Friday, March 23, 2007

How Can a Medical Student Have ADD?

Attention Deficit Disorder is unfortunately beset with a lot of undeserved connotations: under-achievement, misbehavior, dishonesty, and insensitivity. The syndrome has a stigma, because some of its symptoms are experienced to a degree by everyone; indeed, everyone zones out from time to time. People failing to accomplish or finish tasks is also quite common. It seems almost logical for people to insist that all ADD people need to do is hunker down.

However, the syndrome ADD has a real physiological cause: there is a problem with the amounts of neurotransmitters in the brain. Typically, the problem for people suffering from ADD is not that they won't turn on their brain and get to work; rather, it is that they can't shut off their brains to focus on their work.

About 3% of medical students have a form of ADD sometimes called Gifted ADD. I believe that ADD is itself a gift in some important ways: people with ADD tend to be very likable and creative. It is difficult, though, for many with ADD to satisfy various expectations such as sitting still. (Really, by fidgeting, we can burn off the excess brain energy and actually think better!) Most medical students with ADD are first diagnosed with the syndrome while in medical school. These students have found effective ways to channel their nervous and creative energies and otherwise cope with academic expectations. However, the pace of medical school is so very fast, that their coping mechanisms prove insufficient. Even for medical students, there can be regret for the things they have missed out on due to the limitations of ADD.

So what about me? I had a thorough neurophychologic screening to test intelligence and attention. And the results? Although I was in the 99th percentile for verbal ability and in the 85th percentile for spatial ability, I was only in the 30th percentile for attention span and in the 5th percentile for being able to inhibit irrelevant information.

Successful treatment can help those with ADD achieve their dreams, and I believe the experiences I hope to share on this blog will be meaningful for anyone with ADD.

51 comments:

Jorge Luis said...

Hey, I'm a ADDer, and a fellow medical student. To bad for me I have not reached a creative strategy for studing. It's been failure and failure since the begining of medical school. I'm dropping out tomorrow

ADDThrive said...

Hi Jorge. It's awful that you've endured so many difficulties. However, I encourage you to seek professional assistance. Your school may be understanding if you are willing to seek medical and/or behavioral care for your issues that have arisen from having ADD or from elsewhere. It's possible that you could do well in medical school, provided you have effective treatment. Please don't be discouraged. In time, you might be able to return to medical school, but you would need to arrange that possibility before you leave. I hope this information is useful to you and that it gets to you in time.

Anonymous said...

hello jorje and addthirive
first of all i want to ultimately send all my respects to addthrive ... i know what you had been through cause i am also a medical student with a severe inattentive type of ADHD and i don't know how i made it here ! It was untill the Mcat that i noticed something wrong was going on ! i studied one whole year for the test after having honors in Premed ( though the amount i uded to study was unbelievable .. like 12 hours/day) i got 8 8 and 3 on the Mcat !!! however i redid the mcat and got a slighter better grade and made it to medical school and i really couldnt cope with all the fast pace and stress ... i was always in the last top 5 of my class ! untill i was rotating in psychiatry and DISCOVERED that i am a typical ADHD !!! :) i started medication while im in med 3 ... its never too late to be discouraged ... medication is great it helps us medical students with ADHD to funnel our gifted IQ'S into studying ... since you can't be ADHD and make it to med school unless you really have amazing IQ capabilities ... for me my streghts relies in abstract thinking and fluid intelligence mainly ...
However Addthrive i would like to know more about your experience with Strattera ... im still on methylphenidate ( concerta and ritalin) ... how did u find it ?
As for Jorge please don't drop ... Medication can change all your point of view ... See a psychiatrist ... Tke one semester off and come back to med school ... Please keep us updated

Anonymous said...

addthrive i just started med school and i'm falling apart. I don't know how you made it through so far... my medicine from my last doctor ran out and i'm falling further and further behind... i'm trying to find a doctor and get a new prescription but i don't have time with school. I may just be joining Jorge Luis.

AddThrive said...

Anonymous, I recommend seeing the appropriate dean right away to arrange a leave of absence until you can get stable treatment. You might need to start med school again a year later, but you'll be a better doctor for it.

Robert said...

I am in first year medicine in a PBL program. I completed a degree at UCLA prior to going overseas to Australia for my formal undergraduate medical education.

The mental health system here is good, but sparse. It is tough to find someone good. I am one of the fortunate people who found someone excellent and I am very fortunate to have a great team involved in my treatment.

After failing my first exam by 1%. I sought help, and I have become a better person for it by making huge changes in my attitude, study approach, medication, and talking to people.

My main problems are inattention, short term memory complaints, and working memory complaints. However, I have extremely high verbal ability, spatial ability, and long term recall.

Find something that works. Don't give up. I was ( ) this close, but didn't, and I am glad I didn't.

I can't see myself doing anything else.

I would like to see you update your a blog a little more if you can.


If you ever want to talk. my email is
rietveldsurfer66@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

How courageous and generous of you to start this website! I am (was?) a medical student. I was diagnosed a little less than two years ago, in my second year of medical school, and I've just been dismissed (i.e. kicked out). I can't really believe it. I have the option to appeal to the dean, and I'm going to do that, but my hopes aren't high. So far, I haven't received a lot of support and understanding so I don't have high expectations that the dean will be any different. Any advice?

addthrive said...

You should get an advocate, ideally affiliated with the school, who is familiar with your situation, if possible. It would also be helpful to find a doctor who says that your performance would likely be normal if you were appropriately treated and to have him/her write a note to that effect.

Vaughn99 said...

addthrive, I want to say again how wonderful it is to know that this blog is out there, no matter how few of us have found it so far. (Speaking of which, have you thought about making an announcement about this blog on addforums .com? It's a huge forum and might be a good place to find other ADHD med students.)

Back to my situation (BTW, I'm the "anonymous" who posted the other day about being dismissed from medical school), I actually had the opportunity to present my case before the academic performance committee with my faculty advocate. Plus letters of support from my therapist and my psychiatrist. None of it seemed to matter.

One of my problems is that I probably should have taken a semester or year off as soon as I got the diagnosis, but my husband is also in school and did not want to have to slow down his education to wait for me. Plus, I didn't really understand just how much work it was going to take before I could turn things around.

In addition to this, there are NO ADHD EXPERTS in my area so, although I was seeing a psychiatrist for meds and a therapist for general mental health stuff (you know depression, low self-esteem, anxiety - the usual collateral damage associated with years of undiagnosed ADD), I had to figure out the ADD components on my own via the internet and whatever ADD books I could afford. I realize now that I should have had a coach from the beginning but I didn't know about them initially and my medical costs were already outrageous. To add to the lack of ADD experts, administrative faculty commented to my husband that students with my set of diagnoses (ADD, depression, anxiety) have very little chance of succeeding in medical school and warned him to be prepared for that eventuality. I couldn't believe it when he told me. Not only did NO ONE ever say this to me (or offer me any special advice, since they knew it was going to be so hard), but how inappropriate for them to be talking about me to my husband as if I were his child or something!

If med schools are required to have a dept for helping students with learning issues, it should be mandatory for the "experts" running those depts to have in-depth knowledge of LD and adult ADHD, if for no other reason than to recognize when a student might have an undiagnosed learning problem and to know how to point them in the direction of appropriate testing and resources.

My point is that I know I haven't yet reached my "best", in terms of managing my ADD, and feel it is more of a risk to me than to the school if I were to continue. Also, the committee had to use some standard against which to compare my performance in order to decide if I still had potential for improvement. I believe there is sufficient evidence that the "standard" they used represents a lack of understanding of the complexities of adult ADD.

I am allowed an appeal and plan to do that. I'm just not that hopeful, considering the lack of support I've received so far and the lack of understanding of the issues on the part of the faculty.

The whole process has actually been really humiliating and some extremely unprofessional things have been said to me. As confident as I am about my ability to succeed and finish my medical education, I'm going to have to summon up all my courage and self-confidence to go through this once again for my appeal to the dean.

I can really relate to Jorge Luis's comments about repeated failures as he struggled to adapt to med school studying requirements. There really is just so much you can handle before something has to give, whether it's med school, my marriage, my emotional health, etc.

Anyway, I appreciate you all listening. Not sure when my hearing will be yet. Wish me luck. (I would greatly appreciate any advice/help at all, but especially if anyone knows of credible and/or detailed evidence of the kind of adjustments medical students have to make when diagnosed in the middle of their medical education.)

Vaughn99 said...

You might be interested in the following article published in Academic Psychiatry, Jul-Aug 2007:

"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Accommodations for Psychiatry Residents"

It's the first article of its kind, as far as I know, that discusses accommodations for ADHD for physicians in training.

Vaughn99 said...

addthrive, I would be very excited to know where you got your information/stats about med students with ADHD (3% of med students have ADD, etc). I have found it difficult to find this type of information.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Awesome guysim so happy to find u
im also one of the anonymous that discovered his ADHD in the third year ... my name is fred
im so scared cos i have to take the USMLE1 ... and im not sure what to do ... im scared of my short term memory ...
any suggestions? im on concerta btw with ritalin for evening hour studies
Fred

plz if anyway would like to get in touch my email is foreverfree@live.co.uk

Thanks

Xiao-wen said...

Hello,

I just finished my first semester of medical school and I have experienced failure in that academic realm as well. I have not yet been admitted to repeat next year, but I will be going through a neuropsychological exam to help the committee decide what I can do better to thrive. I strongly believe that I have ADD and that it can be treated.

I just found your blog and though I haven't read every post yet, I wanted to say thank you for showing me that there are people in a similar situation. I will be checking up for new posts whenever I can.

Thanks again!

Prolificsis said...

Hey, everyone! I am sooooooo glad that I found a blog like this! I am just beaming! To Jorge Luis, you can't give up! You can't. I went through medical school with ADD and didn't even know it. I just could not understand why things were so easy for every one; especially clinicals. I had to get to the floors 1 to 2 hours before everyone, just so I could round on all my patients. I had these cards with every detail on each patient in my lab coat pocket. Even with all these coping mechanisms,I'd be so tired and overwhelmed because I had to do so much more to keep it all straight. No one knew, and I couldn't understand why every one was having such an easy time. Before my diagnosis, I had trouble preparing for Board exams. When I got treatment I passed with a good margin. Diagnosis and treatment are key! Get some help and therapy to improve your attitude. Take some time off. See if you school will allow you to have a reduced course load, extending you time in school. YOU CAN DO IT! We need you!

Prolificsis said...

To Anonymous re: USMLE Step 1:
Last year I passed Step 1 with flying colors and Step 2 cs as well. In about a week I will be taking step 2ck. The PASS PROGRAM, by Dr. Francis Ihejirika is the best program for anyone!!! Dr. Francis, as he is affectionately known, is the best. Numerous, and I mean numerous students with ADD took his course scoring well above passing! I was one of them. He and his staff are encouraging. His approach to medicine changed my life. I can run circles around most students, residents and attendings when it comes to a differential list and diagnosis. The Pass Program is "off da hook"! Go to http://www.passprogram.net/program-format.asp.
Keep Moving Upward and Forward cuz WE ARE ABLE!

Alia Poonawala said...

ProlificSis-

I read your comment above. I'm a pre-Med student with possible "ADHD" but I refuse to take medication. Have you been taking meds in medical school? What are some alternate forms of therapy?

Best,

Alia

ADDThrive said...

Alia,
Medication isn't appropriate for everyone with ADHD, but finding what works usually takes some trial-and-error. There are other things that can be done that don't involve drugs. It's key to remove as many distractions as possible, so stash your laptop or cell phone if those are your weaknesses. The British version of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies has a lot of suggestions for modifying behavior. Good habits can go a long way.

oops9876 said...

Hello All. I too am a medical student with a recent diagnosis of ADD. I have to admit, getting the diagnosis and being evaluated by a doctor was a very freeing and uplifting experience. I have always known that something was wrong, and it is great to finally understand more about myself and to know that i'm not "crazy" or "incompetent". I however am having a unique issue. The majority of my stress and such now is coming from my relationships with my friends. My trials with various medications have taken a toll on me, and my friends aren't necessarily having the empathy/open-mindedness that I wish they would. They have been very non-understanding and have treated me very poorly throughout this ordeal, and that is affecting me more than the ADD symptoms used to! Anyone else with a similar experience?

Roadelsey said...

Yes, I can say that I too have shared some degree of discrimination by those who I used to call my friends. At the same time, I have had other individuals who I never considered to be friends, demonstrate significant support.

I too am a former medical student with ADD. I completed my clinical rotations last summer. While many of my coping mechanisms enabled me to manage medical school as well as a variety of extracurricular organizations, they have not been so effective with the USMLE Step exams.

I took Step 1 four times, finally passing it on the 4th attempt and Step 2 ck 4 times. However I have yet to successfully to pass my Step 2 ck. Interestingly my Step 2 CS was effortless and I passed it on the first attempt.

Due to the ease with which I went through medical school and my Step 2 CS, many of my peers felt that my diagnosis was erroneous or fabricated. As a result of this, I have subjected myself to being repeatedly tested by a number of psychiatrists using a variety of testing methods; all of which consistently reaffirmed my diagnosis.

I must admit however, that sometimes I wish that they would have proved otherwise.

ADDThrive said...

Medications for ADHD or depression, etc. can affect mood undesirably (e.g. anxiety, irritability) and this can affect your relationships. Maybe a psychiatrist can help find medications that help you function and still feel like you, or can identify if other interventions are appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask for you input in regards of my current situation. I think that I might have ADD, but I am not sure. I have had throughout all my life typical symptoms of ADD: restlessness, short attention span, difficulties in organization, easily distracted, inability to do homework, etc but amazingly, during my early childhood and teenage years I was one of the best students in class, not because I studied or completed assignments (which I never did), but because several subjects (such as Literature, history, biology, chemistry) drew my attention so much, that I was able to participate in class and excel at it. Also, in tests I tend to do amazingly well, it seems that when I am put under stress my brain "shifts" in a way that allows me to do well and I am able to concentrate.

However, these traits proved useful in high school, but when I reached college and had to take a lot of classes that required me to study in a more organized fashion, I struggled a lot. I thought that I was stupid, that I was not smart enough, and considering that I was studying at a very competitive school, I stressed enormously. In tests, I was able to concentrate, but since I was not able to prepare and study well for these test, I did not do as well. Nevertheless I was able to graduate and get my degree in engineering.

My first job was in a very supportive environment, and I excelled at it. Since the pressure was not as great, and I was familiar with most of the work involved -plus a boss that was eager to answer questions and let me keep my pace- I did pretty well. However, I had to switch jobs, and my new job has proved to be extremely daunting, due to the extreme amount of attention that it requires and the amount of information -not easily available- that I have to learn. I have tried to follow procedures rigorously, but I sometimes commit mistakes that make me even more depressed and start making me feel as down as during my college years. My husband said that his brother was ADD and that he sees most of the symptoms in me, but at the same time, I wonder how come I was able to function during this time, or whether I am just careless as I fear. Please help

Anonymous said...

Thanks for creating this blog! There's no information like this out there. I'd be grateful if someone could please reply. I got an average gpa from a decent school, above average extracurricular/volunteer activities, good personal statement and LOR's but I can't score above a 20 on the mcat due to the reading comprehension. Is there any hope? Can I ask what your approximate mcat score was or what I could do to pass this exam?

To the girl in the posting above me? You may have add/adhd. But, I'd take an adult adhd screen/test to be sure.
It's easier to complete tasks when you're interested in the topic or during short stressful periods of time but it becomes challenging when new information that is less interesting is introduced. Caffeine may help or visit a psych for adderall, strattera, etc. It is depressing and isolating to feel as though you're not smart compared to others but try to recognize and appreciate your accomplishments such as graduating with an engineering degree and all your other outstanding abilities.

ADDThrive said...

Regarding the MCAT, I sort of lucked out and scored very high. I wouldn't retake the test if I were you, until you were getting scores you liked on practice tests. I used the ExamKrackers series to prepare, and that was good because they did the organization for me: Read the chapter, answering the questions along the way, read and answer again; take the quiz; and read/answer a 3rd time. Organizing my studying has been the hardest part, usually. Also, the ExamKrackers mini-quizzes were only 30 min but gave an approx. MCAT-style score like "12". The ExamKrackers Verbal Reasoning 100 passages book was more of a disappointment though, because they did all read like they had the same author. The trick to verbal reasoning on the MCAT is making sure your answer choice answers the exact question being asked.

Standardized tests are like a sport: the more you practice, the better your skills are. Plus, you start to see the "game" behind the tests.

Anonymous said...

hello

Anonymous said...

hi, I am currently premed and have ADD. I was diagnosed about 6 years ago, and since then have learned quite a bit about the way my mind works and what techniques work and dont work for me. Entering college I opted not to have any special assistance and pretty much kept the disorder to myself. I didnt want to be stigmatized as disabled and wanted to prove to myself that I could do it on my own. As i prepare to apply for medical school, I am becoming more and more frusterated with my situation. I have worked very very hard and have studied harder than anyone I know, yet dont get the grades to show for it. I know all the material for exams but it always comes down to not having enough time to finish tests or making dumb and careless mistakes. I attend Berkeley and have a very uncompetative 3.0. I am very worried that I will not be given a chance by any medical schools. Struggling with this disorder has made me want to be a doctor so much more because I want to be able to help other people like us, however, I fear I will never be given the opportunity due to my transcript. Im not sure whether mentioning the disorder in an essay will help or hinder me even more. Does anyone have any suggestions? And does anyone know anything about the option on the MCAT for extra time for people with disabilities?

mightymouse said...

Hey. Thanks for the great Blog!

Me, MS4- amazing crammer, terrible longterm worker= NOT TAKING THE USMLE yet!!

Needless to say I am not applying for match this year. Also my program requires a thesis, which I have yet to start!! That means i dont graduate in June.
I am unhappy and regretful. But I also see this year off as an opportunity to get on track.

It isnt for lack of intelligence that we suffer. But for me it is Lack of organization commitment and social skills that I do.

I need new strategies so here is some stuff I am dabbling in:
- ADHD podcasts- a revelation in little strategies and comiseration
-Coach- the jusry is still out on this one, i took a coach from the Edge foundation, with a scholarship. Hoping the podcasts will eventually take her place.
- Meds?!?
I was on meds form 1986-1996, but stopped before college. I am not a fan of the ritalin/ adderol as it takes away the creative edge I have with studying. I know this is a personal question, but is anyone here on strattera or another med? I am looking for a new alternative.
-Nail biting- Weekly manicures.

Yep, i have pretty much taken out a loan solely to combat my problem. Bringing In the big guns. I will finish med school, even if it takes 5 years.
I will go neatly into residency.
I will become a neurologist.

Please respond with ideas suggestions and questions!!

Anonymous said...

I am recently-graduated doctor abroad diagnosed with ADD about 2 months ago and am applying for a residency, but am having an incredibly difficult time studying for the Step 1. I always had a hard time with studying- although I understand the material I cannot bring myself to sit down and study- the distractions abound! (I must have passed due to paying attention as much as I could in classes and my crazy 3-day crams!) I was very good in clinical years and after graduation at work (I found these much more interesting), but am doubting my ability to overcome this last and most important hurdle, despite medication (Ritalin, Wellbutrin) & psychotherapy. I was recommended to use an ADD life coach, but I feel I almost don't deserve to be a doctor if I need someone else to make me sit and study (although I know this is not true and would tell someone in my position not to give up). I have been told by my superiors that I am doing very well at my job I know this will take time, but I don't know if I'll make it.

-S.

William said...

I recently got dismissed from my medical school and am now appealing after 4 attempts at Step 1. I was told that I would need a legitimate reason to be given another chance (besides studying more or taking a course). It prompted me to get tested for a learning disability and just got the diagnosis yesterday that I have a reading disability! This process took a full day of testing and a few pages of questions and homework prior to the day. Is there anyone out there in a similar situation or anyone with advice? Thanks!

Concerned said...

I am currently a pre-med student in my second semester of college. I excelled in high school; I graduated valedictorian of my class. I never struggled with studying, mainly because I didn't have to study at all. Now that I am in college, studying hours upon hours for each class is necessary for me to pass. I have attempted to teach myself how to study, but I cannot concentrate one the same thing for more than 5-10 minutes, if that long. I have read up an adult ADD and seem to have some of the symptoms. I had a lot of the symptoms as a child, but they went unnoticed because I did not have issues with school or tests. The main point that I am trying to get to is that I am cautious about going to get tested. If I am diagnosed with ADD, will that hurt my chances of getting accepted into medical school? I have read your posts and I am now worried that if I go undiagnosed/untreated, it will likely hurt my chances of thriving in medical school.

-Concerned

greeneyes said...

ok here goes...I'm a carib med student and have been diagnosed with ADD. I'm almost done with basic sciences and will be moving on to clinicals next semester. It has def been a tough ride for me especially since i do not take any meds. I love medicine but I just can't seem to focus. Ever since I started here I have always studied the day before for every exam and have surprisingly done well for the amount that I study. I tend to procrastinate too much - it interferes with everything in my life (last minute studying, handing in assignments late, having people wait on me, not returning phone calls, just being late 90% of the time). People get the wrong impression about me. They think I'm lazy, unmotivated, and inconsiderate - I really don't mean to be any of those things. When I sit down to study, I'll study for about 10min and then my mind will wander off and I'll start thinking about other things. It's so annoying and it happens all the time, even during conversations with people (it just looks like I'm not paying attention b/c im not interested which is not true at all). I am very worried for Step1 b/c I need to give my undivided attention to studying or else I will not pass. I always thought I had ADD, but whenever I brought it up to my friends they would tell me that "it's all in my head". It really annoyed me, but I know it's a serious issue that I have and if I had noticed this earlier I would have had a higher gpa in college, done well on my MCAT, and maybe even got accepted to a US med school **sigh** sorry for venting...it's just that I KNOW I have the potential, but it's just hard for me to apply myself b/c of the ADD and that angers me sometimes...

Anonymous said...

I am a med school student and I also have ADD. The psychologist who tested me said med school isn't for you. ADD people can't do it! I was like to hell with you, I am doing it. And med school was torture because of my inability to focus and amount of time I waste. I tried Dexedrine and couple of other Meds but NOTHING works. so I stopped much to my psychiatrist's dismay. He started pulling out some really serious meds after the typical ADD ones didn't work. I was like I rather be "slow and lazy" than "drugged and weird" Med school has been hard and taking the USMLE was harder. I failed the first time because I studies on my own. The second time, I took a review course. SO take a scheuled review like Kaplan or Goljan. Why? because on our own, our mind drifts, we lose sense of time, our internal clock doesn't work. So create external schedules since our minds cannot. It may take longer than other med students to prepare because of sheer volume. We are smart, just like other med students but the net studying we do, after subtracting the hours our mind chose to drift off, it's not a whole lot of hours. Just create plenty of external clocks and time management systems. I have clocks everywhere, sticky notes to remind me and friends and family to check on me and bring me back if they see me in dreamland. When I am studying on my own, I appoint my sister or mother or boyfriend to message me every 30 mins, it says are you stuyding? It reminds me what I am supposed to do!! It works. I passed and I am ready for the third year. It is hard but it can be done. And I don't even bother telling anyone I have ADD anymore. Noone will understand unless they have it and all med students claim they do.

yvonne h said...

hey, i've started medicine this year in ireland. I'm 19 and i've always had difficulties with concentration, procrastination and motivation but in school i could somehow get by because the work load was not that big. but since starting medicine, its been a struggle to make myself sit down to do the work (i've always experienced this, but it never was a problem, i still got good grades because i was smart enough to absorb the information i needed, but this no longer works for the enormous medical course). my brother is diagnosed with ADD (when he was a child) and I recognise traits in him that i recognise in myself. when i mentioned my concerns with my dad, he didn't take them seriously, because i'm in med school, i've gotten this far, how could i have ADD? i also experience anxiety and depression, and cannot concentrate on a book for longer than 10 minutes before finding something else to do and losing track of time
what should i do? i'm worried that my doctor will have the same reaction my dad did and not take me seriously

William said...

I'm following up from my last post here. I've been granted another chance at taking Step 1 and now am taking ritalin for ADD. You know, all I had to do was ask my primary care doctor. Yes, it was that simple. Since I've been on it, I'm scoring in the mid 70% on my practice tests. Before, I was barely over 50%. For those who know about Kaplan Qbank or USMLE World, this 20pt. jump is crazy! If there is anything you take away from my post, please talk to your doctor and ask to try ADD meds. Who cares what others think?!?! You don't want to go through what I've been through. It doesn't hurt to try. There is no need to be ashamed. If you don't want your school to know, then just don't tell them. Findng this blog shows you are already being proactive. I got tested at the Yellin Institute where they have experience testing students in the health care field, if you want to know if you have a disability. Otherwise, google around for testing sites or simply tell your primary care doc your concerns and request trying meds. I've been depressed and avoided friends just because I didn't want to tell anyone my problems. It just made it worse. Take out your calender or phone and write down that you are going to be making a phone call tomorrow at 9am. You know I picked this cuz I used to stay up late into the night and watch reruns just like you! lol CALL and make an appt.!

Willio said...

Hi.
Just wanted to say that I was just diagnosed in Meds II. It's incredible how big of a difference the meds can make!
Now back to studying for my psych exam on Friday - I've procrastinated until today (and I still am right now).

Jamzilla said...

Hey Guys, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for this blog.
This the first time I can truly say that I identify with you all.
I’m currently a health care provider that does diagnostics studies and who is currently attending graduate school. I have been diagnosis with ADD about three years ago. I wished I was diagnosis earlier my life would have been much easier. I have attended numerous supports adult ADD groups and couldn’t completely identify them. Your successes and challenges are the successes and challenges that I have and currently experience. Like many of you bloggers have mention, we have to stay positive, as well as, persistent. You must be resilient. It took me 6 years to get through undergraduate school but I did. It took me two years to get into graduate school, but I got it in. That all that matters that you keep on trying. It very important, especially because there is such a need for physicians and other healthcare providers with ADD. We can be an advocate for the other suffering with this disease.

So keep knocking on doors, someone eventually has to answer.

R said...

All of you who do not wish to take prescriptive treatment may wish to investigate the use of Omega-3 fish oil, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the use of it in many who have non-hyperactive ADD. I was diagnosed with Adult non-hyperactive ADD by a psychiatrist. I had always known something was wrong while in high school and college, had always had trouble staying on task, listening in class and sitting down for extended periods of time and doing the homework in high school and college. I had also always underperformed in school. I knew something was wrong, but could never pin it down until later in life when I started investigating whether it might be ADD. That's why I finally went to see a psychiatrist, and he did indeed confirm ADD.

He wanted to put me on meds and wrote a prescription for Strattera. I went home and researched natural remedies for ADD because I wanted to give that route a try prior to going on prescriptive medication.

I found and read some very interesting information about some work being done with EPA being given in high dosages to those with ADD. Specifically, a EPA/DHA ratio of about 4:1 (most formulations in your local store are 2:1) has been found in many to greatly or totally reduce the symptoms of ADD without hyperactivity, in some almost as efficiently as prescriptive medication. However, much more research on this needs to be done.

I would encourage you to research this using the keywords "ADHD ADD EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID."

My own experience? I went and got a brand of Fish oil tablets that contains the 4:1 EPA/DHA ratio and began taking them. I noticed almost from the first day a difference. That difference built up over the next few weeks. I noticed a substantially increased ability to focus, a substantial reduction in being distracted by noise, etc., an increased ability to concentrate during reading both dull and interesting material, a decreased irritability and an increased ability to stay on task and get a task done to completion.

Placebo effect? Possibly. It certainly cannot be discounted, and as I said much more research needs to be done on the matter. But I would urge you all of you who do not wish to take prescriptive meds to research the matter and possibly give it a try.

For what it's worth the particular fish oil I've been using is both Nordic Naturals EPA and EPA XTRA at about 2-2.5 grams of EPA total a day. It's one of the few formulations that has that 4:1 EPA/DHA ratio that seems to effective with ADD.

R said...

All of you who do not wish to take prescriptive treatment may wish to investigate the use of Omega-3 fish oil, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the use of it in many who have non-hyperactive ADD. I was diagnosed with Adult non-hyperactive ADD by a psychiatrist. I had always known something was wrong while in high school and college, had always had trouble staying on task, listening in class and sitting down for extended periods of time and doing the homework in high school and college. I had also always underperformed in school. I knew something was wrong, but could never pin it down until later in life when I started investigating whether it might be ADD. That's why I finally went to see a psychiatrist, and he did indeed confirm ADD.

He wanted to put me on meds and wrote a prescription for Strattera. I went home and researched natural remedies for ADD because I wanted to give that route a try prior to going on prescriptive medication.

I found and read some very interesting information about some work being done with EPA being given in high dosages to those with ADD. Specifically, a EPA/DHA ratio of about 4:1 (most formulations in your local store are 2:1) has been found in many to greatly or totally reduce the symptoms of ADD without hyperactivity, in some almost as efficiently as prescriptive medication. However, much more research on this needs to be done.

I would encourage you to research this using the keywords "ADHD ADD EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID."

My own experience? I went and got a brand of Fish oil tablets that contains the 4:1 EPA/DHA ratio and began taking them. I noticed almost from the first day a difference. That difference built up over the next few weeks. I noticed a substantially increased ability to focus, a substantial reduction in being distracted by noise, etc., an increased ability to concentrate during reading both dull and interesting material, a decreased irritability and an increased ability to stay on task and get a task done to completion.

Placebo effect? Possibly. It certainly cannot be discounted, and as I said much more research needs to be done on the matter. But I would urge you all of you who do not wish to take prescriptive meds to research the matter and possibly give it a try.

For what it's worth the particular fish oil I've been using is both Nordic Naturals EPA and EPA XTRA at about 2-2.5 grams of EPA total a day. It's one of the few formulations that has that 4:1 EPA/DHA ratio that seems to effective with ADD.

Jany said...

For any of you that are bummed that ADDthrive hasn't been updated lately, I've been trying to put together a similar blog to help other medical students with ADHD. You can find it at http://adhd-md.blogspot.com

It's still in the works, but I hope it helps :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and support. It is very helpful to read how each of you have dealt with your situation and the impact of your ADD on your lives.

I spent all my medical school years with an undiagnosed ADD. Despite all the help that I had (e.g. learning coordinators, psychologist, psychiatrists, etc), and also attending a large educational center, none did not even hint of a possible ADD diagnosis.

As you can imagine the ramification of having ADD on my grades and schooling. Now I feel that my future has been tremendously impacted as I am not able to apply to many of the competitive residency that I would like to.

If any of you are in a similar situation or know someone, could you please comment as how you dealt with your situation? I not too inclined to write about this new diagnosis on my personal essay for a professional program. Any comments on that? How else one can circumvent this? Any other suggestions would also greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and support. It is very helpful to read how each of you have dealt with your situation and the impact of your ADD on your lives.

I spent all my medical school years with an undiagnosed ADD. Despite all the help that I had (e.g. learning coordinators, psychologist, psychiatrists, etc), and also attending a large educational center, none did not even hint of a possible ADD diagnosis.

As you can imagine the ramification of having ADD on my grades and schooling. Now I feel that my future has been tremendously impacted as I am not able to apply to many of the competitive residency that I would like to.

If any of you are in a similar situation or know someone, could you please comment as how you dealt with your situation? I not too inclined to write about this new diagnosis on my personal essay for a professional program. Any comments on that? How else one can circumvent this? Any other suggestions would also greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Oh no! The blog seems to be dying :( I hope more people will post about their experiences and thoughts--it really does help everyone. Having ADD/ADHD in medical school can make one feel alone, isolated, and different. As others have mentioned it also doesn't help that half of your colleagues think ADD does not exist (even after the Psych lectures during preclinical years!).

Workinghard said...

Hi, I only figured out that I had ADD when I was studying for the Mcat. I was unable to get higher than a 7 on the verbal reasoning section even after studying the section for a year. My doctor prescribed adderall and in one month my scores changed. I started consistently getting between a 10 and 12 on the section.
However, now I'm in med school and I find that it takes me forever to finish studying a single lectured.
I don't go to lecture because it's a waste of time for me and I just watch the video recordings and annotate notes.
Does anyone have any really good study methods that work well for an ADD mind?

quynh said...

I got diagnosed at the end of my first year. Finally gave into dealing with the negative crap with a med student using stimulants and started treatment. I have a legitimately diagnosed condition with established treatments, but hesitated due to the not wanting to be part of the stereotype. It's been rough, because I am also more left brain than right brain. Whatever the profs gave me, I had to reformat for the way my brain works. So far, I've made it through, sometimes by the skin of my teeth. A lot of it was making notes that I could work with. Concise summaries of what I had to learn that didn't take too long to review, leaving the rest of the time for tangent thoughts (like this blog). The notes were also short brief half page sentences so it's easier to keep track due to a hard time scanning text. I also to learn things in a systemic manner so that tangent subjects will in some way will eventually make it back to the topic and can be used later when that specific subject comes up.

For now, I make really concise guidelines and templates for taking histories and pt writing notes. I spent hours generating it a point where was satisfied that it was "enough" for my ever exploring mind but kept it within limits of time constraints and requirements.

I started posting some of these things here (http://learningrightworkingleft.blogspot.com/). There's more that will come up slowly but steadily as I find time.

quynh said...

I got diagnosed at the end of my first year. Finally gave into dealing with the negative crap with a med student using stimulants and started treatment. I have a legitimately diagnosed condition with established treatments, but hesitated due to the not wanting to be part of the stereotype. It's been rough, because I am also more left brain than right brain. Whatever the profs gave me, I had to reformat for the way my brain works. So far, I've made it through, sometimes by the skin of my teeth. I have no idea how sometimes. I rarely put in more than 4 hours a day of actual productive studying. I'd pass a class by 0.1% and then get 80th percentile on boards, or the other way around. It really depended on where my mind was at even as I moved from question to question on exams.

A lot of it was making notes that I could work with. Get as much in during the rare episodes of concentration. Concise summaries of what I had to learn that didn't take too long to review, leaving the rest of the time for tangent thoughts (like this blog)helped a lot. The notes were also short brief half page sentences so it's easier to keep track due to a hard time scanning text (2 columns, folded in half). I also to learn things in a systemic manner so that tangent subjects will in some way eventually make it back to the topic and can be used later when that specific subject comes up.

For now, I make really concise guidelines and templates for taking histories and pt writing notes. I spent hours generating it a point where was satisfied that it was "enough" for my ever exploring mind but kept it within limits of time constraints and requirements.

I started posting some of these things here (http://learningrightworkingleft.blogspot.com/). There's more that will come up slowly but steadily as I find time.

Anonymous said...

yep this is me painfully so. I had to repeat my first year because I failed two classes now I am in my second year and if I fail two classes again I have been told I may be let go. I am scheduled to see the psychiatrist in a week to tell me what I have known since undergrad. I have ADD I dearly wish I had been tested earlier and treated earlier. I am really scared its too late I just dont know if I can turn this year around...

Philothea said...

Im also a 2nd yr and also failed 2 classes last yr...luckily I got dx over the summer and am now doing better on meds, but still feel like Im not living up to my potential. Its a tough spot to be in but I guess we all just need to keep pushing forward, one day at a time. Good luck everyone!

Stacey said...

I was recently diagnosed, and find I have no problem passing courses, but in terms of clinical work I'm really struggling with knowing how to prep and what readings to do etc. Has anyone else experienced the same thing? What have you found helpful?

Anonymous said...

This article has helped me a ton with procrastination (my biggest weakness). I would recommend this to anyone ADD or not if they are having problems with procrastination.

http://www.sas.calpoly.edu/asc/ssl/procrastination.html

Anonymous said...

Hi all!
In reading all these comments, I hope it is not reality hitting me in the face, telling me that I won't be able to make it through medical school. I'm just barely trying to pass the MCAT with ADD! However, it is motivating to hear the few success stories! But, the reason why I'm commenting is because I wanted to know what you guys did to do well on the MCAT. I have a terrible score of 4/5 on verbal reasoning... I can't seem to do well on that section in such a limited amount of time! What tips can you guys hand down to the rookies?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi. I cant thank you enough for making this blog. Feel lucky to have come across this. I am a medical graduate from overseas and have had symptoms of ADD for over 6 years. Despite my noticing and mentioning my primary care, they'd always brush it off saying these are due to my hypothyroidism (i'm hypothyroid and take levothyroxine daily). Anyways, med school was a struggle. Though i didn't fail any tests, i was always average or just below average, despite working extremely hard. I can tell you i struggled to read, remain focused for more than 10mins and would lose thought in the middle of reading. I would struggle to extract the idea of a given passage for instance. After graduating, came the time to appear for steps and i just couldnt focus at all. my symptoms had worsened. despite of establishing care in the US (as i moved here), PCP didnt refer me for ADD/ADHD evaluation. After 2 and half years of struggle i gave step1, passed step1 with a 200+ and then self referred myself for evaluation. I just feel that i have lost so much time trying to convince my PCPs over the years that i could have some learning difficulty, which makes me so upset. It wasn't my fault. I worked really hard. I still do. I still have to do step2. Its been 3 years i have been out of school and my husband who is my classmate from medschool is now in his third year of residency. Despite feeling such a failure, i hope and am determined to go on. I have always worked hard and love the field of medicine. If i don't get residency, which is probably what's going to happen (my step score is not competitive), ill just become a medical assistant/technician, cause i love this field so much. The saddest part is that everyday when i get distracted, i look for alternate options for my career. MPH? certificate course? EMT? I spend hours doing so, despite the fact that i love medicine and thats what i wanted to practice. And no PD will ever understand what i went through. How i tried to convince people around me and they just thought im finding excuses. Disappointed.