Question for Dopers with Adult Attn. Defic...Hey! I STILL LOVE THE 80S AGAIN is on!

A friend who is a clinical psychologist (but who is not my psychologist) has stated many many times that she believes I have “the worst case of Adult ADD I’ve ever seen” and has strongly urged me to get treatment/medication. I’m torn, because on one hand I definitely have most of the symptoms (except that I’ve never been a discipline problem- hyperactive, yes, but when **my **mother said “Stop it!”, you stopped- if you weren’t doing anything, you started something just so you could stop it). OTOH, I largely believe that ADD (adult or otherwise) is a crock and this decade’s “it’s not my fault” pop-psych fashion accessory (but I could be wrong [and if I am it’s not my fault]).

So I’m curious: has anybody here been diagnosed with adult ADD and most importantly, did you notice any significant changes, positive or negative, after taking medication for it? (Basically, I want to be more organized and in control of my creativity, but my fear with medicine is that I’ll be more organized but the creativity will go away.)

I was diagnosed with ADD when I was fifteen. I took meds for a couple months and didn’t really feel any different. I stopped taking my meds (against the wishes of every adult I knew) and got on with life. I certainly have most of the signs and symptoms of ADD, at least as they are presented in the books written on the subject for the mass consumer. However, between my not neatly matching the criteria set forth in the DSM-IV-R*and some doubts I have about the competency of the physicians who originally assessed me, I’m not sure if my diagnosis was a good one.

In any case, looking back, I do see a decline in my creative output after I started taking meds, but that could be due to many, many other factors (life was very much not good for me at the time). It would be wrong to attribute my artistic slowdown solely to the medication I was taking.

Whether my diagnosis was sound or not, I’ve come to be perfectly happy with being somewhat scatter-brained, and have come up with my own unique ways of organizing my life. As far as distractability goes, psychiatrists say that Ring Wraiths could probably defeat Darth Maul, though it would be extremely difficult to stay on task. :slight_smile: The only places ADD really has caused me difficulty, assuming I really have it, is back in Army Basic Training and AIT (Attention To Detail, Private, Attention To Detail!) and now in some of my math heavy classes at college. That, and I frequently find myself in a mad rush to get things done at the last minute (but I do get them done).

Advice? Since ADD, however over-diagnosed, is a very real illness that causes millions of people very real problems, you might as well go see a psychologist and get treatment if you decide it is appropriate. The treatment need not include drugs. But if you do end up taking drugs, and you don’t like the way they affect you, well, you can always stop and be no worse off than you are now, right? Assuming, of course, that seeing a psychologist and getting tested won’t create too much of a burden on you financially.

Good luck!

Or is it DMS-IV-R . . . I always get those confused. In any case, it is the Diagnostic Manual of Statistics IV Revised, which is the psychologist’s book full of psychological conditions and their symptoms and stuff.

I tend to agree that adult ADD is probably more of a crock than a real problem, like manic depression. But even so, medicinal treatment should be your last, absolute LAST course to take.

You sound like you have a good handle on things. If you aren’t bothered by ‘it’ and you can manage your life appropriately, then I’d say your psychologist friend has the ‘problem’ and not you.

You do mention wanting to be “more organized” and in control of your creativity. Who doesn’t?
Those seem to be things that can be helped most by a behavioral therapy approach.

Today’s mental health care system is geared to throw pills at you, no matter how inappropriate they may be for your specific problem. Get a thorough differential diagnosis before taking ANY pill.

My now-9-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago, with some symptoms of Asperger’s as well. In an unrelated medical setting, a child psych discussed with me some ideas I wasn’t aware of. He said that ADHD/ADD, strictly speaking, doesn’t exist as a discreet condition. Rather, he said, such behavior is the result of underlying emotions and reactions such as anxiety, fear and depression.

There has been evidence for sometime that parts of the brain associated with impulse control are understimulated, hence stimulant/amphetamine therapy that helps a person get better control of themselves. He went on to say that some college students push for a diagnosis of ADD, because they know that these drugs will help them focus and concentrate. ADHD/ADD drugs have pretty much the same effect on “normal” versus ADHD/ADD people. That said, you might want to explore other aspects of your behavior that could be interpreted as ADD to see if there isn’t something else there instead.

I was at first opposed to my son taking medications, but it has made life manageable for him as well as for us. With medication, he is able to do things that he wants to do, and not get as angry or frustrated over not being able to complete or see how to complete something he wants to do. As he matures, he may “grow out” of some of his behaviors, or the root cause may emerge. But, given what I’ve seen from him, he will always have to struggle with impulsivity. Medications do work, but the trick is to find one that really helps you, as opposed to making you feel a little different.


Since the friend isn’t YOUR psychologist, don’t take what they say as gospel, but could it hurt to check into it? I’m a 20-year-old with ADD and it’s had immense consequences on my life, and it’s sure to have them for awhile. It never came to light until college because I have the non-hyperactive variety, and I was smart enough to get through high school despite the disease.

Adults most certainly can and do have ADD - it doesn’t magically go away when you turn 18, and even if you’ve probably learned to compensate for it in a lot of ways, you may find yourself able to be more successful with treatment (medication or therapy, or both.) The notion that it’s nothing but an excuse is bizarre - I would instantly be rid of it if I could; it’s not a matter of being unwilling to concentrate but being unable. In my case, I realized something was wrong when it had gotten so severe that I couldn’t sit through a movie - I love movies. Drugs, for me, have been helpful to a great extent - but they aren’t everything. Strategies for coping are also helpful - and my therapist (not a psychologist per se) is wonderful at offering nuts-and-bolts suggestions for managing.

If you’re functioning well - if you’re able to perform at work and maintain your life the way you want - then it’s probably not a major concern. There ARE side effects to the drugs (but the loss of creativity is not one of them, normally - how creative can you be if you can’t even keep your attention going long enough to finish something?) If you feel reasonably in control of your life and able to accomplish what you wish, than don’t worry about it. If you think you might need help, then see a frickin’ psychologist already.

I’m a 45 y.o. male who was tested for AD/HD this past summer and found that I did, indeed have it.

As others have suggested, get tested for it. Look into your family history, too, as there are genetic and biological factors that associated with it. In my case, my father and younger brother have it, too and it’s passed along the male line.

As for treatment, drugs are one part, but there are other factors, too, such as diet and learning to organize one’s life and sticking to that schedule. In my experience, the “lifestyles” aspect of it is just as important as the drug therapy. Also remember that any treatment will take time, there’s no miracle cure for this.

With my experience, simply organizing my life and that I was having problems keeping organized was half the battle. Learning that my best, creative moments are in the morning and early afternoon and not at night, helped immensely! I’m a grad student at Cal. State Northridge and learning when to do my studying and writing was incredibly helpful.
Good luck!

I have ADD. There is a real, physical difference in brain function. That said, if you aren’t living on the street, and you are able to take care of your own needs, IMHO, you don’t need medication.
I gravitated to a profession that made my “disorder” and asset. I’ve worked in critical care for 30 years. I can do 16 at once and hear 3 conversations. I don’t appear to be organized, but I am. I simply organize differently than my coworkers.
We do seem to be more creative, partly because our thought process’ are different than other people’s. We aren’t broken, just special! Perhaps we are the “limited edition, luxury model” :slight_smile:

Bear in mind that you don’t need to be hyperactive to have ADD–there’s a form known as “primarily inattentive type”.

I’m not currently taking any medication, but I’ve tried a couple of different types: Concerta (similar to Ritalin) and Strattera. Both made improvements such as:

[li]Improving my ability to control distractability (“yes, I know I want to stop working and surf the web for a while, but I’m not going to–I have to finish this task”)[/li][li]Improving my ability to track and manage tasks[/li][li]Improving my ability to control impulsivity (e.g., rather than just impulse-buying, I’d stop and think whether I really needed the item)[/li][/ul]

However, each also had side effects that I wasn’t too keen on. The Concerta kept me awake (it is a stimulant, after all), and the Strattera had several side effects–for example, it tended to make me a little foggy and (this was really gross) made me sweat a LOT.

If you’re genuinely concerned about ADD, you should (a) see a psychiatrist and (b) do a bunch more reading on your own–there are a number of ADD-oriented web sites out there, and there are several decent books that you could look at. A good accessible one is “Driven to Distraction” by Hallowell. But if you’re functioning well, IMO medicine probably isn’t worth it <insert appropriate disclaimers here>, though you might want to look into something like coaching to learn more coping skills.