ADHD medication is an effective way to improve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, those who take medications may experience undesirable side effects. For some people, these side effects can be short-term—like headaches or stomach pains. For others, they can last all day and disrupt functioning at school, work, or even socially. Changes in the dosage or type of medication may be required.
This blog breaks down the common side effects of ADHD medications. We also explore tips on how to counteract those effects with simple but powerful lifestyle changes.
One of the biggest side effects of ADHD medication is difficulty sleeping.
Typically, these medications are stimulants. This means they can have components that might negatively affect an individual’s quality of sleep. Like coffee, chocolate, and soda, stimulants can make individuals feel more awake and make sleeping harder. This can then turn into a vicious cycle. People with ADHD are frustrated because they can’t sleep, and being tired only makes them more frustrated.
Similarly, if someone is on medication, they might notice themselves waking up too early in the morning. This may be the result of the medication still active in their system.
If taking a short-acting formula, it may mean that their second or third dose is taken too late in the day, and hasn’t worn off by bedtime. Adjusting the timing of the dosing or changing formulation to a shorter acting option may be the way to address this.
Sleep disorders can co-occur with ADHD or may result from stimulant treatment itself.
ADHD in and of itself can also cause difficulty in keeping a schedule. Often, individuals find it challenging to focus on their responsibilities, tune out distractions and interruptions, and go to bed. Alternatively, those with ADHD may impulsively jump from one activity to another - only to find themselves not managing their time effectively and sleeping late into the night.
Beyond sleeping problems, ADHD medication can lead to a range of side effects. These include:
Medication is often used along with behavioral therapies to help reduce symptoms of ADHD. With these two approaches combined, individuals can get a better hold of their mental health and boost their wellness. But what can someone do if they experience any side effects?
The first thing they can do to reduce the side effects of their ADHD medication is to look for and note down any patterns. For instance, more often than not, are they having a hard time sleeping? Most days, does their appetite seem to be gone? They should get detailed and even record the time of day they’re experiencing these things.
Understanding these patterns will help them better communicate with their mental health professional. They may want to adjust the medication in terms of dosage and timing.
Other things they can try at home to reduce the side effects of ADHD medications include:
Cerebral provides medication management and evidence-based behavioral treatment to ensure clients are able to manage the side effects of their ADHD medication. Currently, Cerebral offers non-stimulant treatment options for ADHD. At this time, our providers do not offer stimulant medications for ADHD.Our account coordinators, care counselors, prescribers, and talk therapists directly communicate and work together to offer the best care possible. If clients have issues or questions, our care team helps ensure they’re on track with their prescribed medications.
The best part of all? Cerebral’s care is 100% online. Members can get reliable, affordable, and customizable ADHD care. Wherever and whenever they need it, they can lean into Cerebral while moving along their mental health journey.
Take our free emotional assessment today so we can get to know you better, and let’s take the next step together.
Reviewed by: Dr. Aneel Ursani, MD