Day 8: 31 Ways to Make ADHD Medication Less Scary Before Halloween

“I’m scared of tics and not the creepy crawly kind; the ADHD medication kind.”

Another concern that parents have with ADHD medication is that they’ve heard that they can cause tics, and I’m not talking about the creepy, crawly kind, I’m talking about the facial and muscle twitches and spasms, like blinking or mouth deviation, sometimes head turning, those sorts of motor tics, and sometimes these are associated with verbal tics like sniffing, or throat clearing, or even vocalizations.

This is a more unusual side effect of stimulant medication, but stimulants can make these worse, and they can also bring them out of nowhere. Again, it’s usually dose and drug dependent, so it will go away with the change in dose and change in medication very often.

There are a lot of other things that cause tics as well besides stimulants. The number one thing is stress, and we see kids begin to have tics when they’re under stress, even after they’ve been on medication for a long time without having any tics.

So it’s important to know that you can reinforce the tics by paying a lot of attention in getting to worry about them, we ask parents to take sort of a neutral attention approach, unless they get quite severe, or really bothering the child, and they’ll usually begin to run their course if they’re not noticed too much. But you should let your provider or pediatrician know right away if your child does develop tics while on stimulant medication. Again, these can almost always be managed with a change in medication or with a change in dose of medication.

Tics have many causes and they’re very common, and as I said, we used to think that the medicine caused them, but now we know that tic disorders sit right beside ADHD and are a common co-morbidity, or a common disorder that goes with ADHD, and that the stimulants can sometimes make this worse. The good news . . .

This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.

James Wiley is the founder of Focus-MD. Focus-MD is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD and related problem patients. They provide objective testing, medical treatment as well as behavior modification strategies to help or patients transform from frustration to focus. To find a Focus-MD clinic, click here. 

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