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ADHD in Women

ADD + Comorbid Anxiety & Depression

I was diagnosed with ADD three years ago at the age of 40, though I was 99% certain I’d had it as far back as adolescence. I have comorbid depression and anxiety to boot. It’s extremely difficult for me to focus, I experience long periods of lethargy, and have an awful time controlling my impulses. Since my diagnosis, I’ve noticed the symptoms have become more pronounced. I suspect as woman going into perimenopause, my hormones might be influencing that. I take 20mg of Prozac and 10mg of Adderall daily. Pretty small doses, but as I’m extremely sensitive to medication, these amounts can’t be increased. I’ve tried, and the side effects were terrible. Otherwise, the meds help… a bit.

My primary problems, however, are the anxiety and depression. I can barely get out of bed most days because of them. As a result, I miss a lot of work, and recently dropped all of my classes for the Spring semester (I’m working towards a college degree) because everything seems overwhelming right now. Everything causes me anxiety, from picking socks to wear every morning to making plans with friends to sticking to my work schedule. I’ve become more isolated, I pick unnecessary fights with my partner, my debt has spiraled out of control, and I’ve started entertaining thoughts of suicide. Nothing gives me joy anymore, and everything feels like a chore. I can’t get help because I have no health insurance (can’t afford it), and I can’t work more than 30 hours per week because the anxiety I experience is too great. I say I can’t not because my PCP has told me, but because every time I’ve tried I’ve burned myself out to the point of madness. And to save anyone asking, I’m not in the least bit religious nor do I have a support network. My family are old-school Europeans who don’t discuss mental illness, and though my friends are great in other ways, they really don’t understand, so I get is mostly “snap out of it” type of responses from them. Even my boyfriend doesn’t understand the depth of my depression. They all try, but I think that unless someone has experienced mental illness for him/herself, there’s no way they can sympathize.

I feel cornered, and very alone. I have no one and nowhere to turn to, and no way of getting the help I need. I don’t even know what I hope to gain from posting this, because I’ve tried every suggestion imaginable. I’ve heard of people who are resistant to any kind of treatment, and I’m beginning to think I’m one of them. If that’s the case, then what is the point of living?


I feel the same way. That’s all I can say and give you. I’m sorry.

Posted by Pink ginger on Jan 31, 2017 at 4:48am

Have you ever tried Provigil (Modofanil generic) instead of adderal?  It is an off-label use for depression and ADD/ADHD?  It has helped me some.  I can empathize with how you feel.

Posted by Magenta6 on Jan 31, 2017 at 12:13pm

The terrible thing about depression is that everything folks tell you to do is what depression stops you from doing. Exercise, diet, meditation, and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps are all out of reach. It’s a vicious irony.

So what to do? All these things can work if you can only get to do them. Everyone responds differently but it often happens that if you can do a tiny bit more of anything that brings you joy, comfort or peace, you are headed in the right direction.

If the Boston Marathon is out of the question then perhaps a longish walk might help. If religion, meditation and yoga are out of reach then perhaps going to an art gallery or a library can be diverting.

Spontaneous remission is possible but not that likely. The key is to learn to forgive yourself for all those things which are past (most of which are not your fault anyway) and do little things which are even mildly useful.

Also helping others, done often enough, can help shut down the internal judge. It’s not an instant cure but it can be a brick for a new foundation.

Your well written post is an example of a step in the right direction.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Jan 31, 2017 at 2:32pm

I feel exactly the same way, am on the same dose of Adderall, am roughly your age, and can relate totally to your situation! The lethargy in particular that you describe is crippling. It takes me hours and hours to wake up and get moving. I am hoping others will chime in and relate to us!

Posted by leelee2 on Jan 31, 2017 at 9:54pm

I’m so sorry you and others feel this intensity in this way right now! It’s frustrating when we feel so much a loss of control over our bodies, how we would like to feel and when it is so on going

It is terrible to feel that others don’t get us, whether they do care but still don’t understand or others who don’t really care. All of them do not live in our body. Mine doesn’t get it either but he love me for other reasons. and there are things that I don’t get about him either.

I highly recommend having your hormones checked out. Yes changes like that do effect so much, but it’s not worth doing ourselves in over. Those who love you will suffer from your lose from this world. You have something to bring to it. There is not anyone like you that have the same combination of talents you have, and personality in combination. You are a gift to the world and have something only you can share. Your smile your manner of being here is a wonder and blessing. Give the gift of yourself to you and to others.

I would get myself into bright warming flood lights whether you get some into your home or go out into shops with beautiful things displayed under them if you can get yourself out of the house. Visit with the sales person some if they seem friendly. During really
bad times I also tried some St John’s Wort.

If your having trouble choosing sock, stick to two colors. Dress in ways that you feel nurtured, example I love soft textures so I wear them, in sweaters, and scarfs, If you like pika dots wear them often.  I use scents. Lavender is calming, orange and lemon lifting. I have a tabletop water fountain that I listen to or YouTube natural sounds. They have water fountain ones too. I saved out a string of Christmas lights and put them in a cut glass bowl and now I’m going to enjoy them all year round whether from my couch or just being in the room. I watch birds from my windows, lay in my hammock, rock in a rocker or glider. Wear hats that sing to my heart. Create a small space that is your mini oasis inside and outside your home. Do be sure to do something everyday that you love, once found joy in, or brings tenderness into your life daily. Record them and read them occasionally. It helps you remember what you like or what has meaning to you.

Learn from examples of courage around you. People who have gotten thru rough things, and find out what they did to get them on the other side to live with dignity amidst hardship and life time issues. Read the stories of others on this site or TED Talks etc. I read a story about a gal who could no longer walk, but still wore her high heel shoes while in a wheelchair instead of getting rid of them because she could no longer walk in them. How can you show up in “high heels” in your own life? You can a little at a time. What little thing can you do like that that could help you get thru another day.

Allow yourself what you need that is lifting to make your world work for you. Keep things real simple if need be. Like the sock, it makes the matching of them easier if you have two colors all the same type, like tan and blue or black and white. Hooks instead of hangers. One or two boxes for your shoes. Your most used ones will always be on top. File by broad categories. Colored folders. Use colored items to find them easier. Allow yourself what you need to do to make your world work for you instead of you working for it. Use your spaces in how you want to live your life not necessarily how the whole world thinks you should. Adrianne Benefit found her client was an advid crafter and needed space for thoses items including fabrics, but she hardly used her kitchen cabinets. So they had a small area for the clients quick meal prep for her microwave meals, and the rest of the kitchen cabinets had her crafting supplies and table and counters for working with her projects. Thinking out of the box in our own circumstances create new life and vistas into our old.

You can have some control were you can by your own creations in your environment even if the doing is done in small amount of time. You change just some part of your own world that can bring back some positives while you gradually learn to deal with the rest.

After seeing numerous doctors the past 21 months, I’ve been struggling with overwhelming Chronic Fatigue which has been depressive and significant weakness in my arms and legs that came on suddenly on top of already having ADD.I have been practicing all that I’ve shared to help me survive all of it. 

I am hoping that something’s I’ve shared might help you and others continue along life’s path.

Posted by Marr on Feb 01, 2017 at 8:43am

Talk to your prescribing doctor about your depression and anxiety. It’s possible a medication change could help. There are other ADHD medications to try and other medications similar to Prozac.

In fact, there’s a little-know interaction between amphetamines (Adderall) and Prozac and Paxil, so your medication likely isn’t helping all that much, and could be helping more:

John is right to point out that depression is itself a barrier to so much of the advice for depression. I think the key is to take baby steps. Choose one thing to do (go for a short walk for instance) and do just a little of it today. Even if it’s only 10 minutes. It’s a process and takes time.

Here’s more on comorbid depression and anxiety with ADHD:

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Feb 03, 2017 at 1:50pm

Thank you everyone for your replies. I appreciate the time you took to write them.

I’m trying to do as Marr suggested, and create a “space” for myself and do little things here and there that I enjoy. Sadly, a lot of my anxiety right now comes from my financial situation. I wish money weren’t so instrumental to our comfort, but there’s no denying that it is. My symptoms prevent me from going out there and making it, and on those occasions that I do, it always slips through my fingers.

I’m currently reading an excellent book called “The Power of Meaning” by Emily Esfahani Smith, which discusses our need to have purpose in our lives. It’s really resonating with me because I really feel that I don’t have one, and I fear I never will.

Anyway, thank you again. Good luck on your own journeys.

Posted by amb1974 on Feb 06, 2017 at 8:27pm

Linda Roggli and Terry Matlen are having an online Palozza. The video recordings are free for 24 hours after each played interview with 36 professional guests!!! It started today!!! Monday. Check out the event.  Marr

Posted by Marr on Feb 06, 2017 at 10:57pm

I’ve been struggling with a very similar situation for a long time. I only got my ADD diagnosis about a year ago, and Adderall has had limited usefulness. Before my ADD diagnosis, I was given Sertraline for depression and it… basically made me crazy, so I’m not taking an anti-depressant for my comorbid issues with anxiety/depression.

I recently discovered that the birth control pills that I was taking were severely affecting my depression issues. I stopped taking them entirely and it’s helped clear up my thoughts and emotions enormously. I’m still having motivational issues, but I’ve been reading that it can take a long time for hormones to balance themselves out…

I think you would be best served by making sure that your hormone levels are where they should be and that something isn’t having an adverse effect in that area of your life.

I know it’s hard and frustrating to feel like nothing is working. Three weeks ago, I was in the exact same boat, wondering what the point of anything was if I couldn’t function… It’s not 100% with me. It’s probably not even 50% with me, and your situation may be different than mine, but don’t give up. I know it’s easy to say, and I know that doing this without the support of family and friends is excruciating… but, it can get better. It’s a matter of finding what isn’t working for you and why it’s not working. I hope that you’re able to, and that you know you’re not alone.

Posted by frankiebgoode on Mar 02, 2017 at 9:30pm

I can relate to your post in the most genuine way. I feel like it takes me forever to get anything done and the avoidance is horrible. I have the depression nd anxiety also. I was lucky to have insurance and did dbt and it helped. I now instead of completely beating my self up and add to the mountain of things not done.. which then lead to a whole host of other problems have learned to give myself permission to do just one thing a day on the hard days. I know does not seem like much and was an internal battle against the shaming unkind to myself. But if I say ok today is a hard day. Just be ok with doing one matter how some how works. The key for me is letting go of what I should and need to do and say ok this is where I am at. You are so not alone..I would encourage scouring for free resources and groups.. its better when we are in it together. Take care!!

Posted by jen9842 on Mar 05, 2017 at 4:18am

My experience has been that ADD, Depression and Anxiety are a trinity of conditions that often cluster together or overlap, like the VEN diagram we learned about in school. Picture 3 circles overlapping a central point. I have all three, and take medications for all three, and could literally take your original post and plug in my meds and post it as my own. All of it. So know that you and I are not alone. I have just joined this and another support group through ADDitudes and hope it will be additionally helpful. Though there is no perfect combination and I am currently struggling with many and most of the same issues as you related in your post, I do feel there is hope in the balance of the medications with other treatments. I have started using an app on my iPhone to sleep at night that starts with a 10 minute meditation and promotes deep sleep using brainwave sounds and a choice of ambience sounds like rain, birds, waves, etc.  (I have a vicious sleep disorder as well called Rem Sleep Behavior Disorder - RBD). The meditation is helping me get to sleep faster and sleep better, and my goal is to incorporate mediation in my daily life. Mindfulness has been said to help the ADD brain to focus on ourselves and to learn to shut out the cacophony of irritants to which we are all constantly exposed to in today’s multi-tasking marketplace.

I think you(we) got some terrific feebdback and wish you well in your journey. Bite off a small task and complete it. One at a time. We can do it.

Posted by PaigeA on Mar 05, 2017 at 9:57pm

Sometimes it doesn’t help to know a lot of people are struggling with the same thing! It would be better if someone had this figured out and could share it.

It’s true that ADD, anxiety, and depression are a triple threat. You’re too depressed to do active things that help, so that makes you anxious. Which makes it harder to be organized, because your brain is bouncing around in your head like a ping pong ball. Which is very depressing. Which makes it hard to get organized…

I feel that way at times every single day. Or sometimes, all day, too!

In addition to just breaking things down into tiny next steps, one ridiculous thing I tell myself about my anxiety is that I have ADD. If I wait a few minutes, my feelings will change and I won’t feel so anxious or depressed. You would be surprised how much that can help. Give yourself permission to be the way you are - I know how stupid that sounds, but don’t you also beat yourself up for not being able to get better or be different?

If you have a collection of photos, select ones make you happy. Family, nature, buildings, Cheezburger memes - it doesn’t matter. Flip through them and enjoy them. It’s okay to spend a little time on this.

About your money. Start by getting rid of every single automated buying thing - like having your credit card on iTunes. Then hide money from yourself - not much, but put a $1 bill away when you can. Or even a dime. I did that, and when I wanted to get something, I counted my stash and if it was enough, I bought it. If not, I put another dime in. Also sounds stupid, but it was fun and it worked. A penny is even better!

Good luck! Take care of yourself and try to be okay with who you are. You have a lot of friends on this thread who have great ideas! I’ll use of them myself.

Posted by CindyW on Mar 06, 2017 at 2:52pm

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