From Concerta via Ritalin to Elvanse & Strattera, a month’s journey in meds

UnknownI wonder how families who have only the NHS to fare cope when it comes to “Child and Adolescent Mental Health“?  Our initial meeting with the NHS pyschiatrist left me holding some Concerta 12-hour stimulant medication – and a date for a follow up meeting IN A MONTH. A Month was too long, too long by 28 days almost, as the daily rollercoaster of keeping our son on track began.

I’ve heard in the States, when starting a child on medication for the first time, they put them in a hospital environment and try different types over two weeks, constantly monitoring. Otherwise, doses are adjusted weekly, and feedback between the school, parents and psychiatrists informing the levels and doses. We had none of this. Within a couple of weeks, our son was not really sleeping, barely eating, and arguing with us from the rooftop outside of his bedroom. Before the month was up, he was suspended from school for poor conduct. He argued Free Will versus School Rules with the Head Teacher, which didn’t help his cause. We were told that he could only return when he was back “in control” of himself. An impossible task at that moment.

So we got a private pyschiatrist, someone recommended through the ADD parents support group ADDISS,  an ADHD specialist who immediately communicated with the school as well as us. Concerta, which provoked a strange nihilistic diatribe in our disturbed 12 year old was ditched in favour of Ritalin. Things improved immediately. No question of homework as the 4-hour short acting stimulant wore off after school, but we were just happy to have him back at school.

One week later came the Elvanse, while waiting for the 8-10 week period of the long acting medication Strattera to work. Even homework is possible with Elvanse’s 13-hour action. But most of all, he was still himself, the same mischievous imp who nicks any chocolate in the house, or finds the key to the cupboard with all the remotes, spending his pocket money on water pistols and bubbles.

And so, after a month of answering “no” to most requests, it all turned around. That is what the ADDISS founder meant when she said that “it all begins with a good psychiatrist”. She was right. My concern is for the parents who can’t access this kind of good help, who resort to “home schooling” or some other place, through lack of proper support.

The treatment for ADHD has to be joined up, with everyone speaking to each other. At present, the NHS don’t understand that in our local area.

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