Understanding Medication Rebound in ADHD
Medication Rebound is a sudden spike of ADHD symptoms that occur as a stimulant medication is wearing off. It is common to experience a resurgence of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, potentially more pronounced than the baseline symptoms pre-medication. You may feel agitated, restless, and emotionally dysregulated.
Essentially while the medication is active the brain has a more effective use of the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline. Without the medication, the brain scrambles a little to try and regain its equilibrium.
Research shows that physical activity — even something as small as fidgeting the hands — increases levels of these neurotransmitters. So the fact you may feel restless is the brain trying to get those transmitters back. You might find yourself drawn to other dopamine-seeking behaviours for the same reason.
What to Expect: As your meds wear off, you might notice a comeback of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity – maybe even more intense than pre-medication days. Feelings of agitation, restlessness, and an emotional rollercoaster can accompany this rebound.
Timing Matters: If you’re on short-acting meds, the symptoms usually spike for about an hour due to a steeper drop-off. With long-acting ones, the descent is gentler, often making it a smoother transition. This is also something to consider in between doses of short-acting medication, you can get a bit of rebound if you are a fast metaboliser and have a long gap between.
Recognizing the Signs: Being in tune with your body can be a game-changer. If suddenly you’re back to square one with focus, restlessness, or distraction, it could be the rebound talking. Keep a close eye on your symptoms in relation to your last dose – knowledge is power, it can be helpful for you and also for those you live with.
How to Tackle It:
1. Consistent Medication Schedule: Stick to the plan. Regularly take your meds as prescribed to keep those symptoms in check. Especially crucial for short-acting ones, as delays between doses can trigger rebound and throw a curveball into your day.
2. Open Communication: Chat it out with your healthcare provider. Dosage tweaks or a shift in timing might be in order. Share the rebound concept with those around you, so they get that these moments can be a tad more challenging.
3. Routine & Awareness: Establish daily routines to anchor yourself. Predictability helps level out those symptom waves. Stay aware – rebound might be inevitable, but knowing what’s up allows you to recalibrate. Maybe the kids aren’t extra noisy or your loved one isn’t breathing too loud… it might be rebound.
4. Healthy Lifestyle: Sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet are super important. These boost your medication’s effectiveness. Ignore them, and if can feel like your ADHD medication has stopped working.
5. Actionable Steps: Grab a high-protein snack, get moving with some exercise or take a walk, chuck on some music you love, or have a shower and wash away the day. Try a few things and see what works for you.
Recognize that these rebound feelings are temporary, and like all things, they shall pass.
Hi, my name is Rachel Daldry (ACC, CACP, DipCouns), ADHD Coach and creator of the visual routine system Mission Magnets.
I am passionate about assisting people to work with their brain and create the life THEY want to live. My ADHD journey began six years ago when my daughter was diagnosed, which set me on a path of researching ADHD, the brain, and positive psychology.
My work began with supporting overwhelmed parents, a situation I was all too familiar with, and this is when the spark was lit inside me that I could help others not feel like they were failing. It’s a dark place that no one should get stuck in.
That spark became a fire when I began coaching and focusing on working with people impacted by ADHD. Working with another person to help them find their flow, work through their challenges, find their purpose, and feel like they are progressing is a gift.
I am an International Coaching Federation (ICF) credentialed coach and Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC) credentialed ADHD Coach. In addition to this I have completed the ADHD Clinical Provider course, which included trainings from world-renowned ADHD experts such as Dr. Russell Barkley, Dr. Ari Tuckman, Dr. Saline Sharon, and Dr. Ned Hallowell.
I am a Licensed Counsellor and have a special interest in working with couples. I have completed Gottman Couples Therapy Clinical Training - Level 2.
In addition to this, I am a Certified Positive Discipline Parent educator and have completed an additional accreditation with Dr Jane Nelson ‘Keeping the Joy in Relationships”.
I welcome the opportunity to work with Adults who have ADHD or their family members.