How to best help my husband with his ADD

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    • #49854

      My husband currently takes Adderall to help manage his ADD symptoms, but I do not feel like it is working all that well for him. He tried Ritalin in the past, which also was not that helpful. I want him to speak to a Psychiatrist who knows more about different medications. He is super stubborn about this and claims the Adderall is working fine. I’m very frustrated with it all. He recently got laid off from his job and was always struggling with handling certain things at work. I just feel like there has to be something out there that might help him more with his symptoms. He very intelligent and has a 4.0 average in school so I find it hard sometimes to understand why he can do one thing, but not another. Recently a Doctor mentioned to him he might also have high functioning autism. I’m wondering if anyone else has had experience with this and could provide some advise. What medications have others tried and how did that go? I know there are so many out there and sometimes one works better for one person. I’m losing my patience with his stubborn attitude about it all. Please any advise would be greatly appreciated!

    • #49989
      Penny Williams

      There’s a saying among ADHD professionals: “Pills don’t teach skills.” ADHD medication is just one tool in ADHD treatment, and it’s certainly not a “fix.” Counseling and/or ADHD coaching could help a great deal more.

      Right Goal, Wrong Strategy – 11 New Treatment Ideas

      FAQ About ADHD Coaching

      As for intelligence, that’s just one measure of capability. All the other facets of how the brain functions in an individual affect capability, as well. For instance, my son has a gifted IQ, but barely passes most of his classes in school, because his ADHD causes extreme executive functioning deficits, and he also has a learning disability. Teachers are constantly saying, “You’re smart enough to get this done…” but that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it.

      Here’s more on executive functioning and how that is likely affecting your husband’s performance:

      What Does Executive Function Disorder Look Like in Adults?

      [Self-Test] Could You Have an Executive Function Deficit?

      When you have ADHD, finding the “right” job — one that works with your own set of strengths and weaknesses — is the key to job success.

      How to Align Your Career with Your Passions

      Is Your Job Right for You?

      Lastly, you mentioned the possibility of autism and it’s quite possible. My son received an additional diagnosis of autism (level 1, which is essentially what used to be diagnosed as Asperger’s) six years after he was diagnosed with ADHD. Many symptoms overlap, but there are some distinctions to autism.

      What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

      [Self-Test] Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults

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

      • #50768

        Change the space
        A person with hyperactivity is likely to have poor concentration. That is why you should pay more attention to the factors that can make your husband more confused. You should limit and eliminate the factors that can distract or distract your husband in his space.
        rolling sky game

    • #50616

      Hi there
      I am that husband. Not literally but may as well be.
      On behalf of all husbands, we are sorry not sorry.
      Sorry because this is an adventure and we secretly enjoy it, just can’t tell you.
      Not sorry because life is not as simple as they write in books.
      Anyways, I have tried Ritalin rapid, rubifen rapid, rubifen 8 hr, I tried them in all combos then went to concerta 18mg which is 12 hr, concerta 36 also 12 hour and now on Ritalin 8hr.
      I will be moving swiftly back to concerta 36.
      All other models I try allow my mind to wonder all over the place and then completely run out of energy at the end of the day. This is no good for my wifey, she hates it. I still don’t understand the effects of this on others. I do know however that when I was on concerta I completely nailed it. Everything. Work, relationship, surfing, chores, art. Haha, now I write this I understand why the wifey got upset at my trying the last option of Ritalin 8 hr.
      I still really struggle with eating properly but Clairey (wifey – actually pregnant partner) is amazing at helping me with that and I often have food envy co-workers asking where I get my lunch from.
      Conclusion; never eat soggy weetbix and always work with your man, not against. Do what you can and he’ll, one day, so you some of his tricks.

    • #50644

      As a wife of an “ADD/ADHDer,” a mother to ADD/ADHDers, and as a person who has ADHD I understand your frustrations, but I also understand your husband’s frustration. My first advice is to try to be more understanding, and if you can, look at this from your husband’s position. Dealing with the symptoms of ADD/ADHD can take a toll on your self-esteem, especially if you are a man. As a man you are “supposed to be” the provider of the family and yet you are not, or at the very minimum you are struggling. You feel like a failure because you can’t seem to keep a job and you know why, but don’t know why at the same time. Keep in mind he is frustrated just as much as you are. As a side note, ADHD doesn’t mean you lack intelligence. Quite frankly, it’s usually the opposite. You can sport a 4.0 in school, and yet still struggle with loosing your keys, and lack organizational skills. ADD/ADHDers excel in areas that are interesting to them. This means that if we are working a job that does not interest us or does not use our natural gifts, we are bound to fail. But put us in a job or career that we love using our innate skills, and we are phenomenal. Encourage him, and help him find a job or career that uses his natural gifts and talents. It can make a huge difference.

      Next, understand that medication is not the “end all be all.” It is one method of treatment, but it certainly should not be the only one. ADD/ADHD requires behavioral interventions as well. Medication is helpful only to an extent. He may just be telling you the truth; Adderall is working just fine for him and he is wary of switching ( He does have a 4.0 in school, so is he focusing). Besides that, switching medication is not easy and quite frankly is frustrating because now you have to deal with new side effects. Try seeing it from his perspective. He may be thinking “I am now finally getting used to this medicine and can tolerate the side effects, and now you want me to switch to another one.” Most people are quick to say, just try another medication since this one doesn’t seem to be working without thinking about how it is physiologically affecting the person taking it. Not all medications are the same. The symptoms can range from increased anger & aggression, a lack of sleep, being “emotionless,” (as my teenage daughter puts it), to the inability to eat and enjoy food, nausea and other physiological symptoms. Sometimes, it’s not always easy to switch medications.

      The problem with ADD/ADHDers is that we shine in some areas, but severely lack in other areas. We are an enigma not only to you, but to ourselves as well. We need our loved ones to love us, be patient, push us and yet accept us for who we are. We know it’s a tall order. We are just as frustrated as you are, and feel like we are failing you when you complain that we are not meeting your expectations. We know that you are “suffering” as well, and feel even more frustrated that we are the ones causing you to “suffer.”

      Finally, my suggestion is understand that “treating” ADHD is not as simple as taking a pill. As I stated earlier, behavioral interventions are needed as well. An ADHD coach can be very helpful in this situation. If this is not an option or something your husband is willing to consider just yet, then maybe you can find a way to “coach him.” With my husband I found that when I complained and communicated my frustration it only made things worse. (Yes, the ADHDer had the nerve to complain about someone else’s ADD/ADHD behavior..sigh…) But, when I started accepting him for who he is, and decided I was going to help him things begin to change. I started saying things like “boy was that an ADHD moment,” and we learned to laugh during those moments. Was it easy at first? No, but ultimately he became more open to coaching/ suggestions because he realized that I was on his team. I asked questions and let him explain to me what he was thinking and why he did what he did (or didn’t do). I not only learned a lot about him and how I could help him, but I learned a lot about myself as well. I truly wish you and hubby well!!

    • #50675

      There’s a huge difference between accepting someone with ADHD and enabling someone with ADHD. There’s a big difference between mentoring (i.e. communicating with) each other and having a parent/child relationship. As you both know, a marriage takes two and requires both to contribute for the benefit of the other.

      ADHD medication can do wonders to help with self-control, hyperactivity, attention, and impulsiveness. However, it’s not a be-all / end-all. Other treatments such as CBT can be helpful in deciding why certain ADHD behaviors are exhibited at what times. It can help with understanding your own thought process or absence of a thought process so you can make better decisions and think thru a situation differently. You also sometimes need to take an anti-anxiety drug or antidepressant if you’re suffering from those symptoms. In terms of high functioning autism, it depends on your hubby’s desire for sameness and for restricted interests. I think you have to take ASD with a grain of salt particularly because the ADHD can be equally debilitating – ASD is known for being more severe but for someone with very minor ASD and/or NLD, the ADHD can definitely cause more issues.

      Being a married person is a huge commitment that requires both partners to invest in each other. My wife and I have ADHD and we both have nonverbal learning disorder (NLD). Both of my ADHD and NLD is more severe than hers. Mine is the hyperactive / impulsive type, hers is inattentive. That said, by learning to work with each other, we have a great marriage. It can be frustrating to not be understood or to be judged (or to judge) but keeping open communication and an open-mind helps a lot. Also, being able to have one day a week where you just do something independently is very helpful (i.e. he can help by watching the kids). It can be frustrating if the kids are a mess but you can work with him and he can work with you to see how you can meet each others expectations, tweak those expectations, and really love & respect one another. That is what makes for a great marriage, ADHD or not.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by ng8111.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by ng8111.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by ng8111.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by ng8111.
    • #50754

      Adderal XR and Vyvanse are good options to consider. Changing medications or dosage levels can be a really tough transition time. My husband has an ADHD diagnosis as well and it is tough being a non ADHD partner. It is now a rule in our house that my husband will notify me on the day he is changing prescriptions or increasing his medication dosage. These medicines are powerful and often times there are behavioral side affects when there is a change in the daily medication. When I am notified on the day of a change I am able to mentally prepare and we plan an easy day at home to help make the transition easier.

      Big hugs to you. Hang in there, breathe and do something nice for yourself.

    • #50798

      It’s possible that the medication is working well, but medication cannot do everything. If he had troubles with particular areas of work, a survey of executive skills might be in order. Last year I read the kid-oriented version of “The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain’s Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get Organized at Work and at Home” ( and it was very helpful all around.

    • #50854

      Let me start by acknowledging your frustration as well as your interest in helping your husband’s situation and improving your relationship. Being in a marriage with someone who has ADHD can be maddening, more maddening than your partner probably knows — and I say that as a man with ADHD who only realized the magnitude of the effect of his ADHD after it was too late.

      From what you have said, it is impossible from my perspective to offer much in the way of advice regarding medication. Your husbands medication may or may not be a problem. There may or may not be some other condition that is hurting his work.

      However I do think it’s possible to make a few observations about communication.

      On one side, you note that he says he feels his medication is working, and is “super stubborn” about considering alternatives. On the other, you feel his medication is a problem and are “very frustrated” with it all. You are “losing your patience” with his “stubborn attitude. I get the impression that the two of you have gone around and around on the topic many times and are entrenched in your positions. From your perspective, that’s very logical. After all, he’s been laid off from his job. Maybe if he just found the right medication, all these problems would go away. So why won’t he try?

      The problem as I see it is that the two of you are no longer hearing each other or communicating at a level that will move this issue — or your relationship — forward. You are locked in conflict on this issue, and from experience I fear maybe on many other issues as well.

      Let me tell you what I think he is going through. First of all he is very ashamed of losing his job, and he’s probably extremely frustrated — likely more frustrated than you know — at all that has happened. He may be at a loss regarding how to do better the next time. When you confront him about his medication, I suspect that you — unintentionally! — activate his shame and feelings of unworthiness, which causes him — involuntarily! — to become emotionally flooded out, shut down, angry, irritated, and uncommunicative. His lack of openness or ability to communicate in turn makes you even angrier, so you turn up the volume, so he shuts down more, and on and on to chronic unhappiness on both sides down a road that leads to a not good ending.

      If this is the case, if this is a pattern, doing more of the same will not work. You both are well meaning and doing your best. But you both are continuing to take actions that are counter-productive. I would say try something different. Plan a place and time to talk about these issues when both of you are calm and not in conflict. If he is in a defensive, shame-induced crouch, you are not going to get through to him. Come at the problem from a place of compassion and curiosity. Imagine that your husband is not being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn but that there is something else going on — like perhaps, he does not know what to do or how to explain himself and that he really does not believe other medications can help him. Or just believe him when he says the Adderall is fine and then ask what else is going on and how can you talk about that in a loving and supportive way.

      This is hard stuff. It requires letting go of very logically understandable resentments and grievances and of knowing best and being right about what’s happening. And that is just on your side. I recommend reading books by Melissa Orlov who is very insightful into just the kind of relationship troubles you describe.

      I would also observe as others have that your husband might be in a job that’s not good for him. Why is he having these problems “handling certain things.” One of the most important things for anyone with ADHD is to be in a job they find highly exciting, interesting, and of value. Even if he is a genius he will not be good at doing a simple job if he doesn’t like it. It’s not a character defect — it’s his biology; his type of brain. If this is the case, I’d say support him in finding a job he loves. You’ll be glad you did.

      Last thing, I would ask if there might be a way to get him more information and knowledge about what non-ADHD partners go through, which might lead to him being more understanding and compassionate towards you. A good ADHD coach could help with all of the above.


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