New to Thinking About Symptoms

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    • #75146

      I was diagnosed very recently at age 53. My emotions have been all over the place regarding the diagnosis, but most of all I’m relieved that the parts of my life I could never make sense of now have a context and an explanation. I’m also fascinated with what I’m learning about ADHD, which is so very different from what I thought it was.

      The idea of ADHD symptoms is something that is taking me a while to understand, but I think I’m beginning to get it. This week, for instance, I was talking to someone on the phone through headphones while spending an hour decluttering a long-neglected room. The phone conversation was rather emotional (not in a bad way), and I noticed that, later that afternoon, I was exhausted so that even reading was difficult. In the past, I would have thought this was just how I was (easily tired) or that introversion made phone calls tiring, but now I’m wondering if I was trying to do too much, especially too many things at once, and that single-tasking is better in terms of managing my energy. Would that tiredness I felt be considered a symptom?

      Another example is that I’d always assumed that everyone had to fight off the constant buzzing in their heads, and it is kind of strange to think of it as a symptom. I’m taking atomoxetine, and it’s still not fully effective, but I do have moments now when the only thing I’m attending to are the voices on a television show or a conversation, and the rest of the noise both outside and inside my head is delightfully muted. When that’s not the case, and my head feels “busy” again, I’m assuming that’s a symptom?

      I’d appreciate any insight or examples to help with this learning process. Thanks!

    • #75224
      Penny Williams

      Those aren’t “official” symptoms in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), BUT they are certainly common in those individuals with ADHD.

      Here’s more on each of the instances you asked about:

      ADHD Fatigue Is a Real (Exhausting) Thing

      Wired, Tired, & Sleep Deprived

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

      • #75285

        Penny, thanks very much for the reply and the links. The idea of a booster now and then, as well as the acceptance that I don’t need to power through just because I think I somehow should, are very helpful.

    • #75233

      Hi Lisa

      this is my first response on the forums. I don’t know where you are based, but I’m in the UK, and again (after two unsuccessful attempts as far as professionals agreeing with me is concerned) will have an appointment with a psychiatrist and I have asked of my GP that there is a focus on ADHD (inattentive). I am not taking any medication at this time but have had noticeable improvements when on venlafaxine anti-depressant and varenicline (smoking cessation medication), neither were prescribed for ADHD though. I was drawn to your post as I am a similar age to you.

      Just a possible note regarding your description of the emotional telephone call. It is only very recently that I have begun to put the jigsaw piece in place regarding emotions and ADHD, and in part that has been seriously progressed by the additude website. There is a particular podcast of an interview with Dr Bill Hodson based in the U.S, and his description of mood and emotions just fit with me virtually in its entirety. Emotions and moods and ways of trying to deal with them are exhausting for people with ADHD; as mood and emotional symptoms are not listed as one of the 18 criteria that may indicate ADHD, it is very easy for professionals and those with the condition to dismiss the problems that some people can have simply as our personality traits. I appreciate that not everything comes down to ADHD. But I can see, especially as I’ve been trying to deal with the repercussions of the condition for a half century that I have needed to twist and turn to try and deal with the emotional side as well as everything else, and some of my emotions are not only coloured by the those twists and turns, but also are influenced by my frustration, anger and at times resentment.

      This may not apply to you, but thought it might be of value.

      • #75291

        Paul, thanks so much for your reply. I completely relate to what you wrote about emotions and the “twists and turns.” I wrote a couple of other replies, but they aren’t showing up, maybe because I included a link to the podcast? (hope that all three don’t appear at once!)

        The suggestion of William Dodson was particularly helpful. I listened to the ADDitude podcast #150 with him today. He described my experience perfectly.

        Best of luck with your upcoming appointment.

      • #75305

        Thanks very much Lisa. Only one reply came through, but I’ll check whether that podcast #150 is the same that I listened to. Best wishes. Paul

    • #75387

      I am also 53 years old and recently diagnosed with ADHD. I waited a year to get in to the ADHD specialists’ office in my county and it was so worth it! I cried when she showed me my testing results compared to other women around my age. It was such a relief and made so many things in my life finally make sense! Like you, my multi-tasking causes so much fatigue, and I’m learning to focus on one thing at a time.

      I find that very emotional situations can absolutely drain me from head to toe. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and IBS almost 20 years ago and since I’ve been on Adderrall, many of my symptoms have not been present. I could not believe this amazing side effect! Thanks for your post. It’s nice to know I’m not the only newly diagnosed 53 year old who is trying to learn the ropes of this!

      • #75392

        lawson.ashleyrn, thanks so much for your reply. It really is good both to be able to make sense of our lives and to know that we fit in with other people–we just needed to find those people. That’s great news about your fibromyalgia symptoms and IBS! One unexpected benefit for me is that the medication I’m on (atomoxetine) has cut my migraines–which I’ve had since childhood and did not get better after menopause–by at least half and getting better the longer I’m on it. ~ Lisa

    • #75287

      Paul, thanks very much for your reply. I’m in the US. Best of luck with the appointment with the psychiatrist. I had an appointment with my GP today and was nervous about what her reaction would be to the diagnosis I received from a psychiatrist. It turned out that she was very understanding and supportive, and I needn’t have worried.

      After reading your message this morning, I listened to this podcast on the way to my appointment. I’m not sure if it’s the one you meant, but I was blown away at how well it described my experience:

      Listen to “Emotions and ADHD: What Clinicians Need to Know for Accurate Diagnosis” with William Dodson, M.D

      Your description of twisting and turning to try to deal with emotions, and how your emotions now are influenced by those twists and turns as you now are coming to a new understanding, is both moving and spot on. I’m right there with you.

      ~ Lisa

    • #80038


      I too suffer with fatigue and ADHD.

      I am wanting to write about it for a University assessment and as I can not use myself as a source, if anyone is willing to allow me to write about their experience I would really appreciate it.

      My email address is

      Many thanks

      • #80683

        Hi Jennie or Lily – apologies was unsure of your name.

        I wish you well with your university assessment. I may not be the best person to interview as I don’t have a formal diagnosis, and I have heard that in the UK for people of my age (over 50) that professionals are reluctant to give a formal diagnosis, and my rather recognise traits that are symptomatic instead. I actually prefer this rather than have a label as we are all so different, so a trait/symptom I have other people may not have.
        I am still waiting for my psychiatrist appointment; there is a long delay within the UK service due to the demand placed upon it. I am looking into using my partner’s private health care arrangement which I should be able to access.
        In the meantime, I am prescribed mirtazepine, an antidepressant, which although I am unsure that it’s working for me as an antidepressant, does ensure I have a good nights’ sleep and slows me down during the day, which seems to allow me headspace as well. I’m unsure about these effects, maybe uncomfortable with them, or maybe just not used to being slower and more paced.
        I’m also exploring supplements, with care as I know the potential for mis-use and playing with something that I have limited confidence with and limited intelligence. I am doing this through a site called Self Hacked. There is a mine of information on this site. I am for example currently trying DL-phenylalanine first thing in the morning and I believe I am noticing a benefit beyond any placebo. I am also carefully trialling a range of other supplements, and will continue that experimentation.
        Apologies, I have gone on a bit here. What I am really wanting to show is there may be alternatives out there other than a medically prescribed medication or, in my case, perhaps a combination of a prescription and supplements.

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