Straterra and ADHD
December 9, 2004 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Straterra and ADHD. My 13 year old son has just been diagnosed with ADHD and the dr. is recommending Straterra. Does anyone have any experience with young adolescents and Straterra, especially side effects, good, bad experiences? Any helpful hints on young adolescents and ADHD in general? Thanks.
posted by mygothlaundry to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
83 people at this site have tried Stattera (for themselves or their children), described their experience, and rated it.

This is one of those instances where google searches (under both the "web" and "groups" tabs) are definitely superior to something that reaches a smaller and more generalized audience like AskMe. In addition to message boards, parent groups, clinical papers, etc., you can also access resources like the website for CHADD.
posted by availablelight at 12:23 PM on December 9, 2004

I have two special needs kids, now grown up. I have been in your shoes! My first advice, though, is to be skeptical. Not all changes in kids require a medical diagnosis.

Sometimes, hormonal changes at adolescence trigger behavior changes that worry parents and teachers alike, because the kid in question is no longer the happy-go-lucky youngster they once were.

I always tried, in the case of my kids, to make sure that the medication was addressing medical symptoms and not just personality traits.

Does your son feel that he could benefit from medication? Can you talk to him about it and get his input? If you've already done that and you've decided, together, to give medication a try, then Google the hell out of it until you know exactly what it is meant to do and what the possible side effects are. I am not familiar with Straterra, but there are sure to be lots of other parents who are.

Feel free to e-mail me if you wish, mygothlaundry, and good luck.
posted by tizzie at 12:28 PM on December 9, 2004

I think that often ADHD diagnosis in adolescents is made for a spectrum of symptoms that overlap with other conditions - ADHD becomes a convenient catch-all. Our daughter was on Ritalin for a while years ago but it didn't help all that much as I remember. She's had continuing impulsiveness and behavioral issues since, culminating in a week's in-patient intensive therapy in August (at 17), resulting in a diagnosis of "bi-polar spectrum" with prescription of lithium & wellbutrin. If you can afford it and get more in-depth psychological assessment/confirmation, you may be glad you did later. Good luck.
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:08 PM on December 9, 2004

Response by poster: Yeah, I've been googling it all day and I haven't been finding much that's helpful; every website seems to have an agenda to push, with the possible exception of this one, but I didn't find many personal accounts there. I didn't find that Straterra link above, despite googling straterra and going several pages in, so thanks for that. The reason I put it in askme is that I'm hoping it will find some people who have personal experience with Straterra - it's such a new drug and different in the way it works from Ritalin & Adderall - and I am also hoping to hear from people who were diagnosed ADHD at that age themselves & what worked/didn't work for them.

Tizzie I may well email you! This has been going on for a long time but I've resisted medication, resisted the whole thing, except it's escalated so severely over the last 6 months that now we both are thinking medication may be worth a shot.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:27 PM on December 9, 2004

I'm an older adolescent on Strattera at the moment. It's been difficult for me to judge whether it's actually working or not, as the drug takes a week or two to build to full levels in the brain. I can definitely notice an increase in focus while on Strattera, however - but at a cost. I feel less creative, less driven to persue the wild, imaginative trains of thought that were the plus-side to my ADHD. Still, my grades have increased and I've been able to focus more on schoolwork.

My physical side effects have been limited to full-body tingles, especially scalp tingles, and slight loss of appetite. (Along with an, erm, sexual side effect. It's nothing serious, though, and I can still function pretty normally. I'd rather not go into the details here, however.)

I've talked with some people who've had very negative experiences with Strattera, and some people who've had very positive ones. The effects can vary wildly from person to person, so there's no real way to predict them without giving it a try and judging for yourself.
posted by nervestaple at 1:35 PM on December 9, 2004

Sorry the link didn't go through--it was And my reply was absolutely not meant as a snark (I detect a bit of sarcasm in your "thanks" for the link), but based on my own experience of how many resources (from doctors, patients, parents, people anti-everything, etc) are available on the web for every medical condition under the sun.
posted by availablelight at 2:09 PM on December 9, 2004

Nervestaple, I find your moniker very funny, considering what you just said.

Mygothlaundry, do you believe your son needs medication? I always advise behavioral therapy and counseling first - it's easy to medicate, but often there are better ways. As others have commented here, ADD meds tend to eliminate the positive parts of ADD as well as the negative. I know this from personal experience. I stopped because I didn't feel like myself. I became boring and depressed on ADD meds.

If you find your son a good therapist with experience with ADD, he can work on his time management skills and help to get rid of the "negative" parts while still keeping the parts that probably make him a creative, cool thinker!

ADD stops mattering as much after high school - look for a college that encourages integrated, interesting thinking. ADD kids don't do too well as cogs in corporate machines but many do very well in creative careers - like me!

Doctors are quick to recommend meds - but instead of thinking "which med?", your question should be whether meds should be your first choice or your last resort.
posted by u.n. owen at 2:12 PM on December 9, 2004

...actually, the original link *works just fine* from my browser(s), if anyone else is interested. It points to the page specifically for Strattera, but the site itself ranks therapies for ADD/ADHD from coaching to drugs to vitamins to yoga. As with all patient responses to different therapies, the same intervention might get a "10" from one person, and a "0" from another, but the narratives can be helpful.
posted by availablelight at 2:26 PM on December 9, 2004

I took it for awhile myself awhile back. Do watch for blood pressure/dizziness issues. I almost passed out on the choir platform while on it.
posted by konolia at 2:57 PM on December 9, 2004

My boss's daughter (13, very smart and funny and in trouble quite a bit) is on it now, and it's been a very positive experience for her. She now acts like a person rather than a collection of knee-jerk responses. She says she really likes it, and she's been on one thing or another since she was 10. This is the right one for her, for now. Of course her goal is to not be on anything.
posted by pomegranate at 3:43 PM on December 9, 2004

How much therapy have you tried? It seems like perhaps you have tried a lot already, and medications are a kind of last resort. Regardless, medicating ADHD is serious business because it can often be the start of a spiral of medications, each one necessary to control the side effects of the last one. It is not unusual to see kids placed on stimulants for their ADHD and then an atypical anti-psychotic (read: tranq) because they are having trouble sleeping. This may or may not be a problem with Strattera.

But, in general, ADHD is a behavioral problem. This is not meant as any kind of dismissal, or as a suggestion that this makes it easier to address, but the fact is that the problems of ADHD are impulse control problems. Medication may help someone learn to control those impulses more readily, but they still need to learn to control them. That learning will not only serve them better in the long run, it is part of the mission of adolescence. Which is why care should be taken when medicating teenagers. If part of what adolescence is about is learning how to deal with overwhelming feelings and impulses, then there may be a delayed problem with lessening those feelings and impulses that everyone goes through during the teenage years.
posted by OmieWise at 6:45 PM on December 9, 2004

What does he eat, especially at school? Just curious.
posted by flabdablet at 5:43 AM on December 10, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for your help. To answer various questions & comments, availablelight, your links *were* extremely helpful and just what I needed; I'm sorry if I came off as snarky: yesterday was a long day, and although the diagnosis, etc., wasn't really a shock, it still was rough. I realized today that part of the problem in my googling was that I was spelling strattera wrong, which is probably why I was getting the tinfoil hat websites like At least I really hope that's a tinfoil hat site. . .

We have been trying therapy & nutrition & a variety of other things for a while; medication is definitely a last resort. He's always been wildly energetic & in trouble at school (there are learning disability issues as well) but over the last six months it's really intensified. He eats a mainly organic vegetarian diet at school (he's in boarding school) but at home we're omnivores with a focus on fresh local food, etc. I had hoped that the vegetarianism coupled with no TV, no computer and lots of exercise would eliminate the ADHD: it hasn't. So now we're looking at medication, although I've spent years saying I would never, ever do it. He wants to try it, he recognizes that there is a real problem here, but I'm still ambivalent, the whole thing scares me, I don't like the idea of putting kids on drugs.

So thanks again to everyone for your responses - my email is in my profile, I appreciate all the help!
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:02 AM on December 10, 2004

Straterra induces horrible side effects for me when I first go on it. Tingling, paranoia, a general feeling of dread.
posted by phrontist at 8:55 AM on December 10, 2004

Mygothlaundry, is your son seeing a therapist or psychiatrist specializing in ADD/ADHD who has experience with medications? If not, please do--they could provide answers to medication questions as well as help with the behavioral aspects. General practicioners just do not cut it when it comes to handing out meds for the more "intangible" problems depression or ADHD. You should see a specialist.
posted by Anonymous at 1:06 AM on December 15, 2004

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