Update on ADHD Science and Controversies- ADHD Tip O the Day 821

Controversies in ADHD

In my opinion, science can be flawed, but it is more trustworthy than opinions. In the following, my opinions are italicized.

  1.  There really is no controversy about whether or not ADHD exists.  There are more and more studies showing differences in our brains – connections to frontal lobe; basal ganglia; cerebellum.  Dopamine, norepinephrine.  And genes that predispose to ADHD.                                                                                                                                                   
  2. There are people who have the opinion that ADHD doesn’t exit.  There are people who believe that the earth is flat.  Or that vaccinations cause autism.  Or that – I started to get into politics here, probably not appropriate.  But when have I ever been appropriate?  But this time, I did listen to the little voice.  This time.                                                   


I wouldn’t be surprised if  there are more varieties of ADHD, beyond hyperactive, inattentive , and mixed.  Based on different sets of genes, and maybe other things.

2.  Studies show that stimulants do not help with studying in vanillas, just make the students think they did better on the test than they actually did.  But some recent studies show they do help.

Who knows?  I lean to the first concept, although that may be wishful thinking.

3. Some studies show that treatment with stimulants have no long term benefits for ADHD.

But clearly with ADHD we have more accidents, substance abuse, divorces, arrests, and these are reduced by stimulant.  The difference in percentage is very significant.  How could they not have long term benefit?  If you are alive, sober and not incarcerated, that seems pretty beneficial.

4.  Some studies are suggesting that a small percentage of ADHDers are adult onset.  But Further evaluation show that most of those people are having ADHD symptoms from other causes – substance abuse, traumatic brain damage, anxiety and stress, thyroid disease and others.

I think by definition ADHD starts at conception. It’s a  neurodevelopmental disorder.  Other factors may make it less severe or worse.  Sometimes the symptoms aren’t revealed until things get hard – I had obvious symptoms beginning in fourth grade, but had no scholastic difficulty until college, when I hit the wall.  I don’t believe in adult onset.  Some of this is semantic – if you have ADHD symptoms caused by thyroid disease, do you have ADHD?  I don’t think so.  And you probably wouldn’t meet carefully evaluated DSM criteria.

5. All the studies show that people who do have ADHD do not abuse their medication. But there is a lot of misuse, especially in college.  ADHDer are hit on by friends  to get their meds, or a few may be selling it.

There are surely some cases of abuse and addiction in ADHDers, especially with amphetamines, but these seem rare, and I question if the person really had ADHD in the first place.


Question O the Day:

Would you be willing to contribute your opinions?  They will make the site more interesting and I would appreciate them.

Two Quotes O the Day:

  1.  “Not proven is not the same as proven not.”
  2.  “Many people, including some scientists, confuse correlation with cause.”

                         These two brilliant quotes are from Doug Puryear his own self.

Personal Note O the Day:

I think this is one of my better posts, but we will have to wait and see what my wife comments, if she does.


@addstrategies  #adhd  #add  @dougmkpdp


About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at amazon.com, or smashwords.com (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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13 Responses to Update on ADHD Science and Controversies- ADHD Tip O the Day 821

  1. Pingback: FAQ about ADHD — ADHD Tip O the Day 958 | ADDadultstrategies

  2. rammkatze says:

    Hi Doug. Always glad to contribute!
    I’ve often seen the ADHD-drug abuse in adults represented in movies and tv series. The funny thing is, it’s usually the mom who has a kid with ADHD who starts “abusing it” because “I can get so much done!”; and since I got the diagnosis, I’ve wondered: maybe their only abuse was that they confused the rush (you can get as a side-effect) for the reason for them being energetic – and overdid the meds. But maybe they were really just unaware that they have ADHD and ended up unkowingly self-medicating? It would explain why THEY certainly got more focused.

    As for students… well, I know they think they focus better, but I wonder: if the focus problem comes from a lack of neurotransmitters in the brain and the ritalin and other meds just kind of make up for that lack… can you really improve focus with ritalin if you’re not lacking anything?

    I for one did get that frantic rush as a side-effect the first couple of weeks I was on my meds. Also had sudden panic attacks out of nowhere and felt edgy for about an hour or two. But the side-effects dissapeared. Since I know what’s going on, I know this is normal and doesn’t mean the meds aren’t working anymore. Because they are. The focusing stayed. 🙂

    Funny story: I remember when I was in 9th grade I had a friend who had bad grades. When we had finals, he came to us on the day of our Geography final, completely excited and bug eyed saying “Ask me anything! Ask me anything! I know everything!” and he really did know a lot, which baffled us. He excitedly explained he had found the trick to focusing. He said he smoked a whole joint (he was 17, he had been held back a couple of years) before he sat down to study Geography, and he could memorize everything. We laughed and didn’t quite believe him, but he really scored pretty high in the final – although he had been a crappy student all year long.
    Nowadays,I have to chuckle and wonder: isn’t marijuana also associated with improving focus in ADHDers? From what I rememember from that guy, it actually is very likely that he had ADHD and unwknowingly medicated himself for his studies. I do have my doubts you can smoke your way into focus as a vanilla, though.

    Also: I like your way of posting something and adding your comments in italics. It makes it very easy to always know exactly what you’re reading – fact or opinion – for those of us who… you know, kind of get distracted in the middle of a sentence. 😉


    • Ram
      interesting points.
      a lack of neurotransmitters sounds a lot like ADHD.
      the rush at first i think is unusual, but maybe you started on too high a dose at first
      I don’t there is any evidence that pot helps ADHD, the opposite at least with chronic and heavy use, especially in young developing brains. possibly your guy was having trouble due to anxiety and the pot helped with that, at least once?
      there is lots and lots we dont know about ADHD and about the meds and about pot, but we are gaining knowledge.
      always appreciate your comments

      Liked by 1 person

      • rammkatze says:

        HI Doug
        For some reason, I didn’t get an E-mail notification for the reply, but here goes:
        I recall some ADHDers telling me that pot helped. Maybe that’s where I got my idea. What you say defenitely makes sense, though! Anxiety might’ve been his problem. I don’t smoke pot – even though I’m all for legalizing it (well, I don’t HAVE to smoke pot if it’s legal, so why should I be against it?).


        • ram- i think the jury is still out on pot in general. we do know for sure its not good for young brains, especially with regular and heavy use – neither is alcohol. i think it probably makes ADHD worse but that’s just my guess. And, everyone is different.
          thank you for your contributions to the blog. And I’m definitely for legalization, for many reasons.

          Liked by 1 person

          • rammkatze says:

            I’ve heard that the THC in Marijuana is good for symptoms of people with MS and THC has been approved for medical use in Portugal under certain circumstances, and it gave me a chuckle. One of my sisters has MS, but she is also a very uptight person (me and everyone in the family think she is mentally ill and could use some serious help, but she won’t let people help *shrug*) and I had a good kick of imagining that woman smoking a joint. She could certainly use one, haha…

            Bonus question: have you come across people who believe that Marijuana cures cancer? That one bugs me a lot. People don’t get that aiding symptoms and curing something aren’t the same. They also don’t get that cancer isn’t like one single specific disease you can cure with a universal “magical ingredient”.

            Right. I’m done ranting. Sorry about that. 😉


            • ram
              i always appreciate your comments, ranting or not. ranting can be good for the soul. i really do need to learn more about marijuana, but i need to learn more about a lot of things.
              no, haven’t run across the pot cancer cure theory, but a lot of nutty theories are out there. try not to let them bug me, but when they are against vaccinations they are are actually causing deaths, if anyone is taking them seriously. AArrghh!
              best wishes

              Liked by 1 person

  3. JM says:

    I have way too many thoughts, opinions, and observations that I want to comment on, but thankfully don’t have time to.
    I live in a city where I suspect there are a number of people who have been diagnosed as ADHD (Adults) but they have something else going on that might have been a more appropriate diagnosis. For example FASD. These are people who clearly show signs of FASD but because their mother has never admitted to drinking during pregnancy, and the false belief that only Indigenous people in Canada have FASD, I think they get mislabeled as ADHD.
    I have also met people who take ADHD stimulants and they are incredibly hyper and talk non-stop and are go-go-go until it wears off. I have never had that experience on ADHD stimulants. They have never provided me with non-stop energy. What they have done for me is allow me to focus, stop fidgeting, make me calmer and more relaxed and
    significantly reduced my anxiety induced snacking and binge eating.

    I have also had experience with 2 male managers, both of who claimed to have ADHD however they don’t exhibit ADHD symptoms. What they do express are symptoms of Aspergers. One of the managers spoke in a monotone voice, wore the exact same all black outfit every single day, was a poor communicator, had terrible social skills, and lacked emotional expression and connections (something that was necessary for the work we do).
    Anyhow, as a person with ADHD I don’t like discussing it with others sometimes because people seem to have huge misconceptions about the disorder.


    • Jm
      very good comment.

      There are many things that can look like ADHD but I think a careful professional evaluation can make the correct diagnosis – at least if the professional really knows about ADHD. But I also think a knowledgeable layperson can often tell if it’s not ADHD, as you have done about your manager.

      Everyone has their own individual response to any kind of medication. And the ADHD medications are not for everyone. I would guess that the hyper people you describe may not actually have ADHD, but who knows? Your experience with meds, like mine, is much more typical.

      Huge misconceptions may be underestimating it!

      thank you for your contribution to the blog.



  4. Scott says:

    Hi Doug,
    Good job “listening to the little voice”, but I have to laugh about what that sounds like: (the little voice in my head).
    So you mentioned anxiety and stress causing symptoms like ADHD in non-ADHD people. Are there ever cases where ADHD causes anxiety and stress? I know it often causes depression. I’ve been dealing with anxiety issues, so that one grabbed my attention.
    I personally have tried to stay clear of ADHD meds. I had a bad experience early on with Welbutrin and about the same time read in a book by Dr. Hallowell that exercise is equal to several meds combined and without the side effects. I’ve watched friends on ADHD meds and that has also helped convince me to look elsewhere for help other than pharmaceuticals.
    Screens and other “shiny” things are my biggest downfall. Changing what I have access to in my environment has been very helpful, but sometimes I don’t have that option.

    Thank you for your posts!

    I just got out in my row/sail boat for the first time this year and it was great! Seals following me, fish jumping, birds, a Kingfisher, a Great Blue Heron, some very light air sailing and a fair amount of rowing and a glimpse of a porpoise right at the end!
    All the best, Scott


    • Scott
      Good to hear from you.
      The boating sounds great. Two things, non medication, that can be really helpful with our ADHD symptoms are exercise and getting out of doors – you’ve made a good combination. I need to get myself to go fishing more often -unfortunately we are in a drought which limits it anyway.
      My little voice is enormously helpful, and I am working on getting myself to listen to it more – I still make the mistake of ignoring it, often to my regret. But sometimes it says, “Don’t say that!” a second after I’ve already said it.
      I think for most people the exercise is a great help but not a substitute for medications, it’s a supplement to them. Still, for some people it may be enough help by itself.
      Hope you and jm read each others comments – they support each other
      as always, I appreciate your commenting


  5. Martha Puryear says:

    Its a little long and a little wordy but the information seems useful.

    Love, M



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