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Why Should I Take my Medication?

Dudley, my African Grey parrot and best friend

Many people with Autism and ADHD need medication to function in everyday life. Many medications treat a wide range of behavior challenges from raging meltdowns, attention/focus, anxiety and depression, and many more challenges. Without medication, these individuals would be unable to function in society. 


Why Should I Take My Medication?


Many Autistic people have severe meltdowns that can cause damage to others and property. These meltdowns are called raging meltdowns and they can be very dangerous to the point of injury to others or themselves. For many, they need medication to regulate their emotions. 


I require medication to function because without it I have raging meltdowns, myself. They started when I was 13 years old and I have needed medication to help with those issues, since then. It helps me to be able to keep my job as a social media specialist and a professional blogger. 


For people with ADHD, they cannot pay attention very well and stay focused on important tasks, especially if the task or class is of disinterest to them. For example, they might be able to stay focused in a class on mechanics, but English may be so boring, they will get poor grades, due to not making as much effort, because it doesn’t interest them enough to learn. Medication won’t fix the issue at hand, but it can help them stay focused for the amount of time to sit in class or complete assignments. 


Someone might have anxiety or depression in addition to Autism or ADHD. This is a common co-morbidity, especially since many of these individuals become diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their life, due to bullying or other types of trauma. Medications can treat anxiety and depression. 


Someone might have anxiety so severe that they are unable to show up for work or school, or even attend family events. Some individuals with anxiety cannot bring themselves to go into a business and speak to the clerk to make an order or they cannot ask someone in the store to help them find an item they are looking for. This is a type of social anxiety which is a very common co-morbidity with Autism and ADHD. Medication can treat this too. 




Why Should I take it?


You should take your medication if it is prescribed to you because there is a reason that your doctor has told you that you need to take it. Many people see improvement in their symptoms that require the medication and feel they no longer need to take it when really it is the medication improving your symptoms. Keep taking it even with your symptoms improving. You will most likely go back to square one if you quit taking it. 


Ask yourself, “How do I feel?” on days that you don’t remember to take your medication, and ask yourself, “How can I remember?” if forgetting to take it happens too often. 


I Keep Forgetting to Take My Medication. How Can I Remember?


Everyone forgets to take their medication sometimes, but it should not be a habit, like brushing your teeth should be. When I forget to take my medication, I notice a big difference in my emotional well-being and my behavior. 


Here are some ideas to help you remember to take those pills!


Most people have smartphones. Use an app such as Google Calendar. There are also many different apps that are made to remind you to take your pills. If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can set alarms and timers daily to remind you. 

If using a paper planner or to-do-list, then add that to the top of your priorities. 

Associate certain tasks that you take your pills right before. For example, I take my pills twice a day, so before I brush my teeth, I take my pills. It is easier to remember that way

Think about how you feel on days that you do not take your medication. For example, I do not feel well physically or emotionally when I do not take my pills. If I do not take my acid reflux pill, its harder for me to eat without discomfort, and if I do not take my Autism pill, then my behavior and emotional well-being are disrupted and I have a bad day.


These are great ideas to start with. If you are a parent, and your child is refusing to take their medication, try these strategies:


Set rules and consequences. For example, no screen time or going out with friends if the child does not take medication. 

Explain the consequences of not taking prescribed medication and how behavior can affect others if not taken

Some medications cause physical dependency and can cause physical illness if not taken regularly. Explain this to your child. 

Set up a rewards system for chores and add medication to the list of chores

Write a social story, explaining medication and why your child needs it



How To Cope With Side Effects:

Many medications have side effects and some can be very unpleasant. They can range from upset stomach, daytime sleepiness, to dry mouth, to more serious side effects such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Always watch for signs of allergic reactions, as anyone can be allergic to any medication at any given time. 


To minimize side effects, try these tips:


Make sure to drink plenty of water. This can help with dry mouth and dry throat. Many medications can cause sun and heat sensitivity, making the patient prone to dehydration.

Follow directions for taking on a full or empty stomach. Many medications that require taking it with food, can upset your stomach if you don’t take them with food. If you are directed to take your medication on an empty stomach, do so, as food can weaken the effects of your medication. 

If you have sun and heat sensitivity, wear appropriate clothing for the temperature you are in and stay hydrated with water. Also minimize your time outside in extreme heat, especially while working outside or exercising. Take frequent breaks.

Eat small meals throughout the day to prevent weight gain and overeating if your medication causes increased appetite and try to drink more water to minimize hunger. 

If you have a rash, itching, redness, and shortness of breath, call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital, as these can be signs of a serious reaction. 

For nausea, there is medication available to treat it and sometimes it just has to run its course. Sometimes nausea can be part of adjusting to new medication but should not be permanent. If nausea persists, consult with your doctor. 


While side effects are unpleasant, you may be tempted to stop taking your medication. It is really important to continue taking it and work through your side effects. Without your medication, you may not be able to function in work and school situations and your symptoms may be worse. Never stop or change any medication without consulting with your doctor first, as dangerous side effects can occur. We hope this blog is helpful for you to understand the importance of taking your medication and why you might be on it. 






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