Do I have ADD/ADHD? Is Adderall the right choice?
So recently I’ve been learning a little more about the condition and I feel as though I might have it. I looked up some pretty helpful info at http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_adult_symptoms.htm and it looks like I fit the “ADD standard,” if you might call it that…. I’m not very impulsive or hyperactive (so ADHD may be out of the question), but I pretty much fit in every other category (on the site I found). I’m in college and I play in the marching band there and even though I have been finding much more time to get things done recently, I feel very sluggish and I have no desire to get studying/work done.
I have also read some other sites and found that cannabis pretty much does the opposite to someone with ADD/ADHD than it would any other person; as someone without ADD/ADHD will usually feel relaxed and mellow, someone with ADD/ADHD will usually feel productive and very happy. I used to smoke weed and every time I smoked I felt hyper, super happy, and often times I felt productive. I understand that even some people without ADD/ADHD feel this way; I just feel a little concerned about it.
As a last note, I have taken Adderall before and I noticed that I had the intended effects of Adderall. From what I’ve heard, it many times acts differently on those without ADD/ADHD. But I’m not sure if Adderall is right for me. I know it is addictive, so I’m a little iffy about getting Adderall.
Thanks for any help.
barry jennings answers:
Hi Jeffery R –
It’s really difficult to know whether or not you do have ADD or ADHD from what you have described. It’s good that you are doing your research, looking at the symptoms, and reaching out for support.
The reason I say it’s difficult to know is that the symptoms you described, the ones most often associated with ADD / ADHD, are very common to many other diagnoses and medical conditions. To further complicate the issue, ADD / ADHD very rarely occurs by itself. In other words, there are what we call co-morbid or co-existing conditions that tend to be present as well. These include depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and the list goes on.
It’s also important to know that ADD / ADHD are conditions of exclusion. By that I mean, we must consider all of your symptoms and rule out the other possibilities before we know that it is in fact ADD / ADHD. At this time, we just don’t have definitive tests like brain scans, blood tests, or purley objective measures that can tell us 100%.
The real gold standard for making a diagnosis is the clinical interview when you meet with a physician, psychiatrist, or other therapist who really knows ADD / ADHD inside and out.
In this case, if you are unsure, I would definitely encourage you to have a conversation with one of these people to see what is going on. And as a tip, it’s very helpful to describe your exact difficulties and how symptoms present rather than just saying, “I think I have ADD / ADHD.”
This way, you are not biasing whoever is evaluating you, and you are letting them sort of carve the path they need to go down to figure it out.
Last but not least, it’s hard to say if Adderall is the right medication for you. Unfortunately, the best predictor of how a medication will work is family history, and then trial and error. Because ADD / ADHD symptoms present differently in everyone, and the medications can work differently on an individual as well, it’s a matter of meeting with a competent and licensed medical professional who can work with you to get the right dose and the right medication.
Hope this helps.
Rory F. Stern, PsyD
“Former therapist” and ADHD Expert
Is it possible that I was misdiagnosed with ADHD?
I have been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. I have suffered with the symptoms of depression and anxiety practically my whole life. However, I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was in my late 20s, and that was because I had heard about the symptoms of adult ADHD and gone to a therapist for testing. Because of the test results, I was diagnosed with ADHD. However, I recently went to a psychiatrist to get medication for depression, anxiety, and ADHD. The psychiatrist told me that even though I was diagnosed with ADHD, she wasn’t convinced that I had it, because in her opinion, I seemed too focused. However, she said that it sounded like I definitely had depression (dysthymia) and anxiety, so she gave me Prozac. The Prozac has been a miracle drug, and now not only do I feel better, but I’m now better able to concentrate. However, so many of the symptoms of ADHD seem to fit me like a glove. When I was a kid, I often had trouble following directions. I also had trouble doing
homework and turning it in on time. I also daydreamed a lot in class and I’ve almost always had a reputation for being “spacey”. Not only that, but I’m VERY disorganized and I procrastinate on a lot of things. Could I have been misdiagnosed, or could the psychiatrist just be wrong?
barry jennings answers:
Hi as you well know there is no real test that can 100% say you have this or that well not yet anyway. How ever a doctor will look at what you say and what others say about your behavour etc etc and that is how they give the dignoses. Given this there is always a chance that you have been mis-dignosed. I would go back to the doctor and check if you really feel that its not true or you could see another doctor for a second opinion. As a child I showed all the classic signs of ADHD but its only now I am older and have been dignosed with bipolar that I find out the signs of bipolar in children can be very close to those of ADHD. (not that I am saying your bipolar but a lot of mental health illnesses in children are given the label of ADHD take care good luck
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