Losing too much weight on stimulant - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Losing too much weight on stimulant

Redpanda5 profile image

Hello everyone,

I am looking for some help finding a medication effective for adhd that doesn’t cause weight loss. While Vyvanse has been great for my 16 year old daughter, she is now too underweight. We have to find a different solution for her adhd. Does anyone have suggestions or experience with this?

28 Replies

My child is much younger, but we are currently trying Cyproheptadine, which is an antihistamine shown to improve appetite. We've only been using it for 3 weeks, but are seeing success.

Redpanda5 profile image
Redpanda5 in reply to JJMom16

Thank you! I haven’t heard of this and will check it out!

Thanks for your message. Are you helping her understand that it is important to eat protein at every meal and extra calories during the day? Maybe have her shop Nd buy foods she would like.

Unfortunately it’s starting to tip into an eating disorder. She has discovered that she likes the low weight. It’s all a bit terrifying. The psychiatrist put her on a shorter acting stimulant today (Adderall) but I don’t know….

Taking her shopping is a great idea! I will try to see if she will do this as she won’t really listen to me.

My 16yo daughter was in the same situation recently. She was put on Vyvanse in March, and by June had lost 15 pounds, which she could not afford to lose. I was so scared, because she had had an eating disorder a few years ago, and told her pediatrician that she liked the low weight, so I was afraid her ED was active again. She was taken off Vyvanse and put on a non-stimulant, Strattera, but that has not worked. A few days ago, she was put back on Vyvanse but also put on an antidepressant that is also an appetite stimulant. It’s too early to tell whether it is working. Maybe try a short-release stimulate, also. It’s trial and error. Best of luck.

Thank you so much for your post! Yes, I am terrified! Yesterday her psychiatrist put her on a low dose of Adderall so I’m hoping we can strike a balance. Your post means a lot. Thank you!

May I also ask what antidepressant she was prescribed that helps increase appetite?

It is 15mg of mirtazapine, commonly known as Remeron. I know there are other medications like this, though this is the one that her doctor prescribed. She takes it at night, and then takes the Vyvanse in the morning.

Wow. This is what the doctor put her on a week ago and it didn’t go well. We had to stop after 5 days because it made her SO agitated that she refused to take her other meds (antidepressant and stimulant) and became a completely different raging person that was unrecognizable. It also made her sleep for up to 14 hours a day - couldn’t come out of a fog. I guess her body just didn’t like it. Sigh. This is so hard! It feels like being back at square one when she was first diagnosed six years ago! I hope you’re having success.

Ugh, I completely understand your frustration. This is definitely trial and error. Everyone wishes there was an easier way. This is what happened to my daughter when her doctor tried a short-acting stimulant, Focalin, and she was sick for two days. I was really hoping a short-acting stimulant would be our answer, because even though the Vyvanse worked when she was on it the first time, she lost so much weight. Yes, the Remeron does make my daughter tired and feel like she's in a fog, but it seems to be getting better. It's just too early to tell for us whether it's going to work. I am so sorry you have to go through this, and that the Remeron didn't work. Does your doctor have another option?

We’re just back to Trazodone for sleep and trying 5mg of Adderall for her ADHD instead of the Vyvanse. I wish it didn’t take so long to get to the right combination. It seems like there is never a “forever routine” with meds.

My 8 year old lost 5 pounds in his first 6 weeks on stimulants. Pediatrician suggested we skip the medication on weekends and school holidays to help increase his appetite.

Redpanda5 profile image
Redpanda5 in reply to LlamaMomma

I’ve wondered about this. Thank you! The doctor had put her on it all the time to help with mood regulation. I will add this to my list of things to try. Thank you so much!

LlamaMomma profile image
LlamaMomma in reply to Redpanda5

We do notice changes in his behavior on the days he does not take his medication - not listening/ following directions as quickly, more impulsive and such - but it’s nothing we can’t handle. We just try to keep things in perspective and be more patient on those days.

I’m sorry you both are going through this! I don’t want to be negative at all, but just wanted to share that my sons extended release Adderall has really cut his appetite as well. But I don’t know if the short acting will be different. Just thought I’d share that in case you don’t see an improvement. Maybe adding in a non stimulant in addition to a stimulant might help? I know a lot of parents do that for mood control as well. Good luck!!

Redpanda5 profile image
Redpanda5 in reply to Momtrying

Thank you! All input helps! Until I posted here I was alone with a pile of books. It certainly helps to know I am not alone and the validation that yes it is hard! Thank you!

Momtrying profile image
Momtrying in reply to Redpanda5

It’s nice to know people understand how hard it is! And to see what’s working for others. I’m grateful for this site

We are in the same boat with my 11 year old son. We tried multiple medications that did not work before vyvanse, and it’s been great except for the appetite loss. We recently started having my son drink a carnation instant breakfast shake with his breakfast each morning. Hoping this helps, as I hate to start over with a new medicine! Good luck! ❤️

We gave my son icecream as a reward for finishing homework (he was told ) every day. Icecream is not bad for you, just very high calorie. Most of us would gain too much weight if we ate icecream every day, but with the stimulant meds, it allows them to maintain a healthy weight. Plus, things are tough enough for him. Getting icecream every day is not a bad childhood! Good luck.

Redpanda5 profile image
Redpanda5 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Thanks so much for this! Truly! I took the grocery store advice from onthemove1971 and included my daughter in what to get. Much of it was junk food (no surprises there) but I will have to get creative with the protein and calories! I bought some high protein Ensure which she seems to like, ice cream(!) for banana smoothies, and she liked the peanut butter on a spoon rolled in some mini chocolate chips that I gave her yesterday. I especially love what you said - “things are tough enough…” - oh yes, so true.

So happy you did this. Hope she gains weight soon. Good luck!

My 10-year-old was on Jornay PM 60-80 mg for almost two years and it was a struggle to get him to eat, especially meat, eggs, and other protein. This summer, I read Finally Focused which discusses the mineral imbalances that can be caused by stimulants that affect taste and appetite. Had a hair mineral analysis done and he was very low in magnesium and zinc. Low zinc can affect the taste of meat and dopamine. I stopped the medication over the summer, gave him daily supplements of a Junior multivitamin, zinc, and magnesium (Pure Encapsulations), and in two months he gained eleven pounds! He began to enjoy savory foods and loved going to restaurants and trying new recipes. We were shocked at my Son's physical transformation-his hair is thicker and shinier, nails stronger, no more dark circles under his eyes, and he's gotten much taller. He now takes a morning and afternoon dose of Focalin IR 2.5 mg to help him with school combined with daily Omega Focus Jr. and vitamins his ADHD is under control and he's happy and healthy. These stimulants really do cause an imbalance in our kids that affects a lot of their behavior.

Redpanda5 profile image
Redpanda5 in reply to Lizgirl

Wow! I was just reading last night about the tie in with Zinc deficiency! There may be something to this indeed! I am looking into both of these things! Thank you SO much for sharing this!

HurricaneMom profile image
HurricaneMom in reply to Lizgirl

Where does one get a hair analysis done? I’m incredibly curious about how stimulants have impacted my picky eater.

Lizgirl profile image
Lizgirl in reply to HurricaneMom


This company was recommended by our family doctor, they send the sample kit you collect the hair then send it back. Good luck!

You're welcome! I wish doctors would use a more holistic approach to ADHD with nutrition and specialized testing, also genetic testing. Stimulants absolutely helped him but I realize now the higher the dose, the less he would eat and the side effects would get worse because he was malnourished. Now that he's so much healthier, the small doses of Focalin work better and I don't see any of the side effects. Looking at pictures of him taken a year ago is unsettling because we thought that's just how he was supposed to be-boney, thin hair, sunken eyes. Now he's the tallest kid in his class, radiates health, and went from sleeping around 6 hours a night to 9-10 hours. Nutrition matters!

My son went through the extended release formulas of methylphenidate and Adderall, then Vyvanse, and Focalin and we landed on the immediate release version of Focalin. He went way too long without eating on the previous medications which made him more agitated and he lost weight. With the immediate release he is hungry after school which steadies his mood as well. He gets a big, hot breakfast before taking meds in the morning, he still doesn’t really eat lunch, but with having a big snack after school, a regular sized dinner and snacks after he’s been able to grow. He also takes Barlean’s Omega swirl, Zahler’s KidsActive and ChildCalm, zinc, and Bacopa Monnieri.

Redpanda5 profile image
Redpanda5 in reply to BVBV

Thank you! We have switched to 10mg Adderall so the stimulant is out of her system sooner and am starting to add vitamins in addition to her multivitamin. I have added Zinc and and am looking to add other vitamins. Thank you so much for the input! This is tricky!

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