD. Some supplements state they can help with ADHD symptoms, however, supplements are not monitored by the FDA and, to date, there hasn’t been any long-term or large studies showing the effectiveness of any supplement for treating symptoms of ADHD.
One of the side effects of stimulant medications is nervousness or agitation. While many people with ADHD find that stimulants actually make them feel calmer, some do find they become nervous, agitated or more restless. If that happens, your doctor may suggest you try a non-stimulant medication, such as Strattera.
Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD) has a network of chapters throughout the United States and, if there are none in your area, offers support to help you start your own chapter. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association also has a listing of support groups.
Some of the signs of ADHD include excessive energy, always being in motion, difficulty settling down when moving from one activity to another or trouble paying attention. While all children may exhibit these signs from time to time, if you are seeing these types of behaviors consistently, the first step would be to talk with your family doctor or pediatrician.
Most pharmaceutical companies have such a program set up and you can call the company to request further information. Each program has its own eligibility requirements, such as income level, household size and whether or not you have prescription insurance coverage. The easiest way to find assistance programs is through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.
Stimulant medications can show up on an employment drug screening as an amphetamine. While the law prohibits discrimination based on a disability, potential employers are allowed to complete drug screenings. Unfortunately, if you must take an employment drug screening, you may be forced to tell your potential employer about your ADHD. You may need a note from your doctor to explain your ADHD and why it won't interfere with your position.
Adderall can cause joint pain, however, this is not a common reaction. The most common side effects include: loss of appetite, headache, stomachache, weight loss and difficulty sleeping. There are also some less common side effects, such as anxiety, nervousness, increased blood pressure, chest pain, joint pain or skin rash.