For many people with ADHD, medication is part of the strategy to minimize symptoms.
And for many of us, getting our ADHD medication adjusted to work just right takes a bit of trial and error.
Your goal is to get the most out of the medication and with minimal side effects. To do that, you need to take the right ADHD medication at the right dose at the right times of day.
But here’s the truth — it can be tough to know if your ADHD medication is working. You may even wonder if you’re getting your money’s worth from this pill you probably wish you didn’t have to take.
The right dose of the right ADHD medication can do a bunch of stuff including:
- Boost focus
- Control emotions
- Ease hyperactivity
But, it can be so darn subtle. Especially, longer-acting types of ADHD drugs like Concerta and Vyvanse.
We might not fully feel like a ‘lightbulb has turned on’ or suddenly everything is clear and in focus as if we got new glasses. But you may be able to follow conversations better and complete tasks with ease and not realize the change.
So how can you tell if the medication you take for ADHD is working? Or not?
The best way to know if your ADHD medication is doing its job is to know what job you need it to do.
How do you know what you want your ADHD medication to do? You build clarity.
Think through your days. Where does your ADHD snarl your life the most? How do you want your life to be instead? Get specific. You need details.
Those details about how you want your days to unfold are your medication targets. If you’re reaching those targets you can tell if your medication is working or not. Or if you need a different medication, a different dose, or to take it at a different time.
Remember, it’s not about the buzz. If you’re not paying attention or you’re paying attention to the wrong thing, then your medication is not working.
10 Targets to Know if Your ADHD Medication is Working
I brainstormed some popular ADHD medication targets to get you started. Decide if you want your medication to help you:
- Calmly leave the house on time in the morning
- Quickly tackle boring or overwhelming tasks and projects
- Avoid distractions like reading the news and social media
- Stay focused on boring stuff you have to read
- Remember that boring stuff you read
- Pay attention in conversations
- Put things away after using them
- Control your impulsive shopping
- Remember to stop at the store after work
- Reduce your brain’s chatter
- Calmly cook dinner and oversee the kids homework at the same time
- Avoid emotional roller coasters
- Get to bed with the house tidy and you ready for the next day
- Get to bed on time
(Yes, I know I wrote more than 10 targets to tell if your ADHD medication is working. I had so many good ideas I had to force myself to stop.)
These are just examples. There isn’t a right or wrong here. Everyone will have different medication targets.
The bottom line: Know what targets you’re aiming for so you can know if your ADHD medication is working or not.
Once you know your targets, you can track them. Create a fun spreadsheet, table, tracking system – get your kids involved and use that creative ADHD brain to make it fun.
Then every day, make note if you reached that target. Give yourself a gold star (I always loved those in school), check it off, color in the box and give yourself a high five.
[And remember if you didn’t reach it, it’s okay. No shame or judgment. We are simply tracking the effectiveness of your medication, not you.]
After you track these targets for a few weeks, you can use that information to talk to your prescriber about how the medication is working. Together you can make adjustments to the dosage or determine a different time. Then your ‘trial and error’ becomes more ‘do and succeed’!
I’d love to hear from you – what targets will you track this week? Post a comment below or share your Tracker Sheet with me on Facebook! I’d love to see them.
Read more about ADHD medications and treatment strategies:
- Blog: What to Expect from ADHD Medication
- Blog: Reduce ADHD Symptoms with Proper Brain Care
- Blog: Musings about ADHD Medication
- Blog: Four Common ADHD Medication Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Book: Much of my ADHD medication information comes from training I’ve received from Dr. Charles Parker. If you really want to understand ADHD medications and how they work I recommend you check out his book ‘New ADHD Medication Rules’ and his YouTube videos.
- Kick Some ADHD Podcast Episode #32: Is Your ADHD Medication Working?