I am sharing this in case anyone is looking for other's experiences and can be helped by this. I will not be too detailed to protect privacy. I could tell some stories but will withhold.
Note: My son has granted permission for me to post this.
If you want to read stories from teen patients do an Internet search and you can find bulletin boards where teens and adults tell stories of how Ritalin affected their body and mind. It is eye opening. However how it will work on each person will vary.
Before my son had an official ADHD inattentive type diagnosis I was in the group of people who worried about a nation drugging children with prescription medication in order to help them function in school. I asked how is it that kids in my generation functioned without ADHD drugs and why is ADHD diagnosis so common now? I have thought long and hard about this general topic from a medial ethics standpoint. Having worked in the medical field in the past I have firsthand experience seeing medicine in practice and cookbook or flowchart type diagnosis and treatment plans. I also am aware of fads or wrong thinking in medicine that is later realized. Two examples are the diagnosis of hysteria in women, completely inaccurate biological views of breastfeeding, saying some women are not built to be able to breastfeed (hogwash), thinking that the air of the wilderness cures TB or not knowing nicotine is bad for one's health.
Living with a son who struggled despite various educational interventions (private tutoring) and learning disability accommodations in an already customized unique homeschool "school" situation, I have seen the dead end when more help is needed even after so many helpful measures have already been taken. This left everyone, my son included, wondering what could be done. The symptoms were across various environments; home, schoolwork, at other locations, et cetera. He met the criteria for the diagnosis, plain and simple.
We pondered medication long and hard and sought two professional opinions including a psychiatrist. We did not bother seeking input from a pediatrician as I don't feel they are specialized or informed enough to make that diagnosis or to monitor that medication especially since some of the side effects can be psychiatric in nature.
The psychiatrist prescribed 10 mg three times a day every 4-6 hours and last dose before six hours from bedtime. If that didn't work we had permission to increase the dose to 15 mg.
For about six weeks, 10 mg. was used. He did not use it seven days a week, per doctor's orders he used it only on school days. He also never took it three times a day. It was summer but he set a goal to do homeschooling all summer so he had lessons and work to do. Most days he tried one dose a day and other days he had two. There were few side effects at this dose but he asked to increase it because he felt it was no longer effective at about the six week point. That is typical for some patients, to have it work for a while then to need a dose increase.
On the 15 mg. dose the negative side effects increased. They were commonly reported side effects but they became unbearable and unhealthy. For example on two doses a day he had such an appetite supression that he only would eat once a day: at about 8 p.m. This triggered reactive hypoglycemic episodes, something he suffered from when skipping meals before Ritalin began.
Euphoric rebound happened on the two doses a day times. It was weird. If you do not konw what this is, research it on your own online.
He had trouble falling asleep despite the doses sometimes having been taken 12-15 hours earlier. For example taking Ritalin at 10 a.m. but could not fall asleep until one or two in the morning.
Mood swings began.
There was an increased in depressed moods.
(I could tell stories that might give you gray hairs, and I think I got some gray hairs in this process, but I am not going to share details, due to privacy concerns. Again if you want a taste of what does happen to some people go read online such as on Crazy Meds or forums especially for teenagers. Some things I have read online happened to my son, scary stuff.)
It woke him up in the morning. The morning grogginess disappeared the second it took effect.
His alertness level increased and he was able to pay attention when doing things like listening and watching a DVD lecture, reading a textbook and doing geometry.
The ability to get academic work done increased his self-esteem for the day. This did not seem to flow over to other days though. His self-confidence soared on the good days, but it seemed to be gone the next day. For example if he did schoolwork on a Friday he felt good that day then on Saturday and Sunday when he was not on Ritalin and did not do schoolwork, the higher self-esteem was not present.
He could do two step directions. He would remember why it was he went upstairs to do a specific task instead of coming back down without it done. This also stopped the cycle of me asking him, then asking if it was done (perceived as nagging) or the realization that he messed up which brought on negative self-esteem and negative self-talk.
He would remember what had to be done and would do things sometimes on his own without being told (tonight is garbage night and he put the trash out on his own).
The trial was three months. Once the negative side effects seemed predictable and linked to the Ritalin I discussed it with my son, asking if he felt there was a link between symptoms and the days he took the drug. He felt there was a link. He asked to stop taking Ritalin. I agreed it should be discontinued. So he discontinued it that very day.
He asked to try a non-stimulant ADHD drug. We met with the psychiatrist and discussed options. My son asked questions as did I.
A trial of Strattera has begun. As I write this, is too early to determine if it is doing anything.
Fish Oil and EFAs have been shown in studies to help brain function, focus and attention. My son is refusing to take this supplement at this time.
My son is taking Pycnogenol but refuses to take the full dosing which is reccommended which spans over three times a day. He takes it just twice a day at partial dose. Maybe we should just dose it to two times and see what happens. I have no clue if this is really working.
My son refuses to take a multivitamin to round out any possible nutritional deficiencies from picky eating.
I refuse to enter power struggles over vitamins and supplements. I am exhausted from power struggles.
I feel that my son must take responsibility for some of his health decisions; my son is 16 and he has got to want better heatlh and must buy into the treatment and be open to do what it takes for better health and wellness. Me forcing him to take supplements has failed. It is time that he takes more responsiblity; if that means not faring as well then so be it.