ADD is like a television with excellent reception - only problem is, you don't get to choose which channel it's tuned into. :)
"Had I been diagnosed 30 years ago..."
The misleading name is also probably part of the reason why some people question ADD's existence: they don't even understand what it is. They see kids with ADD focusing on video games or whatever and say: "See, they can pay attention!"
I have one problem with the article: not everybody experiences ADD exactly the same way. There are recognized subtypes such as predominately inattentive ADD, etc.
A bit different to the teacher making fun of me to the whole class by sitting in a chair, pretending to be catatonic several years later because I didn't have the answer for her rapid fire 9 times table (I was daydreaming and as is common my mouth was slightly ajar).
Not to say there wasn't problems; my mum used to send me up to get her a brush or some small thing and I'd forget once I'd get upstairs. After more than a few bollockings, I learned to ask where it was in the hopes it'd jog my memory. I was accused of not listening and I couldn't explain that it wasn't my fault!
I could however spend hours on Sonic 2 without taking a break. I was also infatuated with science and spent hours coming up with inventions that, to my dismay, already existed. I remember reinventing the fire sprinkler. It was more like a fire water balloon but the principle was similar.
These little memories, which form just a tiny grain of the daily struggle for the past 23 years, are almost funny. A joke, however, isn't so funny everyday, many multiple times a day.
When you discuss one small nugget, people say "ohhhh everyone was like that" and, due to lack of focus, you are unable to defend against their dismissal.
After 23 years, all day everyday, and the pain, hospitalisation and searching, dismissal by the ignorant is almost insulting.
Also, adding insult to injury, your use of the word "mum" suggests that you may have been forced to play the 50hz PAL version of Sonic 2 instead of the 60hz NTSC version.
I cannot read this article. It reflows differently every time I scroll the page and the text I was reading goes .... somewhere. It is painful. iOS 8.4 Safari on iPad Air. - may be OK on desktop browsers. But I only go there for work these days.
So in that sense it is a self-referential demonstration of the problem with ADHD focus. Also a downvote on reflow logic these days. HTML5 has got too clever. Reflow on scrolling? wtf!
(edit). OK. I got around it. Last paragraph says it all for me. That hits what NT's cannot grasp: it's not a character defect, its not a "simple" matter of will power. FWIW, I have hit upon a way around some of the will power issues, the important ones like giving up smoking and losing weight to get out of pre-diabetic region: a form of mental Judo based on visualization and meditation. It's slow - can take a year - but it works. This after 20 years of trying using conventional will power based methods. I have a stack of Smoke-Ender certificates to attest to that.
Typically for those sites I hit the "desktop mode" button which I believe just changes the user agent string so that it shows everything without any mobile "optimization". It makes for a bit of zooming and panning if you're in portrait mode but beats having most of the screen cut off or whatnot.
The worst? My mother was a teacher. You'd think she would have caught it.
Task switching is really my biggest issue. Once I get in hyperfocus mode on something, a) I really hate getting interrupted, probably because b) getting back focused again is all but impossible.
The worst? My mother was a psychiatrist. You'd think should would've caught it.
During college, I coped by making my life as busy and stressful as possible. That helped me get stuff done. I also play(ed) sports. Now I am in med school and I take medications as-needed. Med school is sufficiently challenging so I find it easier to focus now compared to my previous 9-5 programming job.
Neither gives me jitters, although I only take small doses of Adderall at a time. Adderall doesn't give me a crash when it wears off like caffeine does.
Adderall can make me more high-strung at times. A little more intense, a little more irritable.
It's a trade-off, of course... because failing to get necessary shit done can also make a person quite stressed out, you know? So Adderall, by helping me get stuff done, also indirectly improves my mood. It's not a magic cure, but it has been worth it for me.
I've been taking Vyvanse now and I don't get any jitters or change in personality. The worst side effect is dry mouth...the best side effect...well, having a body high that last for hours, it's a nice bonus I guess? Is it healthy? I have no idea.
Oh, and if you take a pill, then forget and take another, well, it leads to a VERY jittery day.
As a rule of thumb though I don't take stimulants on a regular basis, just as needed. Don't want to become dependent.
I can experiece occaisional jitters, and perceived body temperature fluctuations. I can be more a little withdrawn from the world around me. This is the case for any amphetamine drug at least. Ritalin can be a little different, but for the most part it's about the same for me. The most notable difference is that sometimes I feel irritable on ritalin.
my MD started me on the lowest dose of ritalin once a day for a week
then twice a day for a week
then once that was ok I was given a longer acting version called Concerta that I took once a day.
it took six months to ramp me up to my current dose. there were times he felt it was time to go up and I wasn't ready. there were times when I felt it was time and he wanted me to wait. I had some side effects that went away if I went down a dose level, and then as I adapted, I'd move back up again. My dr. was very experienced and warned me about what to expect--a period of feeling invincible for a few months that would fade (true), and a feeling in the evenings of "rebound" as medicine faded (true). He was my rock when I started on this and still is It brings tears to my eyes how he helped me change my life. Now I only see him every three months for 30 mins and I'm given an unusual amount of latitude: I'm given various doses and allowed to manage it myself--choosing lower doses when I want to drink real coffee (my full dose does NOT work with caffeine) or when I can't get a full night's sleep. I'm told this is highly unusual given the meds are a controlled substance and a sign of the faith my MD has that I'm not a drug seeker. (he's right. I saw "requiem for a dream" and let's say he'll never have to worry...)
I was lucky. I can afford the best doctors. the right medicine worked, the first time. This is not true of everyone.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that anyone who thinks they have ADHD to go to an MD who specializes in this stuff. Family doctors do NOT count. your basic Ph.D therapist doesn't count.
start with science, go slow and built outwards. FWIW my therapist says he will only work with 4 MD's in SF because his take is that they're all pill pushers. My MD is one of the only MDs in SF allowed to provide telephone prescriptions for Concerta. The pharmacy he sends me to never has shortages. This is also not consistently true, even in SF.
It's no joke. Amphetamines can screw you up. Take this stuff seriously, please and find a good doctor for a proper evaluation.
edit to add: you know I have ADHD: I didn't answer your question. haha!
the short answer is that yes, in the beginning your mood may be "up" and you may feel down on the rebound while you are adjusting. But as you stay with it, things even out and become VERY predictable. If you have ADHD you will recognize the terror I used to have about making sure my brain was ON a the right time--all sorts of weird rituals to wake it up for an important meeting, etc. On the meds, I have confidence my brain will be at its level best so my anxiety and its attendant grouchiness just went away. PS: coaching and therapy (two different things) helped this a lot and if you're late diagnosed as I was, you will need them. I recommend reading "driven to distraction" before you start meds, because that "invincible" feeling the first few months is the best time to start changing habits. you will dip in motivation after that, but never as bad as without and having those systems in place to fall back on will save you.
EDIT: This thread is disappointing me. Part of why I linked this talk is that it paints a very different picture than most people would probably already have of what 'ADHD' looks like.
ADHD is simply the lack of ability to control attention. There are drugs that work short-term, however long-term only methods of coping are really effective.
After reading everyone posts below, I figured I would direct you to my startup:
The startup (just applied to YC) that my team and I are working on actually addresses this issue using something called neurofeedback therapy:
Effectively, your mind is like a programmable computer. Once you learn to recognize when you start losing focus, it's possible to program it (over time) to do something different. The idea being, neurofeedback therapy lets people better understand themselves and in-turn cope better.
After the brain has been reprogrammed it stays that way long-term (unless something else reprograms it).
If you are interested in reading more about neurofeedback, here's a literature overview:
Doesn't want to play 300 hour RPGs
Forcing oneself to study boring subjects is effective for two weeks then willpower gets worn down
Hmm, sounds like often ADD is a measure of how far you are from one of those studious people who are able to sit still and intensely focus... I don't think that's as useful as acknowledging there are different types of people. Personally, ADD seems to me to be the "Hysteria" of the 21st century. If anything, short attention span is manifest a lot more in today's generation because of the fast turnaround time of electronic queries (googling from your phone vs perusing the library), and vastly increased personal reachability (cellphone vs pre-beeper), leading to a faster pace of life.
Thom Hartmann wrote a book describing this phenomenon regarding ancestors who were adapted as hunters vs farmers:
When I start programming I can do this for 16 hours without eating, peeing, etc. I am constantly worried, always miss appointments, my girlfriend is always annoyed with me that I only do stuff that interests me and usually out of nowhere I stop listening to her in the middle of the conversation.
Finding an interesting job was priority number one for me. I just couldn't bear working 9-5 for a large corporation. In the middle of the day after I'd just stop paying attention to anything or anybody and just start playing chess.
I am quite surprised I experience about 80 percent of the symptoms listed on various websites, but it never occurred to me that this can be a real condition.
> I am quite surprised I experience about 80 percent of the symptoms listed on various websites, but it never occurred to me that this can be a real condition.
If you suspect you have ADHD and you find that it is negatively impacting your life, I would suggest seeking a good psychiatrist for a professional evaluation. Be warned that some psychiatrists are all too eager to write a prescription and send you on your way, when successful treatment hinges on a deeper understanding of the condition and the development of successful coping strategies once you've identified the negative behaviors.
Moreover, it's worth noting that the author's definition of ADHD and hyperfocus doesn't actually match the medical definition of ADHD. Also, many of the ADHD websites list overly-broad ADHD criteria, such than almost any warm-blooded human could feasibly self-diagnose as having ADHD given the vagueness of the symptoms.
ADHD is, first and foremost, a deficit of attention abilities. It isn't quite as selective as the author makes it out to be, in that someone with the traditional medical definition of ADHD would not be able to focus on anything for 16 hours straight as you are able to. In fact, being able to focus for such a long period of time is a truly enviable ability, and I doubt you'd find any competent medical professional who would suggest that you have ADHD if you are able to focus on your work for twice as long as the 8-hour workday that most people struggle through.
It's important to note that we all miss appointments, we all prefer to do activities that interest us, we all occasionally stop listening to people mid-way through a conversation, and we all struggle to pay attention to boring jobs. These aren't signs of a disorder, these are just facts of life.
It's important to note that we all miss appointments, we
all prefer to do activities that interest us, we all
occasionally stop listening to people mid-way through a
conversation, and we all struggle to pay attention to
boring jobs. These aren't signs of a disorder, these are
just facts of life.
While it is normal to "zone out" and struggle with boring tasks at times, if a person struggles with attention-related tasks on a long-term basis to the point where it negatively impacts their life, that points to some kind of behavioral issue.
"Hyperfocus" (perseveration, really) is a very real aspect of ADD, however it's not the blessing some make it out to be. In fact, Russell Barkley addresses it directly in one of his seminars [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1IEv9CA2vA]. Other things the author said also made me think he had been wrongly diagnosed or has a minor form of ADD, but definitely the "choice of focus" point he makes and how amphetamines affect him.
I lose interest too quickly in various things like readings books, playing games, following conversations. Even when writing, after a sense or two, I get bored in what I want to say. The only thing (so far) that interests me is my job.
I share your concerns that nowadays doctors tend just to prescribe drugs, that only treat the symptoms. All seek for a medical advice - i.e. get diagnosed. From there on I think the best I can do is be aware of the problem and try to except more control/will over the things that make sense.
You don't have to commit to anything. Within a couple of appointments, a pdoc should be willing to give you a preliminary diagnosis. (Some insurance might even force them to do so sooner.) If you tell them you refuse to take drugs (why? Stimulants are incredibly helpful, ADD or not), they should give you an honest evaluation of what they believe they can do for you.
Plus, a counselor is cheaper by quite a bit than the psychologist, and can't prescribe meds, so they default to behavioral therapy.
However, I don't have ADD. Despite the fact I share many features with people suffering from ADD, it doesn't take that much effort for me to focus in things I'm not exited about. I can do tasks I find boring for a long time if I really want to, and I can even consciously hyperfocus on almost any task that needs focus.
And that is one of the big reasons I quit 9-5 programming and started med school. I still do a lot of programming now, but it's stuff that I'm interested in, which makes a world of difference in terms of focus.
This is consistent with my own experience with people who believe they have ADD. Many of them turned out to have untreated anxiety and depression.
It's also interesting to note that there's a lot of research supporting the idea that mindfulness can decrease the effects of ADD. That seems to support the idea that ADD isn't a physiological fact, but a curable behavioral issue.
However I really resent the suggestion that I could somehow cure myself with "mindfullness" or if I "just tried harder." It is really easy for a person who has never suffered from ADD to think this way, but neither are legitimate solutions. Sure I try hard, sure I meditate at least once a day. I do it because it helps me. That doesn't mean that one day, somehow, I'll be able to function on that alone. It is only with medication, and help from a psychologist, I can lead a normal life.
Honestly, when people suggest that I somehow could cure myself I feel terrible. I feel like flawed person, like I'm failing at the basic life skills everyone else has mastered. But worse than that, I dread that someone else will be exposed to that, before being diagnosed. I was blessed to be diagnosed at a young age, and I can't imagine going through school, and into the workplace without help.
A great example of the above is OCD. People with the illness have to work extremely hard to experience improvement, and not every case improves. But it's still considered to be something that people can recover from nearly completely.
However, ADHD and other executive disorders are very real and very debilitating for a small portion of the general population. I've unfortunately experienced this first-hand after a serious traumatic brain injury took me from normally-functioning adult to ADHD adult overnight. (Part of the reason I'm using a throwaway is that I prefer not to make this fact well-known).
> This is consistent with my own experience with people who believe they have ADD. Many of them turned out to have untreated anxiety and depression.
This mirrors my experience somewhat, although I believe many people simply confuse normal human behaviors as ADHD symptoms. It's perfectly normal to prefer to focus on subjects you enjoy while experiencing difficulty when forced to focus on uninteresting topics, but somehow this has been construed as a symptom of ADHD on the internet. (As I've commented elsewhere, hyperfocus is not actually a symptom of official ADHD definitions but it's very popular on internet forums).
> It's also interesting to note that there's a lot of research supporting the idea that mindfulness can decrease the effects of ADD. That seems to support the idea that ADD isn't a physiological fact, but a curable behavioral issue.
I have to disagree on several of your definitions here: There is plenty of research in to potential biological contributing factors to ADHD-type behaviors. However, the brain is remarkably plastic and capable of learning good or bad behaviors. Unfortunately, modern life tends to train us toward ADHD-like behaviors, with constant bombardments of stimuli and companies working overtime to develop products that distract us and are carefully designed to capture our attention.
Do you disagree? What makes it more difficult for someone to self diagnose than for a professional?
People who self diagnose can't do that.
Most MH diagnostic criteria have a bunch of words that sound like everyday English but which are jargon words with specific meaning (although the ADHD criteria are better than, eg, Borderline PD).
It's a trope that people with symptoms will self-diagnose with some terrible illness when they have a bit of a cold. This is true in mental illness.
Take a look at the diagnostic criteria for ADD. There's nothing in them that doesn't involve observing someone's behavior. It's not like you're examining their organs or running tests.
When people more or less ask why a person with years of training for a job is betterqualified than a layman I think a gentle nudge towards humbleness should be appreciated.
And we're not talking about just any layman. We're talking about the person actually experiencing the symptoms.
It was an honest question: what in a medical doctor's training makes them better at diagnosing ADD than the person suffering from it? Like the sarcastic post, you're taking a position without explaining your reasoning.
> We're talking about the person actually experiencing the symptoms.
Yeah, me too. That makes me an expert, right? The fact is, I didn't even know until 5 years ago. You can make a qualified guess before asking a doctor yes, but at least here it seems a doctor has to rule out a lot of options, including sleep apnea before he they go with ADHD.
Also, as has been mentioned before, practicing d/p tend to see a few cases every year and has at least some background to say what is normal and not.
All this should be obvious, shouldn't it? It is not like anything I have written so far requires huge leaps of faith, no?
ADD is wanting to focus on something, but just having no capability of doing so...let alone being able to do so on the shit that bores you.
After being diagnosed and doing some more thorough research I realized that ADHD had been present my entire life and may also run in my family, it just got much much worse after my accident.
What lazy drs, popular self-help and cheap internet content writing really botch when discussing ADHD is having us focus on the distraction portion and not the underlying reason for why - the portion of the brain responsible for executive function is diminished. This is a neurological problem. Part of the ADHD brain is malfunctioning.
Successfully coping with ADHD is more about learning mechanisms for how to react to stimuli without having the fully developed executive function abilities that others have. But people want to believe they don't have a problem, that they're not disabled. And the disorder doesn't manifest itself very visibly, so it's easy to deny, dismiss or ignore. So they write it off as an environmental problem, something that can be corrected with "proper thinking". This is false. It's a disability, and the solution is coping with the problem.
I'm not agreeing with your or disagreeing with you, but you don't have any evidence to back up your claims.
It's fine to have opinions, it's not fine to spread mis-information.
No one can tell by looking at or talking to someone whether they are self diagnosed or not. The fact is that ADHD is very challenging to treat as not all cases respond the same way to the medication and therapy. Executive function is quite complex and deeply related to environment as well as genetics. For example, if your parents blame you for being "lazy" vs helping you find coping strategies, that's bound to impact confidence and thus performance.
When lay people such as yourself pass judgement it makes it harder for those of us with the condition to get the accommodations we are legally entitled to.
I will remind you that ADHD is more heritable than height. Many adults over a certain age were actually under diagnosed.
Please also note that ADHD has one of the highest co-morbidity rates of any mental condition, that is, it is most likely to be accompanied by anxiety and depression for the precise reason that others like to judge people for character on things like forgetting small details. If you treat for anxiety and depression and NOT ADHD you can have very serious, long lasting problems.
ADHD is a lack of control of attention, and hyperfocus is an example of that. IT's usually a reason people go undiagnosed. the parents say, "oh johnny can focus when he wants to, he's just lazy."
I encourage anyone who thinks they have this condition to first read "driven to distraction" and then use its advice to seek out a qualified psychiatrist for a proper evaluation. Do NOT rely on family doctors or your average therapist. Get a specialist. It's worth it.
Now while I'm at it, to your point on "modern life." We all get depressed some times, but there's a wide gulf between that and clinical depression, which I'm sure you would agree with me on.
To that end, here's a post by one of the top ADHD writers, Gina Pera, based in silicon valley, on this very topic:
"Does that mean, however, our fast-paced life causes ADHD? No, Quinn says. Too much stress can impair anyone’s brain function, but it doesn’t cause ADHD. She offers this bottom line: “When you remove stressors, people with ADHD still have ADHD. In other words, it’s not purely stress that inhibits their functioning. It’s the lack of skills required to meet challenges.”
Moreover, our fast-paced world can make someone with ADHD function worse than they might have in earlier times. In fact, some experts say, that is another reason ADHD is being more widely diagnosed: because modern life is demanding more of us than ever before."
edited to add this additional quote:
"Moreover, ADHD’s recorded history might span at least 2,500 years. That’s when the Greek physician-scientist Hippocrates apparently observed a condition sounding suspiciously like ADHD. He described patients who had “quickened responses to sensory experience, but also less tenaciousness because the soul moves on quickly to the next impression.” No mention of cell phones and video games as causative factors."
I think you've misinterpreted my post.
I'm specifically avoiding revealing my background here for several reasons, but my basis begins with DSM-V and ICD-10 criteria as well as a large body of research on the underlying biology of the disorder.
If you want external confirmation, please search for the term "Hyperfocus" in PubMed, or through psychiatry textbooks, or any other well-vetted source of information. It's not there. However, you will find the term heavily used on internet forums as well as in seminars and books from a handful of doctors/authors who see ADHD everywhere, but the problem is that they're usually trying to sell you something (seminars, books, products, etc.).
You seem to have taken offense at my comment, but I please realize that I was defending the concept of ADHD as an actual diagnosis. The parent comment was the one insisting that ADHD was not a real diagnosis. I personally have relatively severe ADHD as a result of a traumatic brain injury, so I'm perhaps uniquely qualified having personally experienced both sides of the diagnosis.
Please note that those of us who were born with this have a very different life experience, and greatly outnumber those who acquired the condition through a head trauma, infection or other acute condition. Women manifest very differently than men. For example, girls are way underdiagnosed relative to boys at approximately 10:1 though it is improving I hear lately to 3:1. Why? because hyperactivity in girls manifests often as over talkativeness, and instead of screening the girl for the condition, her parents and teachers shame her for "talking too much." I was one of those girls. Boys who talk too much rarely get that criticism but because ADHD leads me to act outside of gender norms, the backlash is far greater for girls than it is for boys in many, many cases.
ADHD also manifests very, very differently in many people due to the various ways executive function develops in children. I have no difficulty getting places on time, but some ADHD folks couldn't get anywhere on time without significantly more effort.
When you say hyperfocus is only used by those who want to sell you something, I question your veracity. Hyperfocus is listed, if not a symptom in the DSM, then as one possible manifestation/result of the condition that is commonly seen. Others can include emotional outbursts, driving accidents, drug abuse, etc. For clarity's sake of those reading: hyperfocus is defined as the inability to direct one's attention to what is desired; being drawn into something in an irresistible way in a way that impacts functioning. Hyperfocus can also manifest as being incapable of switching away from that which is undesired.
This means that while the presence of hyperfocus doesn't definitively diagnose ADHD, it is a common presentation.
I see one of the world's top specialists in the matter, an MD who is the head of the department at a major teaching hospital in the Bay Area. He is a scientist first and foremost, which is why I picked him. He's very clear and direct with me about what we know and what is unknown. I want you to understand that the presence of uncontrollable hyperfocus is absolutely a manifestation of the disorder that is very commonly seen.
Without apology I do take what you say personally, because you are talking about a condition I have lived with my whole life, that has affected nearly every corner of my life in ways that were surprising to me and to everyone around me from my parents to my closest friends. You have only had the condition in your adult years and most likely do not have the same form I have. So yes, I do resent any suggestion that there is one way to have this disorder.
Net: I'm explaining to you regardless of your intent, you are spreading misinformation that can be used against people with the condition to further perceptions that this is "made up" and thus the conditions to which we are legally entitled should be withheld.
So please, stop. You are qualified to speak of your own experience and should, but when you generalize to the rest of us, you are doing real harm.
That seems to support the idea that ADD isn't a physiological
fact, but a curable behavioral issue.
Physiological issues affect behavior and vice-versa. That's why treatments like mindfulness and CBT are so effective.
Many of them turned out to have untreated anxiety and
This is consistent with my own experience
When I said "physiological fact", I meant to suggest a category including things like Down's Syndrome. I did not mean things like depression or other mental illnesses that may be observable using brain imaging and/or caused by physiological circumstances.
I won't get into the problems with trying to draw generalizations from brain imaging (easy enough to Google it), but I also have a problem with the idea that observable, physiological problems can't be fixed through behavioral means. We definitely agree on that.
> I can assure you that ADD has been a constant thing in my life for 39 years and that depression and anxiety have not been.
I should have been clear that I don't think ADD is only a symptom of depression and anxiety. I was just sharing the theory that ADD is a common symptom of many conditions, rather than a true condition in itself. In my experience, the cause has been depression and anxiety, but that's obviously not an exhaustive or scientific sample.
Or that, like many mental conditions, others can mask or appear to be ADD/ADHD. There are plenty of individuals diagnosed with ADD, in which it manifests as a singular facet to an otherwise normal mind. Then there are plenty where it's a manifestation of combinatory factors from other mental illness. It is important to note though, that even as a singular facet, many of the resultant symptoms of ADD overlap with depression, anxiety and Bipolar Disorder (depending on the individual); despite the different effects and regions of the brain targeted. I would actually argue that this is one of the main culprits of its overdiagnosis in the US.
I would recommend reading into Russell Barkley's work. He's one of, if not the, preeminent experts on the Attention Deficit scope of disorders and studied their effects on the brain and really defined the modern idea of what ADD/ADHD are.
Are those contradictory positions? For example, consider lactose intolerance. It is true that a change in diet can "cure" lactose intolerance (in the sense of you never experience any symptoms), but lactose intolerance is still physiological.
Similarly, is there any research that mindfulness actually cures ADD, rather than acts as a coping mechanism to reduce the symptoms of ADD.
At the moment, there's no way to measure whether someone is cured. It may even be that "curing" ADD has some unintended/negative consequences -- perhaps some people have good qualities that are linked to their ADD. I really don't know.
Unfortunately it's hard to prove to someone who can't experience it that ADD exists. Its symptoms are too easy to explained away with quite a few different theories. Unfortunately ADD is not just another overmedicalized normal condition. Even though far too many well intentioned people who can't understand assert that it is.
I do have problems with anxiety and depression, and they are not untreated. They are related to but distinct from ADD.
And mindfulness can help, like it can almost anything, because it's a tool for controlling your thoughts. This can be directed as willpower. While not without side-effects, willpower can overcome most of the problems associated with ADD in high enough doses.
I believe that in the future, the medical community will have a better understanding of the many things that can cause ADD, and the diagnosis of "primary ADD" will mostly be replaced by other diagnoses.
I have no idea if most of these will be depression/anxiety diagnoses or not. I was just talking about my own, very limited experience.
> Unfortunately ADD is not just another overmedicalized normal condition.
I actually do think it might be overmedicalized in children. I grew up with many children who would be diagnosed with it today, but weren't at the time. Whether they had it or not, they grew into functioning adults without ADD.
Given that the condition was described over 2500 years ago by Hippocrates himself, I think you're parroting something that is akin to anti-vaccination theory. No credible science supports you.
I will also add, as I said below:
1) ADHD is more heritable than height. If it were "made up" that couldn't be true. Many parents are getting diagnosed when their kids come in, because those of us in the 70s and 80s were very under diagnosed.
2) ADHD has one of the highest co-morbidities of any mental condition, for the precise reason that we don't look "sick" --like depression or schizophrenia--so people assume things like talking too much, bouncing our legs,forgetting details, messy desks and so on, are signs of a character flaw. From the time we were small children our parents and teachers may have constantly berated us, calling us lazy, or stupid. That can give you a raging case of anxiety and/or depression and the science does show that if you treat for ADHD, the depression and anxiety often lift.
When it comes to science, opinions are not helpful. this article is akin to vaccine denial, no matter how "interesting" you found it.
I know hacker news isn't for this kind of debate though, so I will stop at just pointing out the total inaccuracy of your statement.
We can't even understand how drugs affect both of these; much of what we know to prescribe them is more guesswork and anecdotal than based on solid understanding.
One advantage of being an adult is that you can have a real conversation with your physician about what is and isn't working for you.
In these areas, my inability to force myself into the mindset of that work has seriously impacted my quality of life. I've spoken to a few people who I know have similar problems and are now on medication, and it seems like it's been INCREDIBLY constructive for them.
This is all anecdotal, of course, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents. I'd still like to find a solution that doesn't involve medication, just as a matter of personal convenience, but it's been a struggle so far.
However, in life and at work, there are many instances
where I need to do things that I don't find
particularly stimulating or interesting.
Generally I view it that way as well. But it sure is a disability when you actually have to do boring things - and who doesn't have to do boring things? I mean really... who doesn't spend a significant portion of their lives doing things that aren't particularly interesting?
And I'm generally in not in favor of treating myself as if I'm "disabled" in any way whatsoever - I don't expect less of myself because I have ADD. Hell, I also participate in sports even though I'm asthmatic and blind in one eye and my depth perception sucks.
I strongly suspect that I have ADD/ADHD (and I'm looking
for a good psychiatrist in my area to discuss this with
...I'd still like to find a solution that doesn't involve
medication, just as a matter of personal convenience, but
it's been a struggle so far.
Generally, the rest of the answer comes in the form of coping (ie, focus-enabling) strategies that literally apply to anybody in the world whether they have ADD or not.
In my experience, proper sleep is the biggest factor, followed closely by sufficient exercise (which of course helps you sleep as well). Proper environment. Proper task management system. Support and understanding from your partner. The exact formula is different for everybody, I'm sure.
a good psychiatrist
I highly support your idea of seeing a psychiatrist - I just wanted to give a heads up on what a psychiatrist will and won't do. Their worldview is generally limited to the medication itself, which can be incredibly myopic when it comes to ADD success.
After I dropped out of school I ended up doing programming which for me is super easy to focus with. I love solving problems.
So my job is easy for me. Except meetings. I fidgit during meetings. End up scratching or biting my nails.
Outside of work I travel and do photography. I like building stuff but that's hard in Singapore. So I miss building stuff with dad back in NZ. And watch movies. Anything else I can't focus long enough to do. For me. I have to be moving or solving a problem. Things like reading and writing are impossible. Even writing emails at work I keep short cos I end up never completing them.
See : ADHD in adults, what the science says by Russell Barkley graphs and data are in there
Give me a break, your finances, chances at failing in education, getting fired at work, are much higher with ADHD. Enough of the anti-medication nonsense.
Not serious or reputable? He lives with the brain difference! He's been on various medications, had to deal with countless evaluations, and learned many coping mechanisms. If it's a binary choice, I'll take his lecture any day over someone who studies the data but has no firsthand experience. (Fortunately, few decisions in life are purely binary.)
If you figure out what part of the extended phenotype your daughter has the deficits you can probably move forward, however I've never seen this explained anywhere else other than his book. I wish more people had read it.
That said, I think it could be worth your while to read some of the popular books on ADD like "Driven to Distraction" and "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?"
The coping strategies for ADD are pretty universal. I could not possibly imagine one doing harm to one's self by seeing if anything in those books is applicable to you.
Prescription medication can help, but at best is only part of the answer.
It's geared a little more towards childhood ADHD, and it's quite long (I needed to be medicated in order to watch the whole thing, of course..) but this Dr is a fantastic expert on the topic and doesn't hold back on explaining the disorder in clear medical terms. He also does not sugar coat anything or tell you what you want to hear. It's a very pragmatic and thorough explanation of what ADHD means, and really opened up my eyes in many ways.
One of the important takeaways from that lecture is that ADHD is not simply attention problems, there are a myriad of related issues with executive function that are just not as apparent. Learning that ADHD is more than attention can fundamentally change your coping strategies. Well worth investing time into deeper education
I used to think ADD was made up to medicate difficult kids and that amphetamines are too dangerous to use as medicine. Then I changed careers and stopped working late nights in load chaotic social environments. It was awful. I was never really able to finish projects before, now I could hardly start them.
My father and his brothers had all been diagnosed with ADD, I did a little lit review, opened my mind and saw a doc. I was prescribed 5mg Dextroamphetamine daily and began finishing projects.
Before my diagnosis I meditated regularly, I did yoga and got exercise, I was into all kinds of "self-programming" and "mind-hacks." Only after I began taking a small daily amphetamine prescription did I start finishing projects.
It's been nearly a decade and my dosage has only increased once, to 10 mgs time-release. Every few years my doc screens my heart and liver. I am exposed to many, many chemicals that are neurotoxic at high levels. The solution to my meds is simple - don't take too much and keep them out of reach of children.
And yes, I'm messing with my reward system. That's because my reward system wasn't really working for me in the first place.
Its difficult to find information about it online (thanks drug companies), but if you do real research into medical journals, Moderate doses can lead to long term/structural changes in the brain. Abuse can be neurotoxic. Ritalin is considerably safer than adderall/dex. This makes it hard to separate out what was caused by the drug and what is a symptom of ADD, thus causing a bad feedback cycle.
I recently saw a therapist (for unrelated issues) who said it was a common pattern for bright individuals who were bored with regular schooling to be diagnosed as ADD.
Meditation, exercise, proper sleep, and healthy food all have a huge effect. Biggest thing is being interested in what I am working on at work. I drink huge amounts of caffeine and sugar (soda helps the most), which help a ton. I take frequent breaks, go for walks, and work obscure hours. I end up getting about 4 peoples work done myself, mainly because I can leverage my programming ability to find shortcuts in the work that other people cannot.
The behavior & personality change (more generally, neuroplasticity) is a very interesting aspect. I have most definitely not stayed the same. Doing anything every day will lead to long-term structural changes in the brain, meditating, making music, playing sports, coding. When we desire those changes we call it expertise. Behavior change was my explicit reason for taking Dexedrine in the first place and I'm happy I have successfully brought about (some) of the desired change. As for unwanted changes, I'm still happily married and my closest friends and family have remained close so I see no evidence of the changes being harmful enough to outweigh the benefits.
Nobody is the same person we were 10 years ago, whether they use drugs or not. On the other hand, I worked in harm reduction and addiction services for 15 years, and I'm not about to deny that issues with addiction and impulse control are very real and dangerous challenges for a subset of amphetamine users. Kudos to you for noticing and addressing the issues your use was leading to, I bet it wasn't easy.
I'll stand with you and say that getting ADD treated with stimulants is very much like lighting a fire. You can generate the energy you need, but you can also get burned. There is no cure all, mileage may very, etc.
But in reality the meds should only be used as augmentation in situations when it's hard to stick to a coping framework. But nobody tells you that, because it's complicated and doesn't always work. So they prescribe meds and ask you to depend on them instead
I, too, was one of the fortunate ones that hyper focused on computers and programming. This focus started at a very young age, and has since turned itself into a very rewarding career.
You are not alone! I believe there is a pretty strong correlation between software developers and ADHD. I feel like programming works well with the chemistry of an ADHD brain. Some of the best engineers I've met have been diagnosed with ADHD. There are a few that I believe have it, but I'm not sure if they've been diagnosed or not.
ADHD truly is a very interesting brain type!
The official DSM-V criteria, along with helpful explanations, are available here: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html
I'm still not sure how hyperfocus came to be such a popular idea on internet ADD forums and self-diagnosis websites. If someone can point me toward the etymology of the idea, I'd really like to see it.
It doesn't matter whether it is a coding problem, video game, book, website, or any other task. There are times when there is something much more important to be focusing on, but it requires such an insane amount of effort to focus on that thing, that you simply don't. Or maybe you do focus on the important task, but chances are it doesn't get your full attention or you end up distracted very quickly.
But I have to wonder, what are my chances of getting a decent programming job in Europe without a degree? Getting internships has been very easy, but I can't imagine getting a job as a programmer can be as easy without a degree.
Are there people who know more about this, or people who I can talk to about this? Thanks
Can you give any pointers to these or examples?
I used to depend on the pomodoro technique and a other hacks like "autofocus" etc.
Basically techniques that allow you to set targets that you can easily and provably reach even if that target is just work-on-this-and-nothing-else-for-x-minutes-and-make-a-check.
Edit: and deadlines. Maybe another reason why the pomodoro technique works so well.
I mentioned this in other comments on this thread but there is a video series that is really great by Russel Barkley - he talks about education and coping strategies for kids and adults that aren't totally reliant on on meds. Relying on lists and reminders are important for adults
That said, it's important to point out that the author of this post is defining ADD differently than the medical definition of ADD. The idea of hyperfocus is very popular among the self-diagnosed and on internet forums dedicated to ADD, but the term "hyperfocus" doesn't actually appear in any of the medical literature I can find, with the exception of a few books that seem to suggest that "hyperfocus" is more likely related to the idea of perseveration, which is a deficit in set shifting ability. However, perseveration isn't as selective as the concept of "hyperfocus," which seems selective for enjoyable tasks.
The idea of hyperfocus as a component of ADD is part of a bigger problem: The modern pop-psychology definition of ADD has been watered down and expanded so much that it is beginning to feel more like a horoscope than a medical diagnosis. Even official medical diagnostic criteria can't seem to agree on how strict the definition of ADHD is. For example, ICD-10 ADHD diagnostic criteria will yield a rate of roughly 1-2% ADHD in the general population of children. Using the DSM-IV criteria, that number rises to roughly 6-7% of children.
However, if you have the average person read an internet definition of ADHD or follow one of the first results for "ADHD test" in Google, you'd be hard pressed to find an average college student or tech worker who wouldn't identify as at least mildly ADHD per the pop-psychology definitions. Take a look at one of first results in Google for "adhd test": http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/addquiz.htm
Questions such as "How often are you easily distracted by external stimuli, like something in your environment" are so vague as to be applicable to everyone who has ever been distracted by a notification on their phone. I don't think I've known anyone who wouldn't agree with questions like "How often do you have difficulty sustaining your attention while doing something for work, school, a hobby, or fun activity" when we're expected to sit through 8+ hour desk jobs doing things that frequently aren't tasks we would have chosen to willingly pursue.
The growing misconception seems to be that for a non-ADHD person, it should be easy or somehow enjoyable to focus on the things that we don't necessarily enjoy doing. That's obviously not the case, but these casual redefinitions of ADHD as a disorder that is accompanied by an increased ability to focus on enjoyable tasks are really stretching the definition of what it means to have AD[H]D.
The root of the problem. ADD is an anxiety disorder.