The problem with studying ADHD like this is that we generally agree that ADHD is over-diagnosed and over-prescribed, but then for evidence that ADHD exists as a medical condition, we look to the existing pool of people who are diagnosed or even taking medication to confirm that there is a difference between those who are diagnosed and those who aren't. 'm not saying that this means ADHD is a hoax - I agree with you that it's more than just the environment. It's just very difficult to construct definitions for mental conditions in particular, because there's usually no way to do a double-blind randomized experiment.
The problem is that ADHD and depression are both heterogeneous conditions - they're likely not single conditions themselves, but a bunch of somewhat related conditions that we're currently unable to distinguish between. The various hypotheses for what causes ADHD (and depression) may not be mutually exclusive.
That makes studies that much harder to conduct, because you have a mixed population, which makes identifying characteristic traits harder (and sometimes impossible, depending on the mixture). It also means that anecdotal evidence is that much more worthless, because what is true about one member in the population could be completely false for another.
And, in some cases, having a mixed distribution can give you the exact opposite results; see Simpson's Paradox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpsons_paradox
Put differently, it feels like it'd be easier to have rigorous discussions about deviations from normal mental functioning if we first had a good, data-based picture of "normal mental functioning". I've looked but have had difficulty finding any such studies.
If people want themselves/their children to think/act a certain way, and this opinion is widespread, then it's completely valid to treat that as the target, even if 90% of the people in society need to be chemically modified to make them act that way.
Evolution isn't perfect, and at no point has it tried to optimize for happiness, it only goes for reproductive success, which we as individuals don't care too much about, at least in the short term. If there are interventions that we can impose that better optimize for happiness than letting us exist naturally would, we have no reason to avoid these interventions.
That said, I have no idea what the optimal desired mental function would look like...
But actually my interest in what constitutes the "norm" is somewhat more basic; I think how human attention works is quite interesting as a subject of scientific study, and I wish there were more aggregate data on how it varies in different situations and across the population.
I first became interested in what adult ADD treatments do after seeing a testimonial from an HN participant, a programmer, who said that his productivity increased dramatically after beginning ADD medication as an adult. I have since read parts of quite a few of the recent scholarly publications on ADD, especially those that focus on adult ADD, to try to wrap my mind around the trade-offs of medical treatment versus other approaches to symptom management. (I'm also still trying to make sense of just how ADD is defined, especially among adults who were not deemed to have ADD in childhood. The definitional issues are rather complicated.)
Another participant here has already commented that there may be other interventions to consider when grappling with problems of attention focus. What are the best sources on other interventions (diet, lifestyle, etc.)? What are the trade-offs of those? For the occupations most pursued by participants on Hacker News, do you find it helpful to seek ADD medication if you are found to have ADD symptoms? What do your loved ones and colleagues think about your performance on a before-and-after basis if you have tried treatment? On the whole, ADD seems to involve a minority of participants in any occupation, but perhaps a more significant minority among HN participants than among some other subsets of the human population. I'm still trying to get a reality check, and would like to learn more.
Over the last couple of years my diet has improved a lot: less meat, less sugar, almost no junk food, more nuts and fruits and vegetables, and at least a liter of water per day now. Before, it was a rare day that I drank even a glass of water -- I usually preferred chocolate milk or heavily sugared iced tea or something.
I also get a lot more exercise now and try to maintain a more regular sleep schedule.
At 33, I'm in the best shape of my life, and I've found that now when I do need to sit down and do work, I can do it for longer and with less frustration. When I get sick of sitting and focusing on a stupid little screen a couple of feet from my nose, I know it's time to get up and do something else.
So as I gradually develop more discipline in the rest of my life, I wonder if maybe that's all I really needed to begin with. People aren't that far removed from their hunter-gatherer days, and now we sit all day surrounded by walls, without sunshine, eating really poor diets -- maybe an inability to focus and concentrate all day is just our bodys' way of objecting to that rapid change.
"Eat better, get exercise, reduce distractions" isn't a very sexy answer though, when compared to, "take a pill and become awesome like that guy in Limitless."
Recently during one of the transitional periods I found that caffeine negatively impacts my ability to play chess. Which is to say that I have relatively well developed (for an amateur) intuition about what moves superficially look good, but at the level I play at, extended periods of concentration are required to actually play better.
Caffeine doesn't help me concentrate, it makes me more impatient, bored faster. So I'm more likely to jump at a move which at first blush looks good. Caffeine actually makes it harder to concentrate for extended periods of time. I know that isn't the conventional wisdom, but I am convinced that the conventional wisdom is pretty much exactly wrong in this regard.
In addition, I have read that caffeine take a long time to get out of the bloodstream (a 'half-life' of ~6 hours) so the effects of large amounts of caffeine during the day translate directly into poorer quality sleep or reduced quantities of sleep at night, which creates a vicious cycle, hence when I get back on the caffeine it quickly ramps up to the multiple cups per day levels.
I've never understood these sorts of comments, although they appear reliably in almost every story on this subject. What in the world do diet, exercise, sleep, and clean living have to do with the subject of the story, which is the ethics and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of nootropic drug use?
If anything, having seen concrete beneficial effects from the dietary and lifestyle changes you've made to date, doesn't that make you even more curious about how far such effects can be pushed?
I'd be glad to be shown data that better diet and exercise are effective in the treatment of adults with ADD (which is the topic of this subthread). Of course, good diet and exercise are good for you, but that's not the point.
Here's one. It's anecdotal, but it won't hurt you to try, which can't really be said about the drugs. Then there's also the likelihood that it'll almost never be suggested, because there's little money in getting people to live better - who would fund the research? What studies could be done to show strong connections that wouldn't be easy to write off, when the very act of changing your lifestyle introduces countless variables?
More specifically, 'reduce distractions' is far more actionable than 'cheer up'. One advises a step to reduce the temptation to be distracted, the other advises you to achieve the goal with absolutely no directions.
The primary problem is, during any sort of transition I would be pretty useless, and I can't afford to take that long being useless with my current job.
I went cold turkey from 25mg of Adderall XR daily, and for about a week and a half I was absolutely dead. I'd have a splitting headache due to dehydration, but I couldn't summon the energy to get off the couch and walk 12 feet to where I had bottles of water. I'm glad I went cold turkey rather than just tapering the dose, though, because tapering the dose would have taken months of feeling miserable, rather than 1.5 weeks of feeling like a dead man.
If you hear anything interesting from people about biofeedback/etc, long-term non-medicinal adult ADD treatments, could you toss me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org? I'd really like to see other peoples' opinions on those routes, and I don't lurk enough on HN to be likely to see a submission about it.
(Just to clarify; yes, I'm back on the Adderall XR again, although at 5mg rather than 25 this time.)
I've also had a similar feeling of deadness when I stopped eating meat, dairy and anything with additives for 6 weeks. The first week or so I was completely useless - this could have also been due to me trying to feel my way through to a balanced diet.
So much of what we consume ends up having all sorts of unknown effects on us and the minute we stop consuming them we really feel it - it's easier to never stop.
One bonus of cutting certain stimulants out of my life has been that I've ended up feeling much better.
It has insulin "mimicking" effects, which could be part of the "boost" I feel.
When I went off I was dead to the world for about 2 - 3 weeks. I had a splitting headache which no medicine seemed to fix, and felt laggy. But after those 3 weeks I started to feel better. I had more energy, I was a lot less irritated and was happier in general. I was able to contain angry outbursts and in general have changed entirely. I have more energy now than when I was binging caffeine. I can stay awake longer, fall asleep faster, and I feel refreshed when I do get at least 6 hours of sleep.
Not drinking any soda has also helped in other ways. I no longer have a real need for sugar throughout the day and don't have nearly the same headaches I used to get from not getting my sugar fix. Since I have also lost a major source of calorie intake I have started to lose weight.
I don't drink anything with HFCS in it, soda's with natural sugars every so often (maybe once or twice a month), but mostly I drink water. I drink a glass or two of milk a day as well. One thing I have noticed is that living in America is that soda is pushed with every single meal. It doesn't matter where you go, what soda would you like with that.
Since you mentioned no longer eating meat ... I have recently started eating a lot less meat, and even in the past week have stopped eating meat altogether, and I have yet to feel a real difference. It does make it a lot harder to think of meals to make though as I have been eating meat my entire life and it is an integral part of any meal my family used to make. Will see what happens in a couple of weeks from now :-)
You may be misattributing. Caffeine withdrawal is a matter of days . 5 tops and I'm usually done in 2 or 3. (I've dropped cold turkey three times now, and each time I've personally experienced a marked decrease in my ability to function, but I've got various other possibly mitigating circumstances. I'm planning on trying again with my latest set of circumstances to see if it helps any as soon as my infant is no longer an infant.) Dropping that much sugar out of your diet can definitely take substantial time to acclimate to. (But it's a great thing to acclimate to.) You sound a lot more like someone who has gone through adjustment to a much lower carb lifestyle than someone who has gone off caffeine.
It is possible that lower carb may have had something to do with it. One thing I did notice though is that in compensation I was eating a LOT more candy at first. I'd eat gummi worms and haribo gummi bears by the kilo. The local gas station started giving me discounts on swedish fish! Luckily I eased off that after about a month, and now I eat very little to almost no candy.
One thing I would note is that it has changed how I taste sugar. A lot of sugary drinks such as juice (even natural sugars) will quickly taste too sweet. I also find it harder to eat candy because it just has this disgustingly sweet taste to it. The other thing is that with drinking water with my meals instead of soda I am finding that a lot of foods are over salted, and could do with half the salt and still taste just as great. My personal believe is that people want taste even after making their taste buds taste something really sweet like soda.
One pattern I've noticed is that when I'm off it, I self-medicate with caffeine and energy drinks. It starts with an occasional Starbucks or Coke and before I know it I'm getting a venti latte with an extra shot every morning, then drinking 3-6 rockstars/redbulls/cokes throughout the day.
I just restarted on Adderall (generic, 5mg x2 a day) and the side-effects are definitely difficult to deal with. I am able to hyper-focus but I also get irritable, daily headaches and exhaustion when it starts wearing off. I tend to take it one in the morning as I start work and perhaps once in the afternoon if I find that I need it, but I don't take it on weekends at all.
There's definitely something to be said for behavioral adjustment rather than medication. That's how my mom deals with it, but even so she's pretty scatter-brained.
If you use the medication only once in a while, do you have ADHD or do you only think that you do?
I have stopped taking the medication in the past and I did not have any withdrawal symptoms or felt happier or anything of the sort. I've always used caffeine though.
I guess what I'm saying is that someone who thinks they may have ADHD shouldn't discount methylphedinates because some people have withdrawal symptoms, which mostly happen only when someone is abusing the medication, or is nervous about it in the first place.
So, instead, I took a week off coinciding with a long weekend, and just went off it completely. It sucked really bad, but I had some stuff in place to make sure I wouldn't be in as much danger as I could be. (I removed all potential weapons/poisons from the house, stocked up on "comfort food" so I wouldn't be tempted to get in a car, etc.)
I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, especially due to the suicide risk, but in my case (for various reasons) that risk was pretty much 0. (I'm aware that self-diagnosing suicide risk is really unreliable, but I have a few personal situations that make suicide impossible to seriously contemplate, so I'm pretty safe in that regard.)
High dosages are up in the 150+, more like people who binge on 3 pills, or crush and snort them. That would create withdrawal symptoms and be neurotoxic. Therapeutic dosages (like the ones the doctor will prescribe you) are supposed to be just that.
Concerta wouldn't come in a 56mg tablet if it was expected to be neurotoxic.
I really don't think burn-out is as common as people say, high-doses are more like in the 100+mgs, and that's not in anything that is considered therapeutic and extended release.
During the intake the therapist described Ritalin as "poison". I should have probably gotten up and left right there. If you have the opinion that Ritalin is overprescribed, or that it should not be given to small children, that's all fine with me. But "poison" has a pretty clear definition, you'll find that whenever someone refers to a drug as "poison", you're dealing with pseudo-scientific quackery.
What made me quit was mostly that I couldn't find any correlation between the signals received from the electrodes and my own state of consciousness, be it more relaxed or more concentrated or alpha/beta waved, whatever.
When I watched the graphs on the monitor, I noticed a few things. There is a LOT of noise. If I'd clench my jaw, move a muscle in my neck, my ears, whatever, it'd cause an avalanche of noise, completely drowning out any possible brain signal. Ok so you sit still, you're meant to focus or relax anyhow. Except that muscles just seem to generate a whole lot more electrical signal than your brain, and every time I even blinked my eye there was a burst of noise (probably also because the eye muscle is relatively close to the electrodes). The software did nothing to filter out these noise-bursts, even though it'd have been trivial to make at least a basic attempt that would throw away the data during a burst so the other filters wouldn't trigger.
Ah, the other filters. Well, it quickly became clear I knew a lot more about DSP than this guy. He had no idea how his device operated, at least not how the signals were transformed into whatever was displayed on the screen. There's not really an excuse for this. Sure enough a surgeon might not know about the algorithms used to convert an MRI scan into a picture, but the radiologist does (at least, on some level), which is why we have radiologists.
So you know about these alpha/beta/theta/gamma brain waves right? They're at 12/10/7/3 Hz frequencies or something like that. Now I always had the idea that by this they meant some fundamental Eigen-frequency of signals in the brain, so you'd think to apply some auto-correlation to determine the base frequency and its harmonics. But instead he had a bunch of bandpass filters running concurrently being graphed through some ancient MS-DOS program with obvious leakage from one band to another and we were looking at the raw filtered signal, not even its energy and as I said there was no noise suppression.
I'd have loved to take that device home, write some code for it and see what it could detect though. Hell, even detecting muscle movements is already way cool :)
Anyway, no correspondence between my state of focus or relaxation.
Staring at a computer screen (with a game, usually one frequency band was used to control a game of some sort) for 1-2 hours per week, actively trying to relax or focus would definitely have a result of course.
Which is why I'm doing a universal yoga meditation class. Dunno if it helps with the ADD, but it can't hurt and it definitely has some other advantages (notably: posture and stress/tension). One thing I do notice, yoga works best if I haven't taken meds that day. You'd think it improves focus, but this yoga class is mainly being able to really feel your whole body and muscles should not be tense for that, but on meds I find I get way more fidgety and subconsciously re-tense every muscle I relax as my focus shifts to the next part of my body. Fortunately, noticing and being aware of such subtle effects in your body is exactly what the class it about :-)
You might like playing around with Neuro-Programmer 3. You can get substantially similar or even stronger effects to EEG neurofeedback with simple audio brainwave entrainment. I actually question the value of EEG neurofeedback not combined with audio brainwave entrainment, which serves the purpose of teaching people what different brainwave states feel like. http://www.transparentcorp.com/products/np/index.php You can hook up an EEG to it to. Or build your own for a few hundred, http://openeeg.sourceforge.net/, but the signal processing is actually the hard part. Among the cheap commercial EEG products I've tried, only the NeuroSky Mindwave filters out facial movements well, but it's one sensor is not really useful for doing much of anything.
The kind of meditation that helps with ADD is concentration meditation, where starting Vipassana, when you focus intently on watching your breath, is a concentration meditation.
As I slowly recovered, I was more strict about my diet, got a lot more exercise, and started meditating. I found that vipassana-style meditation was a tremendous help.
This is speculation on my part, but I think that meditation really strengthens some of the areas that I'm weak in due to ADD. I think sitting still forces me to develop "inhibition" skills that are typically rather weak in people with ADD. Also, mindfulness develops memory skills that I've been having a lot of trouble with lately. Also, paying close attention to direct sensations and thoughts makes it a lot easier to relax, so I tend not to build up anywhere near as much stress through the day. The bottom line is that I have more energy and focus, and just seem to function a lot better when I meditate regularly.
I'd bet that you will get a lot of the same benefits from yoga, alone. But I'd like to suggest that you look into vipassana and see if it works well for you, too. I don't think you will have any trouble finding resources on the internet, but please let me know if you'd like some recommendations.
There's also the EPOC Emotiv.
I have a friend that says if I can't do my job without medication, I'm in the wrong profession. He may be right, but I love working with computers, and I don't have that passion for anything else, so I'll keep taking the meds. I'm no longer interested in debating the ethics, since for me it really is the difference between high performance and average performance, and there is no reward for average.
I hate that line of reasoning. I couldn't do my job without glasses. Does that mean I'm in the wrong profession?
I spent about six weeks doing a massive amount of research on nutrition. http://www.medicineispersonal.com/contest/home I designed a diet designed to maximize nutrient absorption, similar to diets used to great effect in people with various auto-immune diseases. I'll publish my research eventually but for now I'm happy to share it with people that email me (fair warning -- the paper is 9500 words with 125 references and not exactly easy reading).
I've been on this diet for about two months now, and was hoping that it would help me with ADD -- and I lost ten pounds to get to the lower end of the healthy BMI range and definitely gained physical energy, but I didn't get any smarter or less ADD from diet.
So I think nutritional interventions are unlikely to do much for ADD in people not suffering from marked nutritional deficiencies or on crazy sugar-loaded diets. Among therapeutic inteventions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is pretty much the only technique with compelling evidence.
Keep in mind that adult ADD is mostly a condition of lowered productivity. Stimulant drugs increase productivity in basically all adults, ADD or not. Because of fears of neurotoxicity, I stick to Modafanil and use amphetamine sparingly when I need a stronger boost. This works with my rather charmed lifestyle, but I do plan on doing a venture funded startup eventually, and believe I'd be incapable of doing 50-60 hours a week as COO without stimulants.
I'm inattentive. About once a year I decide to try to go without medication for a month, but it's too hard. I've done mindfulness exercises, tried to focus on developing new habits, etc... but medication works best. A combination of concerta and wellbutrin works best for me, because I can take lower amounts of the stimulants and wellbutrin has less side effects for me. I was on adderall for a few years, but headaches + sleep stuff made it more annoying as time went by.
I got diagnosed when I was 20 by a family practitioner, when I decided I was having problems with focusing (physics major). after a few years of that I decided he was shit and I needed an official diagnosis and a psychiatrist to sort it all out, someone who knew about the disorder and medications. We tried Strattera, which worked awesome except for the "sexual side effects" which were too weird for me.
Friends can tell when I'm on or off of it. Colleagues can't, although I'm conscious of my decreased work.
"I first became interested in what adult ADD treatments do after seeing a testimonial from an HN participant, a programmer, who said that his productivity increased dramatically after beginning ADD medication as an adult."
You should note that (according to the article) those drugs for ADD contain amphetamines.
Is it really surprising that someone self-reports increased productivity after beginning a course of amphetamines?
Anyway, the take-home from the article is that in the long term the body adapts and there are no benefits to taking the drugs in the long term, and possible negative effects to be dealt with (not sure what symptoms of withdrawl from amphetamines is, but not likely to be pleasant).
You could probably experience just as much short-term benefit from taking up smoking or becoming an alcoholic.
Find me 10 successful entreprenuers and I bet I can show you 10 people who had a tough time sitting through unengaging lesson plans in school. Doesn't help with ballooning class sizes either.
As a child I would've been the perfect ADD candidate, but with plenty of stimulation in the form of work on my parent's farm, I winded up learning how to create outlets for my restless nature. There's nothing more boring or repetitive than driving a tractor around a very large field. My mind constantly wandered and in a few occasions led to damaged equipment because of it. Lesson learned and relearned. Another example would be pacing back and forth waiting to switch the milkers on the cows during the bi-daily 1-2 hr chores. Cleaning equipment, feeding, manure removal, stacking hay bales by hand. Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, grueling.
School was fun by comparison. Even mundane lessons had their silver lining (at least it wasn't manual labor). And when I wasn't occupied with chores or school I found other stimulation; building a large purple martin bird house, flying model rockets, helping with mechanical repair, drawing, reading, shooting guns, exploring, painting ceramics, playing trumpet, and eventually, playing with our computer. The avenues of stimulation were not forced, but open. Most importantly: I could use the things I was learning in school to see how they had purpose, if not for my own satisfaction.
Why do these kids fidget and lack focus? In my non expert opinion it's because they lack both the perspective and a positive feedback loop to stimulate their own minds. It's not a disorder of the brain by any means, but a lack of purpose. Children reject the situations because they're contrived hoops with no meaning. The constant question in any child's mind is "HOW AM I GOING TO USE THIS?!" If they can't see the purpose of the lesson they haven't gained anything more than a useless set of facts.
Not being able to sit still is only one of multiple symptoms (from only one of the two categories - inattentive and hyperactive) used to diagnose people with one of several different sub-types of ADHD. (ADHD-HI, ADHD-PI, ADHD-C)
You need a certain minimum of symptoms for diagnosis.
Right now I have a strong pain in my left shoulder, I'm sure I am not alone in this right now of all the people in the world. I bet some of your successful entrepreneurs have had shoulder pain before. When it turns out I am not having a heart attack, and that all those entrepreneurs were not having a heart attack, would you think it correct to suggest that heart attacks aren't real? That is pretty much what you said above.
And beyond that, you need more then just a certain number of symptoms for a diagnosis of a disorder like this. There must be negative effects to your disorder in multiple spheres of your life. (home, education, romantic)
Suggested reading for anyone who doubts the existence of ADHD: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9991388/2200_7-barktran.pdf
The test they give for an ADHD diagnosis is a joke too. Do have trouble focusing in class? Ah yeah, most of engineering teachers aren't giving daily TED talks... :)
I can't believe the parent got downvoted so badly. Did people think being dyslexic was an insult? It's not.
Our children are our responsibility. As tempting as it is to put the child in front of a TV, or pop it a pill, or (in the future I am involved in a small way in building) stimulate neurons in the brain to get some effect, there is a huge component of taking responsibility for actually nurturing a child: being near him/her, empathizing and simply supporting.
This article reminds us, we are responsible for the kids, by leading through example and by trying to understand and taking up the challenge of correcting wrong behaviors and supporting correct ones.
The racetam family consists of nootropics that enhance mainly memory recall, although I certainly feel there's an increase in ability to think of new ideas and convey them lucidly. They're not all that new (first developed in the 60s) and are widely regarded as non-toxic, in both the short and long term (sorry, don't know how to find the study. However, as anecdotal evidence, this guy did 80 GRAMS of piracetam in one sitting, which is 100x the regular dose http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=153468).
The stimulation from piracetam, the racetam that is most commonly used, is sort of similar to caffeine stimulation but less pronounced; I have also never experienced a piracetam crash, even after nasal insufflation of a gram and a half. Piracetam also makes me much more productive, much more than caffeine ever did or probably will ever do, and I highly suggest it for anyone who is interested in nootropics!
I recently started experimenting with Piracetam. It's too early to make a judgment, but I did seem to get a heck of a lot more done in the two weeks 'on' than in several weeks prior. I'm currently doing about 2g in the morning, and another 1.5g in the afternoon. I haven't directly noticed any effect, aside from perhaps a short period of mild dizziness one day.
Now I've come to realize that "lack of attentiveness" is part of the human condition. We can make it worse by excessive stimulation and context-switching, but this unscientific idea of an "inbuilt" disability simply doesn't exist.
> Now I've come to realize that "lack of attentiveness" is part of the human condition.
No. ADHD is a hereditary neurological disorder. One of the first things that you’ll see on Wikipedia’s page on ADHD is a PET scan comparing dopamine transporter availability in a healthy brain and one of a person diagnosed with ADHD.
In children, the biological differences are real, and can by no means be explained by “experience.” E.g.
The study the article you posted cites successfully correlates brain differences with AD(H)D diagnosis. Part of the argument in the original article, though (which I can verify in my own case at least), is that while the brain affects observed behavior, behavior also affects the brain. So it's a very real possibility that experience and learned behavior are causing both the observed behavior and the brain chemistry differences.
My doctor had me try various medications. Adderall was too intense. It got me high and gave me a tendency to focus too much on the wrong level of a problem (I would obsess over details). Worse, my body acclimated and I found that I needed a higher and higher dosage to have the same "benefit".
Everything turned around for me when I found out about a different medication from a friend - Dexadrine. My doctor never mentioned it to me but once I asked him about it he agreed to let me try it. Boy am I glad he did. To make a long story short, I finally went to college, graduated at the top of my class, then went on to Stanford to earn an advanced degree. Now I have a job that I love.
I've been on this medication for almost 10 years. I never acclimated to it (in the sense of needing a higher dosage for the same effect) and the side effects are very mild (slight loss of appetite, slightly harder to sleep).
Recently I decreased the dosage by almost 50%. I've found that over the years I've somehow learned how to concentrate better, and that therefore my need for the med has decreased. This makes me think that my brain has somehow changed for the better. Perhaps all the concentrating I did while on a higher dosage served as practice and that the benefits from all this practicing apply even without the medication. Maybe some day I'll be able to get off of it completely. But for now I still have a tough time concentrating without it.
There is a danger in throwing pills at a common problem. But there is also a danger in dismissing medication as part of a solution. People for who Concerta/Ritalin didn't work often bash these drugs as dangerous or evil.
Secondly, as companies release new drugs that can target specific conditions better or safer than ever, treat conditions that were not treatable before, it makes sense that doctors prescribe medicines more and more often every year, especially as patents on proven drugs expire and the medications become available as cheap generics.
Strangely, I don't have attention problems when it comes to the things I have interest in such as coding and computer science.
“Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that—or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation—is worth it to me.”
I recently met someone who has tourette's syndrome, which means he has increased production of dopamine. In other words — the inverse of ADD. The drugs he took induced a state of ADD that was identical to what I what I experienced sans-stimulants. It's crucial for those of us with the kind of dramatic impairment that comes with ADD to get by with as much help as possible from competent practitioners (of which there seems to be a very short supply of).
I've always wondered how you have to be licensed to drive any more or less complicated mechanism, but yet you can become responsible for things thousand times more complicated and important, like children, just like that.
Having children requires a lot of knowledge, but somehow our education system is not designed to prepare us to deal with that. How many parents read books on child psychology or development? The proper alignment of incentive could help here: e.g. having some kind of a test could be a prerequisite for getting children-related tax credits and benefits.
That nails the problem but I disagree strongly with your conclusion this is a problem of individual responsibility. Its a social problem which we have to solve as a society by understanding why parents are having problems giving enough attention to their kids. The problems here are far more fundamental and pervasive to blame any individual parents for "failing".
Great video on the topic here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-KqeU8nzn4&feature=youtu...
Like cocaine, MDMA, ephedrine and meth. It differs in it's euphoric and adverse effects, but the positive influence is not permanent.
Not a single drug can help you in the long term, you have to develop the abilities yourself. These drugs have the opposite effect, because as long as you take them you don't evolve. The worst thing is when you get used taking this stuff. You give up faster and think you are unable to deal with it yourself, what leads very fast to an addiction.
So many of my fellow students are taking drugs now for learning, especially Ritalin (but also the other stuff i mentioned earlier). I tried Ritalin once and the results were impressive, but i always had a bad feeling about this. This article proves my concerns right, Ritalin is not without downsides.
Homeostasis of the human body does make any intervention hard to keep long-lasting. I take it you mean "develop" (the word you used in the preceding sentence) for where you wrote "evolve," because of course individuals don't evolve (in the biological sense of the word) but rather populations do by changes in gene frequencies. The story of obesity seems to be that change is hard for human beings, period, whether the intervention is medical or a lifestyle intervention. If a person has a personal tendency that is truly a disorder for adaptation in current society, maybe nothing should be taken off the table for the person seeking help. But, yes, I agree with you that willpower-developed kinds of personal behavior changes are surely helpful for ADD and for other problems too, perhaps more possible if they are backed up by external helps of one kind or another.
The big problem is that while you take it, it feels like it. To make the observation that this is not permanent, while influenced, is very difficult. The feeling is very subtle and not obvious like being drunk for example.
You are right, there are extreme forms who need medication. The article suggests, that the whole ADD existence is still not clear and i was diagnosed myself as a kid. I assume that just a little part of the people who take Ritalin really need and benefit from it.
When you suggest that people need to "develop the abilities" themselves, do you mean to include ADHD people in this? It is believed that people with ADHD literally cannot develop such abilities. (actually, there appears to be about a 30% lag in their development of them .718yrs = 12.6yrs, .721yrs = 14.7yrs, .7*30yrs = 21yrs etc)
Maybe it is easier defined by the complete opposite: There were tests with mice without dopamine production who starved next to food.
Maybe this is the real problem, we still don't know what we are really dealing with and we compare school grades to create some numbers.
Can you please elaborate on your numbers and who they are coming from and what they really mean?
I know some people here are easily offended, by saying there is no big difference between someone who has ADD and someone who hat not. But i am diagnosed myself and can't see a difference. We have a bigger problem here so maybe we are more entitled to take these. In the end, the problems are the same.
The main thing is, fucking everybody around me starts taking Ritalin, for the simple reason being a student. I have friend's who talk only about learning and convert into a Chinese stereotype.
I do have this transcript of a talk which does a much better job than I can. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9991388/2200_7-barktran.pdf
For more published research, checkout the references used in the publicly available stuff from that dr's website.
So you're effectively arguing against the use of that entire class of medication in favor of "developing the abilities yourself".
Don't take this the wrong way but in my experience people who take this line of reasoning have never closely known anyone dealing with real issues in these areas who have actually been helped by medication, or they don't know about it (people are often reluctant to share their stories), or they're a Scientologist.
If there is something like that, the perfect drug without side effects, i don't think you can prevent people from taking it. Even for caffeine you develop a tolerance very fast.
I once thought this too.
Everyone has issues with concentration and motivation. Most people deal with it through "self-discipline". This is great for them.
The problem is that people who haven't experienced clinical levels of cognitive issues in themselves or with others close to them often find it very appealing to evaluate others within this same framework of "self-discipline" that worked well for themselves.
Ritalin is not the wonderdrug you take and become a perfect student.
Someone who I know personally literally went from having many D's and F's in high school to being valedictorian in college after being treated for ADHD with methylphenidate (Ritalin). For a certain (small) percentage of the population on the far end of a certain spectrum it does indeed make a huge difference.
If you have read the original article, the question is if this can be sustained over a long period. When the person you know get's into his first job and he is totally dependent on Ritalin what happens when the effect wears off?
A good friend of mine started with it at grade 8, about 4 years after that the problems were slowly coming back. He blamed different things for it, but he never the medication. I mean it worked so well in the beginning. I wonder why there are so few long term studies, that is exactly the behavior that is significant.
When the body is somewhat dependent on methylphenidate to produce enough dopamine, the situation is worse than before. I mean we still don't fully understand what affects the production of dopamine. That is exactly the reason why you have to know how these things influence you over decades.
No one will ever "fully understand" dopamine.
Almost all medications will have some side effects that patients and doctors have to balance against benefits. Good psych doctors know that everyone is an individual and even for the same individual treatments sometimes need to change.
I think your "dopamine dependency" concerns are greatly overblown.
What is your proof of this claim? As with most generalizations, I doubt there is one.
The article suggests Methylphenidate does not have positive long term implications, but here in Germany for example Dexadrine is not available as treatment for ADD. So you suggesting we have not access to the effective medication.
Just curious, did you stop it sometimes to check the difference? I was also diagnosed with ADD, but only took Ritalin over a short time when i was a kid.
Having said all this, I want to point out that my doctor told me that different medications work for different people. I may just be lucky enough to have the right body chemistry for a drug like Dexadrine to work well for me.
It always seemed weird to me that huge amounts of people should be taking Speed on a daily basis. Has there been any research into treating ADD with stuff like low-carb diets, vitamin D, limiting EMF exposure, limiting videogames, fish oil, filtering chemicals out of drinking water? I'm just throwing those out there as hunches; I have no idea if they're scientifically valid.
With the explosion of ADD prescriptions, one has to wonder if our society/environment is causing this problem. Is it diet? HFCS? Modern parenting styles? The internet and information overload?
There are plenty of people who are objectively normal, in the sense of having traits that fall comfortably around the median of the population, who in this context feel that they're pathologically abnormal, because they're using very high baselines: if you calibrate "normal" by the 90th percentile for some trait, and you're 50th-percentile, it's tempting to conclude that what's holding you back from being at the top of your field is a medical problem that should be treated. And maybe it still should; I'm not inherently against taking drugs to mentally enhance people's performance above normal levels (nootropics, etc.), but imo that's a separate discussion that should be had with open eyes.
And how are you going to address the open wound? There’s no brain surgery for ADHD.
A better analogy is that of wearing glasses. Glasses don’t actually fix your eyesight, and you need them all the time, but they allow you to function normally. Medications used for ADHD treatment are exactly like that.
> With the explosion of ADD prescriptions
There’s an explosion of sensationalist reporting by general media. ADHD is still under-diagnosed in USA, and it’s even worse in Europe.
It’s exactly the same as the “explosion” of autism. No, the vaccines are not causing autism, just because there’s more data and a better awareness of the disorder.
ADHD is still under-diagnosed in USA, and it’s even worse in Europe.
At what point is the tipping point reached between the "defect" being addressed simply being the norm?
It’s exactly the same as the “explosion” of autism.
This explosion is also because the "autism spectrum" is so broad that it covers everything from the barely functioning severely brain impaired to people that are occasionally moody. At some point, the cause is part of the normal spectrum of human behavior and as such it's questionable whether any type of "treatment" is required at all - especially for children.
To extend your analogy: The problem is that we seem to be one of 2-3 prescriptions to everyone without prefect 20/10 vision, including those with 20/30 vision, color blindness and no eyes.
I'm skeptical of any "disorder" that classifies large sections of our population base as being "deficient". While I don't discount that ADHD does exist, I find it hard to believe that it does so at the levels you would suggest it would.
I encourage you to give that a shot and report back on your results.
People with ADD tend to be tooo calm and appear to be slow ,on the other hand those with ADHD (including me) tend to be too Hyper , our minds are at full speed all the time which affects concerntrating on things we do not enjoy.I found out that Ritalin works well for me by relaxing the pace of my thoughts ,which in turn allows me to focus on a BORING thing like a volumous book.
So now how can you give a person with ADD (Slow thoughts) a drug that will make them more slow and expect results.
My conclusion is that Ritalin works better for people who have ADHD then those with ADD,and the reason why results on the improvement that Ritalin has ,have varied time and again is because a drug that work for one group (ADHD) was also given to those (ADD) it does not work for.In such a situation results will never be consistant.
I cannot respect any parent who allows their minor child to take these types of psychotropic drugs in any but the most dire of situations. Reading ADHD forums was an absolutely horrifying experience for me: parents list the multiple drugs their children are taking in their signatures as if they're badges of honor.
After 2.5 years of trying various ADHD medications I gave up on them completely and have never looked back. Yes, most of them did have the benefits they promised, but the types of side effects they're capable of producing can absolutely wreak havoc on your emotional well being even in their most mild forms.
> But in fact, the loss of appetite and sleeplessness in children first prescribed attention-deficit drugs do fade (…). They apparently develop a tolerance to the drug, and thus its efficacy disappears.
Those are side effects in the context of treating ADHD.
Here’s a great summary: http://www.reddit.com/r/ADD/comments/no6hp/would_anyone_be_i...
I strongly feel that if the parents of children on ADD meds actually used the meds themselves, many of them would decide on alternative treatments.
Always dreaded school. The 8-hour-day stagnant, unchallenging classroom model never compelled me. Maybe it's time to accept that if a kid isn't compelled by our education system we might have a systemic problem that can't be fixed by prescribing kids speed until they can make it through 8 hours without having a wayward thought.
A low dose of amphetamine helped me focus on my ambitions after I'd spent my entire life scavenging for freetime to chase them outside of school. But frankly, I couldn't tell you what came first: my "ADD" or my contempt for the education system.
I just wrote about it on Quora.
My mom regrets putting me on meds and felt unsure about it at the time, but it was all the rage in the 90s. I think a young person with focus problems would get a lot more out of meditation, yoga, and being outdoors that they would out of these drugs, but I don't have studies to back that claim.
I just hope we look back on what we're doing and shake our heads, wondering how we could be so stupid to put millions of kids on amphetamines. Just like how we look back and laugh that we used to give children a bit of mercury to play with (with bare hands) in science class in the 50s.
The side effect that most annoyed me was actually loss of appetite, which is basically accepted as 'normal' when taking stimulants. Anxiety was probably a bigger issue with Adderall, though. I don't recall ever talking to someone who felt zero side effects from any these medications.
Gut reactions and vague impressions will get us by, just like they always have
I don't remember the names, but a whole generation of anti depressants was shown to be completely useless and harmful. The initial studies were fabricated and/or got into journals unethically. The various decade long studies on Ritalin also show it to be largely useless and harmful.
Homeopathy is offensive to people who respect science, but it's a noble lie in the current market conditions.
Twenty seconds on Google Scholar would lead me to the opposite conclusion. Your source?