Women With ADHD ADD

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how does Strattera compare to a stimulant?

Hi Everybody

I am writing this to introduce myself and open a discussion about my experience with ADHD and Strattera which can hopefully lead me to suggestions of what my next steps should be in taking care of me and my ADHD .

I have been on Strattera for a month and a half. I finally decided to get officially diagnosed and treated for ADHD at the ripe old age of 54 because the combination of menopause and life long untreated ADHD sent my condition into overdrive at a time in my life of major transition. Getting a lot of stuff done right now is essential. .

Let me go back and tell some of my ADHD story. I as a kid was described by my Mother and others as out of it, a day dreamer, space head, or “as a person with her head in the clouds”. My mom would get furious when yelling at me about what ever because she didn’t believe I was listening to her. I have a long history of scatter braininess manifested by constantly loosing and misplacing things, starting things and not finishing them, an inability to implement and complete ideas or task, and an aversion to details (also according to my Myers Brigg assessment). These attributes have lead to anxieties around loosing things and being locked out of places where I go into a panic attack until I find what I lost or get inside of where I am locked out of. My Mom would always say I can tell when Turkey has been around because there is a trail of evidence that shows where she has been (i.e. doors open, things dropped or spilled, lights on etc.).

From my teen years and beyond I did a lot of recreational drug experimentation and would react to drugs opposite of the way a normal person would. I got stimulated from depressants and depressed from stimulants. I would take amphetamines to study for school and although I could study effectively and function better I would get crazy ideas like what is the point if living if you can do everything perfectly and nothing is a challenge and feel very depressed.

My brain especially since menopause is like a pin ball machine and my thoughts are like a pinball. I will start a task and something will emerge to trigger me to start on another task in the course of working on the first task the second task will completely derail me. So I drop the first task and jump into the second task until maybe a minute or two latter when it is evident that a third task needs to be done at which point I drop the second task and start the third task right away. Eventually I am sitting scratching my head trying to remember the original task and what to do next.

I am a person that excels in the things I find interesting or am comforted in and can spend endless amounts of time learning every detail about my interest or engaging in a specific compulsive behavior despite anything else going on around me. On the other hand I cannot muster an iota of attention or effort, motivation or willingness for doing things I feel are boring or that I have no interest in. I just learned the term hyper focus a few days ago in teaching myself about ADD and hyper focusing is how I now understand myself to also be hyperactive although to the outside observer I come off as an inattentive ADHD. As an infant I hyper focused on sucking my thumb, as a young kid I began as a compulsive nail and cuticle picker which I still do and which the Strattera has had no effect on, when I get bored I can spend hours picking my nails.

These compulsive activities I now see as a form of hyperactivity
Two years ago I took swing dance lessons and became obsessed with that. Of course I have become quite a good dancer and go out 3 nights a week. When dancing before Strattera I was not at peace unless I was on the dance floor every minute I could not sit still and if I did I was not at ease. Since Strattera I can sit out dances and socialize or just relax which is evidence for me that the medication is doing what it should do. The thing I first noticed that made me believe the medication was working was that I was more patient. Which allows me to do what is needed for getting things done versus jumping to the next task that pops into my head

The main downside to Strattera is fatigue. I feel tired from it when I am dancing or climbing a flight of stairs. I am worried about what the drug is doing to make me feel so tired and how is whatever is making me feel tired affecting my overall health. It has also suppressed my appetitive and made it quite easy for me to loose that last 8 pounds that I wouldn’t have lost otherwise. (A side effect I am very happy about because generally speaking the skinnier I am and the less I weigh the more satisfied I am)

I see a new psychiatrist next week and am going to ask him/her if I can try one of the stimulant medications. I like Strattera and it is working in a subtle but effective way there is no issue with insomnia and one pill works 24 hours a day. I have mixed feelings about the long half life and I miss my old ADHD self. It curbs my appetite which I love but what I don’t like is it makes me feel tired and it causes high blood pressure which I had a borderline case of before I started it. I want to try a stimulant drug for a while and then decide which drug works best for me.

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Comment by Blueswife on January 23, 2010 at 5:20pm
I was diagnosed with ADD in September '09. I am 44 years old and have struggled with PMDD and ADHD and didn't know it! Doctors would yell at me or just hand me birth control pills and tell me that I would feel better. It wasn't until I was brave enough to call a psychiatrist that I finally knew what was wrong and how to get help.

The doctor increased my Lexapro and started me on Strattera. The starter pack started at 25 mgs and increased to 80 mgs within 4 weeks. After being on the Strattera for about 8 weeks, my irritibility increased and I had to get off of it. I started again at a lower dose, 10 mgs, and increased much more slowly. It probably sounds strange, but I have reasons I don't want to take a stimulant. I started taking the lower dosages about 6 weeks ago and I am now up to 40 mgs/day. My mood is much better and I am focused enough to know that I am not focused enough. Starting at a lower dosage and increasing it slowly, I have not experienced all the side effects as I did the first time around. My appetite is about the same, I am not as cold all the time and I don't have the heart palpitations or the fatigue, as you described it. I am willing to increase the dosage, but I want to do it slowly so my body can adjust to the side effects while I benefit from it. By the way, when I stopped taking the Strattera, all the weight I lost while it suppressed my appetite, came back very quickly and then some.
Comment by k mac on January 23, 2010 at 1:31am
strattera doesn't work very well at all. Before it was an adhd medication they tried to market it for an antidepressant. Try Vyvanse.. it's the best medication available to letting you be yourself and helping control your adhd symptoms. Vyvanse will help you keep the weight off and not make you tired like strattera..
Comment by Jen on January 20, 2010 at 9:30pm
Hey Turkey,
I can relate to SO much of what you wrote. I was FINALLY diagnosed w/ADHD at age 29 when I went back to college. I pretty much read a book about it that my mom had because my brother also has ADHD, and diagnosed myself. The psychological evaluation confirmed the diagnosis.

Anyway, I started out taking 60mg Strattera. I noticed a subtle difference much like I had experienced taking Zoloft (SSRI antidepressant). My mood was better, but I didn't really notice that much of a difference in my ability to concentrate. After being on the Strattera for a month, i went back to my psychologist/pharmacologist for a follow-up. This time he added 15 mg Adderall in addition to the 60mg Strattera. The difference was mind boggling. I went from being able to accomplish in 2 hours what had previously taken 8 or 9 hours. My grades in courses that I was not remotely interested in (core requirements) went from C's & D's to straight A's. It was amazing.

Since then (this was in 2006), I had to stop all meds cause i had 2 children and couldn't take them while pregnant or breastfeeding. My hormones have been all over the place, and I'm trying to get back on a good medication regimen. I have been on 40mg Strattera since Oct. '09, and again, my mood is more stable but I can't concentrate very well. I'm home full-time right now w/my kids, so the type of work I typically do on a daily basis is different from when i was previously on the Strattera/Adderall combination.

OK, in a very round about way, I don't think Strattera works nearly as well as Adderall for ADHD, and most experts in the field recommend that one try a stimulant first. Unfortunately, many doctors who don't specialize in treating adult ADHD push Strattera, and unless they do the research or you point it out to them just don't have current info and are hesitant to prescribe stimulants to adults. I no longer have access to my original doc since he was affiliated w/my university, and I've already graduated.

You might be on too high a dosage if you are experiencing high b/p and fatige. Here's a link to a really good website by Dr. Charles Parker (well-known psychiatrist in field of ADHD) http://www.corepsychblog.com/2009/04/adhd-medications-use-the-thera...

I linked you to a specific page about the therapeutic window that I found helpful.

I'm not in menopause yet, but w/ two back to back pregnancies, I've experienced trouble w/ the right meds due to hormonal fluctuations. Feel free to ask any ??s. I've had a good bit of personal experience w/ Strattera. My husband is also ADHD (Lord help us!! :-) and has also taken Strattera & a couple of other combos. This stuff is so trial and error. But, hang in there. I swear it's worth it! I'm not a dancer, but I've been an athlete my entire life and have always felt that I think the most clearly when moving.

Good luck to you, and I look forward to hearing how you're doing.

Jen

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