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ADHD, adolescent girls, moodiness, anxiety, help?

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My dd, almost 13, has a dx of ADHD with a math LD and ST memory problems. She hasn't been taking meds for the ADHD because she is so thin (5'6" and 103 lbs) and she has been having anxiety. She also has trouble falling asleep.


Lately, the spaciness has gotten much, much worse. She can't even remember to follow through on things she wants to do. Schoolwork, especially math, I have to sit next to her and even that doesn't work all the time.


I feel like she is still 4. Without my suggesting/ asking about things (tooth brushing, eg) a zillion times she can't get it done.


I'm exhausted and frustrated.


So how much of this is related to hormones and adolescence ? Those who have BTDT, when does it get better? Any ideas?


I told her that she had 2 weeks to de-school and then she would unschool. I'm so done with this.


Help, please





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Diet: I have been knocking myself out trying to feed her for years. She is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, and eggs (something like pancakes is ok, quiche is not). She is gluten and lactose intolerant. She doesn't really like most meat, except sausages and seafood. (Easy to chew?). She likes something one week but not the next.


Exercise: She swims for an hour MWF, has dance 45 minutes on M, and skates 45 minutes on TH. Right now seasonal allergies are keeping us inside much of the time.

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Hi Sandra~~ it sounds as if you are talking about my dd (13 will be 14 next month). We suffer same issue w/brushing teeth, and the fact that if I don't sit w/her she will never get her work done. For me I think it was easier when DD was four-years-old. I jokingly told my friend that I better never get sick and die because I don't think anyone else would be able to pick up the slack w/dd and she would be lost. I've also thought that it was connected with hormones, however I've begun to wonder if we correctly diagnosed dd in the beginning (dyslexic). We are in the process of fixing that. This year has been exceptionally hard for dd, and hard for me watching it. It really could be that the hormones add a different twist on things. Looking back dd started her period about just over a year ago and that is when her mood swings became more intense.

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I'm no expert, but wow, it sounds like she's hardly able to get enough protein to sustain herself. If I were you, I'd redouble my efforts to find things she can eat. You didn't say she eats a lot of sugar, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear that she does. I'd get rid of all sugars/sweeteners in a hurry and substitute fruits/vegetables. Our Whole Foods store is selling fresh-squeezed juice that is a mixture of fruits and vegetables, and it's as tasty as punch (for example, the Super A is made of carrots, apples, and ginger). Something like that throughout the day might really invigorate her.


Poor girl -- I can readily believe that she's having trouble concentrating.


Forevergrace, I totally get what you're saying about not wanting to die and leave a child who is not quite ready to deal with life yet. My mom died when I was nine, and I had all kinds of problems that did not get remediated because my mom wasn't there to notice and deal with them. However (please forgive me, OP, for being annoying), I want to say that my most serious problem was malnutrition. I was an extremely picky eater. Meat grossed me out. My stepmother served a meat, a vegetable, and a starch for dinner, and if we didn't like what was served we went hungry. There were many days when all I ate were boxed cereal for breakfast, chips and candy at school, Saltines, and bits of dinner. I was very thin and didn't have the brain power to do my best in school. So in many ways I can identify with the OP's daughter. I'm making the suggestion that I wish someone had made to my stepmother all those years ago. (OP, I realize you are trying, but if she still isn't getting enough nourishment you might have to keep searching until she has a solid repertoire of foods that she can/will eat.)

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My dd, almost 13, has a dx of ADHD with a math LD and ST memory problems. She hasn't been taking meds for the ADHD because she is so thin (5'6" and 103 lbs) and she has been having anxiety. She also has trouble falling asleep.


The ADHD could definitely be causing the anxiety and insomnia. Really. If you an treat the ADHD, everything else may get much better.


Our psychiatrist offers Vyvanse to children who cannot lose weight. She sees it doesn't affect the appetite like most other stimulants. My son had been on Concerta for years and was eating enough to grow normally, but since we switched to Vyvanse last week his appetite has really picked up! I am a believer.


My dd has under-treated ADHD because she has other issues that are made worse with stimulants. Since we drastically knocked down her dose, she has reverted to that preschoolerish stage where I nearly have to take her by the hand and make her do stuff. It is MADDENING and it is as hard on her as it is on me. So please, look for a way you can safely treat the ADHD. We are going to explore non-stimulant meds with her like Intuniv and Strattera, but I personally don't think they will work since they have more of a sedative effect than a neurotransmitter-balancing effect.

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We don't do much sugar actually. She frequently has oatmeal or cold cereal for breakfast with lactose reduced milk. I do let her add sugar since they are unsweetened. I'd much prefer she eat something with more protein or fat, but she doesn't want it normally.


She likes fruits and sometimes eats an entire package of cherry tomatoes at a sitting. Last week she did that 3 times. This week the tomatoes have just sat on the counter.


When I make bacon she only wants the fatty parts not the meaty parts.


Yes we have tried smoothies. She likes the concept but not the actual product.


Anyway, if I could get her to eat more I would. It seems as though she is always eating or wanting to eat. She is an incredibly slow eater. Never met a slower one.


In summary, no doubt diet improvements could help. However, the recent degradation in her mental abilities has occurred while her diet remained the same.


Is it hormones ? Is it just puberty hormones that will eventually pass or is it just going to be her normal state for the next forty years?


Does anything help?





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Our psychiatrist offers Vyvanse to children who cannot lose weight. She sees it doesn't affect the appetite like most other stimulants.


My dd went from 60 lbs to 50 in a short period of time. It is a stimulant, so with anxiety, it is horrible.


I would try giving her fish oil and magnesium just to see if it makes a difference. Magnesium is supposed to help with anxiety. I have my 9yo take epson salt baths when she is getting worked up because not only is she getting magnesium, she is calming down in the bath.


I highly recommend reading "Smart But Scattered" and about Executive Functioning. It sounds like your dd would benefit from checklists. Everyday tasks such as brushing teeth can be part of the list.


Good luck with everything. I am dreading the teen years because of all the unexpected changes that come with it.

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Her diet sounds like it really could be key here. I would make an appointment with a nutritionist and psychologist.


Both anxiety and poor diet obviously impact your ability to concentrate.


When I am stressed I have a very hard time eating protein. During those times I can't even make a pot of coffee without major effort. It is awful to feel like that. Please take this seriously and bring her to a doctor.


Eta: I just realized that you said she is so anxious that she is unable to fall asleep well. That is really sad. A full psych evaluation would be on the top of my list.

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Guest getting-it-done

I can relate to this topic of ADHD. I am sorry to hear her struggles. I am to share my story I wrote many many years ago. I hope this can help some people who have ADHD or are trying to help someone that has it..

How To Help Children With ADD

As I work with children of many different ages, I am seeing a common trend of children being diagnosed with eitherAttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD). Regardless of what a child is labeled as, it can drastically affect the academic and social life for a child.

Children with ADD have a hard time focusing on one task at a time. One moment the child could be focusing on a math problem and the next minute they could be running in circles for no reason at all. It is especially apparent when children are trying to complete tasks that they do not enjoy doing. Some claim it is a matter of discipline and some suggest it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Other experts suggest that ADD may be caused by poor diets that are full of processed chemicals. The truth is that it is a combination of all the above.

Is Ritalin Or Other Medications The Answer To Cure ADD?

The direct answer is no. I did not form this opinion from reading books or observing other kids who were diagnosed with ADD. I know what it is like to have ADD because I was diagnosed with ADD in high school. I will get more into the subject of ADD medicationslater.

The Pathway To Being Labeled With ADD

I grew up in a normal middle class family with a loving mother and father. I struggled tremendously in school, especially in the grades 2-5. Getting a D was an achievement for me. My parents helped me study and complete homework assignments. However, I had a very hard time focusing on my schoolwork on my own. It would take me two to three hours to complete an assignment that should of only took a half hour. Shamefully, I was addicted to daydreaming. This allowed me to succeed in the creative aspects of life, but it did not help me learn the basics of important matters that were discussed in school.

In third grade, my parents made me see a counselor to help me find a way to improve my study habits. I even had a CAT scan of my brain to see if I my brain was growing properly. The results showed that I was completely normal. I even followed an organic diet to determine if I was highly allergic to a certain chemical. After one or two months, my parents took me off the diet as I showed no progress and it became too expensive.

Around that age, I remember feeling like I did not fit in with anyone. Simply put, I was a skinny dork. I had no self confidence and I feel that only made matters worse. In 4th grade, I got involved in an earth group that helped me grow socially and develop an interest.

I began to feel more confident in myself. Even though I was constantly being teased for being an uncoordinated athlete, I joined the basketball and baseball team. I was horrible to say the least. However, I finally found something that interested me. By the end of the basketball season, I scored a total of two points. I will not even mention the results of my baseball season. I began to feel an emotion that I never felt before. The determination to prove everyone wrong.

That summer I dedicated myself to improving my athletic ability by practicing and exercising. I would wake up at 8 a.m. and practice basketball until it was too dark for me to see the basketball hoop. I also joined a basketball camp that was ran by a local high school coach. All the players were two to three years older than me and were 50-100 lbs heavier than me. I wanted to quit at first just like I did when my homework was too difficult.

However, I completed the three week camp and I even received praise from the coach for ignoring the size disadvantage and showing potential. This might seem strange to some, but this embarrassing experience had a huge impact on my life. I finally realized that life is never going to be easy and that a little determination and discipline can help me reach my goals. Simply put, my self confidence and attitude completely changed.


Yeah that was me. Just kidding


After I completed the basketball tryouts in 6th grade, I was the starting point guard. I went from a worthless bench warmer to starting and playing one of the most important positions in basketball. While I still was an average player at my school, I had so much pride in improving myself. I went from being a pathetic follower to being an active leader on my team.

Most importantly, my grades improved dramatically. I was a solid B student and I actually started to enjoy school. I felt more comfortable with myself and finally felt like I fit in. Instead of being the kid that everyone wanted to bully, I was the one picking football teams at recess.

Just when my family and I thought I had beat my academic problems, it was time for me to go to high school. I decided on attending the best high school in our local town. This school was a college prep high school (*will go unnamed). The sports teams were just as tough as the teachers. After only one quarter, I was struggling to get C’s. To focus on my studies, I decided to not tryout for the basketball team. At the end of the first semester, I had a GPA of 1.45.

One afternoon, my counselor scheduled an appointment to see me to discuss my poor grades. After I told him that I had a hard time focusing on my schoolwork, he suggested I see my family doctor about treating me for Attention Deficit Disorder. After only five minutes with my doctor, I was officially diagnosed with ADD and was given a prescription for Ritalin.

Ritalin For ADD Treatment

I immediately felt the effects of Ritalin. It kind of feels like there is something inside my brain forcing me to be more attentive. It allowed me to be more productive and actually finish things on time. However, I still found myself being preoccupied with other things while I studied. For example, I remember sitting at my desk trying to study for a history test. As I was reading, I realized that my desk was dusty and unorganized. Usually this would never bother me. Before I realized it, I spent one hour cleaning my desk. It helped me pay closer attention to details, but it still did not fix my discipline problem. I never liked to study and it seems I always got distracted into doing something else. Something that was irrelevant to the task at hand; studying.

My grades improved slightly and my GPA went up to 1.9. However, it was clear that my problem could not be solved completely by Ritalin. I improved my grades slightly each year of high school and I graduated with a 2.5. The important thing to note is that I stopped taking Ritalin after my sophomore year.

I believe the reason I was able to improve my grades was because I learned how to play the electric bass and I became an amateur race car driver. I think it is extremely important for someone to have a hobby of some type that grabs their interest. It is in our human nature to be adventurous. Hobbies help us to grow socially and mentally.

To end this personal story, I continued to learn more about music, racing and life in general throughout college. I am proud to say that I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.35 in 2009. Not too bad for a struggling student.

As I approach my 28th birthday, I still struggle with my attention span. However, I try to use my discipline to reach my goals. That is why I feel Ritalin or any other ADD medication is not the answer to dealing with ADD in children and even adults. It only masks the problem.

What Can Parents Do To Help Their Child With ADD

As I mentioned earlier, the debate of the cause of ADD is continuing. If your child is having a hard time concentrating in school, here are some steps to take to combat ADD symptoms.

1. Watch their diet.

Diets that are high in carbs, sugar, fats, caffeine, fructose and processed foods are almost like poison to a child with ADD. In fact, everyone should avoid these items. Try to eat natural or organic foods. It has been proven that eating foods high in sugar can cause adverse reactions in your body, including your brain. Establish a balanced diet that is focused on vegetables, fruits, wheat and food high in protein.

2. Exercise.

Have your child get some exercise. It reduces stress and keeps your mind and body healthy. Encourage your child to be involved in sports.

3. Sleep.

Make sure that your child gets 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Letting your child stay up to watch a game is a sure way to make ADD symptoms worse. Just think, how do you feel after you only get five hours of sleep? How difficult is it to concentrate?

4. The mental game.

As parents, make sure you believe in your child. Confidence is a major part of the growth process in a child’s life. Make some compromises with your child. Hold them to standards that they can reach. If you set certain standards too high, your child will feel defeated and it may make things even worse. Give your child one chore at time. If they are able to consistently complete the chores as requested, add more chores after time. Use positive reinforcement when it is appropriate!

5. Organization.

Children with ADD need STRUCTURE. I capitalized structure because I cannot emphasize it enough. ADD often causes children to be very unorganized. That is why parents need to help their child develop good organization habits. Follow routines for all your child’s daily activities.

6. Keep Your Child Busy:

Children with ADD/ADHD need to be kept busy. I can attest that having a hobby or some type of interest is important to combating ADD. People with ADD get bored very easily. Encouraging your child to be involved in sports, crafts or music will keep their brain juices flowing. After all, your mind needs some exercise too! The one positive aspect is that people with ADD are often great at multitasking!

7. ADD Medications:

Ritalin and Adderall: While it is important to never ignore the symptoms of ADD, use medications only as a last resort to helping your child deal with ADD. It is important to note that ADD medications such as Ritalin is a form of speed. It can cause an increase in heart rate and it also can be addictive for some people. From my experience, Ritalin did increase my heart rate slightly and it did decrease my appetite. I did take Adderall for a short period of time, but I did not like the way it made my body feel. Lastly, if you feel you must put your child on an ADD medication, use a sustained released type. Most sustained released versions last up to eight hours and do not seem to affect the heart rate as much. Once again, that is from my experience. Everyone’s body is different so your child may react differently.

Lastly, I will make this rant short. Remember that doctor’s are persuaded to proscribe their patients. They may even get financial gains from it. Most doctors will proscribe medication before trying to actually solve the problem. It is a major problem in America. Please think for yourself before you follow your doctors advice.

For a more detailed guide to dealing with ADD/ADHD, read this article.

Guide for Parents: Children With ADD/ADHD

To conclude this blog about ADD, I recommend to all the parents out there to help your child build good organizational habits. Make sure your child has a balanced diet and make sure they get 8-9 hours of sleep. Let them dream. However, make them actually put their dreams into action. If someone has no aspirations in life, chances are they will have no drive to succeed at anything. Encourage your child to go out and play. We only have one chance at childhood! Make your child understand that failure is nothing to be afraid of. In our life, we may have to try things multiple times to get it right. However, we will eventually find a pathway to success. Often along that journey we will discover new things about ourself. Things that help us build confidence and discover interests that might even turn into rewarding careers. Good luck!

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Both of my dd;s with ADHD (one hyperactive, one inattentive) plus my son did better with anxiety while on ADHD medications. In particular, my middle, who is severely ADHD, needs the Vyvanse to help tone down the anxiety along with the ADHD. She is also on another medication that helps with anxiety. But if she doesn't take the Vyvanse during the time of month when her anxiety is the worse, ooo- boy. Her anxiety reaches an all time high.


So I concur with the other poster that you probably need to treat the ADHD. Hormones make ADHD worse- I have had to go on ADHD medications at 50 because of the hormonal issues of perimenopause. I know, watching my dds, that monthly cycles make the ADHD worse. Hormonal cycles make lots of conditions worse- including migraines, asthma, diabetes, RA,. lots and lots of them. There are other medications other than stimulants used sometimes too with ADHD. One antidepressant is sometimes used and someone else already mentioned Strattera and Intuiv.


But, at least with my kids, they couldn't get hardly any work done without medications.

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Thanks to everyone who responded


She is currently trying Vayarin. But it takes 2 months to take effect if it does.


We are out if the habit of taking baths, but encouraging them more often and with Epsom salts is something I will do.


We have done check lists. They help at first, but then the novelty wears off. This seems to apply to everything: curricula, food, hobbies. After the novelty wears off it's no good.


I suspect Get-it-done is male as the hormones that males get at puberty actually help with ADHD. There are studies on this. Also my Dh and ds have ADHD and I can see this. I do agree that the real solution has to come from inside, but I can't make her change. She has to.


Our allergist just told me that Singulair can make a person moody. I'm wondering if that could be part of the problem. She started on this recently to cope with this horrible allergy season. As soon as her asthma clears up and the pollen counts come down I will take her off of it.


I fed her a high fat breakfast yesterday and she lasted until lunch. Half an avocado with a bacon, butter, and Balsamic vinegar sauce. If I serve it even once a week she will stop liking it.


Big sigh. I'm tired of being the frontal lobe for the whole family.



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Our 11-yo DD already has similar problems so are things going to get worse during the teenage years? I'm hoping she is one of those ADHD kids who catch up from their ~30% developmental delays before they are forced to drop out of high school. Nothing has helped much from all the specialists, five drugs and numerous other interventions we have tried. :crying: We may have to be her prefrontal cortex until the day we die.

Is it just puberty hormones that will eventually pass or is it just going to be her normal state for the next forty years?

Does anything help?

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