I have Stratterra, Adderall, and Xanax. What can I do to get serious anxiety and ADD symptoms under control, quickly and for the short-term?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm struggling with the symptoms of ADD along with a very high level of anxiety (this is a recent and hopefully temporary development). I'm taking the LSAT in 2 weeks and suddenly dealing with an extremely stressful relationship situation on top of the pressure of last-minute studying for something that's very challenging and important to me; please understand that my question is motivated by my desire for a short-term coping strategy (I can only get an appointment with my psychiatrist/therapist after the LSAT, but he'll take it from there, thanks).
I took Adderall in the past and have a handfull of those left; recently, I was prescribed Strattera instead since Adderall isn't available where I live (outside the US). I've been taking about 25 mg a day for a bit more than a month, although I've skipped a few pills (accidentally, because, well, I have ADD, and purposely, because of the following...)
I haven't noticed a substantial improvement in my ability to focus and concentrate, which is very critical to me right now, immediately, until the LSAT (on Dec 6th). I have noticed a huge rise in my base level of anxiety since I started on Strattera - I don't recall having a "base level" of anxiety in the past at all, actually; whenever I have a calm or empty moment, i.e. when I'd usually be daydreaming for a minute in the middle of the day for example, I feel an underlying physical sense of dread. I've also had a lot of trouble sleeping and woken up before I've slept enough with my heart pounding an hour before my alarm is set several times recently. I don't know whether this is caused by the Strattera or having reached a threshold of stress and chaos that I can no longer cope with; however, I understand that Strattera is often prescribed off-label as an anti-anxiety drug, so it's surprising that it would have the opposite affect on me. Life's been rough and I'm constantly nervous in a way that interferes with my daily life, interactions, and (right now) ability to study for the LSAT. Is this anxiety a common, or even possible, side affect of Strattera?
I don't want to stop taking Strattera in case it is actually helping because I can't experiment with letting my concentration get worse right now (because of the LSAT!). It could turn out that I'd have even worse ADD symptoms and anxiety if I went off it right now. However, I also obviously can't handle any additional anxiety. So, one option is to experiment with a higher dose of Strattera to see if it helps me feel calmer or more focused - could I here some knowledgeable/experienced opinions on whether this is a good idea?
The other option is to take my small dose of Strattera plus an Adderall, which does significantly improve my concentration, mood, and performance more than anything else. My concern is whether it will be counter-productive or harmful to mix these medications.
I've also been dealing with the extreme anxiety by taking Xanax occasionally (maybe twice a week, when I'm really hurting for sleep) and/or over-the-counter sleeping pills, but the past week they've only kept me calm enough to sleep for about 6 hours and I'm exhausted. I don't want to mix drugs too much or do anything dangerous or habit-forming (I'm well aware of this risk and consider it each time I use these medications), but I need to have some measured input about whether this is the best thing I can do for the next 2 weeks. I don't need to "stick it out" right now and risk totally falling apart/bombing the LSAT (I also can't just take it in February, since I'm abroad and it's not offered abroad after December).
I really can't afford to lose another day to anxiety and distraction right now - not only will it affect the LSAT, but it's putting a huge strain on the relationship that's causing it, which is becoming a rapidly-accelerating vicious circle. So, how can I stop this and use what I have to make myself functional right now? I've also been using my normal, healthy coping methods (coffee, exercise in the right amount/at the right time, healthy food, chatting with positive and supportive friends, taking breaks, etc). I usually know how to handle myself but I feel like my brain is totally out of control and trying to sabotage me.
I can't get an appointment with my psychiatrist until after the LSAT, so I'm asking you in the meantime; I'd really appreciate answers other than "therapytherapytherapy". Yeah, I know, but it's just not possible right now, and I need a solution or at least a strategy right now; having stated that "go see your doctor" and "get therapy" are not relevant for me, I'll also say that seeing this page full of "therapy" answers would be totally demoralising as it's advice that I can't take, even though I will as soon as that changes. Please respond if you have advice that I actually can take, given what I've told you. Thank you very much if you can help me cope.