Reply To: Newly diagnosed, prescribed wellbutrin but not depressed?

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JaneG
Participant

This is only one person’s experience, but it might shed some light on your subject. Like many others with ADHD, I was orignially diagnosed, or maybe mis-diagnosed with major depression some time ago. At some point I was referred to a psychiatrist who had expertise in anti-depressants, and Wellbutrin was originally used to treat depression. It did improve my mood, but after much discussion, he brought up the subject of ADHD. I was grateful he did that because I had some very negative experiences with a prior clinician jumping down my throat for simply seeking the diagnosis. Because I seemed to be a little more “in the present” with the Wellbutrin, he tweaked the dose a bit, and I was even more on task than I’d ever been, so that was great.

Sadly, this Dr. was having some health problems which were interfering with his ability to provide good service, and I stopped seeing him even before he retired. My regular physician was happy to continue to maintain the Wellbutrin, though. A few years later, though, I was in a situation that prompted me to seek help with my ADHD because I felt that diagnoses may have been a little too informal, and I wanted to be a good advocate. MY new psychiatrist did a full hour’s interview, said I was welcome to spend $800 on testing and he could set me up, but I probably wouldn’t learn any more than I already did. I am an older adult, physically active, with no known cardiac problems, and ended up taking 20 mg of Adderall daily. This Dr. also said to continue with the Bupropion (generic) since it seemed to help my moood, so that’s what we did. I’m not saying the medication couldn’t be tweaked further for more benefit, but this is where we are now.

Since you are new to ADHD and medication I will share my own experience, although yours may be different. Initilly, the effects seemed positive, but very subtle and subjective. All I could say was that I felt like I was more aware and on task. After a couple of years with the bupropion and the Adderall, and after Covid has limited my possibilities, I have attended a couple of online writer’s conferences and workshops, and was pleasantly surprised at how little I was finding my mind wandering during the presentations, that there were few, if any, incidences of my suddenly realizing I’d missed a big chunk of the presentation, I could even participate to a greater extent than I would have been in the past. This is how the meds somtimes work, the effect just has to sneak up on you and it can be a very nice surprise.

Medication is not a cure-all for all ADHD symptoms, but it can go a long way toward improving functioning, productivity and quality of life. I do think the lady who made a big racket at me (I just sat there in tears, seeing what looked like a true opportunity to improve my situation) did me a great disservice because for a long time, I was hesitant to seek out specialists or other professionals because of fear of being shot down. My suggestion is to go in Additude or the CHADD website and find listings of providers who work with ADHD. Even if there isn’t someone in your location, it might not hurt to contact one of those providers in the nearest town and ask if they know of anyone closer to you. Professionals interact with each other all the time, and usually know who to reach out to who might not be as widely advertised.

I found my current psychiatrist that way. In the town where I was living, the person best known as an ADHD specialist only worked with young people. I called the office anyway, and told the person on the phone what I was looking for, that I knew this provider might not be the right one for me, but could she recommend anyone else? The psychologist called me in person a couple days later and she was just a nice as she could be, very encouraging and gave me the number of this psychiatrist who works with adults with ADHD.

So use your judgement. Personally, I’d be a little leery of a too-quick recommendation of an off-label drug such as Wellbutrin. It might be worth trying, but if I had to do it again, I would immediately begin seeking another opinion from someone with more known expertise in the subject.

Best wishes, and hoping you find the answers you need.