Taking the right dose of the right ADHD medication can feel like someone flipped your brain’s on switch. You can focus, remember, get things done, and so much more. When it works, ADHD medication is powerful.
Taking medication can also bring about questions and concerns. What about side effects from Concerta? Is the Adderall working? And many more.
Here are the 7 most common questions I get about ADHD medication.
NOTE: I am NOT a doctor. Please ask your doctor your specific ADHD medication questions.
7 Common Questions about ADHD Medication
1. I’ve just started taking medication. It worked at first and now I don’t feel anything. What should I do?
This is normal at first. As your body gets used to the dose, you need a higher dosage. This will level out eventually. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you are getting addicted.
Doctors who understand how to medicate ADHD use a “start low and go slow” approach. They start with a small dose and gradually increase it every few weeks to get you to the right dose. It can take a few months to get you to your optimal dose. So you can focus at will with few side-effects.
2. How long does it take for medications to kick in and for me to feel it working?
It depends what medication you’re taking.
Most people feel immediate release medications such as Ritalin and Adderall within 30-minutes or so.
It’s not so easy to tell with the longer lasting medication like Vyvanse and Concerta. They are much more subtle. You may not ‘feel’ them working, though your ADHD won’t be as bad.
Non-stimulant medication like Strattera takes about 6 weeks to feel an effect. You have to give it time to work before you decide if it’s the right medication for you or not.
3. I restarted taking ADHD medication after a five-year hiatus and it’s not working as well as it did the first time. I feel like it wears off faster and faster. Why would this happen?
Talk to your doctor. There could be any number of reasons. It could be the dose or the medication. Also, look at your environment – job, responsibilities, living situation. What is different in your life now than before? Is your diet, sleep, and exercise the same?
Medication can help but your environment and self-care will also have an impact on your ADHD as well.
4. Why do my sons who are only a year apart take different doses of medication?
ADHD medications don’t have a standard dose for age or weight. Everyone is different and metabolizes the medication differently. The right dose is the one that helps your sons direct their focus and be motivated with the least side effects.
5. Why am I feeling relaxed on my stimulant medication instead of more focused?
Counter to what you might think, stimulant medication often calms a person with ADHD. The medication doesn’t stimulate your body. It stimulates the neurotransmitter activity in your brain. Tell your doctor what you’re experiencing. Perhaps adjusting the dose will help you more calmly focus. If that doesn’t help you might ask to try a different medication. This is all normal.
6. What side effects can I expect and what ones should be concerned about?
The most common side effects of taking ADHD medication are headaches, thirst, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Sometimes these go away after your body gets used to the medication. If not, adjust your habits. Drink more water or eat before you take the medication. Taking your medication too late in the day can impact sleep.
If you experience a racing heart or anxiety, talk to your doctor immediately.
Keeping a log to track any side effects is helpful to determine if the medication is worth taking.
7. My medication helps but I’m still a mess. Why is my life still so chaotic? Is the medication even working?
You may have heard the saying, “Skills not just Pills”. The medication will help your brain work better so you can pay attention and be motivated. However, you still have to have the systems and structures to support your life. Often with ADHD we just don’t know what to do or how to do things. This is where a program like the ADHD Success Club can help. So you learn the skills and build the habits to live a successful ADHD life.
I hope these commonly asked questions about ADHD medication are helpful. Do you have a general question I didn’t answer? Please post it in the comments. Don’t bother emailing me – I cannot and will not answer medication questions by email.
And, if you have a specific question about your ADHD medication talk to your prescriber.