Hi! I’m 17 and I just found out about my diagnosis two months ago. It took a while to process, but now I’m considering strategies to cope. I’m not really sure about medication because I’ve never taken ADHD meds and I’ve had a lot of issues with schoolwork because of this, but I don’t know how much meds can help me, and in my research, I’ve read about a lot of unpleasant side effects. I’ve also been meaning to ask my parents about starting therapy for a while so this gives me a good reason to. I’m kind of confused at the moment, so it would be great if those of you taking medication or going to therapy could give me some advice on what medication helps with? It would be really helpful, especially because I can’t see a doctor right now with the pandemic going on and lockdown. Thanks in advance!
Hello Spoo, It can take a bit of time to accept a diagnosis.
Medication is usually seen as the first line of treatment as it has the biggest benefit for most ADHD people. It works for a lot of people but not everyone. There are 3 medications commonly used for ADHD at various doses, so if you do decide to go down this route, be aware that it could take some time to try all the different options to find what works for you. I know some people who have had profound positive effects from the lowest dose of the first medication they tried, but this is not usual.
Obviously some people do not have a good experience with meds, but the only way to find out is to try it out. I think they are safe to take in my opinion and have tried them myself, if you try it and the negative effects outweigh the benefits then you can stop taking them. If you do start it does not mean that you have to take them forever either, first see it as help in the short term and as you implement other strategies you may feel that you could reduce meds, which is where therapy comes into the picture.
The medications can have some negative effects but are generally as safe as any other medication on the market, but it becomes complicated if a person has other mental health conditions. I feel that stories of people becoming addicted are mostly myths, becoming tolerant to meds, and reduced efficiancy, is the most common problem. If you do decide to trial meds and then change your treatment, as in stopping meds, always tell your doctor, and why you have done this. Most psychiatrists, in my experience, do not like this and will see a person as ‘non-compliant’.
Therapy is usually seen as a second line of treatment, as it’s a much slower route to affect change. In the UK it is usually offered once a person has tried meds and found what works for them. It’s usually CBT based, most/all of the information you receive through therapy is freely available on the web, but it’s a lot of time and effort to find it all yourself.
I think it can definitely help to find a therapist has experience with ADHD and delivers the information in a concise, focused package, and can then highlight where they think you could be having problems in certain areas. One of the biggest factors regrading the success of therapy, is how well a person can implement and maintain the techniques/strategies, I’m sure you know already that’s a big problem for us ADHD people.
This is my experience of treatment in the UK, it’s very similar in US but does vary in other countries. Do some rearch on what the options are where you are and go from there. Also not all doctors and therapists are equal, so if you don’t like the treatment being offered then find someone else. Good luck, whatever you decide to do!
thank you so much, this was really helpful!
I’d like to add a bit of personal experience to the good advice and info that @Neil already gave you.
I’m on methylphenidate, the immediate-release kind. I take 5 dosages a day, about 3,5 hours between them. (4 hours between was a bit too long for my rebounds <-- sinking back into the fog )
When I started, (under guidance of a psychiatrist to help work out the right dosage) I felt it kicking in within half an hour. I was clear. It was like the big glass bell jar i had been under was lifted and I was in touch with everything around me.
If it works for you, you’ll know. Now, luckily I suffered no side-effects. Well dry mouth at first maybe, but taking them with water helps enormously. Since heart disease runs in my family I had to keep a close eye on blood pressure, which is mentioned as a possible side-effect, but my blood pressure has been fine all along. And I sleep like a baby. (a snoring one, i’m told by my lovely sleep deprived wife)
i’m joking around about the side effects a bit, but I know they can be really annoying! So not to kick anyones shins. I’m lucky in that department, I realise that
I’ve been lucky in the side-effect department, in the finding the right meds department and in the “not having the zombie numbing side-effect” department.
As @Neil mentioned, it may take some time to find the right meds and the right dosage and also to find out whether you will benefit from meds at all. (statistically about 20% chance of that?)
If it does help you, it’s going to be helpful in being able to focus on therapy, learning new coping strategies, your education and your relationships with family, friends and loved ones.
(People close to you will really be able to tell the difference, but funny enough friends and others may not as much, because you’ve become an ace at camouflaging your inattentiveness, probably. That baffled me!)
Not sure how coherent this was, but it’s out of my system now!
Cheers! And applause for your efforts to get this handled!!
@Neil has really covered everything!
So I work in a pharmacy, as a tech and advisor…
Personally, it took me 9 years and 3 diagnoses and meeting someone who has ADHD to accept my diagnosis. I found we were very much alike, and I found that person who understood why I couldn’t do certain things and didn’t believe me to be simply lazy or not caring or something… (I am far from lazy and I know this now!) Then it started to become clear, and I started to see a way to make things work. She suggested I see a therapist, to get my 3rd opinion, which turned out to be my 3rd diagnosis and the one that finally convinced me, and it was liberating.
This means you have an angle to tackle your difficulties with. Therapy is a very useful tool that I use weekly. Combined with medication I’ve noticed some improvements and strategies that stick and help!
The meds took some time to be settled as I’ve been on Methylphenidate and I had too many side effects, which led me to a newer molecule that is known under the name of Vivanse in America, or Elvanse here in Switzerland… I found this one worked best for me. Some people end up on Strattera, which is not a stimulant medication and works a little differently. It’s generally not the first option therapists will opt for but could work for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with stimulants…
Unfortunately, you won’t know if the meds help or not until you try them. And it really is trial and error, but chances are you will find yourself just like @Carrivs and me (and many other brains in the world!), having a jar being lifted from over you. It makes all your efforts actually flow like they are supposed to instead of being interjected right when you’re thiiis close
Hope this helps. Take care
The common idea about ADHD meds is quite inaccurate in my opinion. It makes them sound like compared to other types of meds they are much less helpful and have much worse side effects. It’s really the opposite. ADHD meds have particularly high rates of positive effects and fairly good rates of side-effects.
For me the benefits are quite good and the side effects are fairly small. I have some decrease in appetite and some increase in headaches. This is the first ADHD med I’ve tried, so I’m still hoping to make more adjustments to improve it further but it’s already better than 12+ meds I have taken for other things.
I believe that medication is usually worth a try in order to find out how it affects you personally. How much benefit it gives you and what level of side-effects is hard to predict and it’s easier to decide if meds are right for you if you know how they affect you.
I totally agree with you @Ion !
I’d like to add because I think it’s important to mention, that it’s not a “one pill fixes all” situation. ADHD requires a lot of internal reflection and personal work that a pill alone doesn’t fix, and it takes time to develop routines or strategies that help for various issues we tend to struggle with.
I still struggle with many of the same difficulties on the meds as I do off of them in varying intensities, and it’s normal for that to occur because medication acts as a crutch. Which is why therapy is also recommended to help us improve our own understanding of how we function, how to deal, and implement strategies to manage the struggles that got us our diagnosis’s.
Though, forums like this one and support groups can also be beneficial, especially if therapy simply isn’t an option.