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I was diagnosed with ADD and spent years on ritilin. IMO its not about not focusing or having a short attention span. It's about not being stimulated. Too easily do we throw drugs at a problem rather than solving the cause.

As an adult who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and had teachers, professors, family, and friends suggest I seek treatment for it over the course of about 20 years, I respectfully disagree. I started into treatment in adulthood (this year), and it has radically improved my reliability when it comes to completing tasks I take on. Previously, even work I found interesting and exciting would only hold my interest until the next conversation I had with someone (which, since I sit in the middle of a sea of desks, usually took less than 10 minutes). I am more willing and able to say "that's interesting; can we talk about it tomorrow" rather than simply diving into it only to be distracted again later that day.

3 promotions in 3 years. Treatment changed my life.

What is your treatment, if I might ask?

Vyvanse (amphetamine family, along with Adderall, but different time release characteristics), at a fairly low dose. Tried Concerta which is in the same family as Ritalin first, but it made me jittery with little other effect even at a high dose.

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.

I strongly suspect that I have ADD/ADHD (and I'm looking for a good psychiatrist in my area to discuss this with now), and I fully agree with you. 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.

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.
Yes! There is a school of thought that says ADD is more of a "personality type" than a "disability."

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.

Sorry to double-reply, but...!

    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.
The good news and bad news is that medication is only a part of the answer and it is far from a silver bullet.

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
Psychiatrists generally just prescribe medications and help to ensure they're working as designed. I have not heard of them being particularly helpful for ADD therapy and coaching; generally there are therapists who specialize in that sort of thing.

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.

Good luck!

Ive found things over the years that help. When I was in school the only classes I could do and focus and pass was techical drawing, and physisics and chemistry. Any other class I likely landed in the deans office for various reasons. I spent most of my schooling on a daily report where I had to get teachers to grade my behaviour in class. That helped me more than ritilin.

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.

Modern civilization is incredibly stimulus impoverished, especially the educational settings we provide for children. One interpretation of ADD is that certain brains are tuned to have higher thresholds for driving bottom up attention. The result of this is that in a 'normal' educational environment all stimuli fall well below the threshold for engagement so attention jumps all over the place because there is no signal strong enough to hold it. Now, take that same brain out into the woods and let it wander around and look at things and explore and where the 'normal' brain is overwhelmed by the sound of the wind in the leaves and the patterns of light on the forest floor the ADD mind sees the footprints of the deer and the outline of a grouse.

Unfortunately, we know that drugs are the best line of response, and that if you are familiar with the evidence people with adhd have orders of magnitude of issues with school/work than normal kids.

See : ADHD in adults, what the science says by Russell Barkley graphs and data are in there

This talk really explained it for me in layman's terms. He has strong opinions about medications.


This author is not serious or reputable, we already have the data over the years about what happens to you in life. Look at "ADHD in adults what the science says" or any lectures by Russell Barkley.

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.

Please watch the video before replying. He is not anti-medication: he takes medication. His withdrawal symptoms as a child when taking a break from medications, such as over Summer break, leads him to question how old people should be before having medication prescribed. In his case, he had severe migraines from withdrawals.

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.)

I definitely agree on thinking about delaying medication for brain development purposes, but it is by no means an easy trade off.

Agreed. The trade-off is difficult. We're having to consider it for my (almost) 10yo daughter. Her teachers consistently tell us that she's exceptionally smart, but she can't stay focused long enough to complete her work. (She has been formally diagnosed as ADHD.) ADHD kids are prone to self-esteem issues arising from not meeting their own expectations for achievement: "Darn it, I know I'm smarter than a C." We don't want her getting to that point, so medications are on the table as a possibility. But, we want to explore other options as well.

I would refer to Barkley's latest book on "Executive functions what they are and how they evolved" to take a very high level approach of the problem. He puts forward a thesis at the end of the book that it's possible to diagnose someone on the evolutionary level of their exec function deficits. It's unbelievable. It's well worth a read, for more immediate and hands on I would check his other books.

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.


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