One Month on Concerta - High Emotions - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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One Month on Concerta - High Emotions

nvuletich profile image

Hi all,

Our son (7 years old) has been on Concerta for one month. We’ve increased the dose twice and he’s currently on 36 mg. He is incredibly emotional while the med kicks in and wears off. The Psych seems to think this is because we haven’t optimized his dose, so we keep increasing. But with each increase, I see a litany of side effects I hate. Heavy emotions, it’s like he’s cracked out and hyper focused on things, it hasn’t improved his disruptiveness nature at school at all, and today we had somewhat of a manic episode after school where he was chewing on his inner cheek nervously which caused an open sore bleeding. He lost it! Screaming he couldn’t stop and I’ve never seen him in such a scary emotional state. I hate this journey on meds so far and I’m losing my patience tinkering with his emotional well-being. I can’t possibly see how meds can help him when it’s been so terrible. I have a message out to his psych, but I’m desperate for answers. I am lost and so sad as his mom. This process has destroyed my emotional well-being as well.

22 Replies

Hello, I really understand how you feel. My son is 14 and we are searching for a right medication for him since 2017.

Stimulants like Methophenidate, Concerta, Vyvance were making him mean, sarcastic, sad and just angry. Each new medication was bringing hope and failed . It wasn’t helping his attention, it wasn’t helping with homework. It just made him get into s lot of trouble at school and escalated problems at home. It said STOP! No more stimulants. He has been on non stimulants for the last 1,5 months and is doing a lot better!!! He is easier to be around,easier agreeing, less fighting. Attention did not improve drastically, but in our case, behavior control was more important.

Good luck to you and your son. If you see things don’t get better, and your child personality changes for worse, don’t wait too long. Search for something else. I believe the right combo and dose is possible, but it takes some time to figure it out. Hugs!

nvuletich profile image
nvuletich in reply to Aniusia

Thank you for replying. I’m happy to hear things are improving for you and your son. What non stimulant did you find success with?

Aniusia profile image
Aniusia in reply to nvuletich

He is on Guanfacine and Strattera, but please remember, there is uncountable medication and dose combination, and what works for one , might not work for another.

mariner8993 profile image
mariner8993 in reply to Aniusia

May I ask you how long it took for the straterra to kick in? Our son had issues with anxiety and meltdowns on the stimulants so we are now trying straterra. It’s been 2 weeks but he seems more moody, depressed, and just doesn’t have an interest in doing anything. We were hoping to see some positives by this point, especially since he has high anxiety as well and this wa supposed to possibly help with that. Thanks!

We tried Strattera for about 6 weeks. It helped my son’s anxiety - but it also make him rather surly & negative. He even got into an argument with his teacher, which is NOT like him at all (at least not at age 6 - his teens may be a different story. Lol.) We also didn’t see any focus / impulse benefit, plus he lost weight, and we ultimately stopped it. The only other positive we saw was he did sleep great, but that has never been a huge problem for us in the first place.

Aniusia profile image
Aniusia in reply to mariner8993

It did take about a month , but he did not become moody or upset. We only saw slow positive change . If he was changing in the other direction, it would mean it’s not for him


Thanks for sharing your journey with the blog. A few things to suggest.. Are you working with a child psychiatrist? ( an MD?) or a psychologist. There is a big difference when they are working on medication. One thing to think about is this is a "journey" that in my opinion the kids don't remember, it is only us parents. When you finally get to a stable place you will be thankful to continued. Each child reacts very different and so what worked for mine not not work for yours. But the bottom line is that once the correct type, dose and timing is determined you really will be amazed at the difference. It sometimes helps to talk about what the child is feeling so you can gauge if the medication is working.

As a parent this is very hard to go through, BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Please don't give up. Because your child deserves to be stable and not struggle all the time. Life just gets more challenging for kids (the transition between Elementary school to middle school is so hard!) and medication is one of the keys to success.

Is the wild emotions "normal" our son did not experience that. Yes, when they do not have medication in their system it is a challenge because they have to go back to dealing with everything (impulses, distraction, etc..)

We are here for you and please keep at it, let us know when you get there.

Take care, big hugs

Thank you so much for your input. We are working with either a psychiatrist or psychologist. I don’t recall exactly, but he specializes in medications for children. We’re in constant communication about what we’re experiencing, and we’re making adjustments as we go along. I just feel to desperate at times. It is so hard. Like you said, it does seem much harder on us as parents as I’m traumatized after my sons episodes, but when I ask him how he feels an hour later, it’s like nothing happened. So strange. Thank you for bringing some perspective on this being a “journey”. I operate with wanting an immediate fix, so this is definitely challenging for me.

Glad you find comfort in our experience. We had horriable (incontinence, etc.) symptoms so we just quickly changed and like you said they will not remember this in the future.. try to stay focused on the success.

Big hugs..

The point made by ‘onthemove1971’ is spot on. It sounds like you do not have the right specialist. Generalists like pediatricians are not going to understand what a neuropsych will.

I hope you are able to access one.

Here’s what I learned from our own journey - it’s not about increasing the meds. And the good news is they are out of the system in 24 hrs (why you have to taken them every day) Smaller combined doses are more effective then one med in a small dose.

And coming down from a med can create an extreme reaction that is almost worse then the problem you are trying to solve.

XR - extended release has been a huge improvement in this areas. It goes up and down slowly - negating the crash it seems like your child is suffering from.

I am not a doctor, but given the severity of your child’s reaction, perhaps go back to the small dose immediately, find a specialist and try extended release

Also, we use a tiny dose of guafacine which has helped greatly with the extremes of emotions

This short lecture to doctors may be helpful:

As well as his lectures on YouTube for parents

Best of luck

We also use ER and don't have problems coming down.

Thank you for replying and providing the tips and video. My son is on an extended release of Concerta and has had trouble with the crash ever since he started. Yesterday was the worse I’ve seen. Definitely worrysome for me, I question if this is normal and we just power through it, or if this is a deal breaker and could cause permanent harm. I have no clue!!

As a parent of a child with ADHD I feel your pain. My daughter went through similar issues when she was your sons age. She was on several combinations of drugs but finally Concerta at 54 MG seem to help. In addition she had weekly sessions with a children's psychologist. The combination wasn't perfect but did help with reducing behavioral issues. She's 15 now and does pretty good but still has episodes here and there. She took up horse riding and has become quite the equestrian. She concentrates well with her horse and is doing great with her trainer. I actually think the relationship with her horse has been the major reason for improvement. Her quest to be a good rider drives her and the receipt of ribbons for performance is her reward. She has almost 150 ribbons. If you can find the right activity for your son it should help. Good luck.

My daughter had similar reactions to concerta. Very emotional, chewing on her clothes, angry outbursts when the meds wore off. We eventually changed medication and all that stopped. I would suggest trying a different medication. I understand how frustrating the process is. After 4 different meds over 1.5 years, my daughter is doing better. She now takes vyvanse in the am and guaficine in the early evening. However, I am always waiting for the side effects of these meds to start. I feel like I have adhd pstd. I would suggest trying a different medication. Also, we changed to a child psychiatrist from our pediatrician for the adhd medication management. Lastly, the psychiatrist suggested a genesight adhd pharmacogenomic test to determine which meds are effective or have reduced response. The test results were very difficult to understand; however, it did show that she would have reduced response to all the stimulants we had tried. The test is not a solution but it does give some additional information to help narrow down the meds. Hang in there. Things can get better.

Hi nvuletich, while I can't comment on your son's medication, I will emphasize that you are his mother and know your son best. If you are concerned with his psych care and medications, I would strongly encourage you to seek a second opinion. I am sorry for the stress, frustration, and fear that you are experiencing and can hear in your post that you are overwhelmed. This can be such a difficult journey. Hang in there:))

I empathize with you deeply. My son went through a horrible 6 months of trying out different meds. He is 7 now. We've had a good experience with guanfacine/Intuniv, as someone else mentioned. It lowers blood pressure, and we noticed him getting tired near the end of the day, so we give it at bedtime. We also only refer to his psychiatrist, rather than pediatrician, for medication. You're doing great, wishing you the best on your journey!

You should not be having such difficulty with concerta if it was the right medication for his system. Trust your "mommy-gut". I have found that long-acting stimulants have different metabolizing/"break-down" times for people. There are many, many, different brands, and everyone can react differently to breakdown times, coating, enzyme conversion/process, etc. Concerta is one of the longest-acting stimulants. Since your child is clearly having issues with Concerta, I would try another stimulant (if stimulants are helping with the ADHD). Our child did better on focalin XR (less "crash"/"let-down"), and sleeping better. Concerta works well on many, but clearly not on your child. Be assertive with your physician, and find another one if they won't work on customizing. If you have a doctor that is forcing a "square peg into a round hole" (i.e. not listening to your "mommy-gut", find another doctor that will work with you). Good luck.

I hate it when doctors think giving more of the meds that are already causing trouble is going to make it better. Dealt with that too many times.

Concerta was not a good match for my son. It made him sad and then coming off it each afternoon it made him angry. Have they tried other stimulants? We landed on Adderall and it works well for him.

Thanks for replying. The dr put in an order for Adderall so we’ll give that a try. Wish us luck!

My daughter ( was 8) had the same issues. And after trying 3 different medications and watching her struggle, loose her confidence and self esteem, being extremely emotional, we made a decision that the side effects of the meds outweighed any potential benefits which we didn’t notice. We didn’t want to go through the trial and error on any more meds. We tried counseling which didn’t work for her and just made her upset. So we have been managing it on our own. She is back her happy and outgoing self and for us her emotional well being outweighed any school benefits/focus benefits. She is still struggling keeping up with academics, but we met up with school counselor, teachers and special services team. They all work to help her out and we came up with a way to communicate when she needs additional help. I,just like you, couldn’t bear seeing all the side effects. My husband was an emotional mess and could not see his happy little girl become an emotional mess. No meds and just extra help from us and teachers is what we are doing now. Also, just like another person noted above, activities that help them with focus is a big hel. she got into art and we have dogs that she works on training with obidience and agility. She loves it. We don’t have any ribbons, but it does help with confidence, esteem and focus. Good luck. Hope you find what works for your family.

P.S. I have ADHD and never took meds learned how to deal with it on my own. I am quite accomplished CPA, but do get over focused on my tasks. I understand that there many different levels and struggles out there so you just need to find what works for you.

I disagree that the kids don’t remember. I think it depends on a kid. My daughter has quite a memory and remembers things that made her unhappy from as yong as 5. Which surprises us at times. She is 11 now off meds but is involved in sports and activities and has support services at school that help her stay on track.

Best wishes

We had similar experiences with Concerta and discontinued it. We're doing adderall and sertraline and it seems to be working much better (but every kid is different). Our 7 year old would have rage tantrums at night and have to be physically restrained till he calmed down. It was happening 3-4x per week. He was also practically eating himself with all the nail biting. The emotional ups and downs were a nightmare that you couldn't wake up from. I'm no doctor but this doesn't sound like a good fit medication wise.

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