I rode along to play the role of a moral supporter today as a friend took a big step in her relatively new ADHD journey.
To set the stage - she's a great woman, but ran into some trouble a few years ago during a particularly isolated Wisconsin winter and was diagnosed with atypical depression. She was put on Wellbutrin and it had some positive effects. She's mostly thought of herself as depressed these last couple of years.
In getting to know her, she's told me some things about her life that struck me as indicative of ADHD. She was an extremely bright girl in school - placed in all the advanced classes and even skipped a grade - but she couldn't sit in her desk for very long. She actually showed me a picture of the solution that her teacher came up with in conjunction with her parents: A SEAT BELT! She moved in 7th grade to a school that didn't have a gifted program and eventually ended up dropping out in high school to do home schooling. I don't know what that experience was like, but she finished it fairly quickly and didn't decide to go to college. At 30, she's finally enrolled.
I do so much reading and thinking about the topic of ADHD that I am loathe to ever suggest anyone look into whether or not they may have it. Like most people with a hammer, I see many nails in the world. Plus, I learned the hard way fairly early on that suggesting someone may have ADHD can have a detrimental effect on your relationship with them. So many people translate that suggestion as telling them that there is something wrong with them - or worse - that they are crazy.
2 months ago I slipped her my well-worn copy of "You Mean I'm not Lazy, Crazy, or Stupid?" with the promise that I'd buy her a personal pan pizza if she'd read just ten pages in it per day. I then left it alone.
She had an appointment with the community care psychiatrist today and wanted me to come along for moral support. The possibility that ADHD is at the root of her depression (or at least a co-morbidity) has given her a good deal of hope. She's optimistic about the possibility the struggles she has with time management, organization, and locating her keys may have an explanation other than her lack of caring and about the possibility that these things don't have to be a struggle with her forever.
The meeting didn't go well. The psychiatrist immediately took the approach that she was medication seeking and basically went through the Wechsler test. It seemed pretty clear to me that she associated a diagnosis of ADHD with a prescription of stimulant medication - which was and is a fact not in evidence.
My friend was pretty deflated. I would've been, too. I wasn't in the room, but it didn't seem like the psychiatrist even considered ADHD a possibility - despite the fact that she revealed a family history of the diagnosis (I wasn't aware of this, but her father was diagnosed with ADHD years ago).
The only thing the doctor said was that depression is often the root cause of ADHD. She didn't mention the possibility that my friend came in to explore - that the ADHD might be the root cause of the depression - and she certainly didn't address the notion that the Wellbutrin my friend had been prescribed for depression had alleviated most of her depression symptoms, but hasn't had a great effect of the executive functions.
The statement that was repeated to me that stood out was the psychiatrist stating that the ADHD medication has such a short half like that the negative feelings would come back when it passed out of her system. It was very curious wording. She didn't say the depression would come back, she said the "negative feelings" would come back. Maybe I'm mincing words, but I don't see negative feelings as the sole province of depression.
If you've read this far, I'd love feedback (& thank you). Has anyone run into this sort of treatment? What does it mean? Is it just a wall that people have to climb in order to convince the doctors they aren't medication seeking? Is there a prejudice on a stimulant medication treatment Vs. an SSRI like a Wellbutrin? Are there other explanations that you can think of? Has anyone had a similar experience?
Anyone have an experience like this
I am all to familiar with this type treatment by the medical community as a whole. To make a long story short, approx. 15 years ago, I DX with a brain tumor actually a pituitary adenoma. The previous three years, I was passed around to so many doctors who were not looking for a tumor but wanted me to believe it had to do with the fact I was over 40 years old, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da, there was nothing wrong with me "it was all in my head". It was but none of them looked. When they finally did, it was approx. 1" in diameter. It is very frustrating trying to communicate with some doctors and it usually because they (the doctors) don't have very good listening skills.
Nick, I take it you live in or around Green Bay, WI. I live in Menomonie, WI, the one on the Western side of the state over by the MN border. Even though, we are a across from the state from each other; it is nice to know we have another Wisconsinite here on the board.
The doctor had a trainee with her and even though I wasn't in the room, I am hoping that had something to do with it. Perhaps, she was just being extra "by the book". I wish I were qualified to give an ADHD diagnosis.
I'm actually in downtown Madison. I was never good enough at alcoholism to stay in Green Bay. My heart (and cutie pie little brother, Calvin) is in Green Bay.
I've had an experience slightly similar...but with the opposite response from my doctor. When I was diagnosed and prescribed medication, my doctor told me that it seemed pretty obvious that any depression and anxiety that I had expressed in earlier appointments seemed to be partially caused from ADHD -- besides the fact that I had a tumultuous childhood, which causes issues in itself. He left the decision up to me whether to be on an antidepressant for anxiety and depression, or to handle it myself with biofeedback and whatnot. Since I'm a student, he requests that I meet with him at the beginning and end of each semester to make sure I'm doing okay, since I went through a huge adjustment in starting college and being diagnosed all at the same time.
About the negative feelings -- I'd say that once I was treated for ADHD, a lot of my "negative feelings" went away, because I finally had a hold on my life and was in control, after going through my entire (short) 20 years of being in a whirlwind of overwhelming feelings. Sure, I have days where I hate the world, anyone who follows me on Twitter could see this. I'm basically an emo kid on those days, minus the flippy hair.
My thoughts on this -- change doctors, maybe? People are so different, and a different doctor may see that. Maybe once your friend has a chance to explain herself and to someone who will actually listen to everything, she'll get a better response.
You weren't looking too hard into your ADHD when we first met as I remember. Good to hear you are feeling better about everything.
This may seem a little elementary as a question, but what is the course of action for biofeedback? I've heard the term, but I've always imagined it meant hooking nodes up to your head and reading brain waves. Surely, I have the wrong idea. It can't be that, can it?
Biofeedback is putting a...I dunno what to call it, pulse counter? The clip thing. On your finger, the thing that measures your pulse. Haven't a clue what it's actually called. Anyway, you put that on. It reads your pulse, since when you're anxious, your pulse is faster. You watch a computer screen that has a ball bouncing, or clouds floating by, something with speed. The faster it goes, the faster your pulse. You have to focus on slowing it down using relaxation techniques.
And about my ADHD, after a while, I just got entirely too caught up in it and researched in my down time. I know a lot of random things about it now, and why my brain works so oddly compared to the rest of "normal" peoples' brains. I take "normalcy" with a grain of salt though -- my brain is normal for me and that's how things are going to stay.
i have lived with depression due to undiagnosed adhd. which never fully aleviated with treatment with ritalin maybe that is what the doctor meant. Also when the ritalin is inactive you return to your adhd state. The negative feelings i get do not go away, they are not depression anymore the understanding my diagnosis gave me helped my early depression.
however the way my adhd head tends to ruminate negatively is not treated when ritalin is not active. that is based on how i can not understand my world and what do wrong because of my adhd. i'm focused and medicated but not given the tools to change and that gets me down. the negative feeling could also be; the foggy feeling i get that the ritalin helps clear. it returns when the medication wears off. maybe the doctor is confusing adhd related depression and adhd symptoms?
sometimes adhd and depression co exist and that needs to be treated i so agree there. i have also lived with depression later on in life due to an event that triggered it, but was not adhd related. i have noticed a differnece from my two experiences. i hope you understand what i am saying as it's hard to explain what i mean.