View Full Version : Focalin tips? Sorry, lengthy...

06-02-11, 08:32 AM
I will apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this!

I'm on month 3 of taking Focalin XR, having started at 10 mg for 30 days, then 20 mg for 28 days (I saved 2 just in case the 30 mg was too much), and now 30 mg. I have been taking the 30 mg now for a week. I do take a 10 mg IR in the afternoons. On my days off, Friday and Saturday, I usually don't take the IR dose, because I generally take the XR dose later than on my work days since I sleep in those days (if one can call sleeping until around 7 sleeping in-but compared to 3:30, I do).

One would think that after 2-1/2 months or so I'd have it figured out what works for taking it, i.e., taking it on an empty stomach, taking it with food, if taking it with food, what foods help and/or hurt the absorption, etc., but I really haven't. Honestly, there are days I wonder if it even does anything other than wake me up, and then make me sleepy when it wears off.

I know that on some levels it does work for me. I have seen some improvement in my focus, mostly in being able to redirect myself away from my tangents back to what I'm supposed to be doing such as redirecting myself from one of a handful of websites back to work-most of the time. It's still not where I need it to be the majority of the time, but there has been improvement. I feel somewhat more motivated, though haven't been able to turn that motivation into much action. My husband said that I seem to be much better all around than I was when things blew up for me 2 years ago and my medication adventure started.

Two years ago I was an absolute mess. In the past 2 years I've been on Wellbutrin, which I took for a little over a year before adding Strattera, which was evil. I switched pdocs and switched from Strattera to Vyvanse, and after 2 months on Vyvanse weaned off of Wellbutrin, then switched from Vyvanse after 3 months to Focalin XR. Vyvanse was a major, major improvement from Strattera, but I seemed to have worse focus and was frequently jittery. I did lose about 10 pounds on Vyvanse, which I gained back practically immediately after starting Focalin. That sucked, but I don't blame the Focalin for that issue, that was more of excessive stress, no exercise, messed up sleep, and very poor eating habits.

This whole trial and error process is just so frustrating and stressful in itself. Is this working for me? Honestly, I don't know. I don't really feel it kick in, but I can tell when it's wearing off because I get so tired and it's harder for me to focus on much of anything. I would greatly appreciate any tips that anyone may have for taking the Focalin. Do you find it works better with or without food? I know that I need to incorporate more exercise into my life. I know I need to eat better, but I have made improvements there. I do try to take Focalin after I've been up for a little while, as I don't want it to just be waking me up and nothing else, but I haven't really noticed a difference if I eat when I take it or if I wait to eat. I really want and need to make this work for me. Any suggestions, recommendations, ideas? Thanks!!

06-02-11, 09:05 AM
It sounds like that family of drugs works for you. Sometimes people prefer to take multiple ir doses throughout the day rather than an xr pill because it can effect you much quicker but this may not be for you. I got really depressed when ritilin wore off so I switched to dex but I was really laid back. Dr switched me to adderal and it seems a little better so you could consider that too. Hope this helps!

06-02-11, 09:25 AM
Thanks! I've wondered if multiple IR doses would be better, or if I should take the IR dose first thing, then save the XR dose for late morning. I haven't tried that though. I've also wondered if a switch would be best, but pdoc wants me to continue on this for now. I will check in with her to report on how the increase is going next week when I go for my counseling appointment, so we'll see then what she says I guess. Vyvanse was definitely smoother, but this does seem to help my focus a little bit better, though not much.

Tricky Chicken
06-02-11, 12:41 PM
I am going to try to respond even though I haven't taken my first dose of Focalin yet.

I was initially put on Ritalin, but I almost immediately changed doctors for insurance purposes. The Ritalin only lasts me about 2.5 hours per IR dose. My new doc focuses more on meds than therapy and said that I should be on Focalin instead. He predicts that I should get another hour or more of effect on Focalin IR and at least most of the day on the XR. He gave me prescriptions for both the IR and XR versions of Focalin. My appointment was on Tuesday and I haven't had a chance to fill the prescriptions yet.

To answer your question, he told me to take the pills about a half an hour before I eat. But If I have to eat first, that I should avoid fatty foods since they will interfere with the absorption of the drug. I am to start with the IR and see how it works compared to the Ritalin. Then I am to try the XR to see how that works. I will come back here in a few weeks and let you know how it all turns out.

When the Ritalin is working, I don't notice as such, I just don't notice as many distractions. The doctor seems to think that the non active isomer in the Ritalin may interfere with the effectiveness and result in my shorter than desired result. Since Focalin is only the active isomer I may see more benefit.

My doctor also said that while titrating the dose there will be three phases.

1. The first phase I should see an increasing level of effectiveness.
2. The second phase should be a plateau where there is no additional benefit to an increased dose. this is where we should stop and go back to the last dose with a beneficial effect.
3. The third phase should result in increases in dose starting to result in unwanted side effects (I didn't ask what they were).

So, since you don't feel it kick in, I think that may be normal and beneficial. If it is like on Ritalin. Your dose is higher than my target is currently, but my doctor will evaluate that for me again in a month. You may not be finished titrating up, but your doctor should have an idea how far up you may go.

Good luck. From what I understand, geting your meds right is one of the hardest steps.

06-02-11, 12:53 PM
Thanks for your response! I think I need to start doing a log of sorts with how I feel to see if that helps me pinpoint things better. I did do that a bit on Vyvanse, but didn't keep up with it, and haven't done it at all with Focalin. I do notice a difference if I don't take anything, as I was very, very late on taking my XR dose one day a couple of weeks ago and it was obvious, to me at least, that I hadn't taken it because I couldn't get my thoughts organized right, among other signs. I think Focalin has upped my anxiety a bit, but not enough to worry about at this point. I think that I switched meds at a bad time, and that didn't help things any. I had too many other issues to deal with so I wasn't able to pay attention to me and my reactions/feelings/whatever as much as I should have maybe. Things are a bit calmer/slower for me now so I may be overfocusing on the med aspect of things.

Tricky Chicken
06-02-11, 01:30 PM
When I started Ritalin, I began by writing down the time of my dose and then writing down the time when I "noticed" that I was no longer paying attention to what I wanted to pay attention to. Since I can't be sure that I wasn't following distractions before I would notice, I can't be exact on the time that I would lose effectiveness.

It is sort of like when aspirin cures a headache. I don't notice the headache going away, I only notice later that it is gone. (only here in the reverse)

I have to keep a daily planner to organize my tasks and appointments throughout the day. I write the time of my dose in the margin, and beneath it the time I find myself screwing off. This also helps me track whether or not I've taken my meds.

I'm hoping that when I start the Focalin IR that the second time will be at about the same time as the next dose or not at all. I'm hoping that the XR will let me get through the whole work day.

Right now, I'm avoiding work I don't want to do. This is not the same as being distracted involuntarily. I have to becareful with myself when it comes to making these distinctions in my head. Motivation is very different for me than distraction.

06-02-11, 03:51 PM
You're right, motivation is definitely different than distraction.

I think keeping a log may be a really good idea. I will give it a shot and see if that helps me recognize things better, whether the med is working, or if I just need to go see the pdoc again and maybe try something else, or back down on this, or whatever she may suggest I suppose.

07-05-11, 08:05 AM
I go see my counselor this week and will be checking in with my pdoc at the same time. I've taken the past 2 days off of all med to try and gauge how things are going. So far the one thing that stands out to me is that I'm exhausted and can't seem to get enough sleep. The first day I just felt tired, but yesterday, yikes, I was like a zombie all day, just so tired and ended up napping twice plus going to bed early and still feel today like I could sleep another 5-6 hours. I haven't felt like doing anything at all, have very little focus. I did some work for my old boss, just a little vacation coverage work, and it was only through sheer force of will that I got the work done and turned in on time. I put it off as long as I possibly could, which was just ridiculous. I've really accomplished nothing in the past few days, which is very frustrating. I'm taking that as a sign that the Focalin has been working, but I'm going to stay off of it today as another test and see how today goes. So far, I'm just tired and would much rather go back to bed than try and work.

07-06-11, 07:45 PM
Man, focaln is potent. I was totally wrong it just takes some getting used too.

Tricky Chicken
07-08-11, 04:32 PM
Ok, it's been over a month. Here is my totally subjective evaluation.

Both Focalin IR and XR performed remarkably better for me than Ritalin. Both versions did not make me feel as agitated too.

Two weeks on IR and I was in control for longer. I was prety much taking the second dose before I noticed the first had worn off. The effect seemed predictable and consistent.

I followed that with two weeks on the XR. I got comprable benefits in the morning, but as the day wore on experienced steadily decreasing benefit.

I returned to my doc for a followup and we went with IR twice daily with an optional third dose on long days.

The IR is more flexible for me with the ability to dose myself to coincide with tasking. The main attraction for the XR would be that only one pill is needed. However for me, I don't seem to have a problem remembering to take my meds.

A further indication of the benefit of Focalin, was that I hadn't noticed that I hadn't posted here the whole month. I was more focused on what I need to be doing. Now I can 'make' time for this forum instead of letting it disrtact me.

I hope this helps.

Love you all

07-08-11, 10:45 PM
Yeah it helps ir is better I completely agree.

07-11-11, 07:59 AM
I did 3 days with no meds at all, then tried a 20 mg XR, with no IR in the afternoon, and then the next day back up to the 30 mg XR. I think the 30 mg is too much all around. I have an appt with my pdoc later this week, as she was out of the office when I saw my therapist last week. I'm testing out just taking the IR and not the XR, and it does seem to be a bit better than the XR with the IR boost. I don't quite know what I want to do at this point, whether see if we can try something different, try the IR alone for a bit, or just stop all meds and see if I can manage without for a while. I do think the XR cranks up my anxiety more. I'm going to try a few days of just the IR and see if that helps any so I have something to take to the pdoc this week to work with. Yesterday with just IR did seem a little smoother I think. Of course the XR and IR doses are slightly different, which may also be making a difference. I just hate feeling like a lab rat, try this, try that, etc. One of these days I'll get it right...I hope :)

07-18-11, 08:28 AM
Well, no more Focalin IR or XR for me. On to Adderall IR now. At least it's cheaper :)

07-18-11, 09:37 AM
focalin made me anxious , just felt so much. I guess it just released too much too fast or something. The coming and going just didnt' work out. Anyways , see ya focalin, it's always been that way with focalin and I don't think it lasts any longer than regular ritalin at all. The studies out there state that there is no demonstrated difference in efficacy of duration of effect when comparing focalin to ritalin either . In fact the medical book states its just a marketing slant and they say that regular ritalin is preferred and cheaper. Just like celexa is to lexapro. In fact I feel both ritalin and celexa are far better than the the newest versions.

07-18-11, 10:00 AM
The increase in anxiety was a big contributing factor to switching. I'm really hoping Adderall works better, but we'll see. So far the only difference I've noticed is dry mouth and decreased appetite. Decreased appetite is definitely not something I'll complain about! I had lost close to 10 pounds on Vyvanse, then gained it all back on Focalin, so we'll see what Adderall does for me in that department. Sure wouldn't hurt to lose some. Today is my first day of trying to work while taking the Adderall, and over the weekend I only took 1 per day instead of the 3 prescribed, but I was definitely more relaxed all weekend. I don't know if that was the Adderall or if it was having my best friend in town and getting to spend time with her and having an extra day off in the mix. I tend to think it was the time off and visit from my friend that did the trick there ;)

07-19-11, 10:49 AM
Well, good luck on adderall. It's worth exploring and I may even try it again sometime in the future. I will tell you this concerta in larger more even doses doesn't even touch the strange feeling with focalin. Focalin really made me anxious like crazy, and I'm sure wellbutrin I was taking it a few weeks ago just made the focalin even worse. I may go back with wellbutrin eventually, with my stims I just don't know. I'd probably be better off with celexa and concerta and or adderall. Focalin didn't help me focus like regular ritalin does either. Overall it was just up and down on focalin.