When a child or adult has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, doctors typically prescribe stimulant medications that increase the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. While these medications effectively help ADHD, these drugs can also cause unwanted side effects.
If your health care provider has prescribed ADHD medications for you or your child, reviewing these side effects can help you develop coping strategies and understand when to seek medical help for complications.
Adequate sleep is an important factor to one's overall health, so finding a solution to sleeping problems is a must. When you or your child can't go to sleep at bedtime, the last dose of the medication typically hasn't worn off yet. If this side effect doesn't improve within about a month of starting the prescription, you may need to switch to a shorter-acting dose or take the final dose earlier in the day.
Good sleep hygiene can also make a difference in the quantity and quality of ZZZs. For example, try one or more of the following:
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night
- Discontinue screen time at least an hour before bedtime
- Use herbal remedies or oils for relaxation
- Practice relaxation techniques before bed
- Take a bath before bed
With extended-release medications, an early dose before school or work often means a loss of appetite at lunchtime. When you first start taking these drugs, try to eat whenever you feel hungry and have snacks available for your child when he or she does feel the urge to eat. Try serving a healthy, hearty breakfast before the morning dose. However, it can be beneficial to inquire with your doctor about all options for your child, such as immediate release medication.
Some studies do show that kids taking ADHD medications grow more slowly than average for the first 12 months. However, the research also indicates that these children, more commonly boys, tend to catch up in the second and third years after starting the prescription.
It is important to notify your doctor if you notice any severe weight loss or change in appetite with your child.
Both kids and adults commonly have headaches, sometimes with nausea, when they start taking ADHD medication. Usually, this side effect subsides in a few weeks. In a meantime, try taking each dose with food. Your doctor may also recommend an alternate schedule for taking the medication.
While most mood changes associated with ADHD drugs are subtle, some people may become aggressive, angry, manic, anxious or emotionally unresponsive. Kids may become cranky or irritable as the medication dose wears off. Doctors call this the rebound effect and it's important that you notify your doctor if this is occurring in case they decide to change the dose of the medication.
If you have bothersome symptoms after you begin taking a prescription medication for ADHD, your doctor may adjust the dosage or specific prescription. Try keeping a journal of the side effects experienced by you or your child so you can follow up with your healthcare provider. In addition to the above, other common side effects of ADHD prescription medications may include muscle tics, dizziness, stomach aches, dry mouth and nervousness.
If you are in need of support but want to explore other options before trying prescriptions medications, look into ADHD products with no harmful side effects. Over-the-counter holistic options, such as Brillia, can allow those living with anxiety, irritability/hyperactivity, mood issues, or lack of focus and attention to gain clarity and reduce anxiety and hyperactivity/irritability levels, all while avoiding the negative effects that prescribed medication can very often bring.