Medications, in my opinion, get a bad rap. I think it happens for a few different reasons:
- Often times a person has to try many medications before finding the right one that works. We spend a great deal more money on heart research than we do on brain research. While it is very hard to get numbers, one source is the National Institute for Health Budget (still can’t believe we spend more on ‘smoking’ than we do ‘depression’, though depression may be linked up into other categories. Why we spend money proving again and again smoking will kill us when we should be spending it on why people smoke in the first place is baffling to me).
- Doctors may prescribe medications without knowing much about the disease. Med school teaches doctors very little about mental health issues. This is according to doctors I have spoken to about the issue, far and wide, although I can’t find specific data. Any help?
- We do not understand the underlying cause of our problem and look for the quick fix. Most people do not realize it takes a lot of work to improve health issues. We can not just pop a pill and expect to feel better in any disease state — we need to exercise, eat right, sleep well, and add other healthy lifestyle habits to our daily routine.
I think it is really important to understand both what is available right now for ADHD and to know that we really don’t know that much about the brain and how it works. Additionally, everybody’s brain works differently so when one medication might work for one person, it might not work for another. It is my hope that one day we spend as much on the brain as we do on cancers, heart disease, etc., as I believe a healthy brain is what will ultimately help improve the health of our bodies as well.
That being said, there are medications that have been shown to work with ADHD; a lot of people have had tremendous success with them (including me). So I thought I would give an overview of those and ask you to share your own personal experience so others can benefit from your knowledge. I don’t feel comfortable going into a discussion on specific medications without giving all the other information needed, so I will give basic categories and reference to a site that I think does a really good job in going through everything you need to think about with medication.
There are two primary types of medications: stimulants and non stimulants.
- Stimulant Medications: These have the most research behind them showing positive results to helping those with ADHD.
- Nonstimulant Medications: Strattera is the only nonstimulant medication approved for use with ADHD by the FDA, although some other medications are used as well.
If you are considering using medication, it is important that you read all about medications — the side effects, what they do, dosages, warnings, drug interactions, and precautions. I found this help guide to have a tremendous amount of information about medications and think it does a good job of explaining how to go about figuring out if medication is right for you.
I, personally, have found great luck with the stimulant medications. It took me a few different tries — but I have settled on Ritalin LA, which seems to be doing the trick for me. I am more focused, my energy is more even keeled, and I can last through the day. I do, however, take breaks on weekends, if I am on vacation, or when I can so I do not develop a tolerance to the medication as that is always a risk.
The downfall for me is that it is expensive, and I have a large deductable for insurance, so I spend a lot at the beginning of the year. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks. I also go to therapy, don’t drink alcohol, smoke, and exercise regularly. I try not to consume much sugar (my downfall!) and eat well — including lots of Vitamin D and Omega 3’s for a healthy brain.
Question for Discussion: What kinds of experiences have you had with your medication?