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How can attention deficit disorder be treated?

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Practicing since : 2004
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I am a 31 year old male and I have a suspicion that i might be suffering from ADD. A few months ago i started to get very frustrated from my lack of attention and focus on the job at hand (or even the entertainment at hand for that matter). in the past i would brush off this lack of attention and tribute it to a general lack of interest in my job or in what i am doing. more recently i started my own company which i am extremely excited about and still i experience this lack of attention and boredom with what i am doing and this is when i realized there is a bigger problem that i need to check into. I researched ADD online and took a few tests and most of them came back positive. Now i need to know what should be the next step from a professional who would assess my situation better.

Below is a more detailed account of why i suspect i have ADD:

- cant focus on one thing at a time
- at work:
- often find myself switching between tasks, writing several emails at the same time, dropping one task to do another.
- I must have several websites open, news, sports, music and frantically switch between them never having the patience to finish reading an article before i find myself on another or writing another email
- Often find my mind thoughts so mixed up that i have to drop everything and take a cigarette break to clear my mind only to come back to the same mess.
- with all this happening, i am also very easily distracted by my phone (personal emails, sms, instant messaging)
- eventually everything gets done but very inefficiently and i am left extremely frustrated
- at home:
- At all times the TV and PC are on and i find myself switching between them.
- quite often when i am watching a movie or series on my laptop i pause it to flip through the TV channels. if i find something interesting on TV i watch it for 5 minutes and then im back to the movie or series on my PC... and the cycle goes on. quite often i also have a few websites open at all times which i switch to, get bored of, and move on to the next.
- whenever i think of something im interested in researching i drop everything at hand and start my online search only to find myself getting bored and switching back to what i was doing before then coming back to the research later
- in addition to the above i am smoking all the time and snacking once in a while to occupy myself with yet another thing.
- so im always doing 4-5 things at a time and its very frustrating.
- no patience for reading anymore
- I used to enjoy reading a good book once in a while, i was never a too much into reading but at least when i would start a book i would finish it. now i dont have the patience for it any more. i even have trouble going through an average length news article.
- Laziness:
i’ve always been a little on the lazy side but more recently its taking me way too much effort to get myself to get up and do the things i really want to do or simply must do.
- multiple interests:
over the past few years i’ve picked up, got bored of, and dropped several interests and hobbies only to come back to them, get bored, and drop them again... thats very frustrating especially that i really enjoy them. ex. golfing, motorcycle riding, learning spanish, scuba diving.
- trouble structuring thoughts and communication:
when planning for work, errands, or social tasks i find it hard to structure my thoughts and plan efficiently
- when speaking on writing i find it difficult to communicate what i am thinking
- procrastination

Below is a list of ADD symptoms i found online. the source suggests that if 15 or more syptoms apply then there is a high chance i have the condition: ( the number of “+” indicates how severly i feel i have the condition and “-” indicated that i dont feel i have the condition)
+++ Constantly distracted by thoughts or stimuli that interrupt actions or conversations
- Needing to change physical positions often, getting out of chair, moving; history of childhood hyperactivity
+ Spacey or daydreaming, trouble concentrating
+++ Many thoughts and ideas, seemingly all at once
+++ Multi-tasking, often doing several things at once (such as TV, e-mail, talking on phone, reading)
++ Focusing so avidly on an interest that everything else is forgotten
- Tactless, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time
- Missing social cues, behaving or speaking inappropriately
+ Needing to write or doodle in order to pay attention in meetings
+++ Inability to concentrate or sustain focus on reading (not necessarily dyslexia)
++ Poor short-term memory
- Chronic lateness, poor time judgment
+++ Inability to work within the rules of a corporate or bureaucratic structure
- Inability to work effectively without imposed structure
+++ Chronic clutter and disorganization
++ Inability to prioritize
+++ Inability to get started on tasks such as bill-paying, laundry, mundane paperwork
+++ Procrastination
- Perfectionism
+ Poor follow-through on completing projects, leaving "loose ends"
+ Inappropriate anger responses, defensiveness, placing blame on self or others
- History of fractured relationships, misunderstandings
- Thinking in black / white terms; things or people seem either all good or all bad
- Often taking on more than can realistically be accomplished
- Thrill-seeking behavior, or enjoyment of risk
+++ Intolerance of boredom, changing jobs or hobbies often
Posted Mon, 7 May 2012 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 13 hours later

Thanks for your query.

It is nice to see such a detailed and precise description of problem inspite of having problem of ADD.

Important points of your query:

•     Long duration symptoms of ADD.
•     Currently exacerbation of symptoms.
•     Stress in the form of recent self employment and non fulfilment of task.

Apart from ADD I would like to consider presence of Depression in your case because of following reason: low mood, increase frustration, lack of interest in personal/occupational life and exacerbation of difficulty in concentration.

Although your depression appears secondary to ADD but both conditions need treatment in your case.

Following steps will be helpful in your case:

•     Take psychiatrist consultation so that he can start treatment after your assessment, especially with the medicine which have effect on both condition (Depression and ADD) like: Atomoxetine, bupropion, Fluoxetine etc, depending on suitability of your case.

•     Ask for help from your friends and family members in managing your work.

•     For ADD some behaviour exercises will help you to increase concentration like: focusing on black point on wall, cutting specific letter in the news paper, separating 3-4 different colour grains after mixing them.

Hope this answers your query. In case of any doubt, I will be available for follow ups.

Wishing you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How can attention deficit disorder be treated? 4 hours later
Hello Dr. Mittal,

Thank you for your response. I have a few more questions:

1. from what i described, what is the severity of my problem in your opinion?
2. realistically how much improvement should i expect from medication?
3. can the problem be resolved by other methods than medication?
4. being diagnosed with ADD at my age, does that mean i have had it all my life without knowing or is it something that can develop at adulthood?
5. throughout my life i have felt myself experiencing phases of depression (i dont feel it now). i never had it professionally diagnosed since it was always a phase that passed. my question is about the relationship between depression and ADD. does one cause the other and are they normally present together?
6. Can the ADD symptoms be caused by events in someone's life or is it something inherent to someone's being? in other words, could i be experiencing these symptoms because of certain events in my life or the general conditions i am living in or is it something that i was born with?

looking forward to your reply

Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 6 hours later
Hello again,

1.Severity: It can be commented only on personal interview. As your symptom exacerbation may be because of depression, I would label severity of depression as moderate grade.

2.Improvement in symptom: As your ADD problem is not from childhood then there is very good chances of recovery but it is difficult to say in percentage.

3.Other treatment method: In your case problems are more, so medicines become main line of treatment. After improvement you can follow other methods as I described in previous answer along with meditation or yoga.

4.Symptom for whole life: In your case clinician need to assess ADD symptom after resolution of depression, then only prognosis in future can be commented.

5.Relationship: ADD associated with increase chances of developing anxiety/depressive illness more than two fold.

6.Cause of symptoms: ADD symptoms occur due to biochemical abnormality in brain. Apart from that ADD like symptom can occur in anxiety and depression. Stress can precipitate anxiety/depression but it is less likely to cause ADD.

So XXXXXXX start treatment with psychiatrist consultation as soon as possible and you will experience great relief.

Thanks again for writing back to me.

Wishing you good health.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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