I'm an adult who was a difficult child. Medicated with Prozac at 5 yo for ODD/anxiety. My experience and advice. AMA.

mindinggaps

New Member
Hi all, I wanted to share my own experiences as a formerly difficult child with the hope that my perspective may help others through their parenting challenges. I'm 32 now and overall happy and healthy but growing up I was a horrific nightmare to deal with. From a very young age I had little to no control over my emotions and actions and was incredibly destructive. I had massive tantrums and would regularly enter into extreme angry rages where I would hit people and things with absolutely no regard for my surroundings. I recall smashing valuable household objects, hitting my parents, urinating on the floor and I distinctly recall being unable to control myself - I would want to create chaos and I actually could not stop it. I actually hated the feeling but it overwhelmed me.

When I was 5 I was taken to a psychiatrist where I was diagnosed with ODD and anxiety. I was prescribed Prozac and while my parents were somewhat resistant, they were out of other options. The Prozac worked incredibly well and gave me back control of my life and emotions. I remained on Prozac until I was an adult and weaned off under the supervision of a doctor. I now have the coping tools required to manage things and do well of medication, but growing up I don't think I would have survived without the Prozac. I did take fairly significant dosages (60mg by age 12) but it was required. Every time we tried to lower the Prozac, my horrible behavior came back. I did not have significant side effects as a child and suffer no long term side effects now.

I am glad I was treated properly and one key piece of advice I would have for parents is that medication can be essential. Early intervention and proper medication allowed me to live a normal life. I do wish my parents did a better job getting me access to therapy and I wish we were better at talking about emotions in my family. I would encourage anyone with a difficult child to try to do your best to understand the way they are feeling and provide emotional support. Simply encouraging your child to speak about the way they are feeling is a good idea. My parents essentially just relied on the Prozac and it worked, but as a result of the way they raised me, I do still have some emotional difficulties that require therapy.

Please feel free to ask my anything - I'm happy to answer any questions!
 

Mirabelle

Member
Hello and thank you so much for sharing your story! It surely must give the parents of difficult children hope that their child is not necessarily destined for a fraught, peaceless existence. As a lower elementary teacher, this helps me on a professional level also. It is always a major stressor for me........worrying about how my 'difficult kids' are going to make it in the world, beating myself up because I don't know how to help them.

My own stepson was the prince of tantrums until around age 5. He was always very sensitive but bloomed into a boisterous, happy little boy. Everything seemed fine on the surface and then he got into some pretty significant marijuana use in his mid to late teens and ended up with a mental illness diagnosis.

I am so glad that your parents were proactive in finding you help. It sounds as though, thankfully, they hit on the right treatment for you pretty early on. Sometimes parents, like many on this forum, try everything known to man to try and help their kids and find that either nothing works, or that they can't find the right help. I am so so glad to hear a success story!

God bless xxx
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Mirabelle, I am glad to hear my story offered some positivity and hope. I think you highlighted something which was pretty crucial to my long-term success which was early intervention and proactive treatment from the right experts. I do think that in my case if I wasn't properly medicated at a young age things could have spiraled out of control to the point of no return. A key part in this, which I think I can be very challenging for many parents is getting access to the resources who can help manage things. I was fortunate to see a highly specialized child psychiatrist which allowed proper diagnoses and medication management. I think many times difficult children don't have access to this and end up getting incorrect diagnoses or incorrect medications which just make things worse. You certainly sound like you do everything you can to help support your "difficult kids" but please remember there's only so much you can do!

I've also had a few people reach out to me privately regarding my experience with Prozac so I thought I'd elaborate on that a bit further. Obviously, none of this is medical advice and you should always follow the guidance of whoever is managing treatment. But I can certainly say that for me, it was a miracle medication and it turned me from a destructive and angry child into someone who excelled at school and socially. I know there are some who disagree with medications, particularly in heavier dosages (yes 60mg for a 12 year old is a lot) but for me I think it was necessary and the benefits outweighed the risks. Neither my parents nor the doctor necessarily wanted to rely on medication and it was regularly evaluated, however without an adequate amount of Prozac I would break into angry rages. I definitely needed this medication.

Also, regarding Prozac for ODD, it's actually shown to be very effective and is regularly used to reduce anger and aggression. I think many children with ODD can be misdiagnosed as ADHD when it is actually other issues such as anxiety or depression that are co-morbidities. Here are a couple of studies showing its efficacy for conduct disorder and in particular with reducing rage and aggression:

Treating Depression and Oppositional Behavior in Adolescents (take with a grain of salt maybe as one of the authors does have ties to the manufacturer of Prozac)


 
mindinggaps, thanks for sharing. Knowing what the positive possibilities are is actually helping me deal with the dread that my teen is coming back home after trying 18 months living with his birth family (at his request.)

My child is diagnosed with ADHD and we suspect he has ODD and has suffered trauma as a result of his original removal. We did hundreds of hours of therapy and his medications were a challenge. One of the last things that were tried was antidepressant and that seemed to help but not before he reached a point where he wanted out. Now he wants back.

From your experience, how did hormones play into any challenges as you were growing up and having to change the medication? Did you recognize the need for the medication and participate with the medical professionals in determining the right dosage?

Thanks!
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Notsureofagoodone, these are extremely good questions and I wish the best for you and your teen. Firstly, I'm not surprised to hear that he benefited from an antidepressant. It's not uncommon for children with ODD to be mis or exclusively diagnosed with ADHD when there is actually more going on. This more often tends to happen when the diagnosis is made by someone who isn't a specialist. These days SSRIs are very commonly used as a first line medication for ODD because they help with emotional regulation and anger reduction. I was fortunate to be diagnosed by a child psychiatrist specialist who helped manage my medication.

I had a complicated relationship with my medication and it took me some time to realize how essential it was for me to be medicated. I was started on a low dose of Prozac at age 5 and my dosage was periodically adjusted to account for growth until I was taking 20mg at age 8. During this time everything was completely under control and I was very compliant with my medication, but I also didn't really understand much about it except that I knew it stopped me from having excessive anger.

When I was around 11, hormones became a significant issue and some of my behavioral issues started to reemerge, including outbursts of rage. It was suggested that my Prozac should be increased and at this stage, I had a rebellion against medication. I refused to take any medications and despite my parents best efforts at getting me to take it, I simply would not. I was put into extensive therapy but without the Prozac things deteriorated very rapidly and I was breaking into anger outbursts nearly daily. As things spiraled out of control, the psychiatrist intervened and made it clear how important it was for me to take my medication - this was a first warning that had the necessary effect and I was ramped up to 40mg of Prozac to get things under control.

Unfortunately, I think a common issue that arises, particularly in ODD, is that unless someone is properly medicated, they may not realize how important the medication is. Once I was back on a heavier dose of Prozac, I began to understand the need for the medication and I took a more active role in determining how to manage it. Fortunately, I was able to recognize and feel when the Prozac was properly helping and when I needed more. When I was 12, I could feel anger rising but this time I reported the issue and quickly and happily increased my Prozac to 60mg where it remained for more than a decade.

So in short, managing medications around puberty is challenging and can require lots of adjustments. Ideally, you want to get to the point where your teen understands that they need medication so they will cooperate with medical professionals, but this can be challenging because often you need to be properly medicated in the first place to get to this point. Certainly, the doctors and my parents helped make it clear that me taking Prozac was non-negotiable - this was the right decision because when properly dosed, it prevented me from having rage episodes and I was compliant taking it.
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Thank you for sharing this!

I am glad to hear you are doing pretty well now!
Thank you Ascending. I hope my story shows that there can be positive outcomes. Overall things turned out quite okay - I went to University, hold a solid job, have a stable relationship and enjoy my life. I have also been doing relatively okay unmedicated for the past two years which for a long time was thought to be an impossibility as most health care practitioners expected I would need to remain on Prozac for life to manage things.
 

Ascending

Member
Thank you Ascending. I hope my story shows that there can be positive outcomes. Overall things turned out quite okay - I went to University, hold a solid job, have a stable relationship and enjoy my life. I have also been doing relatively okay unmedicated for the past two years which for a long time was thought to be an impossibility as most health care practitioners expected I would need to remain on Prozac for life to manage things.
That’s really great!

Could you say more about how things are now with your relationship with your parents? And in your stable relationship?

Were there major healing things to mention besides the prozac?
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Could you say more about how things are now with your relationship with your parents? And in your stable relationship?

Were there major healing things to mention besides the prozac?

Dear Ascending, my relationship with my parents is okay. We are not particularly close, but we manage to get along and I speak with them about once a month. I cannot deny that we do have some mutual resentment and we have tried family therapy to work through these issues, with some success.

Growing up, I don't think my parents really know how to handle me aside from managing my medication and pretty much every issue that arose was solved by increasing my Prozac. While I feel for their situation and cannot deny that I absolutely needed to be heavily medicated, I wish I had access to other support tools and resources. These issues were quite complicated because when I was medicated in the early 90s, I was among the first very young people to be treated with Prozac. At the time, the psychiatrists involved didn't really know a tremendous amount about how things may work and my parents agreed that I could be used as a sort of "case study", meaning results of my treatment would be part of medical research. So throughout my youth I was studied to see effects of Prozac on very young people, in the treatment of ODD and later for the long-term effects of extended treatment at high dosages. Growing up, I didn't so much care about this but later in life I was angry to feel "experimented" on and still to this day the psychiatric community has an interest in my treatment. I understand and respect that the motive of my parents was to help other struggling parents and they did have the best of intentions. We worked through this the best we could through therapy.

As an adult, I did extensive individual therapy to build coping tools. This helped a lot and I wish I had access earlier in my life. This was very important for my own personal healing and also for having healing with my parents. Unfortunately, over the last years since stopping my medication, I must admit that my relationship with my parents has become more rocky. They have been told since I was very young that I must remain medicated my whole life to be stable and were very upset to find out I stopped my Prozac. Without it, I do okay but am not 100% symptom free and every time we speak they give me encouragement to start it up again, which irritates me. They do want what is best for me, but I feel they must also respect my decisions.

My relationship with my partner is less complicated - we have been together for many years and they are amazing and supportive. We have our ups and downs like any couple, and have engaged in couples therapy during difficult times. Overall, we do well and things are largely uneventful. There are times when I know things have been hard on them, but we have always treated each other with nothing but care and respect. If any symptoms of anger emerge they are never directed at them and only come out at work or to my parents.
 

Ascending

Member
Dear Ascending, my relationship with my parents is okay. We are not particularly close, but we manage to get along and I speak with them about once a month. I cannot deny that we do have some mutual resentment and we have tried family therapy to work through these issues, with some success.

Growing up, I don't think my parents really know how to handle me aside from managing my medication and pretty much every issue that arose was solved by increasing my Prozac. While I feel for their situation and cannot deny that I absolutely needed to be heavily medicated, I wish I had access to other support tools and resources. These issues were quite complicated because when I was medicated in the early 90s, I was among the first very young people to be treated with Prozac. At the time, the psychiatrists involved didn't really know a tremendous amount about how things may work and my parents agreed that I could be used as a sort of "case study", meaning results of my treatment would be part of medical research. So throughout my youth I was studied to see effects of Prozac on very young people, in the treatment of ODD and later for the long-term effects of extended treatment at high dosages. Growing up, I didn't so much care about this but later in life I was angry to feel "experimented" on and still to this day the psychiatric community has an interest in my treatment. I understand and respect that the motive of my parents was to help other struggling parents and they did have the best of intentions. We worked through this the best we could through therapy.

As an adult, I did extensive individual therapy to build coping tools. This helped a lot and I wish I had access earlier in my life. This was very important for my own personal healing and also for having healing with my parents. Unfortunately, over the last years since stopping my medication, I must admit that my relationship with my parents has become more rocky. They have been told since I was very young that I must remain medicated my whole life to be stable and were very upset to find out I stopped my Prozac. Without it, I do okay but am not 100% symptom free and every time we speak they give me encouragement to start it up again, which irritates me. They do want what is best for me, but I feel they must also respect my decisions.

My relationship with my partner is less complicated - we have been together for many years and they are amazing and supportive. We have our ups and downs like any couple, and have engaged in couples therapy during difficult times. Overall, we do well and things are largely uneventful. There are times when I know things have been hard on them, but we have always treated each other with nothing but care and respect. If any symptoms of anger emerge they are never directed at them and only come out at work or to my parents.

Thank you for the detailed information.

Have you by any chance ever tried Eye Movement EMDR type therapy? It was suggested for my son or even myself .

I think community, relationships, are themselves very important to health and healing
 

Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
Mind, I did many other things besides medication for my son but I remember myself feeling often like he was treated as an "experiment" from the medical professionals when he was growing up. It really bothered me, as if he was not a person, not a growing child with so many other needs besides medication trials, changes and dosage ups and downs along with monthly blood work. A child who needed support, especially considering everything he was dealing with, understanding of how he felt, loving direction, and just plan love.

Mentioning yourself as being treated as being experimented on for medication brings tears to my eyes. Something no child should have to deal with. My son has not mentioned this to me, maybe because of all of the other supports he had, I don't know. But it was real, I saw it, I hated it, it was not right.

To let you know though, none of the three psychiatrists I brought my son to as he was growing up suggested anything other than medication. Well just one had a therapist in her office who was okay but not great. But for the most part I had to figure all of the rest of it out on my own, with no one to even make a suggestion, let alone any real direction even from that therapist.

Your parents sound very much like my son's dad (who had a diagnosis, was on lifelong medication, with much support at home in a simpler time as he was growing up) and his wife were like. It was as if a medical doctor was the end all and be all. If the doctor didn't suggest it they viewed it as extraneous. Good for my son I didn't have to rely on any support from them for things they considered extraneous. I know they were just ignorant. The father because he had built up such an ego defense of a "self made man" against all of the support he was given as a child/young adult because of the mental health stigma his family has lived with through generations, and the wife because she was someone who was simply his parrot. They were not bad people, actually good people for the most part but ignorant, not choosing to be so, just not knowing, over their heads but not able to consider that and not brave enough to stand in reality.

EMDR is very powerful for taking the sting out of past trauma, to put things in their place, and remove automatic reactions we have from past life's experiences. I did it from something that happened when I was 5 years old and it has had an amazing difference in my life since then should have done it in my twenties instead of fifties, but whatever. It could be something for you to consider as Ascending has mentioned to work out the kinks from what you feel when things get tough.

Thank you so much for your insight for us. I'm looking forward to more sharing from you. Right now I'm working through letting my son be the adult he is and not talking to him as if he can't handle life and things that for me seem like a big deal but to him are just not so important. I'm different than him in that way, have always been a worrywart on top of things, where he is much more seat of the pants. Not that you are one way or the other but your posts bring out to me how we take things as if they have much more to do with us than seeing the other person, in my case my son. I have to work on seeing him for who he is and not try to interject my way of life on him. Thanks!
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Have you by any chance ever tried Eye Movement EMDR type therapy? It was suggested for my son or even myself .

I think community, relationships, are themselves very important to health and healing

Dear Ascending, I have tried EMDR therapy and found it to be very helpful. As I have transitioned off medication I have put increasing effort into various forms of therapy and community and relationships, which I agree are very important to health and healing. These have been very important for my progress and overall I am happy to have reached a point where I feel largely in control without medication, something which I wasn't sure I could achieve. I must also admit that it is not easy - having been on Prozac for almost my whole life I am very used to the stabilization it provides and being off it does not feel natural to me at all. It very much feels like going through things in difficult mode and while I do manage well, I cannot deny that off Prozac I am more irritable and quicker to anger. I may make the decision to go back on it one day but regardless therapy has been crucial for me.



Mind, I did many other things besides medication for my son but I remember myself feeling often like he was treated as an "experiment" from the medical professionals when he was growing up. It really bothered me, as if he was not a person, not a growing child with so many other needs besides medication trials, changes and dosage ups and downs along with monthly blood work. A child who needed support, especially considering everything he was dealing with, understanding of how he felt, loving direction, and just plan love.

Mentioning yourself as being treated as being experimented on for medication brings tears to my eyes. Something no child should have to deal with. My son has not mentioned this to me, maybe because of all of the other supports he had, I don't know. But it was real, I saw it, I hated it, it was not right.

To let you know though, none of the three psychiatrists I brought my son to as he was growing up suggested anything other than medication. Well just one had a therapist in her office who was okay but not great. But for the most part I had to figure all of the rest of it out on my own, with no one to even make a suggestion, let alone any real direction even from that therapist.

Your parents sound very much like my son's dad (who had a diagnosis, was on lifelong medication, with much support at home in a simpler time as he was growing up) and his wife were like. It was as if a medical doctor was the end all and be all. If the doctor didn't suggest it they viewed it as extraneous. Good for my son I didn't have to rely on any support from them for things they considered extraneous. I know they were just ignorant. The father because he had built up such an ego defense of a "self made man" against all of the support he was given as a child/young adult because of the mental health stigma his family has lived with through generations, and the wife because she was someone who was simply his parrot. They were not bad people, actually good people for the most part but ignorant, not choosing to be so, just not knowing, over their heads but not able to consider that and not brave enough to stand in reality.

EMDR is very powerful for taking the sting out of past trauma, to put things in their place, and remove automatic reactions we have from past life's experiences. I did it from something that happened when I was 5 years old and it has had an amazing difference in my life since then should have done it in my twenties instead of fifties, but whatever. It could be something for you to consider as Ascending has mentioned to work out the kinks from what you feel when things get tough.

Thank you so much for your insight for us. I'm looking forward to more sharing from you. Right now I'm working through letting my son be the adult he is and not talking to him as if he can't handle life and things that for me seem like a big deal but to him are just not so important. I'm different than him in that way, have always been a worrywart on top of things, where he is much more seat of the pants. Not that you are one way or the other but your posts bring out to me how we take things as if they have much more to do with us than seeing the other person, in my case my son. I have to work on seeing him for who he is and not try to interject my way of life on him. Thanks!

Deni, thank you for this wonderful and thoughtful message. First I must say that it does sound as though you are a very caring parent who has done everything possible for your son. I am sure he is lucky to have you and the fact that you provided supports and services outside of medication is something you should be proud of.

As you mentioned, all psychiatrists I saw only focused on medication, which in today's healthcare systems just seems to be their job. I think it is not ideal, but I do recognize that medication management is their focus and honestly I don't feel poorly about this today. They were presented with a difficult and out of control child and were able to solve the issue using medication, which I recognize needed to happen - I have no disillusionment about the fact that I needed medication and without it my life could have gone down a very dangerous path.

My wish is that the doctors were better at explaining things to me and treated me more like a person and less like a case. When I was treated, Prozac had not been on the market long and there really was little data on use in young children. I remember one psychiatrist was almost zealous to manage my file and have the opportunity to be involved in what to them was obviously an extremely exciting opportunity to see how their new tool of Prozac could be applied. Both my parents and the doctors were always ecstatic with the treatment and always proclaimed how amazing Prozac was. As you picked up on, my parents just treated the word of the doctors as the law and did whatever the doctors said.

But ultimately, I know people were doing their best and I don't think my experiences should discourage anyone from the path of medication experimentation. It is an unfortunate reality, but benefits outweigh the risks for sure. I consider myself lucky that I was able to find a single medication which could be used for years without too much adjustment - I know the right solution can be so hard for many to find.
 

Xheni

New Member
Hi all, I wanted to share my own experiences as a formerly difficult child with the hope that my perspective may help others through their parenting challenges. I'm 32 now and overall happy and healthy but growing up I was a horrific nightmare to deal with. From a very young age I had little to no control over my emotions and actions and was incredibly destructive. I had massive tantrums and would regularly enter into extreme angry rages where I would hit people and things with absolutely no regard for my surroundings. I recall smashing valuable household objects, hitting my parents, urinating on the floor and I distinctly recall being unable to control myself - I would want to create chaos and I actually could not stop it. I actually hated the feeling but it overwhelmed me.

When I was 5 I was taken to a psychiatrist where I was diagnosed with ODD and anxiety. I was prescribed Prozac and while my parents were somewhat resistant, they were out of other options. The Prozac worked incredibly well and gave me back control of my life and emotions. I remained on Prozac until I was an adult and weaned off under the supervision of a doctor. I now have the coping tools required to manage things and do well of medication, but growing up I don't think I would have survived without the Prozac. I did take fairly significant dosages (60mg by age 12) but it was required. Every time we tried to lower the Prozac, my horrible behavior came back. I did not have significant side effects as a child and suffer no long term side effects now.

I am glad I was treated properly and one key piece of advice I would have for parents is that medication can be essential. Early intervention and proper medication allowed me to live a normal life. I do wish my parents did a better job getting me access to therapy and I wish we were better at talking about emotions in my family. I would encourage anyone with a difficult child to try to do your best to understand the way they are feeling and provide emotional support. Simply encouraging your child to speak about the way they are feeling is a good idea. My parents essentially just relied on the Prozac and it worked, but as a result of the way they raised me, I do still have some emotional difficulties that require therapy.

Please feel free to ask my anything - I'm happy to answer any questions!
Interesting! I thought that Prosac is only for depression. My son also grew out of his problematic behaviour. I didn’t give him any medicines though. I did some other things: I didn’t vaccinate him after 3 years old, didn’t give him antipyretics or any medicines beside antibiotics when absolutely necessary. This may have helped. I think that his immunity matured and he is less inflamed now. He still is hot headed.
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Interesting! I thought that Prosac is only for depression.
@Xheni Prozac is used to treat a wide range of conditions including anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), eating disorders and ODD. For oppositional behaviour, it is effective for improving emotional regulation and stability, reducing anger, controlling aggressive outbursts, and tantrum management, particularly for young people.

Nowadays Prozac is very commonly used for behavioural issues in young people due to its high tolerability and low side effect profile. It is not relied upon as heavily as it once was since many more medications have been introduced over recent years, but it remains a popular choice either in isolation or as part of a cocktail. My experience with Prozac is quite unique since I was selected to participate in one of the first ever trials for use in very young children.

At 4 years old my behaviour was completely out of control with multiple aggressive tantrums daily that threatened my own safety and those around me. I was unable to be around peers and was considered a general danger. I was seen by a specialist who determined that medication was necessary for basic functioning but there were questions with how to proceed since available treatments in those days carried lots of side effects. Prozac had just entered into the market and it was suggested I could be treated - it was considered experimental with some risks and it would be part of a scientific study. It was almost completely unknown how someone so young would respond to the medication and what the side effects could be. However, it was encouraged because there had been a few reported instances of its efficacy for similar cases and based on effects in adults it was believed to be highly tolerable with low side effects.

So at 5, I was started on the Prozac and carefully monitored. Dosages were gradually ramped up and within a few months I was in complete remission of all tantrums and aggression. I was given lots of brain scans, tests, etc to ensure everything was as safe as possible. As I grew, the occasional tantrum or aggression emerged and the Prozac dosages were increased for growth. At the time it wasn't really understood how things would evolve long term, but given how well I was doing on the Prozac, the recommendation was to continue treatment indefinitely.
 
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