Is Your ADHD Treatment Making You Worse?

Is Your ADHD Treatment Making You Worse

If you are being treated or are going to be treated for ADHD, it is important to look at a study released last week by the journal PLOS One. For many patients, the popular ADHD medication methylphenidate (Ritalin) has been shown to have both positive and negative effects. This study shows that treatment with methylphenidate increased the amount of dopamine transporters in the brain by 24% over the course of just one year of use. Likely, this is not a good thing.

How Can Ritalin Make ADHD Worse?

Dopamine is the brain chemical largely thought to be responsible for reward-motivated behavior, and ADHD is often associated with low dopamine activity. In your brain, synapses are the places where neurotransmitters like dopamine stimulate action. Dopamine transporters are responsible for clearing dopamine from the synapse into surrounding cells once the dopamine has “fired” its signal. The more quickly dopamine gets cleared from the synapse, the less dopamine is available to do its work. Methylphenidate gets results by blocking dopamine transporters, giving your brain more opportunity to get the benefit of the dopamine.

You don’t want excessive amounts of dopamine transporters hanging out in your brain, or whatever dopamine you do have gets cleared quickly.

This study, done by noted neuroscientists Gene-Jack Wang and the National Institutes of Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow and others, dealt with adult sufferers of ADHD who had never before been treated with medication.

They took 18 never medicated ADHD adults and did PET scans on them before and one year later. They compared the ADHD adults to 12 normal control subjects, also scanned at baseline and then a year later. The ADHD subjects treated with the drug showed a 24% average increase in dopamine transporters, while the control subjects showed no increase in transporters.

It appears that while methylphenidate is blocking the transporters, it’s also somehow inspiring the multiplication of them. Imagine, then, what happens to the person with ADHD who wants to stop taking medication. He or she may be even more vulnerable than before taking medication.

ADHD/ADD & Medication

There is a lot to learn, and clearly ADHD medications have long term benefit for many. However, it brings into sharp relief the reality that we ought to be cautious in the prescription and use of pharmaceuticals in the treatment of any condition of the brain, including ADHD.

The reality is that ADHD is for the most part being treated with too much medication and not enough case-by-case understanding.

Shortly after I began brain SPECT imaging work over thirty years ago, I realized that ADHD is not a single or simple disorder. There isn’t just one brain SPECT pattern for sufferers of ADHD. It took me several years and thousands of scans to identify at least seven unique SPECT patterns in ADHD patients, each of which ought to be treated differently.

If you had chest pain, your doctor would go through a series of diagnostics to discover the exact nature of it before prescribing you any medication or suggesting any procedure. In my experience, ADHD should be approached with the same attitude of caution, discovery, thoroughness and sensitivity. One treatment does not fit every ADHD patient!

Have you ever discontinued use of Ritalin or other stimulants for the treatment of ADHD, only to find symptoms return?

ADD is a complex medical condition that cannot be summed up by simple, blanket statements. These ADD myths attempt to oversimplify and stigmatize individuals with ADD. The truth about ADD is that given effective treatments, support, and strategies for overcoming challenges, individuals with ADD, can and do, thrive. If you are in need of support for yourself or a loved one with ADD, contact us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online.


  1. When my son was in the 4th grade we put him on Quillavent for ADHD. For the first 4-5 months his school work improved. Then he started experiencing hallucinations, nightmares and facial tics. The doctor had us stop the meds immediately. I believe the meds plus the immediate withdrawal made the progression of his disease alot worse. He is now on the autism spectrum, ADD with developmental dyspraxia. We recently had a SPECT and EEG, showing severe inflammation. He is now on Lamictal, supplements, going to OT and soon to start neuro therapy. Too soon to know if this is going to be the right course of action, but I do believe we are on the right path now.

    Comment by Carrie — April 18, 2016 @ 9:58 AM

  2. hey there! I have a son who is adhd, anxiety, odd, He was on Ritalin and it made is behavior unbearable. Someone mentioned to me to have him checked for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. He has told me his eyes shake sometimes, he seems to be staring into space…and sometimes i feel like he just isn’t my kid…there are other symptoms I have with him…but is this possible? Thank you for your time.

    Comment by Amy Heckethorn — May 18, 2016 @ 2:37 PM

  3. Hi Amy, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy is a possibility. It might be a good idea to have a phone appointment with one of our doctors. Please give us a call at 866-260-8227.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 19, 2016 @ 11:49 AM

  4. You said that stimulants increase chemicals in the temporal lobes. Is it both methylphenidate and amphetamines that stimulate them? Or just amphetamines?

    Comment by P.F. — January 14, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

  5. Hi, I have a situation that bothers me. My son seems to be hyper and always on the go but he is 4. I had him evaluated and he was cleared for ADD, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. He listens well and is able to learn quickly. he is already able to read and is farther along in some subjects than many kindergardener at his school. He started pre-k a month after his evaluation. His preschool teacher has been bugging me regularly since then about getting him re-evaluated because she is sure he has ADHD. She compares him to a previous student she had and insists that medication would help. The psychologist that saw my son will not put a label on him and refuses to evaluate him again until the end of the year. The teacher however has pushed and pushed until his pediatrician received a questionnaire the teacher filled out that makes him fall into the ADHD category according to that piece of paper. He has now been prescribed methylin and is taking one dose a day. He’s been on it for a week and the teacher sends good reports home already even though his doctor said it would take a month to really work. I was on the fence about the meds but now I’m just very uncomfortable with it. My son was always a good listener and strived to do what was right and for a 4 year old he was pretty trustworthy, he was just always on the up and up until bedtime. Now my son acts crazy after school like I’ve never seen before. He spins around and gets into things he would never touch before. He colors on the walls, gets angry and has outbursts for no reason. He doesnt listen well anymore and generally just seems like all his regular energy has been packed into the few remaining hours of the day rather than spread out evenly and its not being channeled positively. This kind of behavior has him doing things that get him into trouble at home yet he’s “just great!” At school and I know it’s not right. If my son doesn’t actually have ADHD could this medicine be messing him up? What are the effect of a stimulant on someone without a hyperactive disorder?

    Comment by Mom — January 28, 2017 @ 6:55 PM

  6. High norepinepherine and/or low gaba would be my guess. Gabaergic should be the treatment option, but I am not a doctor and thus I cannot have the brains to know this and figure it out when the standard Dr. is confused by it.

    It sounds to me like he is becoming angry/agitated as the medication wears off at the end of the day. Ritalin boosts dopamine and norepinepherine. If you love your son keep him off Vyvanse and Strattera.

    Comment by Veevslav — April 14, 2017 @ 11:12 AM

  7. I’m an 18 year old guy that was prescribed 60mg/day vyvanse not for diagnosed adhd, but for treatment of anxiety with symptoms/suspicion of Adhd. I have always gotten good grades and have kicked ass at everything I do. I took vyvanse because It turned my brain into a Machine, My grades went from b to A+ and I felt like this is who I am, with more self-control. As time went on the vyvanse grew less effective til I was unconsciously aware of the fact that I was messing my brain up pretty good. Of course I thought if I was it would get better, my doctor told me this was a safer form of adderal, and I never binged on it. I figured this is what a tolerance feels like, until I stopped taking them for 6 months. (cold turkey) I now feel like a once confident respectable person, that people look at like kid. The Medication masked the stress of normality. I lived in auto-pilot for a sizable portion of those six months, and until I had concern about my brain health I was perfectly content living a life-style far from one I had invisioned for myself. Why would I be bored in school when I can write in a notebook all class period and have a blast? I graduated high school, stopped taking the medication, met ends with the girl I loved for a third of my life, moved away from everything I really cared about, and started an apprenticeship. I picked up on things faster than anyone my supervisor had trained, I should be a successful person right? I fuck everything up now. My brain has not come close to a full recovery, it’s all up and down as far as cognitive ability and energy. While a newly found passion for my work ethic has appeared its hard for me to care about much at all. It’s almost like a bipolar switch at stressful times. What the hell do I do? I’m ready to give up.

    Comment by Christian Lamon — July 29, 2017 @ 8:13 AM

  8. HI, I know its been a year since you posted, but I was wondering if you got any answers to your problem? I have ADD and have these times when I stare into space, as well as anxiety and other negative behavioural traits. Just been researching the link with Temporal lobe epilepsy and ADD so that I can get the right treatment here in the UK. Just been put on Ritalin, but still having these weird long stares when Im tired and not sure if the meds are working as I seem to task jump just as much and fast as I did before.

    Comment by damon libby — August 7, 2017 @ 6:53 AM

  9. I tried generic ridalin at 38 for the first time and it made me feel foggy and confused. I tried Vyvanse a couple years later which is today. It gave me ADHD symptoms I don’t normally have. I became impulsive, and innattentive, my heart rate was 124 all day, I felt all amped and chatty. It makes me wonder if I don’t actually have ADHD. I have sensory integration symptoms and some autism symptoms. I also have depression, anxiety and I’m always irritable. Sigh, it’s made me a bad mom. I want to be the best mom I can for my child. Not angry yelling mom. I need help

    Comment by Suzy — November 30, 2017 @ 7:24 PM

  10. Hi there, first off thanks for taking my question. I was
    wondering, What is the difference between Adderall and Cocaine?
    Both make me feel about the same. If you could offer some insight I would really appreciate it.
    My doctor hasn’t even given me a clear answer.

    Comment by Recovering Addict — December 15, 2017 @ 5:51 PM

  11. Christian, personally, I think that is part of the problem with ADHD…you are consistently inconsistent…you might notice it more now that you had a contrast of on and off the drugs.
    I am 58 and I would often joke that my second grade teacher could have diagnosed me with ADHD because I presented as that hyperactive kid but I was sharp enough and loveable enough that I wasn’t a major problem, at least not in school, but I’ve certainly have had my ups and downs in life and only in the last few years through the glory of podcasts and Facebook ADHD groups, have I found answers to why I felt and did the things I did all my life…from my anxiety over Christmas shopping (overwhelm) and my time blindness, finally, something made sense.
    I even quit drinking at 24 after doing drugs and drinking for 10 years but seeing that there was no future in it so I had several decades without any drugs so I’m a good control…except that I literally used nicotine gum for 10 years to self medicate I believe…nicotine is a stimulant.
    So, I believe the drugs didn’t change your brain as much as you might be having a selective memory of the hard times that the drugs might have helped.
    Well, that’s my story for now and I’m sticking to it

    Comment by Lab — September 1, 2018 @ 2:10 PM

  12. Suzy, maybe you don’t have ADHD…what made you conclude you did have ADHD?

    Comment by Lab — September 1, 2018 @ 2:12 PM

  13. Wow Lab, me too with the nicorette gum. I am about to go for my first psychiatric appointment after realizing over the past few weeks (in observation of my son’s challenges mirroring the struggles I’m having in graduate school) that I have ADHD. Honestly, I struggle with accepting its a real thing still even though looking back it makes so much sense. I got major depression my first year into college prep high school, wouldn’t leave my boyfriend’s closet most of my sophomore year and then got most outgoing of my senior class and all A’s in AP Physics and Calculus and a full scholarship offered to Michigan State. Fast forward 20 years, I am a single mom, nearly 40, and still haven’t started my career. I finally got myself into graduate school last fall but my life is literally falling apart around me. I have a son with ADHD (getting full testing end of this month) and dyslexia and with my un-diagnosed ADHD all of my life I have always just been playing catch up. What has been your most helpful strategy for managing your brilliance? I’m nervous about not getting the right medication tomorrow and having all this hope shot again.

    Comment by Heather Livonia — October 13, 2018 @ 12:09 AM

  14. read a chemistry book?

    Comment by Heather Livonia — October 13, 2018 @ 12:11 AM

  15. I am 35 and have highly noticed add symptoms. Not being consistent, making careless mistakes, isolation, depression, sometimes anxiety especially with coffee. I am going to see my primary care dr tomorrow. I know he will
    Prescribed and I am happy for that but nervous at the same time. What about cbd oil? Does having insurance help
    With the cost? Does it help at all? I just want to be able to give my best. To focus and not lose my job. Amy suggestions would help.

    Comment by Monique — January 31, 2019 @ 11:05 AM

  16. i started on adderall a few months ago started 2 10’s a day that was amazing for 2 weeks never thought i could feel driven and excited about peeling a banana and working 60 hour weeks at the same time. After the 2 weeks i still felt real stimulation but about half as much and then the 4th week I felt hardly any improvements at all. I went back to my dr and walked out with a script for a 30 xr a day and another one to stay on the 2 10’s a day. i felt better because i thought that would solve all my problems first week on that dose was horrible had insomnia and i was all over the place but i didnt feel that cns stimulation i had from the first two weeks still not even close so i decided my dose was probably too high so i spent another week doing just the 30xr and then maybe 1 10 after work but i had become very apathetic and still all over the place with some brain fog and spacing out frequently. so i decided maybe a 10 ir to wake up in the morning and a 30xr would do the trick this kind of improved it but not really. I became more depressed and had symptoms of mania (i.e. extreme paranoia, overthinking, bouts of sadness, lots of anxiety, lack of trust in people i normally trust. So that came to and end after a week not the symptoms completely but the high dose i was taking. Im not only taking the 2 10’s a day again until my next app. i dont think anything will ever be like my first two weeks and im still dealing with the general apathy but i no longer feel manic and have no withdrawal symptoms i can also take a nap an hour after taking my 10. I dont know where to go from here i think im going to discontinue adderall and not give methylphenidate a go. i dont think amphetamines are for me. The first two weeks and the 30 pounds i lost because i stopped overeating are the only part of this 2 month eye opening experience i enjoyed. kind of sounds like a 2 month cocaine bender doesn’t it. i never abused it i just took a dose within limits the highest dose i ever took was the 50 in a day and i still felt like i was losing my mind slowly. Be very careful with this stuff take breaks and dont take too much to try and get that feeling you used to have back. If u take this drug and its not effective after a month DO NOT try a higher dose. It’s not worth it and if i didn’t have the love and support from my girlfriend who told me to get the hell off of it whats wrong with you id still be going down this rabbit hole. if you dont feel like it lasts long enough do not get the xr especially generic xr the stuff is horrible compared to ir. This is my review of this drug and has put me off of amphetamines i dont think ill have any long lasting side effects from taking this but i did feel like my organs were happy with me on it. especially my liver and kidneys. Be careful and i promise you’ll only suffer for a day or two with the nicotine withdrawal like symptoms of the adderall comedown if you go from a higher dose down to a lower. Im going to be off of this shit by the time i see the doctor and treat my other symptoms to improve my apathy and not just target the adhd symptoms that only amphetamines can treat. i feel like myself again just found out that all i really want is to feel good when i get something done going to look into modafinil to finally feel awake without the adderall and caffeine combo. Also something to get rid of my apathy so i can enjoy peeling that banana and working 60 hours a week like a normal person not like someone who’s on a cocaine bender or how i feel now which is nothing most of the time. if you truly want that reward feeling for completing something and this only works for you for a few weeks or a month and becomes less effective or non effective like it did for me make sure you stop what you’re doing even if you’re pretending your find but you know you’re not. Your doctor is only a call away and get u changed to something else pretty quick. This stuff should also never be given to kids im 22 and this shit messed up my brain chemicals so bad after just 2 months

    Comment by LF — March 5, 2019 @ 5:24 PM

  17. Mom, it sounds like your son may be 1 of the many boys who are victims of the societal (and political) obsession that insists (against most evidence) that starting “school” earlier and earlier is good for kids. You should read Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s book, “Better Late Than Early,” in which that make a convincing case, based on neuro-developmental evidence, that boys should not be in a formal classroom setting that requires any kind of sitting still until at least age 7. Get your son out of there and start home schooling him during the moments when he wants to read a book with you, or do cool stuff like collect different types of leaves in your backyard or local park. When he does finally graduate from your home high school, he will have better SAT scores and far better social skills than the kids who had to deal with the nutty rules and standards (and dreadful peer pressures) of the public school classroom for 14 years

    Comment by Flentropy1 — March 15, 2019 @ 5:38 AM

  18. The Moore’s book was first published in 1975, with the 7th edition in 1989.

    Comment by Flentropy1 — March 15, 2019 @ 5:46 AM

  19. My son who is adHD at 27 still has problems with regular life issues he has been on Vyvanse for 7 years. He says it not effective any more. So he stops for 7 days and then he is really a mess. Can’t get anything done does anyone else have this problem.

    Comment by Kim Smith — March 15, 2019 @ 7:48 AM

  20. Hi Mr. Amen
    I’m Ebru Avcı I live in Turkey. About 12 months efexor,I’ve been using concerta for 8 months. I know it’s gonna be the same when I drop the drugs. My complaints are ADHD and anxiety.Can’t focus while reading a book,Forget most of the time,mood is very complicated. I’m more aware of your book by reading.Offer Suggestions for me.Too many side effects of drugs. Biologist is my profession and I’m investigating a lot.They do not have enough equipment in Turkey and most doctors give drugs. Help me please.. Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Ebru Avcı — March 16, 2019 @ 2:57 AM

  21. Sounds like the teacher has the issue!
    I see it more and more in elementary school settings.

    Comment by Vicki — March 16, 2019 @ 5:00 AM

  22. I have a cousin who, as a child, had “brain arritmia”. His eyes moved and he started staring at nothing, then come back to normal. He was diagnosed after an electroencephalogram and treated w meds. I’d check the possibility. I’m no doctor, and I don’t have knowledge on the subject. I’m just sharing a case in my family.

    Comment by Thelma — March 16, 2019 @ 3:13 PM

  23. There is no surprise that one can feel similar with cocaine and Adderall. They effect the brain similarly. Being a recovering addict though it is important that you avoid taking a substance in such a way to induce addictive patterns and it is best you “feel” nothing after you take it. Ideally, you would “feel” nothing when you took Adderall because the changes it caused in the brain was small and gradual. The dose taken matters! I recommend you request a long acting form of Adderall that won’t cause the surges in dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens associated with inducing addictive patterns. With steady levels the risk of “compulsive” or inappropriate dosing goes down significantly with Adderall and for that matter other addictive substances. The brain likes homeostasis and that is why it changes in response to most potent medications it is exposed to including alcohol, nicotine, etc. No surprise there are changes related to chronic methylphenidate use as the report indicates. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Often so. Clinically we do not see much in the way of tolerance to the effects of long term methylphenicate use. This is reassuring and counters some of the fear associated with this basic science report.

    Nicotine has a lot in common as well with cocaine and Adderall. If there is a history of tobacco use one might even use a nicotine patch to help maintain steady levels and address symptoms of ADHD (this is an “off label” use of nicotine but clearly can help some who suffer from ADHD) I think the taboo against using stimulants in recovery for substance use disorders is exaggerated particularly if long acting forms are used and the use is professionally monitored. I expect judicial use of stimulants can likely improve recovery for a subgroup of patients. Vyvanse would be even a safer option for someone who has a history of a stimulant use disorder because the release is inherently slow and so much less likely to be abused even though it is scheduled the same as other stimulants..(A defect in the scheduling systeem in my opinion)

    Comment by James Rotchford, M.D. — March 16, 2019 @ 6:16 PM

  24. It is no surprise the brain attempts to adjust to regular use of methylphenidate. I would expect the degree of changes are related to dose and might differ with Immediate Release compared to Extended Release forms. The bigger the “change” in serum levels the more likely the brain will work to maintain homeostasis. I think it is wrong to alarm patients by evidence for changes in the brain following use of a substance, for the changes could even be “therapeutic” This is true whether one takes a pharmaceutical or a potent natural substance. These sorts of changes are to be expected! The important question is what is the clinical relevance. It is reassuring clinically that tolerance to the effects of methylphenidate are not apparent and patients can be expected to maintain the same dose over extended periods of time unless something new comes up…like sleep apnea or other causes for poor sleep as examples.

    Comment by James Rotchford, M.D. — March 16, 2019 @ 6:24 PM

  25. Ok so im 14 i was prescribed with methylphenid a little less than a month ago i bugged my mom to help me get it, it was helping for 2 weeks max then i saw the side effects there overwhelming i cant sleep like barely but im not tired until im outright exhausted then im out like a light, next i barely eat ive always been skinny, but ive lost 7 pounds since i started 147 -140 not a big number but for my height to weight ratio its not good, and aswell my memory is weird i feel like somethings missing i dont know what i dont remember how many siblings i have basic math that i forget and i love math and i think im becoming depressed im not the kid my mom wants me to be so why try i gave up on that but i dont wanna dissapoint her or my stepdad but its all im good at not being good enough. If anyone knows whats wrong please text me or something i dont feel like Dominic i feel like my cokehead dad (3065374985) thank you goodnight and also i think im bipolar

    Comment by Dominic — April 1, 2019 @ 2:37 PM

  26. .I’m 43 years old.

    I was suffering a lot throughout my life, and things really hit rock bottom last year.

    I have always worked super hard throughout my whole life.

    As a kid I was involved in a lot of sports then chose to focus on karate and soccer. I feel that doing martial arts helped me a lot without me knowing it.

    I had to study super hard through school and found it very hard to have any type of system to help me learn and take exams. I was a little over average, but compared to friends that put in the same effort as I did – they were at the top of the class.

    The first time I noticed something was not right was when I was at a friends place, watching a movie with some other kids. I was around 15 years old and the kids would have been around 8 years old. When the movie finished the kids were commenting about the plot etc and I was thinking to myself that I had no idea what the movie was about…

    So I let that idea disappear…

    Then take a leap forward in time, over 20 years later and I recall myself making comments to people saying that if I look back now I would have been diagnosed with ADHD as a kid.

    I recall sitting on the matt for story time, where the teacher would read part of a book, would read the book to us over a number of days. I found it difficult to follow the stories especially when it came to the bible – I was totally lost. I just sat there pulling tassels out of the carpet.

    I had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and tried to start so many different businesses. I had to do lists over a metre long! I had out of control spending where I racked up so much debt. I gave it no thought to spend another $3K on a coaching course etc and this threw me into a hole of debt over 6 figures.

    I bought every planning, time management, journally system there was and nothing helped.

    I bought every planning system, meditative courses, focus CD’s, binaural beats, different brain pills, I tried making my own nootropic concoctions…and got all my mercury fillings removed as I thought this could clear my brain.

    I was a very impulsive spender without knowing it.

    I did SO many dumb things without given any thought at all to the consequences.

    I was hiding credit card statements from my wife,

    The financial pain was killing us. My wife cried herself to sleep every night and would hit me in the middle of the night to say that it is all my fault, that we are so far in the hole and there is not light. She explained it like having a claw in her stomach and even got an ulcer and started taking medication.

    The scary thing was I had a wife and 2 young kids who needed me to provide for the family. I could not even depend on me! I would have hated to be in her shoes looking at me to provide security for the family and the potential of buying our own home one day.

    I was losing so many jobs and contracts as I was getting too overwhelmed.

    I found it hard to even attack doing the dishes – it felt like a complex project to me. I need a checklist for packing the car when going away. I was a mess. The stress was high and that is a killer. I thought I was going to leave Becky and the kids as I could not provide financial security.

    For many many years I would say to people that I felt like I would have been diagnosed as ADD as a kid at school. I could never follow a story from start to finish, could nevel follow movies, never could follow the words of a song no matter how hard I tried, found it very hard to read and understand books. I went through Uni – worked my ass off to get average results. I went through so many financial jobs when I was in London as I could not stick with anything as I got bored. I spent money on ridiculous things as I was so compulsive.

    I was so depressed and my Dr put me on an antidepressant. I took it for about 10 days. It did not help at all and made things worse. I looked up the side effects for the drug I was taking and basically I felt like I was experiencing them all – all negative and no positive – so I stopped taking them.

    I was looking for jobs that literally required me to do one task. When I saw jobs ad saying you must be able to multi task – I discarded them.

    Now a few years later, at the age of 43, my wife was watching a documentary on Netflix which was about students taking Adderall.

    I was not really watching it but it caught my attention. I then rewatched it on my own, then decided to search for an online ADHD test, and it was so revealing.

    I then booked an appointment with a mental health doctor and had to wait about 2 months, then the day finally came.

    I sat in his office and took his test – yet again – such an eye opening experience and I started to cry…

    After the Dr doing thorough checks to see that I was a legitimate case, I was then prescribed slow release Ritalin (20mg am and 20mg early afternoon).

    My life changed immediately!

    I wrote a comprehensive list of all the new things I began to experience. Being able to listen to a song from start to finish and understand the meaning, watch movies, perform tasks, stop all my crazy spending, think things through and the implications…which all led to gaining back my self confidence and opening a whole new world for me.

    I have now got a much better understanding of myself and set myself free.

    The biggest long lasting changes (been taking them for about 6 months now) has been awareness, especially around money! I really got myself into such a deep hole and kept repeating the pattern and now can’t believe the way I used to be. I am in a very challenging role that requires me to master many different skills and my boss sings my praises to others. I am on top of my game.

    Summary: For me, Ritalin has saved my life. I was literally on the brink of thinking I need to leave my wife and family…or this planet. It was a dark place.

    I sleep well (I track this) and continually try to improve my sleep and this is the most important thing for me to perform at a high level in life. I test using meditation, melatonin, different times going to sleep, listening to binaurals etc. I have a good appetite also and eat pretty well, hardly drink alcohol and don’t do any recreational drugs.

    I hope my story resonates and helps others as we are all here at different stages in our lives and have unique chemical makeups/imbalances, but for me, this has worked.

    One last thing, I normally stop taking Ritalin in the weekends unless i am doing work. I was noticing that I felt down in energy and spirit by not taking it in the weekends. I am taking 1mg of Tyrosine daily and seems to be working to offset this.

    The experiments continue…

    Comment by John Bolt — April 5, 2019 @ 2:03 PM

  27. I’ve been on methylphenidate for a year now. Initially it made me more sociable for a very short time, but then just made me very tunnel vissioned, less creative and less able to interact with the students I teach. After stopping it I don’t really feel any worse than when I began maybe for a week or two, but after that I become a lot happier and more spontaneous. I don’t think it has made the symptoms worse in the long run, but there is a period of a couple of weeks or so where that seems to happen. As an elementary school teacher it’s important for me to play with the kids. I was never an antisocial person to begin with, but it seems to have made me just very good at planning lessons, but very uninterested in interacting with the student’s. It really dampers my spontaneity. This seems to return after a couple of weeks off. It would be interesting to see if the dopamine transporters disappear again after discontinuation. I don’t feel worse adhd symptoms than when I started, I just feel more sociable. Where as on concerta I seem to just be good at planning and waking up on time, but yeah it’s not all good. It also seems that the initial few hours after it kicks in I can be social, but then even though it’s extended release this quickly disappears. Perhaps higher dopamine has the effect of lowering serotonin, is that possible. Overall I think It is very useful for one off occasions when you have a lot to do, but will probably cut back from taking it for work.

    Comment by Antony — May 31, 2019 @ 8:24 AM

  28. I am a 44 year old male. I started to take Adderall/Vyvanse when was I was about 36 after my wife suggested I had ADHD. I new I was always more “high strung” and hyperactive than most people but always saw it as an advantage. I am a Civil Engineer (was an Air Force Officer) generally did well at school. Long story short. I used the stimulants for about 6 years after not being able to manage my high energy with lots of exercise due to kids and other life requirements. The drug only worked slightly at first then I slowly increased my usage. It has fucked me up big time. I cannot focus now at all, I have been living with chronic insomnia for the last 10 months. I have been off it completely for 6 months but the negative side effects haven’t gone away (I have been out of work the last 6 months and am not stable even now to be able to even pump gas). I am worried I did some permanent damage to my brain. I have serious anxiety, depression and have become suicidal because my nervous system is so jacked up and I can’t slow my brain down (yoga, meditation, working out doesn’t seem to help). I think it has done something to my default brainwave states. I have come to realize that I have the “Ring of Fire” type ADHD that Dr. Amen talks about and which he does not recommend stimulants for (wish I had known that). Be very, very careful about using medication. Most docs and psychiatrists don’t understand the differences between types of ADHD and you can real be doing damage to yourself and your kids if you just listen to these docs without researching it yourself. I feel only very small percentages of the worst case situations should be using meds. I went most of my life without using any and did fairly well because I was supported by a loving family growing up who accepted me for who I was (several of my siblings are un-diagnosed ADHD’ers and have done well because they have found jobs which work with this temperament). My wife wasn’t as supportive when I started to struggle as an adult and so I went to try the medication and it has destroyed me mentally. If you read forums on reddit and other places you will see this constant theme of finding it useful for a short period of time initially, then increasing dosage continually over time to try and reproduce the initial result. This almost always ends it very bad consequences like anhedonia, anxiety, depression, insomnia, inability to focus on anything. I live with constant panic/crying attacks everyday that have no trigger because my brain chemistry has been messed up. I would advise not giving children any of these medications unless they are violent or have severe emotional issues.

    Comment by Jonathan — July 24, 2019 @ 5:53 PM

  29. Hi Mom,
    Firstly take him off ty he meds and give him a tic tac or pretend med. This is so he can report to the teacher he is taking tablets. Wait for her feedback. My guess is it will be that he is going great!.
    Now, does the school get special funding for ADHD students? If so, then this is clearly the motivation behind her actions. Check it out….

    Comment by Carmeletta — August 15, 2019 @ 2:36 AM

  30. Hi Kim,

    I am 45 years old, I was diagnosed at the ripe old age of 9. I have been taking Adderall since I was 11. I have tried Vyvanse, Strattera, Ritalin, Focalin etc…
    More important than the medication is the relationship he has with his psychiatrist. How accessible is the psychiatrist? , how flexible? How willing is your son to try other medications?

    Are there other underlying conditions etc? . Many people let their regular family MD handle ADHD dx’s and for some people that’s just fine. In my experience, the best approach to ADHD is a combination of psychological and psychiatric treatment.

    My ADHD when out of control would have me engage in thrill seeking behavior, often leading to dangerous situations. Lack or organizational skills, follow through and it simply is exhausting. The amount of mental effort it takes to complete something as menial as making a sandwich can be frustrating, and lead to unhealthy emotional states. This is why psychological counseling is so important. A good therapist can provide you with tools that make organizing and prioritizing tasks easier. The medication helps your focus, absolutely it allows you shut out distractions and control your hyperactivity. It does not teach you how to organize or prioritize.

    ADHD medications can be life changing, they have been for me. I have two degrees, a fruitful career and two amazing kids. That being said, finding the right medication, nailing the proper diagnosis and finding the right health-care provider can be a tedious and lengthy process.

    ADHD as a diagnosis is a very clear cut set of symptoms, as a condition it’s experienced differently by every individual. I strongly recommend that he re-evaluates the relationship he has with his psychiatrist and supplement his treatment with psychological therapy.

    I wish you both the best.


    Comment by Leo U — January 20, 2020 @ 3:56 PM

  31. I'm 17 and I've only recently been diagnosed and treated for ADHD in January of '23. right now i'm on 40mg Vyvanse with extra 5mg of dex as prescribed by a psychiatrist who specialises in adhd. My grades are amazing and i've improved a lot in terms of focusing on things like school (although i still procrastinate a LOT), but i still get extreme brain fog quite often and i'm constantly forgetting things – more noticeably now than before medication i think (this could be just because i've been paying more attention to my symptoms since diagnosis but it seem to constantly be forgetting details. overall i feel completely uninterested in everything now. obviously loss of appetite is a side effect as vyvanse also treats BDE but i feel like my passion for life is drained completely. i feel so foggy when the dex wears off and sometimes completely emotional (as in sobbing for no reason when a person tries to talk to me) i can't decide if i liked myself better before medication when my grades were all over the place or now when i can't even get excited to talk to my friends. it's difficult because i thought all i wanted was just ot improve at school but i feel so low all the time now even when i'm on the medication. the thing is its not just appetite for food its appetite for everything. seeing friends, watching tv shows i usually love, talking to people. i just seem to start crying when people ask me questions and i keep accidentally escalating conversations to the verge of arguments because i get so defensive. suddenly everything is really boring and all i want to do is sleep and only eat at midnight (once th vyvanse wears off).
    the other day i forgot to take it in the morning and slept in and i felt like eating for the first time in months. i knew loss of appetite was a very real side effect i just didn't know it would bother me this much. i love food but at the moment it feels like looking at a plate -without a distraction like TV- is a chore.
    i don't know what to do? could i go without and try adhd-coaching instead? maybe vitamin supplements? increase/decrease my dose? i have no idea.

    Comment by N. E. — May 31, 2023 @ 8:39 PM

  32. What people often fail to understand is that medication for ADHD is a trial and error thing both with the compound and dosage. I am almost 50 years old and at 9 years old I was given benzadrine. I still remember the first time I took the medication. I could actually listen to my parents, teachers and friends. I found joy in my school tasks. I was able to read more than 4 sentences. In 1996 my psychiatrist prescribed adderall. It felt similar to benzadri ne but I could organize myself better. It reduced impulsivity, and I could literally formulate thoughts methodically, linearly before they became words. It gave me time to decide whether or not I actually needed to say those words When I was started on Adderall my psychiatrist also referred me to a psychologist. I was to receive evidence based therapy while on the medication. At first I didn't find there was any benefit to the psychological approach. But looking back I believe it was just as important as the compund if not more. The therapy taught me strategies it gave me tools that allowed me to execute better even when I was off the medication. Therapy also allows you to get the most from the medication. I am 49 years old, I am so grateful that these medications exist. I completed two degrees, one in engineering and one in psychology. I still take the medication to this day. My symptoms are not as severe as they once were but severe enough to cause issues at work. I actually require less medication now than 20 years ago. I often skip it during weekends. I am healthy, I exercise regularly and eat healthy. I have two boys and "surprisingly" they both were diagnosed with ADHD. The eldest is on Adderall, and receives psychological evidence based therapy. He is doing well. The youngest while displaying all the symptoms, they have yet to hinder his academic performance or social interactions. Medication is not advised at this moment.
    To the parents of Neurodivergent children don't be afraid of this medication, but understand is not a slam dunk from the start. It takes a lot of trial and error. But it most certainly works.

    Comment by LUO — July 20, 2023 @ 8:44 AM

  33. Adderall is Literally Named After 'ADD For All' In fact, “A.D.D. for all” is the phrase that inspired the name Adderall. And Ritalin (in honor to Rita, the wife of the molecule discoverer). 🙂

    Comment by Roberto Autran Nunes — July 28, 2023 @ 1:55 AM

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