I Think I Have ADD

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, I have been struggling with complete disorganization, frustration, forgetting, unable to complete daily tasks, keep up with my laundry, keep up with house work among other things. I blow up at my children when they ask me to do something, I’m easily annoyed, its hard for me to have a gathering at my house because the anxiety gets too out of control if I have to make coffee, have snacks or even a conversation without getting up and walking around aimlessly to do something, I dont know what. I associate that with nerves. Meanwhile, my laundry is piling up, the beds are not made, I havent looked in my childrens book bags in 3 days and not being prepared for things my kids need for school. I’m going to see my family doc this week and I’m hoping that she will be able to help me out. I have been on 4 different antidepressants and I also and XANAX (just in case). I rarely take it at all. My kids have missed so many show and tell days at school because I forget to give them something. I’m extremely moody, I get very upset and cry. Thankfully my husband keeps up with the things I cant. I am grateful for this, but on the other hand it makes me feel ashamed of how I am. I feel lazy. I fold the laundry then it sits in my room in the basket for DAYS AND DAYS. My kids complain they have no clothes to wear, it can be complete chaos. I need help. Where should I start and how can I convince my doctor that I need meds for this. Help.

A: My instinct is that this isn’t ADD. You didn’t indicate that the disorganization has been life-long. ADD isn’t something that just shows up during midlife. I suspect it has more to do with the anxiety and depression. It could also be that you are having a reaction to the medications you are taking (your agitation could be medication-related, for example) or that the dosages aren’t right.

You should definitely talk with your doctor about how you’ve been feeling and how difficult it is for you to get through a normal day. But — I doubt the answer is more medication. Medicine is no substitute for learning how to cope and manage.

The best treatment is usually a combination of medicine with some focused talk therapy. The medicines have the advantage of working quickly (when they work) and giving you a little relief so that you can think straight. Talk therapy helps you find better ways to function in the world for the long run. Your therapist would give you ongoing support and encouragement as well as practical strategies for taking charge of yourself. Yes, this takes time. But the result is usually more self-confidence and competence in dealing with the multiple stresses of family life. Some people are then able to wean off medications all together. Others continue to need some support from meds but they are part of a holistic treatment plan, not the “cure.”

I hope you’ll ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist. Life really can be better. You and your family deserve to have you back to normal.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 May 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). I Think I Have ADD. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/08/i-think-i-have-add-2/