ADD and ADHD are some of the most medicated mental diagnoses in the world and particularly in the United States. Pharmaceutical medications have the advantage of having a doctor monitor their use. However, they also have the danger of having a doctor prescribe them. This is to say that even if the doctor prescribes the medication, you still have a responsibility. This is to take the responsibility of taking medication seriously. While we think taking medication is helpful for many people with Attention Deficit Disorders, these are 5 things to consider before taking ADHD medication.
1. Advice from Your Doctor
First and foremost, we wanted to stress that the experts at Special Strong, while licensed personal trainers with close proximity to ADHD, are not doctors. We think it’s important to talk candidly with your doctor about your or your child’s symptoms before asking for a prescription outright. You may find that your doctor will suggest other alternatives to medication at first. The most common things to consider before taking ADHD medication have to do with diet and exercise.
The bad news is that many teachers pressure their student’s parents into medicating their children. It gets worse, many doctors who hear even the slightest hint of the teachers doing this, will react to it. They react to this suggestion by automatically reaching for the prescription pad. Before accepting, let your doctor know your habits, your routines, your diet and anything else that may be of importance. This information may help him to determine if other alternatives might work before reaching for that prescription pad.
2. Medication Side Effects
The side effects are the number one reason to take pause before accepting a prescription for ADHD medication. While this medication may help you or your child focus, it can also cause:
- Trouble Sleeping
- Loss of Appetite
- Withdrawal Symptoms (When Dosage Wears Off)
- Bowel Irregularity
Some of these side effects such as nausea and headaches will go away once your child has been taking their medication for a few days. Others like a decrease in appetite may never go away completely. The side effects can vary based on your exact prescription and dosage and may also change when paired with different lifestyle changes. It’s important to have all the information upfront before considering taking any kind of medication.
If the side effects continue for more than a few days, you will need to consult with your doctor. He may be able to adjust the dosage, or he may have to try a different medication. Doctors use one of two different types of medication. They can use methylphenidates such as Concerta, Focalin, Metadate, or Ritalin. At the same time, they might prescribe amphetamines such as Adderall, Dexedrine, or Vyvanse. Be sure you talk to your doctor about these side effects and feel comfortable about your child taking these medications.
3. Your Long-Term Goal
Having a goal in mind before taking medication can really put things in perspective. Consider whether you want medication to be a long- or a short-term solution for your Attention Deficit Disorder. After trying all the life changes and other holistic alternatives, you may find that you are your best self when you’re taking your ADHD medication. If used as prescribed, medication can help people with ADD and ADHD live perfectly healthy, happy lives.
Not everyone who starts using an ADD/ADHD medication has to remain on them for the rest of their lives. Some are able to use their medication as a way to focus as they embark on a journey toward a healthier, more focused “me.” Having a goal in mind can be helpful when making this big decision.
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4. Your Diet
Far too many New Year’s resolutions to lose weight keep falling steadily by the wayside. It’s easy to see that a change in diet is one of the toughest personal changes to make. Even if the habit or routine were easy to break, sugar addictions can keep us coming back for more. However, you may consider a change in diet before accepting a prescription for medication.
Research has shown that including certain foods in your diet while removing others can help. There are many foods and ingredients used in foods that are either known or thought to affect ADD/ADHD.
Check out some of our previous blogs for diet suggestions:
- 4 Foods That Positively Impact Behavior (and 5 Foods to Avoid)
- 6 Vitamins and Minerals That Improve ADD/ADHD
5. Your Exercise Routine
A sedentary lifestyle may be an aggressor for your hyperactivity and part of the reason you have trouble focusing. Before taking medication, consider starting a consistent exercise routine. Exercise improves overall physical health, as well as brain activity, focus, and self-confidence.
You could start by taking walks or going on bike rides, perhaps buy a treadmill. You might consider becoming involved in martial arts at a local Dojo. The idea is simply to get you up off your backside and moving.
One of the best things you can do is get a gym membership. With a gym membership comes access to a wide variety of exercise equipment to use. Most have a walking track for those days when it’s raining, too hot, or too cold. More importantly, the right gym membership comes with access to a personal trainer. They will work with you to create a complete exercise regimen based on your specific needs.
Remember, you don’t have to jump in with both feet. In fact, your trainer will start you off slowly with a selection of exercises. As your abilities and stamina increase, you may be able to take on more challenges. The right gym and trainer can be the perfect natural way to manage ADD/ADHD and one of the best things to consider before taking ADHD medication.
If you are interested in exploring this option before (or while) taking medication, sign up with Special Strong to starting seeing a difference today.
Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.