When medications do more harm than good

The Lost and Tired family is no stranger to medications. Gavin has been medicated for a very long time.

In all the years Gavin has had to take medications,  we have only ever had one major problem.  That one problem was a very,  very serious and life threatening one,  but we made it through.

Medications,  while not something we take lightly,  have become a necessary evil.  They have become a fundamental part of our lives and for the most part,  they have brought about positive change.

Over the past few months,  we have been discussing the possibility of having to put Elliott,  our 5 year old,  on medication for his anxiety.

Elliott has been struggling with anxiety for awhile now. 

It really began to get out of control last year when he became very preoccupied with germs.

You may recall,  from past blog posts,  that Elliott began obsessively washing his hands with hand sanitizer.  It got to the point that he was sneaking away to wash his hands.  You could see the relief in his eyes when he would rub the hand sanitizer on his hands.

Over the last year,  his anxiety levels have continued to climb.  They reached a point where they are now compromising his quality of life.

As I mentioned earlier, a few months ago we began discussing the possibility of providing relief to Elliott in the form of medication.  He was already in therapy every week and we had really run out of ways to help him.

Medications have always been a last resort for us, especially when it comes to our kids. 

However,  we also realize that medications serve a very real purpose,  when used correctly and for the right reasons.

While it’s true that the entire Lost and Tired family benefits from improvements brought on by these medications,  that isn’t the deciding factor. 

When we are trying to decide what to do,  we talk to our doctors,  therapists,  teachers ect. Lizze and I do exhaustive research on the potential medication and then weigh the pros and cons.

Then and only then,  will we make a decision.

Of course, life and death situations are the exception to this rule. If the kids are sick,  we give them whatever they need to get better. I’m referring to mental health related issues,  that may require the use of medication.

Having said that,  even when you try and cover every possible angle.  Even when you research as much as you possibly can,  or learn everything there is to know about the particular medication in question, there are no guarantees.

We were recently reminded of this very fact.

We started Elliott on 5 mg of Zoloft.  That is an extremely low dosage.  Elliott’s doctor wanted the low dose because we were only looking to treat the anxiety.  Zoloft,  in low doses,  is used for that exact reason.

Instead of relieving his anxiety, it made things worse. He went into a manic state and experienced rapid and extreme mood swings.

We contacted the doctor and after only three days and a total of 15 mg of Zoloft,  we were told to discontinue the medication.

We were told watch Elliott for the next 48 hours and call them back if he doesn’t get better.

He missed two days of school last week and will be missing school again on Monday,  as a result of the reaction he is having to the Zoloft.

I said, the reaction he is having because he is still struggling.

This is the third night in a row that he won’t go to sleep.  We tried melatonin,  our usual go to sleep aide,  but it doesn’t help anymore.

We spoke with the doctor again today and they told us to give him 1 mg of benadryl
at 5:30pm tonight. If he didn’t fall asleep within 30 minutes,  we were to give him another 1 mg of benadryl.

Since the melatonin was not working,  this was a safe alternative to help him fall asleep.

Unfortunately,  that was 5 or 6 hours ago.  As I’m writing this,  I sitting on the floor in his room watching Rugrats as he laying in bed kicking his feet like he’s swimming.

He isn’t even close to falling asleep.

There was absolutely no way we could have predicted this when deciding to try the Zoloft.

Every person is different and so their particular body chemistry can react uniquely to a medication. This can lead to undesirable results.

No matter how careful you are,  or how much you research, when giving any child a medication,  there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees that it will work the way it’s supposed to.  There are no guarantees that there won’t be any side effects.

As I said,  we were reminded of that a few days ago. Will this make us anti-medication?  Of course not. 

While we made need to try a different medication in order to help Elliott,  we will exercise a bit more caution this time around.

Elliott needs relief from his extreme anxiety. If we refuse medications in the future because of our experience with Zoloft,  we may miss an opportunity to provide Elliott with the relief he so desperately needs.

**Thanks for reading**

       -Lost and Tired

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Have you tested for strep and PANDAS? I know he just got off Zoloft, but my son's OCD goes through the roof and he doesn't sleep when he has PANDAS. (he also gets vocal tics)


I hope you will find something that will help as I know the stress trial and error of meds and med changes cause. Was wondering if he likes headphones with music or movie? This helps my son relax, as I'm sure you have already tried everything under the moon…


just tried the zoloft last week for my daughter. We have experienced some really really bad side effects from medications, mostly the violent behavior… increase in the anxiety. I hear you on this. Discontinued the zoloft here too after seeing an increase in behavior issues. lost & tired is a very good name for your blog… it's a hard road.