I've had mothers tell me they could sense "hyperactivity" in the womb.
ADHD does not just "descend" upon a person.
It might not be obvious at earlier ages, especially if symptoms are mild. But it is there early on, unless the ADHD is caused by some type of trauma or injury.
Symptoms will express in "age appropriate" ways. Obviously, a baby or toddler is not going to be seen as having trouble reading, following instructions, or remembering important details. Instead, ADHD symptoms might express in the baby having difficulty focusing on faces, being able to self-sooth, sleep well, and similar.
A toddler might be more emotionally dysregulated, reacting with outsize emotions as not being allowed to do something, or more prone to staring at the TV because it provides high stimulation. There are many examples of how ADHD can "show up" very early.
I've not heard of Strattera being used for the cognitive issues that can follow brain trauma. The stimulants, however, are often used in such cases and even in instances of "chemo fog" from cancer chemotherapy.
The stimulants include medications such as Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse, and the like.
Your physician should be able to explain to you the rationale for trying Strattera for your son.
Strattera is a medication that was developed as an anti-depressant but found to have little effectiveness. It was later adopted for its usefulness in treating certain symptoms of ADHD.
In my personal experience, from talking to many adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD, it helps less than the stimulants do when it comes to focus, concentration, etc. It does seem to help more with mood issues and sleep.
Some published literature, however, on Strattera shows it as being effective for ADHD symptoms.
So, the answer is: It helps some people and doesn't help others.
You are about to lose your job, you say, and your young son has been diagnosed with ADHD.
This is not the time for tips for "trying to manage it." This is the time for some serious attention what might be a lifelong manifestation of ADHD in your life.
Please consult the physician who diagnosed your son and ask where you can get an evaluation.
For many people with ADHD who describe symptoms such as yours, there is not going to be a "therapy" for resolving them. The inability to focus, pay attention, follow directions, etc. are neurocognitive symptoms best addressed by physical strategies, including medication, good diet, sleep, and exercise.
Of course, everyone needs the last three, but people with ADHD often have a hard time regulating those activities due to...untreated ADHD's problems around organization, initiation, motivation, etc.
So, please don't let your ADHD trick you into thinking that you'll "figure this out" or you'll find a website with some handy tips that will miraculously improve your life.
You cannot procrastinate on this, as you seem to realize by writing this question. Your child depends on you to get your own ADHD under control, so you can help him. Studies show that parents with untreated ADHD have more problems parenting effectively, especially when the child has ADHD.
So, please do as the flight attendants say and "put on your oxygen mask first" so you can help yourself and your child.
I appreciate that you are enjoying what you perceive as increased brain function. That's always welcome!
I would caution you, though, about conducting grand-scale experiments on your brain and about the changes in perception that such substances can create (hint: they aren't always accurate).
Still, I know many adults with ADHD who have resorted to marijuana for various reasons, none of which are "for kicks" but because they perceive real benefit.
I would encourage you to look into other methods of improving your brain function, though. Some people with ADHD are more impaired by the crushing anxiety accompanying it; for them, marijuana seems to quell that anxiety and free them to be more functional.
Still, even those people risk impaired brain function over time.
I've heard of Charlotte's Web and its alleged impact on seizure disorders. For children who have been treated with more benign methods, to no success, it sounds like a lifesaver.
But for ADHD anxiety, there are MANY other avenues to pursue before you resort to a highly experimental "last resort."
You can make dietary and exercise changes, and you could look into amino acid supplementation as well as vitamin/mineral deficiencies and food sensitivities. All these changes will serve you better in the long run, and not just in terms of brain function but whole-body function.
If all that enough, it's worth looking into medications for ADHD, prescribed carefully and monitored closely. These are well-studied medications that, when taken appropriately, have a very low risk profile, especially in terms of liver damage.
Except I would say it is safe to adjust medication under certain circumstances and by small amounts, with the physician's go-ahead, but that doesn't sound like what's being done.
For example, before beginning medication, there is no way for the physician to know the appropriate dosage (or the appropriate type of stimulant) for that individual's neurochemistry.
It is by "starting low and titrating slow" that the most effective dosage is achieved.
But for a parent or caregiver to decide randomly that a dose of medication will not be given simply because the child is not in school? No, that's inappropriate. That can create a "roller coaster" cascade of changes throughout the brain and body. The best idea is consistency.
ADHD medications help with more than schoolwork. This unfounded myth is why there is so much stigma and confusion around ADHD. ADHD is a medical, physical condition, not a "behavioral" condition. There can be problems with social skills that are helped by medications but also dangers posed by risk-taking, neurospatial challenges (which perhaps result in more sports injuries), and even associations with asthma and allergies.
Has your pediatrician done thorough metabolic workups to rule out other conditions that could be causing this behavior?
Is it possible that your child isn't getting enough sleep, due to not going to bed earlier enough perhaps? Are there chemicals and fragrances in the home that could be having a neurocognitive adverse effect?
We always want to be prudent in seeking to identify the cause of such behaviors. And your pediatrician should be your ally in all possible causes, including psychiatric ones. The brain is a vital organ; it's not a "mental thing." For your pediatrician to dismiss your queries by saying he "doesn't do that" without being able to guide you to a referral, I would be concerned with what else he is missing about your child's health. I would also be concerned that he doesn't "believe" in ADHD, which would indicate medical ignorance.
I would get the earliest appointment you can with a psychiatrist who has knowledge of ADHD. Don't count on every psychiatrist being familiar with it, because let me assure you: They are NOT.
Once you have the appointment, ask that you be placed on a cancellation list in case there's an earlier opening.
But do take some care in selecting the psychiatrist who would do the evaluation. You don't want to waste your time and money on someone who has no understanding in this area.