Doctor has me doubting myself

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    • #91977

      Hi, hope everyone is feeling good today, thank you for taking the time to read this..sorry it’s so long! But I wanted to add context.

      My history, briefly: diagnosed in late high school, medicated (Concerta) through college with decent success. Partially due to the cost (I was a freelancer with no health insurance), I quit taking it after college. Got back on at around 26/27 and it made a huge improvement in my life. 33 now, have been on Vyvanse since then.

      Partially through reading this site, I’ve realized I’ve never really thought holistically about treating my ADD, but have just been taking the medication and assuming that the problems I was continuing to have were just my own weaknesses. I’ve always been all for people taking medication as needed, and have never felt the least bit judgemental about it when it came to other people–but, like I’m sure is common, I had (and have) a lot of doubt about taking medication myself. Typical self-shaming sorts of feelings that I’m sure everyone is familiar with.

      I’ve been getting my medication from a prescribing nurse practitioner at a clinic. She’s been fine, but she went on leave and the last visit I was stuck with another person, a psychiatrist. She is clearly someone who doesn’t believe in stimulants and suggested that I start thinking “big picture” and eventually try to taper off of the medication. She said things like “some people are on this their WHOLE LIVES” in a pretty dramatic way. I mean, I’d always assumed that that’s how it works, right? You don’t just get over it, right? Her saying that was like confirming all my years of self doubt and basically saying to me “if you were better at life, you wouldn’t need this crutch.” I was pretty angry but just sort of “ok, ok”‘d her.

      I am constantly running out of medication because my insurance requires me to fill prescriptions via mail in order for them to be covered, and since it’s a controlled substance I have to get a doctor to send in a new prescription each month…and can’t get more than 30 pills at a time. Of course I have a LOT OF TROUBLE figuring out and planning when to call the doctor (or go there, for a few hundred bucks I can’t afford) so that the prescription is processed and shipped to me before I run out of the previous month’s. I had been planning on asking the doctor for an extra prescription of a week’s worth or something that I could fill at the local drugstore just to hold me over, but I was too afraid to ask this woman so I’ve been a week without and the prescription is still processing.

      Writing this out makes me more sure of myself, but I still can’t get rid of those doubts. There’s no precedent for people to just “go off” ADD medication after a while, is there? The way that sometimes people who have a period of (relatively) mild depression or anxiety will medicate as needed to help them get back on their feet, so to speak? I can’t just up and go to a real ADHD specialist, since they’re all so expensive…but this really made me think about the stigma. I feel like I’ll never truly believe it’s not just me that’s flawed, especially when doctors are pretty much telling me so. I mean, they could be right.

    • #91980

      Because of all the false beliefs and negative opinions about stimulants, medical professionals will often cater to it rather than fight it. And, of course, just because someone is a doctor doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to misunderstandings that lead to false beliefs themselves. Find a new doctor if you don’t trust the one you have.

      Some people do outgrow ADHD by early adulthood, but they are the exception to the rule. Medication doesn’t cure ADHD, it only treats it for as long as you take it. Just as glasses only treat poor eyesight when worn.

      Your treatment needs may change over time, however, so it might be useful to take break and slowly reintroduce medication starting with a low dose and working it up to effectiveness. But that should only be done when your life can handle some temporary increased ADHD symptoms. And it should only be done under the guidance and advice of a doctor.

      It has been shown that eating healthy and getting enough sleep are very important for maintaining medication effectiveness. Talk with your doctor about diet and sleep if you think it might be a concern. Also, cognitive therapy is known to be a very effective companion to medication, and is strongly suggested by the FDA as part of the first-line treatment of stimulant medication.

    • #91991

      To put this succinctly in a phrase, “Their opinions do not negate my experience.”
      There are a number of symptom questionnaires that will help you to understand what you are experiencing.
      At their questionnaire is based on solid science and 80,000+ personality tests, thete are others too.
      I too had a psychiatrist nearly have a fit when I told him that one of the trial drugs relieved a “food anxiety” that I didn’t know I had until it was gone.
      His response was, “You don’t have any anxiety! Look at these results!” as he waved some charts at me.
      I said, holding my hands about three feet apart, “You are talking about ANXIETY and I’m (holding two fingers an inch apart) talking about a small, one subject anxiety.
      My experience of the anxiety trumped his opinion of it.
      Relax in the knowledge of, “It is what it is.” and if their opinion differs from your experience, they are the one with the problem since they are not giving you adequate consideration.

    • #92142

      Dr. Russell Barkley (internationally recognized ADHD expert) says that taking away the supports that someone with ADHD needs – like meds, external motivators, routines, etc. – is like asking someone who needs a wheelchair ramp “how long will you need to use this before you get the hang of it and you don’t need it any more?” We need what we need because of the way our brain functions, not because of lack of experience or character flaws. Taking the meds away does not enable us to function typically. That psychiatrist isn’t fully educated about this frustrating (but also good) “disorder.”

    • #92175

      You are the only person who can decide whether you should take medication your entire life. If you feel that you need it, you may likely need it.

      With that said, both my sons have stopped stimulant and ADHD medication after taking it for years because they wanted to and we have not seen a decrease in functioning. It is quite possible.

      Hopefully, you have people who support you in your decisions no matter what they are.
      You’ll make the right decision. Trust yourself.


    • #91984

      Remember that “tapering off” and “quitting” are different concepts. Tapering means gradually reducing dosage and then stopping. It gives your body time to adjust. It’s like smokers who reduce the amount of nicotine they need bit by bit.

      There is a lot you can do to control your symptoms without meds and a lot you can do to help reduce the likelihood of side effects from meds (if you currently experience them or you switch medication) and to minimize the possibility of withdrawal symptoms if you decide to stop taking medication. Whether or not to medicate is between you and your healthcare practitioner.

      Medication controls symptoms, but it doesn’t address causes.

      I always say nutrition first. Make sure that you’re getting enough fat and limiting sugar in all its forms. Adding essential fatty acids into my life over 20 years ago changed my life, and I’ve seen done a lot of research on nutrition and diets with regard to ADHD. There are other facets to treatment as well, but this is my #1 recommendation. Start with the book Finally Focused and go from there.

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