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ADHD medicines (Ritalin, Concerta) and pregnancy; non-medical ADHD treatment

Written by: Martin Winkler, Psychiatrist

First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest revision: 22 Jul 2008.

Question:

 My wife has a severe case of adhd that is about to ruin our marriage, can you offer any advice. On occasion she can realize that all of our issues stem from lack of impulse control on her part, but these monemts of clarity are normally completely overidden by sudden impulsive acts. One day she says that she wishes she could just stop and live the way she wants to, but most of the time the impulsive behavior becomes so distractive that she thinks there is no way for her to make things better. I have strongly urged her to get back on adhd medication because I have seen in the past just how much it helps her, but we are currently trying to get pregnant and she does not want to take anything for this reason. Is there any adhd medication that is safe for a pregnant woman to take? If medication is not an option how can she be helped to increase confidence in herself that she can control these impulses, and not let them control her life?

Answer:

Most doctors would recommend to skip any medication if you try to get pregnant. While there is no strong evidence for severe harm due to psychostimulants you cannot exclude any risk. I am not aware of any adhd meds without this little (but important) risk. The good information : Most women report less severe symptoms of ADHD while they are pregnant. This is caused by hormonal changes that have a positive effect.

In Germany some psychologists use EEG-Neurofeedback to cope with ADHD symptoms if you are not allowed to swallow pills for ADHD. This might be an option for your wife if it is available in your region.

It might also be a good option to join an ADHD self-help group in your town. To talk about your problems with other women is a very good option to cope.

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