By in Health & Fitness

How to Know if Concerta is Right for Your Child

Concerta is one of the most frequently prescribed ADHD medications. For many doctors it is the treatment of choice, even before the better known Ritalin. Concerta contains the same active ingredient as Ritalin: methylphenidate, which is sometimes abbreviated MPH. The main difference between the two drugs is that Concerta uses a special patented delivery system , unlike any other ADHD drug. The capsules are designed so they use osmosis to deliver a more controlled dose of MPH throughout the day, so the person taking Concerta only has to take one pill in the morning and has none of the ups and downs that can happen with other forms of the same drug.

What Will My Child Be Like When He Takes Concerta?

Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant. It may seem paradoxical to give a stimulant to a child who is potentially hyperactive, but there is actually a scientific basis for this. People who have ADHD need to wake up their frontal lobe, the part of their brains that helps them to plan, make good judgements, and focus on tasks they need to complete. The brains of people with ADHD seem not to use the neurotransmitter dopamine the way they should, and a stimulant like Concerta helps them to do that.

When your child takes Concerta, the goal is simply to wake up that sleepy frontal lobe and supply it with enough dopamine to function more normally. The drug won't cure your child, and it won't completely mask the symptoms of ADHD completely. But it will make life easier for your child. It's sort of like taking a pain killer after a bad injury. The condition doesn't go away, but it's a lot easier to function.

Contrary to popular opinion, a child taking ADHD medications should not act like a zombie, or should he seem as if he's high on drugs. If either of these things should happen, report it to your doctor. Your child's dose may need to be adjusted or he may need to try a different medication.

Your child shouldn't seem like a different person. She shouldn't lose interest in the things she normally likes, nor should her personality be vastly different. You may notice that she's more easy-going, or that she seems to argue or worry less once she starts taking Concerta.

These changes are due to the fact that everyday tasks are now significantly easier to cope with. A reduction in symptoms often means the child has a more positive demeanour Again, this is sort of like giving pain relief to someone who has been suffering chronic pain. Any perceived changes should be minor, and they're more a case of revealing the child's true personality now that she feels more comfortable in her own skin, than a case of a major shift in character.

How Will I Know the Medicine is Working?

Concerta starts working right from the first dose, and if it's effective for your child you should notice that he can focus better on chores, schoolwork and other tasks, pretty much right away. One of my daughters felt the difference within the first hour; it was such a feeling of relief that she had the giggles all the way through breakfast! Her teacher noticed that she was more focused in class, after only a day or two. And she also told me that she was “getting” her schoolwork with less effort, and that she could finish it faster than before.

Your doctor will probably want to check in with you after a week or two, to make sure the drug is working and to determine if the dose is right. You should note any changes observed by you, your child, or the teacher so you can report them when you speak to the doctor. If there are no changes or if the changes seem fairly minor, the doctor may suggest trying a slightly larger dose. (Doses of Concerta are very small, usually starting at only 18 mg for the whole day.)

If you aren't noticing a significant change in attention and the ability to complete tasks or resist impulses within about a month, you'll want to check in with the doctor again. It might be that Concerta isn't working for your child, which is OK. There are several other effective and safe ADHD treatments that you can try instead.

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Image credit: Methylphenidate by Alfie/Wikipedia ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Disclaimer: The author is not a health professional. The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended to replace competent medical advice.

Disclosure: The author has no connection with any company or brand mentioned herein, and has not been compensated for said mentions.

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MegL wrote on June 23, 2015, 3:27 AM

Very interesting and useful article. I didn't realise that it was the frontal lobes not waking up properly that causes ADHD.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 23, 2015, 3:33 AM

Neither did I, until an educational psychologist explained it to me. Most people are pretty surprised when they hear this, because it seems ironic that these kids can be so hyperactive. But it's the brain's ability to inhibit all those impulses, that needs to wake up.

CalmGemini wrote on June 24, 2015, 11:07 PM

This is something I did not know.Your article explains it in a way that can be easily understood.