A Teenager on the Go Go Go
Sixteen-year-old Sherrie was referred
to us by her family practice physician because of a five-year
history of ADD. She had been on Ritalin since the sixth grade.
In kindergarten Sherrie was sent out of the classroom for talking
too much. An aunt and a cousin on both sides of the family had
also been diagnosed as hyperactive. Her father and maternal aunt
suffered from manic depression. Without her Ritalin, she was unable
to focus. Easily distracted by noise or movement, Sherrie found
it very difficult to concentrate while taking tests. Paying attention
in conversation was also a challenge. Sherrie complained of talking
without listening and often found herself staring off into space
in mid-sentence. No matter how much she told herself to be quiet,
she blurted out her thoughts or feelings anyway. It was embarrassing
at times, though much of the time she had little, if any, awareness
of how she affected other people. Sherrie was used to her friends
asking her to be quiet. She had a reputation among her friends
of acting immaturely and of being the last one to catch on
to a joke. While driving, she often daydreamed. She would become
confused when she saw a car in another lane, as if she did not
believe she was seeing it.
Sherrie was very antsy, always fidgeting
and fiddling. Clicking her nails against her teeth and tapping
her fingers was a perpetual occupation. Sherrie's poking, hugging,
and pulling at other people was a constant annoyance to them,
but she could not keep her hands to herself. Sherrie was always
moving some part of her body. She would skip down the hall to
release her pent-up energy. Without having a way to let it out,
she felt that she would scream. "The energy is trapped inside
of me and has to be pushed out. It's all out of control,"
Ritalin gave Sherrie hives and made
her feel like she did not know herself. Her habit of being "a
major procrastinator" was not affected by the Ritalin. With
or without medication, she asked lots of "dumb questions"
even though she maintained a 3.8 grade-point average.
Sherrie had a passion for pickles.
She ate them straight from the jar. She also liked to suck on
ice. Her fingers and toes became extremely cold when she skied.
Sherrie's defining features were
her extreme restlessness and ceaseless activity. We gave her Veratrum
album, mentioned earlier in Jill's case of adult ADD. Again
notice the strong desire for sour foods. These people are generally
good-natured and helpful but overexuberant. Their energy oozes
out around the edges. As is frequently the case in treating children,
we gave Sherrie a single dose of the medicine and asked her to
return in five weeks.
When we saw her again, she was very
happy with her progress. She had informed her psychiatrist that
she wanted to discontinue the Ritalin before taking the homeopathic
medicine. When she came for her followup visit, Sherrie found
our parking lot without directions, something she could normally
do only with the help of Ritalin. Her grades were better, in contrast
to her previous efforts to discontinue Ritalin, when her grades
plummeted to all F's.
Her parents also reported that Sherrie's
behavior had drastically improved. She no longer stared blankly.
Her friends told her that she "wasn't as crazy" as she
used to be. No longer antsy, she felt a lot more controlled. The
urge to poke, hug, and pull at other people had stopped plaguing
her. Sherrie's leg no longer moved restlessly, nor was she clicking
her nails against her teeth. Sherrie remarked that she was not
as depressed as she had been, although she had not actually described
herself that way previously.