Tell me what medications work for your child!!


Please someone tell me your experiences and that maybe there's something that might help my daughter. She's 15 with a diagnosis of ADD, severe anxiety and possibly mood disorder. We have tried so many things and either it doesn't work, or helps but has terrible side effects. We've tried SSRI's and various ADHD medications which really didn't help, she's on Adderall right now and Cymbalta and that's not working. We had to pull her off Lamictal because she got a horrible rash and I'm petrified to re-start her on it even though of course that was the one that was helping. Has anyone here had success with-a medication that doesn't cause terrible side effects? I feel so stuck right now on how to help her. :(


Well-Known Member
My 11 year old grandson has similar diagnoses and medication has been experimental and hit or miss, without any being magic. Every child is different, even with the same diagnosis. Some drugs are in and out, like the stimulants, and some, like the aripiprazole (Abilify) takes weeks to see an effect. And if a drug works, there's usually a side effect. People try essential oils, diets, compression clothing under their regular clothing to help regulate at school, weighted blankets at night, fidgets, herbs, etc.

So here's this kid with a super high IQ, can't access the curriculum at school at all because of his anxiety and lack of focus, can't take the stimulants because it makes him so jittery and anxious and he didn't grow or put on an ounce in weight for over 2 years---I so get your struggle. We've decided to let the academics slide for now and try to get his social life better (he has none--no friends at all), and impulsivity and constant state of dread and high alert managed. Maturity is helping some things, impending puberty is making other things far worse. A day at a time and infinite patience.

Hopefully your daughter has an IEP so she can at least get coping strategies and supports at school.


thank you for your answer HMBgal. My daughter is also super high IQ and also struggling socially. She can make friends but then she overshares, blows up at them and gets irrational and makes it all about her and she loses them. :( The social stuff is what's most worrying for me.

Baggy Bags

Active Member
My son is also 15. He is taking Aripiprazole and it is definitely helping with the anxiety and impulsivity.
Some doctors have said mood disorder, others have said CD. ADD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have also been thrown around.

We're on week 5 and just starting to see positive effects.

Side effects come on 5-15mins after taking the pill - headache, nausea, blurry vision and sleepy.
He takes it right before bed and sleeps a solid 10-12 hours every night, which is a blessing.

He also has a hard time making friends, and hasn't managed to keep a single one over time.


Well-Known Member
I would push for an IEP. Her issues are keeping her from accessing the curriculum. She would qualify under OHI (Other Health Impaired, very common for ADHD) or ED (emotional disability). A 504 really has no legal teeth and you may need more services than a 504 will provide.


New Member
Hi, I have a 13 year old son who has been diagnosed with DMDD, PTSD, ADHD. I just finished reading a book by Dr. James Greenblatt called Finally Focused. He has been using a natural approach to treating ADHD and behavior problems for more than 20 years. I have decided after 8 years, all kinds of medicines, 9 therapists, and 1 hospital stay to try his approach with NATURAL (not prescribed) low dose Liquid Lithium. We just got our order in. I decided on this approach after my sons doctor wanted to put him on Geodon and one of the requirements for it was that my son had to regularly get an EKG. Also after some research on the drug I found out it was not recommended for children. If anyone else has heard of DR. Greenblatt or has used Liquid Lithium please let me know. Thank you


Roll With It
IT and HMB, have either of you have an EEG performed on your child? Preferably a sleep deprived EEG? This is a test of the brain waves to see if there is any sign of seizures or other abnormalities. It used to be standard to do these before giving medications for ADHD, but they relaxed the standards and stopped doing this.

I insisted that Jess be given a sleep deprived EEG before I would give her the adhd medications. I did this with both my kids. Jess turned out to have epilepsy and not ADHD. The symptoms were similar in her case. Anxiety was often the only thing I could ever pinpoint as a symptom of her seizures. If she was going to have a bad day, she would be really anxious and wouldn't be able to say why. This was well after Wiz was out of our home.

As for lithium, it can cause serious problems with your health. It builds up in your body. There are tests needed if you are taking it at any level, especially if you are a child.

I do recognize that after a long period of time of many medications and doctors and more, you may want off of the medical merry go round. I thoroughly get that. We started on it when my Wiz was only 4 and are still on it with J. That means 22 years! So I totally understand wanting to just be off of the medical wheel. But lithium is NOT benign and can be harmful. Be careful.

IT, If a medication gave your child a rash, PLEASE don't give it again. A rash is one of the most severe side effects that you can get. The next time the medication is taken, it could cause complete anaphylaxis, which closes the throat unless an Epi pen is used. Even then, the person needs medical assistance within 10-15 minutes to survive. A rash is a VERY dangerous side effect. Whatever the effect of the medication, it isn't worth taking a chance on.

If she has ADD, anxiety and mood disorder, it will be a slow process to tackle the problems, but it could be helped. The protocol that I understand and have seen work for children, teens and adults is the following: one, and sometimes two, mood stabilizers. Then an atypical antipsychotic if needed to get moods completely under control. IF ADD and anxiety are still present after this is all slowly titrated up to therapeutic levels, very small amounts of medications for these conditions can be trialed.

Medications for ADHD, anxiety and depression can CAUSE mood swings in children and teens as well as in those with mood disorders. It is hard to know when and if to trial those medications.

It is hard to go through the process of finding the right mood stabilizers and titrating them up. I don't envy you that process. But maybe the end result will be one that really improves your life. I remember seeing and hearing one member here go through it. She had loved her SSRI medications because they send her manic and she flew. But when she crashed it was time to go to the hospital again, and that was bad for her family. She was a mess. She finally got into a really good doctor who refused to give her the SSRI medications and insisted on getting her moods stabilized. She was a whole different person, a really amazing one.


Well-Known Member
Medication alone is not as good as with therapy. I have a mood disorder and have been on medications since 23. There are new methods now I wished had been around for me such as tapping and eye movement.

I was on antidepressants most of my life. Without them I would not be here. I love my SSRI, but it never made me manic. It normalized my moods and stopped the moodswings, which were mostly depression. I hated a trial of mood stabilizers and won't take them. I don't need them anyway but Lithium made me feel as if I were in a dream. I couldn't function. Tegretal and Depakote made me a drpressed zombie. I don't recommend them for kids. Or for any adults who are affected like I was. They are super potent and have serious side effects and I understand lack of compliance as nobody wants to feel even worse.

I have never tried the newer antipsychotics but my son had a horrible reaction to all. He was misdiagnosed with childhood bipolar and the truth Is that it is impossible to accurately diagnose bipolar in a child...he has a form of autism and is doing great medication free. He also got wild and crazy on ADHD drugs. At 24 he is off medications now over ten years and fine and independent.

He started gaining a ton of weight on medications and is still obese from when he took Risperdal. These peychiatric medications starve you. I gained weight too.

No one medication helps everyone. And the protocol did not work for my mood disorder. I have a great life now but I need my SSRI. Now some people can't take them. This is true of ALL medication, even non psychiatric medications. There really is no one size fits all and every diagnosis is a crapshoot, just the opinion of the psychiatrist since there is just the flawed and ever changing DSM and no definitive blood tests. Use common sense. Do what Mom feels good doing. It's YOUR child.

Psychiatrists are not diagnostic gods nor is psychiatry an exact science by any means. Nobody is even certain what these various disorders are. They are theory in many cases.

My forty years in the mental health system have shown me things that maybe others can't see. Like how you can go to five psychiatrists and get five different diagnosis. And how to be a medication guini pig. That's how I felt. A child doesn't have the ability to say "This is making me worse. Please stop!"

My advice is to go slow, one medication at a time and be very leery of the potent drugs for kids. Most countries do not medicate children like we do in the U.S. There is a reason for that.

Wishing you good luck. I always recommend a neuropsychology evaluation. I feel they do the best testing we have available to find out what is probably wrong.
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Active Member
For the OP, I wish you luck. I agree that I would be hesitant to put my child back on the mood stabilizer if she experienced a rash. All medications have side effects and my child is, unfortunately, experiencing many of them. He is on Lamictal, Lithium, Abilify and Risperidone (again) because he is in a hypomanic seasonal cycle. There is no great solution for people who need to take the medications, but your caution is a good idea. Abilify--although very effective--is also incredibly hard to get off of. The withdrawal symptoms are pretty bad. So the lower the dose the better.

This is not the point of the OP's question, but I have to address this once again. It is NOT impossible to accurately diagnosis a child with bipolar disorder. In fact, it is a disservice to tell people that children are not able to get a diagnosis if that is what they have. The earlier the diagnosis is made the better the outcome for the child. SWOT, I understand that your child was misdiagnosed, but please stop perpetuating that misconception.

Here is a journal article on the latest research and direction for pediatric bipolar disorder. It is a long article but it puts some of these myths to bed. The International Society for Bipolar Disorders Task Force report on pediatric bipolar disorder: Knowledge to date and directions for future research


Well-Known Member
It is not yet possible to verify any diagnosis, adult or child, for a psychiatric illness. We as parents can believe the diagnosis is right but I have had many psychiatrists tell me that there are no guarantees since there are no blood tests to prove anything. I know you can get a ton of diagnoses because I did. Manic Depressive (I don't get manic), bipolar Ii ( possible), unipolar depression (made some sense did not explain when I had mixed states or rarely hypomania), anxiety (no brainier), panic disorder and get generalized anxiety disorder. My latest and to Mr best is Mood Disorder not otherwise specified and I am doing well. No deep depression for decades.

I have been a client from 23 to now 64 and have watched psychiatry change its views. Autism, when I started out, was wrongly defined as a form of schizophrenia caused by refrigerator mom's (cold mothers). In fact all psychiatric problems then were blamed on Mom. I had a horrible mother but I know and knew even back then that I was born with these symptoms. Her parenting was just beside the point. Maybe genetics caused Thankfully psychiatry evolved and changed.

That is the point. Because psychiatry is not an exact science, as my neuropsychologist said to me "Even at Mayo Clinic we make mistakes all the time. There are no blood tests." HE told ME that and he was not the first. I respected his honesty.

This does not mean we should not take our doctor's seriously, but it doesn't hurt to be skeptical and be cautious, even as an adult.

For what it's worth, and nobody has to listen, forty years of being in the mental health system has taught me to tell everyone to be cautious, question, get second opinions and do not necessarily agree to use potent medications. It is harder to figure out what is wrong with children because they have not grown up yet. There is controversey about the ability to predict who will show bipolar symptoms as an adult. I have read articles about that too and anyone can look it up. There are no absolutes ih psychiatry especially with kids. But even in adults.

I speak as somebody who was a sad and temperamental child and had my first horrible depression at 13. I think a mood disorder diagnosis for me as a kid would have been brilliant. It came to fruition. But back then there were no child psychiatrists and nobody gave me medications and I'm glad for that.

We have nothing but our own experiences and I urge all to take what they need and leave the rest. This was my own real life experience and I am sharing it.

This is an old thread. I doubt the OP is still here. I was responding to the wuestion about what medications work.

Love and light!!
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Active Member
This is not an old thread. This was posted yesterday. She's not asking about bipolar. I'm just calling you out on something I think is super important you stop doing.

I also have a diagnosis of depression. My nephew has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. My other nephew (same family) has autism and bipolar. My son is bipolar. My grandmother was bipolar. I've had a lot of experience--as have you--with the psychiatric community. I also didn't get treatment until I was in my 20s and I am in my 50s now. And although I respect your experience, yours and mine are anecdotal.

Of course everyone should be cautious with a diagnosis. There are good doctors and not so good doctors. And yes, psychiatry is an ever evolving practice. But my ask is that you not tell people that a bipolar diagnosis isn't possible for children--because that is demonstrable UNTRUE. Just because there aren't blood tests or brain scans (yet) that can prove beyond what we know now to diagnosis, doesn't mean that we should declare that we can't know. If that were the case, we never would have figured out that washing hands helps prevent the spread of disease. In fact, the doctors that poo-pooed that idea caused alot of people to die because of their arrogance. Getting treatment early helps protect the brain from further damage and results in better longterm outcomes. I trust my kid's doctor--one of the authors of the study I linked to--who has literally dealt with thousands of children in her practice and in clinical studies.

End rant.


Active Member
Son has diagnosis of anxiety/Depression and adhd. We are having good results for now on cymbalta and intuniv. However, there are 2 key things that are allowing these medications to work. One, he is compliant for the first time in his life about taking the medications and the need to be on them. Two:he is not self medicating with marijuana. I firmly believe the medications are just one piece of things that help him.


New Member
Son has diagnosis of anxiety/Depression and adhd. We are having good results for now on cymbalta and intuniv. However, there are 2 key things that are allowing these medications to work. One, he is compliant for the first time in his life about taking the medications and the need to be on them. Two:he is not self medicating with marijuana. I firmly believe the medications are just one piece of things that help him.

I want to thank everyone for their input. On which medications work. We are still struggling and are trying to find the right doctors. I am grateful to have a place I can go and know we are not alone.
If the ADD was the initial diagnosis, probably start there.

Adderal XR worked great for my oldest.

As far as anxiety, it may be induced by stress over the ADD. Having to deal with an untreated ADD brain is hell. Same with the mood disorder, emotional dysregulation is one most common traits for untreated adders. Meaning if it is just ADD, these should subside with appropriate treatment. Note - While this is often seen in ADDers, I’m not suggesting you ignore any medical advice. It may just be something to inquire about.

Medication won’t fix it alone. Having a very clear understanding of add will help more than anything. Beyond that, coaching and support.

Also, adders, hear and perceive differently. I had to relearn how to talk to and support my daughter.

Everyone is different, I’m not a medical professional, these are just my experiences. And as an ADHDer myself who went through the trauma of feeling like a failure growing up, a bunch of incorrect diagnoses and self-medicating....I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.


Well-Known Member
Both my daughter and Hubby (her stepdad) have ADD, Hubby was finally diagnosed at 40, after we got married. Miss KT started on Ritalin, but when that started wearing off after about an hour, the doctor switched her to Strattera. It was all right for her, not great, and when she got to high school she went on Concerta. She remained on Concerta through high school and college, and then decided to go off her medications.

Hubby started with Strattera, and we lived through a month from hell. He was a mood swinging mess. He's been on Ritalin ever since.


Crazy Cat Lady
I was diagnosed with ADD/Depression back in late 2002 and put on Strattera and Effexor. I promptly went raging manic.

When I suggested to my then psychiatrist, that given my family history, it might be possible that my issue was bipolar disorder, she fired me.

I went without care until I moved to N. WI, where the bipolar diagnosis was confirmed, and I began the medication merry go round.

The ADD diagnosis was confirmed a year later. No medications.

Finally several months ago, my current doctor judged me stable enough to put me on a very low dose of Ritalin, which I do not take as often as I should, because it gives me headaches and tends to make me woozy.

Ritalin also lasts around 5-6 hours for me. I think I'm low on some enzyme needed to metabolize it. Sort of like the same issue I have with opiates: tiny amounts affect me, and they wear off slowly (and make me sick).