I might have ADHD but I can't take the medicines typically used to treat it.
October 21, 2012 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I think I might have ADHD, but I also have a heart condition. Now what?

After coming across this thread and more specifically, this comment, I was shocked to see how uncannily accurately this described me. But I know I can't diagnose myself, so normally I guess I'd get the wheels moving on trying to meet with someone qualified to do that.

It's awesome to read about people whose lives were completely changed by medicine, but I have a heart condition. I can't take any meds that might increase my heart rate or screw with my heart rhythm, including caffeine and amphetamines.

With that in mind, would it be worth it for me to be diagnosed? Are there other treatments available? Do any Mefites have experience with that?

I don't know if it would be a good thing to have a diagnosis like that on my record with no real way to treat it. I guess I'm mainly wondering if there are ways to successfully treat ADHD that don't include drugs that mess with heart rhythms, and especially people's experiences with them.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's always worth it to be diagnosed properly. There are all sorts of ways to address ADD/ADHD that might not involve stimulants. At the very least, reading up on some of the routines and techniques that you could work on might help.
posted by Madamina at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2012

Non-stimulant ADD/ADHD medications. (read all 4 pages)

See a psychiatrist, not the internet. Or talk to your cardiologist as a preliminary step, but all sorts of people who can't tolerate stimulants are on prescriptions for ADD/ADHD.
posted by availablelight at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best thing to do is to talk to a doctor, not to people on the Internet w/unverified credentials.
posted by discopolo at 8:48 PM on October 21, 2012

Note that many of the non-stimulant medications also list arrhythmia as a possible side effect. I'd Nth the recommendation that you talk to a doctor for the pharmacological stuff rather than listening to us.

As far as the value of a diagnosis for you goes: therapy is also recommended for adult ADHD, whether or not you're taking medication. (And in my experience, medication only takes you so far anyway. When I started on Adderall it gave me a whole lot of focus and energy, but I still had a whole lifetime's worth of accumulated shitty habits and so half the time I was pouring that focus and energy into, like, really diligent and intense time-wasting and fucking-around.) To see a therapist you won't need a formal ADHD diagnosis. But having a diagnosis will help you and your therapist understand what you're dealing with and how you might cope with it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:57 PM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bupropion (Time Release Wellbutrin) works well for me, I am now also taking a small amphetamine dose, but the bupropion alone made a pretty big difference in my life.
posted by St. Sorryass at 9:00 PM on October 21, 2012

Can you exercise?

I was on stimulant medication for years to control my ADD, but I developed a heart arrhythmia from it which scared me enough to stop taking it, so I've had to look for other ways to deal with it.

By far, the best treatment I've found is regular, daily exercise (30-45 minutes, I either swim or cycle), a good diet of nutritious food (minimum carbs/sugar), and regular sleep (at least 8 hours for me) actually works better than Ritalin ever did.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:31 AM on October 22, 2012

Right there with you. I have a genetic heart defect that requires me to get an echo every 6 months and that has a good chance of killing me before I'm 40 if I don't watch it like a hawk. For awhile I was on beta blockers and the lowest dose of Vyvanse (20mg, I believe, along with 160mg Inderal 2x daily). I got the dopaminergic effects of Vyvanse (it calmed me way down) without the heart problems. Without the Vyvanse, I only need 60mg Inderal to treat my heart condition. (I only went off the Vyvanse because, sadly, my insurance decided that it was the same thing as generic dextroamphetamine. It's not -- the latter is way too speedy for my heart.) A low dose slow release stimulant and beta blocker was aces for me. Finding a cardiologist who will work with your psychiatrist is essential. You're beyond primary care here.
posted by sweltering at 10:10 AM on October 22, 2012

You don't mention specifically what your heart condition is, or if you take medication for it. Those are two important variables that need to be factored into any decisions regarding drug therapy.

Although it's not approved specifically for ADHD, modafinil is quite effective at improving focus and has minimal side effects. Another option is guanfacine, which might actually help your heart condition if high blood pressure is a component. Of course, it will also produce additive effects with any other antihypertensives you may be taking, so communication with your primary care physician is a must.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:21 PM on October 22, 2012

I feel your pain, for I was recently put on Vyvanse for ADHD, but had to come off very quickly as it had tweaked my latent, inherited Long QT. So I'm seeing a cardiologist, and looking at the possibility that I will be on non-stimulant meds.

I have discovered, though, that acknowledging to myself that I have ADHD has helped me cope with difficult situations, and has helped greatly with focus and organization.
posted by A Friend of Dug [sock] at 5:34 PM on November 13, 2012

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