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What exactly do stimulatns do? (for ADHD)


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Will stimulants for ADHD change "me"? Or do they just allow me to focus better while still keeping my personality intact including creativity and excitability? Thanks!

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Will stimulants for ADHD change "me"? Or do they just allow me to focus better while still keeping my personality intact including creativity and excitability? Thanks!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, as always with this kind of stuff, your mileage may vary. Note that I have the inattentive rather than the hyperactive form. I find Adderall actually restored the emotional range that I seemed to have lost with Prozac, tho I admit it's hard to pick apart what was a matter of time and what was from the additional med. My feeling is that  mostly I'm just more able to act the way I always wanted to, as opposed to any significant personality change. Things I've noticed:

-TV's distract me less

-I was immediately better at walking on eggshells with s.o. who I was splitting up with. Managed to avoid arguments MUCH better. This was a very STRONG and noticable effect. I attribute it to an improved ability to pick up social cues.

-In such arguments as occured, which were usually more civilised, I was much more able to back up my side with accurately recollected information which came up much more easily. I used to say that just because I couldn't argue well, didn't mean I was wrong. After Adderall, she conceded that this wasn't just bunk.

-It's easier for me to clean. Sometimes I just feel like doing it.

-I misplace things less

-At times, I seem to be able to generate a little bit of charisma. I noticed this while looking for roomates. I attribute this to improvements in picking up social cues as well.

-I often pay more attention to my appearance, but I'm more inclined to attribute this to Prozac.

-sometimes when I've tried to read poetry, I've noticed an increased intensity and improved focus. A couple of times I've written like this too.

Anyway, the above should give you some idea. I don't think these things constitute all that much change to my identity, tho I'm not as attached to being a curmudgeon as I used to be. Expect to have some interesting experiences when getting used to any crazymed.

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Will stimulants for ADHD change "me"? Or do they just allow me to focus better while still keeping my personality intact including creativity and excitability? Thanks!

I take Adderall to augment the anti-depressants I take, and although I definitely can feel the effect, it doesn't change my personality or my basic sense of being me at all.  It helps lift the brain fog that happens with depression where you just don't give a shit about anything and have to rest after brushing your teeth because it's exhausting and overwhelming.  If anything, it has restored my sense of the old "me".  But that's with depression, not ADHD, and as Ido points out, your mileage may very. 

The best starting place to start to find out what stimulants do is on the Crazy Meds website, which has lots of information, and will repeatedly state that no one that put the site together has any formal medical training.  The site also has lots of links to other sites, many of which do have verifiable medical credentials, and also recommends that you consult with your doctor.

It seemed counterintuitive to me that the drugs prescribed for ADHD and ADD are stimulants, because why would you want to further stimulate someone who was already easily distracted?  However, my very basic, non-technical understanding of how it works is that in ADHD/ADD two areas of the brain aren't running at full speed, and if looked at with a PET scan will show very low activity.  Those two areas control the ability to stay focused, concentrate for long periods, and in general do all the things that are difficult with ADHD/ADD.  Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin stimulate those two areas of the brain and get their functioning level up to normal, so that the entire brain is working along at the correct speed. 

Obviously I have no medical training!!!

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Thank you both! I did read through the med information on this site and have checked out a bunch of other sites. While I found a lot of info about the meds and their side effects I wasn't sure quite what they would feel like. Thanks!

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Forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but I just wanted to make sure you know besides this set of forums, there is a site CrazyMeds that is strictly info without the forums, which is the sister site to this one, and the one I was referring to in my earlier post.  (But maybe not clearly!)  There's also a link to it at the top left corner of the forum page.  Good luck with your meds!

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  • 3 weeks later...

-I was immediately better at walking on eggshells with s.o. who I was splitting up with. Managed to avoid arguments MUCH better. This was a very STRONG and noticable effect. I attribute it to an improved ability to pick up social cues.

-In such arguments as occured, which were usually more civilised, I was much more able to back up my side with accurately recollected information which came up much more easily. I used to say that just because I couldn't argue well, didn't mean I was wrong. After Adderall, she conceded that this wasn't just bunk.

I completely understand the social cues part of that. I have been absolutely trying to rack my brain to figure out why i'm so atrociously stupid with things like that. Especially the SO things you mentioned.

Do you think Straterra would provide the same sort of help that stimulants do?

- Jatango

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Concerta (stimulant) made me much more focused. Hyperfocused. Overnegative. Lost job. Girlfriend moved out. Started complusively smoking after 4 years of not, drinking after 3 years not. Became suicidal. 3 times came close to attempts. Eventually discontinued drug, and months later learned that stimulants given to over-attentive ADD can induce chronic negative thinking and are linked to suicidal behavior.

Strattera made me incredibly boring, and sleep too much. No other noticeable effects. Discontinued after 10 days so as to not be so boring.

Mileage does indeed vary. Oddly (I know some of the reasons why and presume they don't apply to most people), clonazepam, in addition to dealing with my anxiety issues, seems to have a huge beneficial impact on my ADD. Everything seems calmer and quieter and slower, and I tend to organize activities, pick things up, go about my business, etc. Whether this is because I have so-called "ring of fire" ADD, various other mental problems masquerading as ADD, or there is no such thing as ADD and we're all just variants on a continuum, I do not know.

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There are many flavors of ADD. Over-attentive is characterized by difficulty in *switching* attention, which leads to hyperfocusing more than spaciness, and a sort of distractibility where you engage with everything around you equally.

According to Dr. Amen, who's a pioneer in mental health research and has written a lot about ADD and other disorders. He uses SPECT scans with his patients to coordinate traditional assessments with images of the brain, and he has identified 6 major sub-types of ADD, which have differing responses to different types of treatment.

By the powers vested in me, I pardon your ignorance.

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Guest shiggadams

I second that notion on Dr. Amen's work.

One book in particular, "Healing ADD," to me, is valuable to anyone with depression, ADD, anxiety or a mood disorder. Dr. Amen effectively recommends how to treat each problem, even though he classifies them subtypes of ADD. For example, "Ring of Fire" ADD is quite similar to Bipolar Disorder, and while patients did benefit from an anticonvulsant along with a stimulant, Amen suggests that an anticonvulsant alone treats this type of ADD, mentioning how the stimulants can make this type worse (which would be like triggering a mania, if you will, or making mood stabilization worse).

Most interesting to me are the details he gets into with particular medicines. He is probably the only author I have come across in the field of medicine who seems to treat these conditions from the inside out, if you, starting strictly with the pills and giving you all of his clinical experiences. For example, he mentions that people with temporal lobe problems benefit from anti-seziure medications (the anticonvulsants); then he cites specific symptoms of people who might be suffering from temporal lobe problems -- like being able to enjoy music, reading difficulties, preoccupation with religion or rituals (one six year old boy was so consumed with all the people he thought that were going to hell that he made himself physically ill...his SPECT scan revealed a temporal lobe problem). These type of examples, though not the religous one for me in particular, lead me to believe my type of depression could be temporal lobe related. Since starting Lamital, an anticonvulsant, I've been literally singing in the shower, enjoying new types of music I almost once detested, reading more and reading faster, and writing more clearly. It doesn't mean Lamictal is the miracle drug for everyone, but I certainly do believe that I previously had a temporal lobe issue and needed to address it with one of the anticonvulsants.

The Amen angle gets two thumbs up from me. My p-doc is one of his colleagues; upon my first visit, he had me take the ADD evaluation on paper and I left on my FIRST visit with a presciption for Adderall. I was a slam-dunk for Inattentive Type ADD. Adderall has ben a god-send. Later, we discovered that my depression was better served by Lamictal instead of Zoloft. I never even had a SPECT scan, but I think Dr. Amen's theories are so on the mark that I probably skipped months, even years, trying to find the "right" medications because I studied up on all of the symptoms and effectively matched what was going on with me with the Doctor.

I recommend reading the book "Healing ADD" to everyone on this board

Cheers

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This thread is kind of close to something I wanted to post...

I'm always intrigued by the whole "will it change me" question.  On a similar thread (I've asked this about lamictal too), has anyone noticed anything with the stimulants altering creativity?  As a writer, my mind is always cycling through plots and images.  Probably a stimulant would only increase that, but I live in terror of it going away b/c of meds.  So I'm curious if those creative types out there have found stimulants to truly help with focusing and productivity, or do they change your creativity...?

Hope this makes sense!

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  • 4 weeks later...

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