I may have more accomodation posts, but I wanted to talk about the importance of a medication journal today. What, you may ask, is a medication journal? It is just a record of medications, dosages, changes, and symptoms. Finding the right medication is usually a process of trial and error. I think this is especially the case with ADHD meds. Or, perhaps I should say that the changes and effects happen so rapidly and there are so many options that the number of changes in a short period of time can be extensive.
I’ve been on the same stimulant regimen for almost 20 years. So there isn’t an issue there. My current antidepressant gets adjusted from time to time, but that’s only one variable and the effects are pretty obvious and rapid. My son’s meds are also pretty straightforward. So I’ve never really needed to keep track of them in a detailed matter. My daughter is a whole ‘nother story. I won’t get into detail about her journal, as it’s kinda personal. But it did prompt me to write this. So let’s start with the macro.
Especially with our kids, who are constantly growing and changing during the period of time when we are responsible for their meds, it is extremely important to keep track of what meds, what dosages, what age/size, when, and for how long. Often parents will tell me, “he took Stimulant A when he was in 3rd grade but I don’t remember how much and I’m not sure why we stopped that one.” This is not meant to criticize those parents. In the moment things seem so obvious and memorable, but six years later when that kids is in 9th grade, how likely is anyone to remember all the details. Specifically, one reason this is important is that as we get older, we tolerate medication much better. I’ve had many a client who’s tried a med at 8-years-old and “hated it” for some reason. But, with a more mature body and a different outlook at 14, that medication is magical. However, if there was a serious side effect of it really didn’t work at all, it’s nice to remember that so as not to repeat the missteps of the past.
The following are the things that I would consider tracked as much as possible:
- Date’s of Dr.’s appointments with a brief description of what was discussed and any decisions made.
- General trends in symptoms/behavior. You observations of results.
- What your child is saying about how they feel. I can’t tell you how many kids have said, “It makes me feel weird.” Don’t brush that off. Help them find the words to explain what “weird is.” For one, that will empower them to take charge of how they feel and help them buy in to the treatment by making them feel heard and helping them process their feelings. Second, weird can just mean different. Read: stick with it and see how it goes while continuing to talk about it. Or, weird can be not good at all. Read: don’t force it and consider changing something.
- Dates of changes in dosage.
- Dates that you start a new prescription bottle if the manufacturer has changed.
- Dates you go from generic to name brand or vice versa.
- Any potential side effects in frequency and severity. (Even if it isn’t listed as a know side effect.)
Don’t feel like you have to write a novel. Quick bullet points are usually enough to jog your memory. But having this detailed data can be invaluable when trying to figure out what is going on with you child… your yourself!
Standard Disclaimer: In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.