To try the drugs or not?

Momma O - posted on 05/01/2012 ( 15 moms have responded )

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Do the drugs that are prescribed for persons with mental disabilities really work? The doctors say that they are completely safe. The FDA warns of terrible side effects that include death. While the attorneys and court systems are loving all the extra business. I have tried everything and I mean everything to reach my child with out the need for drugs but at this point I honestly believe that the psychologists are right and there is a chemical imbalance in my child's brain that has resulted in numerous mental illnesses. It's a scary thing to put your child on mind altering drugs even if your doing it to balance them out. However I think I may be ready to follow there advice. Question though from a mom's perspective: "Which is worse; to have your child use these drugs that are proven unhealthy and unsafe or to continue to allow their own mind to deceive and distort their way of thinking and hope for the best?

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It's such an individual decision that it's really hard to say. Both my parents have mental illnesses and were unmedicated for years before starting medication and it made a big difference in their ability to function (one moreso than the other). You have to decide if the positive (having your child hopefully be able to live a relatively normal life) is worth any side effects they may experience.

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See, the thing with this kind of stuff, if you DON'T have the mental impairment, the medicine will CAUSE it. This is why aderol (sp?) and similar drugs for ADHD are often sold on the street as "uppers." For someone without ADHD, taking aderol causes hyperactivity and low attention spans, surprisingly enough, because it is actually a stimulant. For someone with ADHD, it stimulates the brain to produce the chemicals that would normally keep the brain balanced but that are not present in someone with ADHD.

So starting off with a low dose could actually be the best option, just in case the proposed condition is not really the issue. That's why such drugs have such dire side effects, because overstimulating the brain CAN cause these horrible problems.

PS, my brother was on aderol for a few years, and my mother, wonderful as she is, would sell his extra pills. So yeah, I know a bit about them.

Krista - posted on 05/01/2012

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I don't know if I'd agree with "try the lowest dose" necessarily, though.

Mental illness is a very delicate balancing act. And sometimes, if you don't have the right dosage, it can actually make the problem worse. Usually doctors prefer to start patients off on a fairly standard dose, and then wean down from there if it's at all possible.

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when all else fails, try the lowest dose of the medicine with the least negative side effects, because yes, chemical imbalances are real. i think medicines are over-prescribed, but on some occasions they can be all you have to work with.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/01/2012

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Momma O, I feel your pain and concern. It is so scary, I know, I have been there. Still am.

9 years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with severe combined ADHD. There was no way she could focus long enough to have even made it through kindergarten. The teachers asked me if it would be OK to put her in a divider. They didn't know what else to do. She was causing such an uproar in the classroom from her inability to sit still and wait her turn. It was causing other children to lose focus, as well. I almost beat them both, for suggesting such a thing, though. I would never ever allow them to put a divider around her. So, that did not happen.

They recommended her being evaluated. I knew she was overly hyper and unable to sit still for even a minute. I knew she was spinning a hundred miles a minute, I could see it in her eyes. I had no idea, it was a problem though. She was my first child, so to me, she was normal. I was wrong. So, I had her evaluated by 3 separate ADHD specialists. Only to be told the same devastating news by each of them. She most definitely has severe ADHD. Although, there are many avenues that needed to be sought, in order for me to help her, medication was one of them. I dreaded it. I was so scared.

Even now, 9 years later I still struggle with it. I have since taken her off, in the past 6 months. However, for good reason. The medication was absolutely required in order to get her to a balanced place within her brain. So, she could function at a relatively normal rate. Once she was in that "normal" state came the behavioural therapy. I had to ensure that I was a very routine orientated and strict with boundary and consequence parent. So, overtime, by employing behavioural technique with the medication, she has been able to get to a point where she has learnt effective ways to cope with her disability. She is now equipped with well established technique that enables her to get through her struggles. Yes, there are days she still struggles but she still gets through without the medication, so far (it is a trial thing right now). It has taken countless effort on my part, to stay patient and put every ounce of myself into her and her growth. So far, it has paid off.

So, I am absolutely glad that I did all the research I did in regards to her medication and disability. I am very glad that I ensured to set extreme boundaries, consequence and routine in her life. I am very happy that I ensured she was learning ways to cope with her inabilities. In the end, the medication is what allowed for her to get to where she is today. It still isn't all rainbows and butterflies but I can be certain she will be a productive citizen and have the coping skills to make it in the real world, with a real career.

I feel your pain. I agree with Krista 100%. Make sure the doctors check her vitals frequently. My daughter's doctor would not give her more than 3 months worth of medication. Every 3 months, she had to go back for a full checkup, including heart, blood pressure, weight and reflexes. This to me was very important. There were a few times, where she had not gained any weight and the doctor threatened to take her off, if she did not gain by next checkup date.

My recommendation is to research, research, research and ask as many questions you can think of, to the doctor. I made sure my daughter (and she still does) saw a developmental psychologist with a specialty in ADHD, once a year. I have researched her medication and disability so much, that I honestly don't think there is anything left for me to read. I always look for knew information though.

I wish you luck and hope it all works out for you and your child. ;)

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Momma O - posted on 05/05/2012

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Wow, okay I am beginning to see what you guys mean. Even though the side effects are scary; the thoughts that my child's brain can produce are much scarier because as stated they could cause him to believe that they are his reality and the outcome can be oh so much worse. I thank you all for all your insight as it has been very helpful at putting my mind at ease even if just a little. I did take my child to the dr's last Thursday and had his vitals checked and dr said he is well enough to begin the meds once they are prescribed later this month. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the best! =)

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/03/2012

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Kitty---What does your statement mean? I am confused by it. ;)

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/01/2012

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It is spelt adderall and yes, you are correct in how ADHD meds affect a brain without ADHD differently. It is a methylphenidate, it is very much the same as cocaine and speed. So, a person without ADHD would have an upper affect, while those with ADHD would be balanced (the meds increase the white frontal lobe mass, which is used for focusing and decision making) . Which is why, those that have ADHD and do not have a prescribed med and have not learnt how to cope with their disability, will often medicate themselves with a street upper.



I can't believe parents sell their kids meds. I mean, I know they do but gracious, it makes me ill to think about it. These drugs can kill someone without ADHD. It can make their heart stop. Now, that is scary shit!



ETA:

A lot of University students use ritalin, it helps them focus during exams. ;) They will pop one and study for days, then they will pop another and write their exam.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/01/2012

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I know with my daughter they did start with a low dose and worked their way up but it all depends on the impairment/disability.

They start on a low dose with ADHD because for some kids that's all they need, in order to help promote frontal lobe mass creation. For my daughter though, she always has ended up on the high end for her weight and height. They started her at 10mg for the first 3 weeks, then she went directly to 18mg. When she turned 9 she went to 32mg and by age 12 she was at 64mg (the maximum dosage). She was on Concerta.

My husbands' uncle has schizophrenia. He does really good when he is on his meds. Unfortunately he will not take them. He now lives on the street (has for a few years) and uses crack cocaine as his crutch. I bump into him every once in awhile, as he begs for change outside of the building where I work. I feel so bad for him but he is a grown adult and it his choice to refuse the meds.

It is very important to treat mental illness. If you don't, it could have very ill outcome.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/01/2012

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You're right Jaime, meds are all too often over-prescribed. Which is why it is so important to get 2nd and 3rd opinions from specialists (not a GP). It is also very important to do all the research you can.

Janice - posted on 05/01/2012

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My best friend's son, 6.5 years old, has anxiety disorder. When he would get anxious he would throw fits and once he started school it became a big problem. At first the doctors weren't 100% sure of what was going on and the therapist was not helping. They put him on a medication but it had side effects (bladder & bowel incontinence) and so my friend immediately took her son off it. She finally got him in to see a specialist who decided it was anxiety and prescribed a new medication. My friend says he is like a different child. Way more out going, no more sensory issues or out bursts at school. At the first parent teacher conference for 1st grade this year she was so worried because of the problems in kindergarten, but his teacher had nothing but nice things to say.



So my point is that, while I do think it is best to avoid medications if possible, sometimes they really are for the best. I would say try medication and see if it helps. You can always stop if there are side effects or they are not helping. Good luck :)

Momma O - posted on 05/01/2012

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That's kind of how I am starting to look at things. I see my child trying so hard but only spinning his wheels. I believe at this point if left untreated he has no hope of bright future. It took me along time to realize and except this. I think the drugs are needed to make him complete and whole so he can grow up to be a productive citizen and a happy individual. It's just the thought of having to face this choice as a mother is very disturbing. I don't want to do anything to cause harm to my child but I almost feel like by not doing anything that is exactly what will happen. I guess I just wanted to ask to see if anyone else has had to make this choice and hear what they chose. I just wanna be sure I'm doing the right thing for my child's sake. I thank you Krista for your input/advice! I will talk to my child's PCP about tracking his vitals. Thanks =)

Krista - posted on 05/01/2012

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I wouldn't say that the drugs are "proven unhealthy and unsafe". That seems like a real exaggeration. Have SOME people experienced negative side effects from those drugs? Yes. But some people have experienced negative effects from sushi, or corn, or peanut butter. That doesn't make those things inherently dangerous.

Chemical imbalances in the brain are very, very real. My sister is bi-polar, and all the therapy in the world will only do so much. Sure, if she was off of her meds, she wouldn't be risking any side effects. But she's also probably lose her kids and wind up homeless. For her, the meds make a huge difference -- they allow her to focus and they regulate her moods a bit. Without them, she is either like a squirrel on caffeine, starting a million projects at once and behaving extremely recklessly, or she is face-down on the couch, unable to move, with all of those unfinished projects staring her in the face, and not even able to muster up enough focus and concentration to pay her bills.

In your shoes, I would talk to a couple of doctors. Ask about the side effects and do not let the doctor brush off your concerns. A good doctor will answer your questions honestly and will take your concerns seriously. From there, you could then look at starting him on medications, and perhaps ask your doctor about monitoring your son's vitals periodically to make sure that everything is still going okay.

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