ADHD medications are tricky: It's like using a sharp knife. You can acheive dramatic results if you are careful, or you can get blood all over the cutting board.
ADHD medications are powerful: You are not digging with a shovel, you are operating an industrial strength machine. You can make a big difference but the details are important if you want to avoid trouble.
How to Take Stimulant Medication
If you are taking medication, there are a few things you should know. You were probably a bit overwhelmed in your doctors office with all that new information, so I'm sure you barely remember half of it. So, here is what you missed.
Expect some Side Effects
All Stimulant Medication will make your mouth dry and take away your appetite. Usually this takes at least a month or two to go away.
Morning side effects are usually due to OVER-STIMULATION, like having too much coffee. You might have a rapid heart beat, or feel a bit speedy. This will pass within a few hours.
Afternoon side effects are usually due to the medication wearing off. like you need a coffee. You might feel tired or grumpy and a headache is not uncommon. Don't worry, the side effecta will pass within a few hours.
The most important thing to remember is... most side effects will pass. It's like buying a new pair of Italian leather shoes. First they are a bit tight, then you get blisters and soon they are your favorite pair of shoes. Expect some side effects and be patient.
In any case, for most people with ADHD, the risk of bad outcomes by not treating the ADHD is 3-4 times higher than the risk of bad outcomes from treating ADHD with stimulants.
What to do?
DO take your medicaiton first thing in the morning. If you take it too late in the day, it will last too long and you won't be able to sleep.
DO take your medication with food. Preferably something with fat in it, like penut butter or 2% yogurt. If you take it without food, it will be absorbed too quickly and you will have more ups and downs.
What not to do?
DON'T take your medication with caffeine. You will regret it. Caffeine is a stimulant. If you take your ADHD medication with caffeine, you are multiplying the effects both up and down. You will be edgy, have headaches and you won't sleep very well.
DON'T take your medication if you are sick (home with the flu).
DON'T take your medicication if you are really stressed about something (skip a day). The adrenaline plus the medication will make you even more stressed.
DON'T take your medication if you have had a couple nights of bad sleep (skip a day). The adrenaline from sleep deprivation plus the medication will make your sleep even worse.
How to take Lamotrigine
Other than the possibility of an allergic reaction, Lamotrigine is pretty bullet-proof. You can take it with food, without food, with caffeine or alcohol. And you can take it just about anytime of day. One dose seems to work for about 8 hours, so for most people, it works better taken twice daily about 6 hours apart.
Side Effects - Narrative Analysis of over 800 patient interviewa shows that about 20% of people who take Lamotrigine will have side effects; usually headache, indigestion or restlessness.
In about half of these people, the side effects will pass in about a week. In the other half, about 10% of people, they can't take Lamotrigine because they can't metabolize it and they get side effects before they get any benefits.
In our experience, about 5% of people have an allergic reaction to Lamotrigine (itchy red dots anywhere on your body). That's even if we start at the tiniest dose, 12.5 mg and then take 8 weeks to get up to full strength. That frequency is more than most medications and that's why Lamotrigine is for many doctors and patients a scary proposition.
If you get a rash on Lamotrigine, STOP YOUR MEDICATION, take some antihistamines and call your doctor. That's the bad news.
The good news is that in only 2/1000 (0.2%) will that rash turn into anything more worrisome. It happens, but thankfully it is very unlikely.