Do meds help emotional regulation? - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Do meds help emotional regulation?

AlltheLegos profile image
21 Replies

My 8 year old struggles with emotional regulation. He gets really upset when things don’t go how he expected them, or he feels like he’s not getting a fair share of decision making , etc. We’ve learned how to handle it at home, but I worry for him when he shuts down, or worse throws a big fit, in front of friends or other family. I’m fearful he’ll damage relationships, and he’s such a people seeker that it would really hurt to lose friends. We’re still waiting on our appointment to start trying meds, so I’m wondering if you’ve found that meds help with this part of the condition? Or will we need to seek out other treatment to help with emotional regulation?

21 Replies
Stepdad81 profile image

We've been having the same issue with our 13 year old. He's been on anxiety medication and Adhd medication since he's been 8. I strongly recommend getting outside emotion help. Where we live mental health is a joke and one of the many things I've learned is that ADHD medication can definitely trigger or increase anxiety. That being said at 8 he's probably going to feel different than other kids because he has to always take medication so he may become self conscious and have a blow to his self esteem. I wish someone told me this when we first started medication because now our 13 year old let's his emotions bottle up till there are major blow outs and it leaves my wife in tears. We always tried to explain that there are millions of people like him on medication but I think sometimes kids just think your my parents, you have to make me feel better but don't believe us. Not to mention being able to start learn coping skills so they can hopefully not have to increase dosages as they grow and learn to live happily outside of medication when they're older as well. We started on 18mg of Concerta and 5 years later we're on 50mg of Vyvanse, 150mg of Zoloft, 4mg of Intuniv, and 25mg of Quetapine.

AlltheLegos profile image
AlltheLegos in reply to Stepdad81

My son has already been on meds for seizures for more than a year, and it hasn’t seemed to bother him, so I’m really hoping it stays like that. When we told him about the diagnosis we also told him his dad and my brother have it, and look at them now! Both successful happy adults, so fingers crossed we can keep the positive spin on it. Being on that many meds sounds scary! Do you ever worry they’re doing more harm than good? (Not judging, just asking as a newbie to the med journey.)

Onthemove1971 profile image

Our son benefits from a non stimulant medication, like Initiv with helps with focus, sleep and emotional regulation. Good luck.

AlltheLegos profile image
AlltheLegos in reply to Onthemove1971

That’s good to hear. Our dr mentioned over the phone that there are lots of nonstimulants to try so I wonder if that’s where she wants to start. I had been thinking to push trying concerta first because that was the winner for my brother. All the options should be reassuring but instead I feel overwhelmed and scared of all the bad combos we may have to endure first. 😢

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to AlltheLegos

Our son was unsuccessful when his Pediatrician gave him a single dose medication, old style.

Of course I do not blame him, since that is all he knew. I am still amazed and thankful that our son can live a close to "normal" life becuase the medication helps him function daily.

It really is about type of medication, the timing the medication is given and dose he takes.

When first seeing his psychiatrist she showed me a list of older medications and then explained the benefits of newer medications. I didn't have any judgement for or against any of them. It was just a struggle to know how he needed 2 different types. It's because each does a job. One helps control impulsive behavior and one helps with sleep, emotional regulation.

But once you experience the "magic" of the right combination you become so thankful for having a very functional child. It doesn't mean all of the annoyances go away, he still leaves his dirty underwear on the floor and has symptoms when the medications wear off are there, we have learned to accept them. I know he feels great success with medication.

Best of luck on your journey to success for him.

pugs4life profile image
pugs4life in reply to Onthemove1971

Would you mind sharing which medications your son takes? It’s so helpful for us parents that are new to this journey.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to pugs4life

No worries.. in the AM he takes Ritalin ( extended release) then the same medication at 3pm to contuine with homework, sports and evening routine. At bed he takes non stimulant (Initiv) which is a 24 hour dose which helps with emotional regulation, sleep and focus. We tried a number or different medications and this has been the best.

He is 14 years old and when I ask him if he remembers all of the different ones he days no.

With his current medication he really doesn't "feel" different, he just know he functions so much better.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

His medication usually takes about 20-30 min. To start working.

Hope this helps.

pugs4life profile image
pugs4life in reply to Onthemove1971

So helpful. Thank you! My almost 8 yr old son just started guanfacine 1mg at night 12 days ago. And it’s helped a little with the emotional and behavioral regulation but I’m wondering if we need to go up a bit in the dosage. I’m also curious to see if we’ll need to start a stimulant when he starts second grade in the fall. Right now we’re homeschooling but we’re looking to re-enroll him into school. What age did your son start Ritalin?

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to pugs4life

The great thing is you see a positive change. Yes, you could speak to the person giving him the medication and ask if a higher dose would help. That is not always the correct answer. He started on a single dose of Consorta in Elementary school, it didn’t help much. We started with a child psychiatrist who is amazing and is still helping us years later. It was around 6th grade we changed to the 2 medication combination which was personally hard to swallow. But it has been the best thing for him. The Ritalin really decreases the impulsive behavior which really help in school.

I was told medication can only help with %60 of behavior, but thearpy and educational support help with the rest. Of course parent discipline helps a lot also.

I really believe the Ritalin helps with his high school academic demands.

Hope you find what works for him. Remember if you try it and feel it is not working you can always stop it. But you don’t know how much success he can have without it.

pugs4life profile image
pugs4life in reply to Onthemove1971

Thank you! I really appreciate your experience and input. It’s so helpful for parents starting out on this journey.

Ihaveadd profile image
Ihaveadd in reply to Onthemove1971

Would you mind telling my the 2nd medication is?

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Ihaveadd

Of course.. Initiv ( Guanfacine). He takes it at bed time and it is a 24hr dose. Helps with sleep, focus and emotional regulation. Of course dose is determined by the child's weight. He has been on the same dose for years. Hope this helps.

Aloysia profile image

For my kids, at the moment, they both say their meds make them less angry. My son, age 11, is on Focalin. My daughter, age 10, is on Vyvanse. I hope that continues.

Nats2005 profile image

Meds definitely help, though they don't solve the problem entirely. Our 5-year-old son is currently takes 15mg extended release Adderall in the morning and 3 mg Intuniv mid-afternoon. The increase in focus once the Adderall takes effect combined with the right coping strategies and parenting techniques does help our son better regulate his behavior. He can still have a big meltdown even at the best time of day when the Adderall is fully effective but he's clearly in better control and more likely to listen at that point versus first thing in the morning before he's taken his meds. (He's also less in control late afternoon just before the time we give him the Intuniv...which is often also the time we're getting ready to leave a fun activity like hitting a park or playground on the weekend.)

Momtrying profile image

Medication was such a good decision for our son. In addition to in attentiveness, he was very explosive and emotional. We started when he was 10 yrs old on concerta, he really didn’t like some side effects like stomach and head aches. We switched to Adderall, it was a bumpy road finding the right dose but when we got there it seemed like everything clicked and the anger really subsided.(and they do mature over time) Every now and again he has a melt down but he LOVES what his meds do for him. Good luck!!

AlltheLegos profile image
AlltheLegos in reply to Momtrying

It’s so interesting how different meds work for different people. When my brother took Adderall, he turned into a beast and was suspended from school within two days of starting! I have no idea if genetics can play a role in the right meds (seems like it would make sense since adhd itself is genetic), but I’m inclined to stay away from Adderall for that reason.

Momtrying profile image
Momtrying in reply to AlltheLegos

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. You’d think everyone would react the same to meds. It was actually hard at first on the adderall. But we lowered his dose and that was much better. We’ve since upped it and added an afternoon dose now that he’s growing and going through puberty. But yes, I’d be cautious from that story too 😂

Pinkram profile image
Pinkram in reply to Momtrying

How much adderall is he on please?

Momtrying profile image
Momtrying in reply to Pinkram

We started him on 15 mg in the morning when he was 10 and it was going pretty well so I tried 20 but he immediately got very tired and moody, easily set off. So we went back down to 15 and that worked really well for almost a year but then we started noticing it just wasn’t enough anymore. I was hesitant to go back up to 20 because he hadn’t reacted well but his school life was suffering so I did and it was great this time around! We actually just started the 5 mg booster in the afternoon as well and that helps him get through the evening. It’s tough finding the right things when their hormones are also changing so much during 10-12 years

anirush profile image

It is so hard to know what meds will work for a child. My oldest grandson was on Focalin XR all through grade school with wonderful results. His brother had anger issues and Focalin made them worse so he went to non stimulants like Straterra and now also Intuniv. They have the same birth parents but their bodies and brains needed different things for stability.

Their mom, my daughter, was on Ritalin and Wellbutrin as a kid. She has had no side effects from being on meds all through school.

nnej3 profile image

One of my ADHD sons - he's 8 years old - also struggled with emotional dysregulation and being on medication has definitely helped him. He's on a low dose stimulate. It's improved his relationships both at school and at home.

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