My Forum Comments
My story: I was diagnosed with ADD at age 42 (by the VA), and medicated (with the typical Ritalin/Prozac-for-depression) for the next 20 years. Then, my wife, awakened by my snoring, convinced me to get tested for Sleep Apnea (again by the VA). I was sent home with a CPAP machine, and was told the protocol: use it for a month, bring it back, we’ll analyze its recordkeeping chip and will determine whether or not it’s solving your problem. When the month was up, I felt great and had never been doing better, ever. I decided to start skipping my medicines to see if it would make a difference. It did not. I have taken no medicines since, for the last 13 years. I can’t guarantee that everyone will share my experience, but I tell any medical or educational professional I meet: If you think your problem is “only” ADD or ADHD, GET TESTED FOR SLEEP APNEA! The new marines are covered by insurance, are custom-fitted for you, are comfortable and super-quiet. Just do it!
Every time I tell my story to a health professional or educator, they are always surprised. They live in separate silos, and have financial and career incentives to NOT integrate this knowledge into their interior databases.macaddictjayParticipant
20 years ago (at age 49), like you, I was diagnosed with ADD (without hyperactivity). I spent 20 years on ADD medications, with moderate attenuation of symptoms. Just 3 years ago, I was diagnosed again, and found to have sleep apnea. After 2 months using a CPAP machine, I no longer felt the need for, and discontinued the use of, the ADD drugs (Ritalin, and Prozac for the accompanying depression). Remarkably, the symptoms for each condition are nearly identical.
Here’s what happens to those with untreated sleep apnea: the airway becomes blocked after muscle relaxation, usually (but not always) while sleeping on the back. Breathing stops. CO 2 builds up in the lungs as oxygen is depleted, which triggers the autonomous nervous system to release a jolt of adrenalin, which arouses you from sleep, just enough to start you breathing again, but not enough to bring you back to waking consciousness. People with sleep apnea almost never know they have the condition. (Ask someone who snores if they were snoring when you wake them up; they will deny it, sincerely believing that they were not snoring, as they never hear themselves snore.) Sleep Apnea has two sets of effects: those from interrupted sleep and adequate dream time, and those from the series of adrenalin “jolts.” (The snoring/breathingcessation/adrenalin cycle can recur over a hundred times a night.) As noted above, the effects of this condition mimic those of ADD.
The ADD drugs I was taking, while they helped somewhat, were only treating symptoms. The underlying cause was the sleep apnea, and once that was remedied I was transformed into a different person, with one caveat: a lifetime of negative self-perceptions has left its mark, and a concerted effort is needed to remove lifetime habits and a self-image that, once the condition is remedied, no longer applies to the “new me.”
For these reasons, I recommend that everyone who has been diagnosed with ADD (especially those without the hyperactivity component) get themselves tested for Sleep Apnea. To properly fix any problem, it’s essential to really know what’s “broken.”