Medication for ADHD in Middle School

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Need new Dr. for meds for 13 YO with ADD

March 2010

My 13 year old son recently started taking medicine for ADD with positive results. However, he really doesn't like the doctor - an older woman who doesn't connect with him at all. I would really like to find a doctor in Oakland/Berkeley who can prescribe the medication and is good at connecting with teenage boys. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Also, he is having a harder time falling asleep. If anyone has advice on this issue that would be great as well. concerned mom

I wish I could help you with regards to doctors in Oakland/Berkeley but can't since we go to Brad Berman in Walnut Creek. Berman is amazing with our 10 y.o. son (and us) and to me would be well worth the drive. Of course it takes forever to get a first appointment with him. If you want to try, his phone number is 925-279-3480.

With regards to not falling asleep easily, our son is on Ritalin and had the same problem. We were told to try Melatonin by another parent in the same shoes. After checking with our pediatrician and Berman, he took it. It was a miracle; 30 minutes after taking it, he was sound asleep. This works as long as he is in wind-down mode when he takes it. I get it at Trader Joe's under their brand. It comes as 500mg chewable tablets. My son only takes one, but we were told he could double it. Good Luck

My son sees Dr. Paul Abrinko for his ADHD. Dr. Abrinko is a psychiatrist, he relates very well to both parents, teens and children. He is also very knowledgeable regarding the wide variety of ADHD/ADD treatments available. He is not covered under all health plans, so can be expensive out of pocket ($250 per visit). My son sees him twice a year and his expertise is worth the expense. His office phone is 510-496-6014. East Bay Mom

My son is also 13 and has been on Concerta for ADHD. It worked well but the downside was no appetite until it wore off at 8pm and trouble sleeping. My solution, which his MD agreed with, was to give him Melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. That worked really well. I would give him 1 3mg lozenge. He is now on Straterra and that is working much better. His appetite is more normal and has no problems going to sleep at night. My son sees Dr. Hartman, who is a young MD at Pathways to Wellness in Martinez. He's a really nice guy and easy to relate to. m.

I'd recommend Dr. Andelman in Albany (510-527-9615). TK

My now 15 year-old was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 13 and has been under the care of Dr. Brad Berman whose practice is in Walnut Crrek: 925-279-3480. It's a bit of a drive, but worth it for us. Dr. Berman does understand teenage boys as well as their parents. He is empathic and insightful, but not a pushover and very appropriate for this age group. Our son does have trouble falling asleep and has decreased appetite due to the meds. He drinks chamomille tea at bedtime and says this helps a litle bit. Also, the computer and other electronic equipment need to go off 30-60 mins before bedtime (which is supposed to be at 10:30) and he is supposed to engage in other quiet activities. He sleeps better on days he has sports activities. Because his decreased appetite was affecting his weight gain, Dr. Berman recommended nutritional supplements such as Boost and whole- milk yogurts and these do seem to have helped. With Dr. Berman's ok, I chose to not have him take his meds on weekends and holidays, but that is a decision should be made with a physician. Berkeley mom


Rages in 13 y/o on Concerta/Ritalin

Nov 2006

I am interested in what other families have done if the Ritalin or concerta for ADHD seems to be causing rages in a teenage girl but no other medications works well enough to get her through a day at school. This has happened with my daughter. The rages were so bad that she almost had to be hospitalized. We have Kaiser Insurance and I am frustrated with the lack of coordination between the pediatric department and psychiatry (the only discipline who can prescribe something other than stimulants)

There is a similar question in the archives but I would like to know if any other family is currently dealing or has dealt with this issue and how they handled it.

My daughter has tried adderal and a high blood pressure medicine without success. Any advise appreciated
worried mom

Have you considered getting your child off of the meds and in a school that has a different sort of structure that may be more conducive to her personality? While ADHD certainly has a basis in the individual, it is also a social construct. Meaning, in a different sort of situation, a different sort of schooling atmosphere, the ''problems'' of ADHD - the lack of focused attention, hyperactivity, etc - would not be the level of problem that it is in a traditionally structured school. Perhaps a smaller, more collaborative, more physical type of environment would suit her personality and allow her to succeed without the potentially scary side effects of the meds, like the rages or whatever else. Just a thought. Anon

As I have stated before, I do not accept the designation of ADHD as a ''disease'', and feel that the use of stimulants to ''treat'' this condition is misguided in almost all cases. I am not a psychiatrist, but, as a neuroscience professional, I am very concerned about the effects of stimulants on the developing brain. In my experience, many kids with the diagnosis of ADHD are, in reality, bored and/or underchallenged in their school situation, or are sufficiently ''different'' that they disturb the status quo; and, as is common in our culture, need to be ''medicated'' so that they ''fit in''. Often, changing the school situation, and use of physical activities can go a long way to deal with ''hyperactivity'' and other ''learning disorders''. Get another opinion from a good psychiatrist, preferably of academic standing . Robert A. Fink, M. D.

My son had and has trouble with anger and rage. For him it isn't caused by meds but I think some meds are better than others. We are using strattera now and things are not perfect but we're managing. We followed the advice on this list and went to Dr. Berman. He has been terrific. I hope someone with Kaiser can help you. Best of luck to you. This is so hard! still working on it

I have to ask some hard questions here: what is this child's diet? how much sugar? wheat? dairy? meat? and what kinds of sugar, wheat, dairy and meat are being imbibed? what excercise is this child getting? as in how many HOURS a day? how much television is this child watching? what kind of television? how much time playing or watching video games? what kind? how much time on a computer? is this time on the computer supervised. what attention 1-on-1 is this child getting? how much of the time each day, of this child, is supervised by the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and caring adults in the childs life? it sounds like you are solely ''working'' with allopathic dr's and, frankly, you are getting the results you are... it is no wonder. i do not believe in medicating our children. i believe that there are better answers than poisoning our up-and-coming generations. hopefully, you will see the answers not hidden within the questions that i have asked above. finally, i dont know if you meditate (and i am speaking of non-christian eastern type meditation) however, if you do not, it is time to learn how to and then teach this child. there are MANY MANY forms of ''skilled relaxation'' meditation, guided meditation, all sorts of tapes/recordings, self hypnosis (my favorite) and so much more. do not be brainwashed by the allopaths. they are NOT the sole answer, and frequently, they are no answer at all, as you are experiencing. this, of course is only my opinion, however, if you look at my questions and find some non=allopathic pysicians with whom you can work, you will be amazed at the speedy recovery of your child.

How long has your daughter had these rages? My son (12) had a terrible time at school last year because his teachers ignored his special ADHD needs (he just got angrier and angrier) but now that he is in a new school with teachers who know his issues and how to work with him he is much happier. If these rages have been going on for some time you need more help than you are getting from Kaiser. Ere you familiar with Dr. Daniel Amen and his clinic in Fairfield? He has worked with many types of ADHD kids (and adults) and uses different types of anti-depressants and/or stimulants to help his patients. His web-site is He could also suggest someone closer to you that could help. I often have to go outside of our healthcare plan to work with specialists but it's worth it because I can't afford to waste time by not using the best. a concerned mom too

I don't recall your original question but I'd like to add my 2cents based on the other responses I've read. (As an aside, for what it's worth, here's a baby boomer who's horrified at the medicating of so many children, prompted by doctors, ''supported'' by pharmaceutical companies and completely agree with Dr. Fink and the respondant with the ''hard questions''). But I have another question. Have you paid attention to the timing of these rages? Is she menstruating? If so, are the rages in conjunction with her period? As someone who suffered from PMDD (a horribly exaggerated form of PMS), until recently when my periods finally ended, I would say a good 2.5 to 3 weeks of every month were given over to the hormones around my period, including deep sadness and rages. It wasn't until a couple of years ago (after 40+ years of suffering from this monthly and when it was basically too late to do anything significant about it) that I finally realized what was going on - in the meantime it impacted my entire life in many negative ways. Please check her out for severe PMS (or even PMDD symptoms) so that if this is what's affecting her, she doesn't have to suffer as well, though it may be difficult to distinguish if she's being negatively affected by her meds. Good luck Joan

I missed the original post, but read the responses with interest. My son (now grown) was diagnosed with ADHD when he was about ten. We had him on Ritalin for perhaps 2 weeks. The ''rebound'' effect when he got home from school was absolutely frightening. He was so angry and violent. We took him off the meds, went further with diagnosis, and eventually tried him on a variety of other things. The school was annoyed with us for ''giving up'' on Ritalin so quickly, but I told them we and he shouldn't have to pay the price we were paying for a calmer school day. Eventually what worked best for him was a boarding school for alternate learners (NAWA academy--he didn't get there until mid-year of 11th grade). He was still on some meds (but not stimulants) when he was there, but once he graduated, he chose to go off the meds, and as an adult is managing well without them at a college that accomodates alternative learning styles (Antioch). He is NOT bipolar, despite his huge mood swings on ritalin. He is intelligent, enthusiastic, and highly empathetic after all he has been through. The bottom line--whatever you decide about medication, if the current med is causing huge rages at home, you don't need it and she doesn't need it. There has to be a better way, with or without meds Hang in there--it's worth it

Rages in 12 YO daughter who's been on Ritalin for 4 years

May 2005

Has anyone used or known anyone who has used a childs individual neurotransmitter and amino acid tests to manage ADHD. My child has been on ritalin and concerta for 4 years. For the past 8 weeks there have been progressively more intense angry rages and outbursts. She is 12 years old. I have lowered her dose and would like to wean her off the ritalin and concerta. I would like to begin to use an alternative approach. A reference to the use of neurotransmitters and amino acids was made in an ADHD parent support group web site. Any experience or information from any parent or guardian in this group would be greatly appreciated. I am also looking for a homeopath with experience with ADHD and children in Oakland or Berkeley. Thanks much Desperate and Anon

Randall Neustaedter, OMD CCH specializes in children and ADHD. He is a doctor of Oriental medicine and a classical homeopath. He is in Redwood City at the Classical Medicine Center and probably worth the drive. You may also find a homeopath or other practitioner who specializes in children and ADHD by searching the directory of the Holistic Pediatric Association at Jane

I wonder if your daughter is getting more moody because she has began menstruating recently. Depression doubles in girls at the onset of menstruation, around age 12. Also, age 12 is a tough age for adolescents and girls at this age can get into clicks and become difficult to communicate with. I speak from experience remembering what a hard year my daughter had at age 12, and also as a psychiatrist I often find in women with depression that their first memory of feeling sad began about age 12. anon

I wanted to suggest to you that the rages you are seeing are as likely to be in response to reducing the Ritalin as they are a side-effect of taking it. I take Ritalin on a daily basis I can tell you that attempts to under medicate, or medicating only every 4 hours (unless that happens to be your metabolic rate) can lead to moments of rage and despair (as well as fuzzy thinking) as the meds wear off.

If your child was accurately diagnosed, and medication previously has helped, it may be that what's needed is more of what she's taken in the past, or a different medication. Only an expert you trust can tell you whether reducing her meds, or changing her regimen is a good thing to do -- or even safe. Please, tell me that the changes you are proposing are being made under the care of an ADHD expert. Heather