I'm an adult who was a difficult child. Medicated with Prozac at 5 yo for ODD/anxiety. My experience and advice. AMA.


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Hi all, I wanted to share my own experiences as a formerly difficult child with the hope that my perspective may help others through their parenting challenges. I'm 32 now and overall happy and healthy but growing up I was a horrific nightmare to deal with. From a very young age I had little to no control over my emotions and actions and was incredibly destructive. I had massive tantrums and would regularly enter into extreme angry rages where I would hit people and things with absolutely no regard for my surroundings. I recall smashing valuable household objects, hitting my parents, urinating on the floor and I distinctly recall being unable to control myself - I would want to create chaos and I actually could not stop it. I actually hated the feeling but it overwhelmed me.

When I was 5 I was taken to a psychiatrist where I was diagnosed with ODD and anxiety. I was prescribed Prozac and while my parents were somewhat resistant, they were out of other options. The Prozac worked incredibly well and gave me back control of my life and emotions. I remained on Prozac until I was an adult and weaned off under the supervision of a doctor. I now have the coping tools required to manage things and do well of medication, but growing up I don't think I would have survived without the Prozac. I did take fairly significant dosages (60mg by age 12) but it was required. Every time we tried to lower the Prozac, my horrible behavior came back. I did not have significant side effects as a child and suffer no long term side effects now.

I am glad I was treated properly and one key piece of advice I would have for parents is that medication can be essential. Early intervention and proper medication allowed me to live a normal life. I do wish my parents did a better job getting me access to therapy and I wish we were better at talking about emotions in my family. I would encourage anyone with a difficult child to try to do your best to understand the way they are feeling and provide emotional support. Simply encouraging your child to speak about the way they are feeling is a good idea. My parents essentially just relied on the Prozac and it worked, but as a result of the way they raised me, I do still have some emotional difficulties that require therapy.

Please feel free to ask my anything - I'm happy to answer any questions!


Hello and thank you so much for sharing your story! It surely must give the parents of difficult children hope that their child is not necessarily destined for a fraught, peaceless existence. As a lower elementary teacher, this helps me on a professional level also. It is always a major stressor for me........worrying about how my 'difficult kids' are going to make it in the world, beating myself up because I don't know how to help them.

My own stepson was the prince of tantrums until around age 5. He was always very sensitive but bloomed into a boisterous, happy little boy. Everything seemed fine on the surface and then he got into some pretty significant marijuana use in his mid to late teens and ended up with a mental illness diagnosis.

I am so glad that your parents were proactive in finding you help. It sounds as though, thankfully, they hit on the right treatment for you pretty early on. Sometimes parents, like many on this forum, try everything known to man to try and help their kids and find that either nothing works, or that they can't find the right help. I am so so glad to hear a success story!

God bless xxx


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Mirabelle, I am glad to hear my story offered some positivity and hope. I think you highlighted something which was pretty crucial to my long-term success which was early intervention and proactive treatment from the right experts. I do think that in my case if I wasn't properly medicated at a young age things could have spiraled out of control to the point of no return. A key part in this, which I think I can be very challenging for many parents is getting access to the resources who can help manage things. I was fortunate to see a highly specialized child psychiatrist which allowed proper diagnoses and medication management. I think many times difficult children don't have access to this and end up getting incorrect diagnoses or incorrect medications which just make things worse. You certainly sound like you do everything you can to help support your "difficult kids" but please remember there's only so much you can do!

I've also had a few people reach out to me privately regarding my experience with Prozac so I thought I'd elaborate on that a bit further. Obviously, none of this is medical advice and you should always follow the guidance of whoever is managing treatment. But I can certainly say that for me, it was a miracle medication and it turned me from a destructive and angry child into someone who excelled at school and socially. I know there are some who disagree with medications, particularly in heavier dosages (yes 60mg for a 12 year old is a lot) but for me I think it was necessary and the benefits outweighed the risks. Neither my parents nor the doctor necessarily wanted to rely on medication and it was regularly evaluated, however without an adequate amount of Prozac I would break into angry rages. I definitely needed this medication.

Also, regarding Prozac for ODD, it's actually shown to be very effective and is regularly used to reduce anger and aggression. I think many children with ODD can be misdiagnosed as ADHD when it is actually other issues such as anxiety or depression that are co-morbidities. Here are a couple of studies showing its efficacy for conduct disorder and in particular with reducing rage and aggression:

Treating Depression and Oppositional Behavior in Adolescents (take with a grain of salt maybe as one of the authors does have ties to the manufacturer of Prozac)

mindinggaps, thanks for sharing. Knowing what the positive possibilities are is actually helping me deal with the dread that my teen is coming back home after trying 18 months living with his birth family (at his request.)

My child is diagnosed with ADHD and we suspect he has ODD and has suffered trauma as a result of his original removal. We did hundreds of hours of therapy and his medications were a challenge. One of the last things that were tried was antidepressant and that seemed to help but not before he reached a point where he wanted out. Now he wants back.

From your experience, how did hormones play into any challenges as you were growing up and having to change the medication? Did you recognize the need for the medication and participate with the medical professionals in determining the right dosage?



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Notsureofagoodone, these are extremely good questions and I wish the best for you and your teen. Firstly, I'm not surprised to hear that he benefited from an antidepressant. It's not uncommon for children with ODD to be mis or exclusively diagnosed with ADHD when there is actually more going on. This more often tends to happen when the diagnosis is made by someone who isn't a specialist. These days SSRIs are very commonly used as a first line medication for ODD because they help with emotional regulation and anger reduction. I was fortunate to be diagnosed by a child psychiatrist specialist who helped manage my medication.

I had a complicated relationship with my medication and it took me some time to realize how essential it was for me to be medicated. I was started on a low dose of Prozac at age 5 and my dosage was periodically adjusted to account for growth until I was taking 20mg at age 8. During this time everything was completely under control and I was very compliant with my medication, but I also didn't really understand much about it except that I knew it stopped me from having excessive anger.

When I was around 11, hormones became a significant issue and some of my behavioral issues started to reemerge, including outbursts of rage. It was suggested that my Prozac should be increased and at this stage, I had a rebellion against medication. I refused to take any medications and despite my parents best efforts at getting me to take it, I simply would not. I was put into extensive therapy but without the Prozac things deteriorated very rapidly and I was breaking into anger outbursts nearly daily. As things spiraled out of control, the psychiatrist intervened and made it clear how important it was for me to take my medication - this was a first warning that had the necessary effect and I was ramped up to 40mg of Prozac to get things under control.

Unfortunately, I think a common issue that arises, particularly in ODD, is that unless someone is properly medicated, they may not realize how important the medication is. Once I was back on a heavier dose of Prozac, I began to understand the need for the medication and I took a more active role in determining how to manage it. Fortunately, I was able to recognize and feel when the Prozac was properly helping and when I needed more. When I was 12, I could feel anger rising but this time I reported the issue and quickly and happily increased my Prozac to 60mg where it remained for more than a decade.

So in short, managing medications around puberty is challenging and can require lots of adjustments. Ideally, you want to get to the point where your teen understands that they need medication so they will cooperate with medical professionals, but this can be challenging because often you need to be properly medicated in the first place to get to this point. Certainly, the doctors and my parents helped make it clear that me taking Prozac was non-negotiable - this was the right decision because when properly dosed, it prevented me from having rage episodes and I was compliant taking it.


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Thank you for sharing this!

I am glad to hear you are doing pretty well now!
Thank you Ascending. I hope my story shows that there can be positive outcomes. Overall things turned out quite okay - I went to University, hold a solid job, have a stable relationship and enjoy my life. I have also been doing relatively okay unmedicated for the past two years which for a long time was thought to be an impossibility as most health care practitioners expected I would need to remain on Prozac for life to manage things.