Need advice on how to handle ADHD mood swings

Lindsey - posted on 05/06/2013 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My daughter has ADHD. She is 8. I am really at a loss as to how to deal with the afternoon crash from adderall. She is doing amazing in school but I dread the afternoons. If asked to do something she doesnt want to do it's a complete meltdown with the screaming and crying. If she is hungry it's even worse. I'm wondering if this has to do with the side affects or is it an underlying issue. She also can not sleep at night. I'm torn with giving her meds to focus at school then having to ask the doc to give her something so she can sleep. I don't want her to have to take so much medicine. I find myself crying a lot because I dont recognize this person she becomes when she has a meltdown.

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Alisa - posted on 05/16/2013

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I am a foster mom of a 5 year old with severe ADHD. He is different every day of the week and we never know if he is going to be compliant or defiant. Getting him into a very strict and consistent routine has been the number one key for him. Following that, he has an IEP at school that has built in motor breaks to work out his energy, a visual schedule that he knows and uses everyday at school, home and daycare. He is in numerous activities to wear him out and we have worked on changing his diet. He is very sensitive to transitions, sleep issues and food. So, for us, we have changed everything to bring him about and for him to be able to feel good about what he is doing and how he is doing it. He is also very smart and knows when he has good days and bad days. We have put him on Risperdal for the daytime and Clonidine to help him sleep at night, and like most ADHD kids, it wears off after about 3 hours so we added Melatonin and that seems to help. We notice that if he doesn't get the right sleep he is out of control the next day. If he eats something that has gluten or preservatives or anything else he immediately reacts. In the short amount of time that we have had him, he has been kicked out of one daycare due to his aggressive behaviours and non-compliance and been home for several weeks then put into another daycare that he is still getting used to. We have found, though, that positive reinforcement, tools that help get him motivated, preparation before an event and other things do help. Never consistently but if we changed it up every couple of days it makes a difference. I guess what I am trying to say is to not give up. These kids are always trying and want the best from us no matter how out of control they are. Most of the time they can't help it and you may have to give some ground on some things while others be very strict. We have found that fighting him, at this moment, on where he sleeps is something we have to give on so that he can have a productive next day. We also find a strict sleep schedule is also important and we can't give on that. If there is anyone who would like to talk sometime, I am always available and could always use some mommy time.

Lindsey - posted on 05/16/2013

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Thanks ladies! I think you are right diet and routine are playing a huge role. I have also started trying different techniques to try and avoid the meltdowns after school and have partnered with child guidance counselors to brainstorm some ideas. I have cut down sugar and have pretty much stayed on the 8pm bedtime no matter what is going on. Melatonin worked for awhile until she built up a tolerance to it. I end up not giving it to her for a couple of weeks and then start over again. The doc said I could give her up to 7mg a night but her ADHD doctor said that it could cause seizures so I shouldn't go over 5mgs. That scared me enough! I think what is very strange to me is that some days she is amazing and other days almost intolerable and becoming violent. I am trying to trigger what is happening on these days to cause such a reaction. Thank you guys for all your feedback it has been useful.

Cathy - posted on 05/15/2013

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Diet can be a HUGE factor in kids with behavioral disorders. My cousin is 15 (my aunt and uncle had kids way later than my parents, so don't think I'm some teenager giving advice here) and whether he is actually ADHD, I'm not sure, but she has found that his diet effects his behavior IMMENSELY. She doesn't buy anything with MSG or food colorings. She limits their sugar intake to very minimal and keeps strictly to his schedule. He has to go to bed by 9 PM and when he was 8, bed time was between 7 and 8. She has noticed a HUGE improvement on his behavior from switching to all natural type of items. I know that organic food can be expensive, but you don't have to necessarily get organic. Just pay attention to labels. My aunt is a missionary, which means they aren't super well off or anything, they get enough to make ends meet and she is very conscious of money (in fact, cheap is the word I'd use :) ). She shops at wal-mart for most things (they are offering more and more organic/all natural options) and Trader Joe's for the more natural stuff wal-mart doesn't carry (I know not everyone has trader joe's, but most places have grocery stores with the natural options). It may seem like a hassle for you, but if it helps your daughter and your relationship with your daughter, then it is well worth it. You can google about diet and how it affects kids with ADD/ADHD/Aspergers/Autism - all are behavior/emotional disorders from one extreme to the other, but all can be managed by diet to some degree. Some studies have even shown that diet can control it to the point they don't even need to take medicine. This day and age there is so much CRAP in our food and we don't even know it. Diseases like these are at an all time high - to they point they are almost an epidemic - and as the statistics of the diseases have increased, so has the more and more unnatural things that get put into our food increased. It is awful. Old people will often say "we didn't buy organic in my day....blah blah blah" well that's because there was NO NEED to. Farmers grew food and sold it. Cattle ranchers let their cattle graze and then slaughtered them. Only in the last 50 years or so have so many unnatural growth and pesticide type of items been introduced to our food and so widely accepted. Sorry to go off topic here, but my point is definitely check out different diets (I don't mean diets to lose weight, I mean what you put in your mouth - a diet isn't something you "go on" to lose wight, the term diet just means what you ingest) and how it can affect the behavior in the ADD/ADHD kids. It's amazing how what we eat can affect us.

Andrea - posted on 05/10/2013

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I have similar issues with my son, age 7. I have been so happy that he has been doing better in school now on adderal (10 mg xr). I think he is quite pleased with himself that this is now possible, too. However, he swings wildly from emotional and grouchy to oblivious and silly in the afternoons and evenings.

When he is aware of his actions, it's a spiral - poor choices, guilty feeling, self doubt, more poor choices... How he has felt about his behavior has always been an issue. He knows what is expected, and until now could not meet those expectations on any kind of regular basis. The meds have helped him with it during school. When I know I will need him to attend to things on the weekend, I offer him the meds in the morning. I haven't seen the "real" kid I know in quite some time, and on meds - I have seen him again!

This is his 8th week or so on meds, and I'm starting to think that we don't have the one that "fits" him yet. I sought medicine as an option because I could see that his behavior was negatively affecting his emotions. Life/school/etc. shoudn't be so hard for anyone - much less a first grader. I'm going to ask about other options and meds. I think it might be a while until we find the fit that suits each individual child.

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Donna - posted on 03/16/2014

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Have you tried to give her half the dose of adderall? I am only asking I am no dr.

Wendy - posted on 05/26/2013

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My 7yr old Grandaughter was diagnosed with ADHD type2 nearly three years ago. Currently she is on a combination of Vyvanse, Resperidal, a low dose of Adderal, and we have added Abilify in the past three weeks due to mood swings and anger. The Abilify has made such a difference. Hope this helps.

Theresa - posted on 05/22/2013

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You should try a different medication. Has your doctor tried Focalin? Much less side effects and the huge drop off is a problem that switching meds can absolutely help. We had big problems with Concerta and Adderall in exactly the way you are describing. The switch to Focalin made all the difference for us. Also, we use Melatonin at night.

Laura - posted on 05/21/2013

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Get the time released, it will help. We started these with my step son and it was much better. We used nortriptalyne to help him sleep. It worked well. And its safe.

Jeanette - posted on 05/13/2013

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Both of my boys have ADHD , and my youngest is also odd . Dr told me to give melatonin before bed. I have been doing this for 2 weeks and it has been a lot easier to get them into bed, the bottle says not to use for longer than 4 weeks. So do I follow the instruction or do I continue to give it to them?

Chrystal - posted on 05/11/2013

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I know exactly how you feel. My daughter is 8 as well and is on concerta. The meltdowns are horrible after the pill has worn off. She cries over the smallest little thing. She has even gotten so upset with me she has tried hitting and pushing me. It has gotten to the point where I don't know how I should discipline her because of the meltdowns. Then there are days where I can discipline her and its like she doesn't care, big deal mom took my favorite toy away. She has also cut the bangs of her hair off right down to the scalp because she says she doesn't like herself. I have no idea who my daughter is anymore.
In school she's still not doing very well. She's in grade 2 and is still struggling, reading is at the beginning of grade 2 and math is still at a grade 1 level even though we do practise at home. My best advise to you is to go back to the doctor the medication she's on might not be the right one for her. I have an appointment booked already for my daughter, the next medication to try for my daughter is a non stimulate. I feel so guilty for putting her through different med's and different doses, it feels like I have lost my daughter.

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