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How do you know if you need an ADD drug?


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Hi. I am a 43 year old female. As a child, I had difficulty focusing in school, and basically made it through by:

a) my parents having me repeat kindergarten to help me "grow out" of my attention problems

b) the fact that i went to a very small private school, max class size 18

and

c) i have a visual memory and basically memorized notes before tests and exams and forgot them afterwards.

I never loved reading, because I would find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again while my mind wandered. My mind would wander in classes while the teacher was talking unless it was something I was truly interested in.

Today, my friends (and husband) get frustrated because they say I often "tune them out" while they are talking to me and then I can't remember things they told me. And they are correct. I often interrupt people in conversations, because my own mind has thought of something to say and I don't wait my turn to say it because I know I'll forget it! This is a habit that I know is rude and It was actually one of my New Year resolutions to break it. Long winded talkers unnerve me - I just want them to stop sometimes! As I listen to them go on and on I get so agitated.

External noise and chaos bothers me greatly---the phone ringing, a loud muffler on a car or truck rumbling outside, dogs barking incessantly, kids traipsing through the house - all make me want to scream sometimes. As you can imagine, this made raising 3 children very hard, so I was put on antidepressant meds. I have been on them for 12 years switching from Zoloft to Celexa to Pristiq. They did help and continue to help, but now that my kids are growing up (ages 15, 12 and 9) I have more time and more peace, right?

You would think I would be really on top of things now, but I'm not. There are stacks of projects staring me in the face each day and I just can't get started on them. Every time I see things I need to do I feel unhappy but I just can't bring myself to dive in and start. I started making lists and that helped a bit. I was able to cross things off my short term to-do lists like drycleaners, bank, etc., but the long term one remains unchanged. There are things that I've had on my to-do list (simple things like getting dentist appointments for the kids) that I have not done for months. I put off projects - I'm not motivated. I'm unhappy to see these things continue to be put off when I know I have the time to do them.

So...an ADD friend of mine just switched from Concerta to 70 mg Vyvanse. She had to stop taking it because it made her so jumpy and her heart was racing. She had nearly a full bottle of pills, so I asked her if I could try it. I had always wondered what it would do and if it could help.

I made sure it was a day that I didn't have anything important to do, so that if I reacted negatively I could just stay home and wait it out. I expected to become superwoman on speed, knocking out projects at lightning pace and then tackling crazy new ones. I expected racing heart, incessive talking, and no appetite.

On the contrary, I found my self very focused and calm and relaxed. I was not overwhelmed or reluctant to start projects and could complete them. Things I had procrastinated on I got done. Exterior factors did not upset me. The phone ringing when I was in the middle of something didn't make me want to yell "leave me alone!" like it always had before. When I talked with people that afternoon I found myself looking them in the eye and REALLY LISTENING to what they were saying. My heart did not race, my stomach still growled. For the first time in about 3 months I did not have the uncontrollable urge to lie down for an hourlong nap in the afternoon. I became adventurous with cooking weeknight dinner and tried 2 new fairly complicated recipes instead of my standard rotation of simple 3 ingredient recipes. I was actually able to talk with my husband after dinner that night instead of getting on my pajamas and retreating to the couch to veg in front of the TV.

So...my big question is: Does all of the above mean that this drug can help me? If a "normal" person took Vyvanse, would they have the same reaction of calmness, or would they be over hyper and jumping out of their skin like I expected to be? I know these drugs are addictive. I know my friend and I broke the law. I've searched message boards for an answer to my question. Please speak up, y'all!

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I think you should talk to your doctor about it. If it is ADD, it's better to treat than to suffer in silence. I think it makes life just that much harder.

That said, I have all the same symptoms as you: procrastination, mind wandering, can't read. I also don't pay close attention to my appearance. The procrastination is what is killing me. I procrastinate paying bills, not because I don't have the money, but because ... I don't know why. So I'm very glad you asked this question. If you hadn't, I would have. I'll be interested to see the responses you receive.

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I know my friend and I broke the law.

I'll let others with more experience answer your questions..

Just want to remind you that this forum can be viewed by anyone and we don't approve of sharing meds. This isn't a lecture... just an FYI. The less information you share regarding illegal activity the better.

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I thinkCetkat makes a good point. And I think since this drug has addictive properties the sooner you stop and return the bottle the better.

Ok, heres a thought and this is from a non doctor so its just my 2 cents worth. Have you sat down and really spelled out these issues with your tdoc or pdoc or GP? If you took the post you wrote and were specific about the problems you experience and what you hope for as a medical solution I think you would get a better diagnosis and maybe some kind of different approach to your treatment. I'm not saying the doctor(s) will give you a script for Vyvanse although they might - but I do think they would be better informed and better able to help you.

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If you don't have a history of addiction to stimulants then your doctor will most likely assess your concerns and give you a script. If you are afraid of the stigma, try strattera (non-stimulant) first. Talk with your doctor. If he doesn't listen to you, then find help elsewhere.

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No one can diagnose you here, but I can say that your symptoms sound like ADHD. Also non-ADHD people usually get a hyped buzz from taking a stim. ADHD people tend to be calmed and more focused. Of course, this is dose dependent.

ADHD meds are very low dose stims. They aren't likely to become an addiction issue for people with ADHD partly because instead of giving a buzz they treat a medical issue. Some docs won't prescribe to those with prior drug abuse issues, others will. Anyway, you need to get the diagnosis and treating doc to do this right.

As others have said, talk to your doc. If she isn't comfortable diagnosing and/or prescribing, ask for a referral to a doc who is. If she comes up blank, call some docs and psychiatrists on your insurance plan to see if any assess for ADHD or can recommend a center that does.

Oh, and stop taking your friend's pills. Prescription meds should be taken under the care of a doctor for a few reasons, all having to do with your overall health.

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So...my big question is: Does all of the above mean that this drug can help me? If a "normal" person took Vyvanse, would they have the same reaction of calmness, or would they be over hyper and jumping out of their skin like I expected to be? I know these drugs are addictive. I know my friend and I broke the law. I've searched message boards for an answer to my question. Please speak up, y'all!

Some critics of the idea of ADHD potentially not being diagnosed until adulthood do claim that a small dose of a stimulant medication will help anyone concentrate better, function more rationally, etc. So ... maybe a "normal" person would have a similar reaction to a low dose of Adderall or Vyvanse as you've described, but I'm not putting any money on it. These meds are not known to be kind to people with anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, purple people eater disorders, cardiac problems, and are you still paying attention?

From your description of events, I'd recommend talking to your friend's doctor or a colleague he/she can recommend to evaluate you for ADHD and possibly related learning disorders. You may want to consider having your children evaluated as well, because ADHD may have a genetic component to it. If it turns out that your MI history (and reaction to stimulant meds - it's not that uncommon for a parent to have an "Oh shit." moment after trying one of the kids' meds) does point to ADHD, then there is a good chance that a stimulant med and/or one of the "activating" antidepressants may work out well for you.

There are also more and more materials, and some types of therapy, that can be very helpful to you once you can get a firm handle on what may be ailing you. So, we really can't stress seeing a qualified doctor enough. ADD/ADHD is a real mental illness, and competent treatment (which doesn't always require max. stimulant dosages!) could make a world of difference in your life and your kids'.

FWIW, I don't actually take enough Adderall to push me to the point of constructively interacting with people, looking them in the eye, etc. The physical feel is too "speedy" and probably would push my blood pressure way too high even without the interactions with my physical caffeine addiction, antidepressant (you so do NOT want to have to deal with me when that's being jerked around), and so forth. There's also the matter of some of my work being almost impossible to do without some measure of hyperfocus. *shrug* Trade-offs.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Talk with your doc about whether you have ADD, not about meds. If your doc agrees, the subject of meds will come up. (unless your doc is unusual).

BTW, I find dexedrine much better than coffee. I don't get hooked in the same way, it doesn't make me feel hot, I don't get resistant to it and dependent on it the way I used to get with coffee. I don't get a splitting headache if I cut back or skip. I'll admit I might feel slow for a little while.

It was probably a bad idea to try your friends meds. I suspect if your friend is taking 70mg of Vyvanse, she was taking a fairly large dose of Concera. If I had been the one doing that, I might have ended up in the hospital. I tried Ritalin in some moderate dose which I forget now. Late in the day my pulse, normally in the 60's, went up to 140 or 150. Didn't feel good. You were lucky.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry but I only read half of this so yeah lol. The first part sounds a lot like me though. I found out at 17 though that I had ADD. I also have Bipolar II Disorder. I have taken both Concerta as well as Vyvanse (at different times of course). Vyvanse was ok but didn't help my memory all that much and I just felt that it was interfering with my creativity and as an art student (in an art college) I kinda need to be creative lol.

Concerta helped but at the time I wasn't on a mood stabilizer. It helped me focus and get my work done though (but I was also manic too). Let me tell you...I got EVERYTHING done though. I was cleaner and more organized and didn't have to force myself to stop procrastinating because I just went to work with I wanted to.

I'm in the process of trying new medications (so if I'm going off topic and not making much sense, that why :-/). But yeah, the medication can definitely help once you get on the right kind and accurate dose of it.

Hi. I am a 43 year old female. As a child, I had difficulty focusing in school, and basically made it through by:

a) my parents having me repeat kindergarten to help me "grow out" of my attention problems

b) the fact that i went to a very small private school, max class size 18

and

c) i have a visual memory and basically memorized notes before tests and exams and forgot them afterwards.

I never loved reading, because I would find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again while my mind wandered. My mind would wander in classes while the teacher was talking unless it was something I was truly interested in.

Today, my friends (and husband) get frustrated because they say I often "tune them out" while they are talking to me and then I can't remember things they told me. And they are correct. I often interrupt people in conversations, because my own mind has thought of something to say and I don't wait my turn to say it because I know I'll forget it! This is a habit that I know is rude and It was actually one of my New Year resolutions to break it. Long winded talkers unnerve me - I just want them to stop sometimes! As I listen to them go on and on I get so agitated.

External noise and chaos bothers me greatly---the phone ringing, a loud muffler on a car or truck rumbling outside, dogs barking incessantly, kids traipsing through the house - all make me want to scream sometimes. As you can imagine, this made raising 3 children very hard, so I was put on antidepressant meds. I have been on them for 12 years switching from Zoloft to Celexa to Pristiq. They did help and continue to help, but now that my kids are growing up (ages 15, 12 and 9) I have more time and more peace, right?

You would think I would be really on top of things now, but I'm not. There are stacks of projects staring me in the face each day and I just can't get started on them. Every time I see things I need to do I feel unhappy but I just can't bring myself to dive in and start. I started making lists and that helped a bit. I was able to cross things off my short term to-do lists like drycleaners, bank, etc., but the long term one remains unchanged. There are things that I've had on my to-do list (simple things like getting dentist appointments for the kids) that I have not done for months. I put off projects - I'm not motivated. I'm unhappy to see these things continue to be put off when I know I have the time to do them.

So...an ADD friend of mine just switched from Concerta to 70 mg Vyvanse. She had to stop taking it because it made her so jumpy and her heart was racing. She had nearly a full bottle of pills, so I asked her if I could try it. I had always wondered what it would do and if it could help.

I made sure it was a day that I didn't have anything important to do, so that if I reacted negatively I could just stay home and wait it out. I expected to become superwoman on speed, knocking out projects at lightning pace and then tackling crazy new ones. I expected racing heart, incessive talking, and no appetite.

On the contrary, I found my self very focused and calm and relaxed. I was not overwhelmed or reluctant to start projects and could complete them. Things I had procrastinated on I got done. Exterior factors did not upset me. The phone ringing when I was in the middle of something didn't make me want to yell "leave me alone!" like it always had before. When I talked with people that afternoon I found myself looking them in the eye and REALLY LISTENING to what they were saying. My heart did not race, my stomach still growled. For the first time in about 3 months I did not have the uncontrollable urge to lie down for an hourlong nap in the afternoon. I became adventurous with cooking weeknight dinner and tried 2 new fairly complicated recipes instead of my standard rotation of simple 3 ingredient recipes. I was actually able to talk with my husband after dinner that night instead of getting on my pajamas and retreating to the couch to veg in front of the TV.

So...my big question is: Does all of the above mean that this drug can help me? If a "normal" person took Vyvanse, would they have the same reaction of calmness, or would they be over hyper and jumping out of their skin like I expected to be? I know these drugs are addictive. I know my friend and I broke the law. I've searched message boards for an answer to my question. Please speak up, y'all!

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