OCD and ADHD. Is There Really a Connection?

I know that some research has shown that there may be some connection between OCD and ADHD (nobody uses ADD anymore?) but when I came across this post recently, I couldn’t help chuckling. To me, the basic symptoms for ADHD seem to describe the complete opposite of those for OCD.

Inattention:  Having a short attention span and easily distracted.  Really? Many people with OCD would love to be able to NOT pay attention to their thoughts.

Impulsivity:  Causes a person to do dangerous or unwise things without thinking about the consequences.  Those with OCD do the exact opposite. They play it safe and obsess about the consequences.

Hyperactivity:  Inappropriate or excessive activity.  Again, those with OCD tend to want to do what is appropriate. Also, in Dan’s case, he often had very low energy as he was “wiped out”  from struggling with his OCD.

So maybe having both OCD and ADD/ADHD would be a good thing?  They could cancel each other out and all would be well.

I do not mean to make light of either of these disorders, but sometimes you just have to laugh.  At one point Dan’s health care providers thought that he may have ADHD, mainly because he was disorganized and often lost things. After reading about ADHD for five minutes, there was no question in my mind that Dan did NOT have it. He was put on stimulants anyway, with disastrous consequences.

Maybe Dan’s disorganization was directly related to  his dealing with his OCD. Maybe he’s just disorganized. But, as was later confirmed by a new psychiatrist, he does not have ADHD.

I would love to hear from those that  suffer from both of these disorders as they do seem so contradictory to me.

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65 Responses to OCD and ADHD. Is There Really a Connection?

  1. I agree with you that these are two quite different disorders. I personally question many of the children diagnosed with ADHD. Some kids do get diagnosed with ADD (without hyperactivity). I think it has new letters though. I even heard a Psychologist who believes that ADHD does not really exist and the medications they put these kids on are the same as the street drugs that many kids are addicted to.
    I think the disorder lies more in society and the school systems than in the children. And then there are the effects of environmental toxins, medicated births and all the artificial and altered ingredients that are now in so much of the average American diet. I could go on and on but I won’t.
    If ADHD really does exist, it is a far smaller percentage than get diagnosed and treated with medication.
    I do not have any children with ADHD. I do have a child with OCD.
    I agree, you have to laugh at things like this, because it can be so serious and overwhelming.
    Medical professionals need diagnoses to make sense of things and to “treat” people. Yet, I think they fail to dig deeper into the true cause of such things whether it is ADHD or OCD.

    Why do so many children with any type of behavior issue, benefit from a gluten free diet?
    Has the incidence of OCD always been as high as it is now?
    My focus for my daughter with OCD, has been to help her, first in the most natural way possible and in align with my parenting and spiritual beliefs.
    Despite Medicines description of the cause of OCD, lack of serotonin, I want to dig deeper as to why. If lack of serotonin is the reason, than giving serotonin should cure it right?
    Things with the brain are never that simple. And I think medicine first needs to admit that they do not know everythign about the brain, because they do not, and therefore they do not know all there is to know about OCD or any other disorder of the brain.

    • Belle says:

      Having OCD is not having a behaviour issue, something like constantly disrupting a class because you’re bored and feel entitled to disrupt the class would be a behaviour issue. OCD is an anxiety disorder, a mental illness- let’s make sure it’s defined as that in those kinds of words and not in words that make it sound like it means misbehaving and having a bad attitude (even though I know that’s not what you meant).

      • You bring up an interesting point, Belle, and I do believe OCD in the classroom is often misdiagnosed as something else. We need to keep educating teachers and school counselors about the disorder so they know the child in question is not a “behavior problem,” but rather dealing with something beyond his or her control. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Denise says:

    The connection between OCD and ADHD is the region of the brain they both stem from, the right prefrontal cortex. In the case of ADHD, the activity in this region of the brain is less than normal. In the case of OCD, the activity in this region of this brain is higher than normal. They are in fact on opposite ends of the spectrum. So you are right, they are not at all similar disorders. I know from experience as I have a mother with OCD and a husband and daughter with ADHD, ergo my interest in the connection. And for those who believe ADHD does not exist, I can promise you that these individuals are not married to a person with it nor have raised a child with it. It’s real, it’s genetic and it’s not a creation of our society. It’s a challenge to have ADHD and hard sometimes to live with the people who struggle with it. Unlike OCD, it manifests itself in subtler, less obvious ways.

  3. ocdtalk says:

    Denise, Thank you so much for this information……there is nothing like personal experience to fuel our desire to learn about these disorders. I appreciate your sharing your knowledge and insight!

  4. Good Day,
    Just read an article of you with the same title in psych central. I am neither an expert nor a psychologist.
    Moreover, I am a great procrastinator, I cannot concentrate and I do have behaviours that look OCD-ish ( e.g”I shouldn’t think of THAT”, and THAT sticks, then in my mind, “Have I locked the door?” (check-recheck) etc) but I have no professional assessment.
    So bearing that in mind, just my opinion.

    What if someone, trapped by his OCD, has made choices that had he not the condition would be completely different? Wouldn’t he react even by probably showing AD(H)Dish behaviours?
    Does one with OCD studies/does what he really likes (or has at least tried, or not?) I write about studies/jobs as they consume an important chunk of our daily lives. Trapped in the wrong place by OCD, he may seem to work/study, but actually refuse to concentrate, hence AD(H)D, even though H may not appear necessarily in physical form.

    After all, teachers’ praised qualities for students (for their convenience probably) may be signs of the condition and its consequences not yet fully developed.
    I may be an attentive and engaged student, but can it be that I am also extra attentive and engaged to my thoughts?
    I may be obedient too. So much that I may not make choices, but just follow?

    I have friends in education and my wife is a teacher too. What I tell all of them is “Pay attention to the quiet guy/girl who is an example of student. There may be more problems with him/her than with little Mr/Mrs Trouble”

    I probably have messed up my English as well as my argument. Anyway as said, just a lay-opinion.

    • ocdtalk says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. I think you bring up a lot of good points, especially when you say, “What if someone, trapped by his OCD, has made choices that had he not the condition would be completely different? Wouldn’t he react even by probably showing AD(H)Dish behaviours?”

      What I understand you saying here is that OCD can dictate how a person lives his or her life, and I completely agree. In my son’s case, once his OCD was treated, most of his so called “ADHD symptoms” also disappeared. If he truly had ADHD, those symptoms would have remained. Just because someone has “ADHD behaviors” does not mean they necessarily have ADHD.
      Thanks again for your insights!

  5. I usually mess it up in my argumentations that I am not sure that you have properly summarised it up. Probably, you have 🙂

    Anyway, before assigning labels from ADHD to OCD till simple laziness (where there will also be such cases) we need to investigate a little bit deeper.

  6. Destiny says:

    I suffer from both OCD and ADHD. I came to this site because I am suspecting that my son does as well. I am not trying to be sarcastic, but when I began to read this article, I could’nt help but to chuckle but also a bit disturbed. I don’t want to write a book here but I do want to say this: A person who suffers from OCD can become obsessed over anything. I remember that I used to be very maticulous about everything, especially righteousness but when someone betrayed me, I became overly obsessive about getting my revenge. At the time, I knew nothing about OCD. It wasn’t until I had to call the police on myself, that I actually became knowledgeable about what was going on. I was sent to a psychiatrist. I was medicated for what were described as intrusive thoughts. I immediately began to feel better. But I know fo a fact from experience that obsession can go from one extreme to another…either you can be overly good or you can be overly bad.

  7. Destiny says:

    I also forgot to mention, that even though my OCD is under control, I still find it very difficult to stay focused. I am 33 years old but I have the energy level of a 16 year old. I never sleep and I am always active. But most of all, I am unfocused. ADHD is so hard to treat. I really don’t believe that I was born with it. But I do remember in preschool, that I would get in trouble a lot for not paying attention.

  8. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for your comments, Destiny. To tell you the truth, when I first posted this entry, I thought I would hear from a lot of people who have been diagnosed with OCD and ADHD, but you are the first one.

    When you talk about obsessions going from overly good to overly bad, I assume you are just talking about thoughts, and have never actually acted on “getting revenge?” Assuming this is true, they are just thoughts, and nothing more.

    Thank you for sharing.

  9. Sam says:

    There are many similarities in symptoms so at times it can be difficult to make an accurate diagnoses. with both conditions, some things can be different. frequent checking can certainly counter much of the forgetfulness and careless mistakes, but at the cost of double trouble with efficiency since frequent distractions will still b an issue. This is one example and it is important to remember that we r still researching these disorders. Diagnosing these disorders accurately is not as easy as it seems and many get missdiagnosed every day.

  10. ocdtalk says:

    Thank so much for your comment, Sam. There certainly is still a lot we don’t know about understanding and diagnosing both disorders…it is important for us all to be aware of this and, like you say, realize that misdiagnoses do occur.

  11. destiny says:

    My daughter has adhd and ocd she was just at the doctor because I found it really weird that she would only use even number such as 8 ice cubes in her glass but is was very hyper and was disruptive in class until her doctor but her on a medicine for adhd my child could not sit still but at the same time she got to the point to where she was counting steps that she took and if for say from my living room to my kitchen was 29 steps she would take one big step to make it 28 steps again a even number she would not got to bed a 9 because it was a odd number so she took it upon herself and started going to bed at 8 even number my daughter has been seen by several doctors and one doctor said I had a rain man on my hands she is in the 2nd grade and doing and passing with flying colors 6th grade math and science at first I was really concerned because at home she has three sisters and doesn’t like to play with them but plays well with others so as a mother going threw this it is VERY possible to have ADHA&OCD

  12. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for writing, destiny, and for sharing your story. I hope your daughter continues to do well, and as long as you have doctors who you trust and are comfortable with and you feel they are helping your daughter, that is the main thing. I know when my son took meds for his wrongly diagnosed ADD, it adversely affected his OCD, but I’m glad your daughter doesn’t appear to have that problem….I know that’s not an uncommon issue, so it’s just something to be aware of. Thanks again for commenting!

  13. StrawberryFields says:

    Destiny, I work with kids that have Autism and that might be a diagnosis worth looking into for your daughter.

    OCDtalk, a few years ago in high school I went in to be tested for ADHD because I was sure that is what I had. I came out with an OCD diagnosis. Many doctors and years later, I have come to some different conclusions. My recent psychiatrist believes that I also have ADHD. After reflecting on it, I think that I may have started out with ADHD as a child and as a coping mechanism I developed OCD. Given that anxiety runs in my family, I think I was subconciously trying to reign in my Attention Disorder with rituals that seemed both normal(because my family did them too) and effective at the time. Those rituals snowballed into an unproductive mess of anxiety and a life where I couldnt remember anything and couldnt stop obsessing over my forgetfullness.

  14. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for sharing, Strawberry Fields. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. I’m wondering if your OCD has been treated with ERP Therapy and how that has affected your ADHD (wow, lots ot acronyms 🙂 )?

    • StrawberryFields says:

      Thank you! I dont know that it was ever referred to as ERP, but I did CBT. Most of my Obsessions and Compulsions were more mental than. phsyical (more of a need for decisions to be deliberate or an event to feel complete vs needing to touch/rearrange things). It was hard to do exposure therapy for a mental compulsion. We tried to recreate scenarios like in my classroom where I would feel overwhelmed without having transitions and that helped. I used to be very unhappy and super stressed with my OCD but I was getting my homework done. I was taking much longer than needed but I was getting everything done and getting great grades. Now my OCD is almost completely gone but I am apathetic about school work and other work. I am doing worse in school and am not nearly as worried as I should be. I have to TRY to make myself worried to get something done. It is very strange. I thought maybe I was on too much medication (lexapro) but I spent three monthes without any and now am on a very low dose of Prozac and still in the same situation. Im not really sure if my current issues are ADHD or OCD. Sometimes if I try to do work, BOTH can get in the way, such as I can get easily distracted but then obsess over the distraction. Or that could all be chalked up to extreme avoidance of my work haha or skilled procrastination. Its hard to tell, all I know is that I am not getting nearly the amount of things accomplished each day that I used to.

      • ocdtalk says:

        I am so glad to hear that your OCD is now mild..that is great news. That’s interesting about your lack of motivation, though. I guess there are lots of possible reasons for it, but I’m not a therapist so I won’t even try to figure it out! I hope you have a therapist who can help you out with these issues. Good luck and keep me posted as to how you are doing.

  15. Ellie says:

    I am diagnosed with both adhd-pi (primarily inattentive, not without hyper-activity but much less impaired by such) and ocd– both in the past year. I’m female, in my mid-40’s. I take meds for adhd-pi (which help enormously) and am currently doing cbt for the ocd and anxiety. I haven’t asked, but assume my ocd to be on the less severe end of the scale. (As an aside, even on meds, I still have issues with focus– so in writing this response, as I spend an inordinate amount of time over-thinking my word choice and whether I should write this, etc, etc, I’m also forgetting the points from your post that I wanted to address. 🙂 And getting up from the computer to check mail, get a drink, play with the dog and so on. But I’m much better than I used to be!

    I wish they cancelled each other out in a way that led to better functioning. To illustrate how they don’t, I can give an anecdote from my own life. In the past, I might forget to pay the electric bill. For the two weeks from the date it was due until they sent someone out to disconnect services, I would not remember/procrastinate/get distracted about paying that bill. But I would’ve thought of a 5-word sentence that I’d said to someone during that same two week period that I thought was “wrong” and proceeded to say it over and over and over in my head– with emphasis on different words of the sentence, different syllables of the words– trying to figure out if I’d actually said it the way I’d intended. Or was I remembering the exchange accurately. Or was it received the way I’d intended. Always trying to get to that magical moment of absolute certainty. And so on. Too little focus on necessary things (adhd impairment), too much focus on abstract, unnecessary things (ocd impairment). There are many examples, but that’s one of them.

  16. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks so much for your comment and insights, Ellie. Hearing about these issues first-hand is so helpful to me. It’s all so complicated, isn’t it? My son Dan, whose OCD was severe and is now mild, also often focuses on the wrong things, but it is because of his OCD, not ADD. There are no easy answers, and everyone is different. Again, thank for sharing!

  17. Ellie says:

    You’re welcome. And thanks for your thoughtful blog. It is definitely complicated– having either one of those issues. I agree for sure– the kind of focus problems with ocd are very different. I don’t think of the two disorders as having a connection, so much as a collision!

    I don’t talk about either with very many people irl so I’ve tried to find my “tribe” online, but I think maybe it’s a small one!

  18. Sasha says:

    I have both. I imagine the explanation is adrenaline, which is released in response to anxiety and promotes concentration along with its more famous performance-enhancing effects on the body. The snag is that it only makes you concentrate on whatever is causing the anxiety. Thinking about anything else just gets harder still.

    I mean, do you really imagine that if a lion walks into a classroom, the kid who couldn’t focus is going to keep getting distracted and forgetting to be quiet while he’s hiding in a cupboard? Extreme example obviously, but it illustrates the point.

    A spike in adrenaline causes a proportional spike in attentiveness. You don’t have to be in a life-threatening situation to get a milder but significant concentration boost. OCD is most definitely among the things that produces enough adrenaline to hold the elusive attention of an ADDer.

  19. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for the comment Sasha!

  20. nobody says:

    I believe I have both ADHD and OCD. And no, it is not a good thing. It wrenches you apart. I have to complete my work and perfectly and still worry about whether its good or not. Sometimes I forget about doing my work, and I feel absolutely terrible, like I just ran over a puppy or something. I have a fear of just about everything. The dark. Being alone. Things I can’t really see (like if they were blurry). But I get distracted easily. If I get into what I’m doing, I do it obsessively. If I don’t get into it, I get distracted super easily. I can organize anything perfectly, but I can’t keep it organized. I need doors to be shut. I have a security blanket. I get spooked very easily. I can’t give speeches without just about dying inside. And I was prescribed stimulants by my doctor for ADHD, which led to suicidal thoughts, lack of appetite, and lack of energy. But I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. I’m
    super shy and scared of people I don’t know very well, but I bounce off the walls when I’m with friends or family. So that’s ADHD/OCD for you.

  21. ocdtalk says:

    I’m so sorry you are struggling so much. I hope you have a psychiatrist and therapist who you feel confident in and comfortable with. Both ADHD and OCD are treatable, and while there may not be a cure, you should be able to manage the conditions and have a great life. Good luck. I appreciate your comment.

  22. Simone Smith says:

    Hi I am 34 and have recently bn diagnosed with ADHD. I often used to turn up to appointments and get all kinds of crap outta my bag . I once laughed and said I think I’ve got the opposite of ocd and the man behind the counter said is there such a condition. I replied if there is then I’ve got it.
    My partner however is much more obsessive and checks things over again. Which I find frustrating and annoying . I suspect he has ocd and it does seem opposite altogether xx

  23. LISA DOUGLAS says:

    Hi Janet, I, not referring to Alexandra this time, have ‘minor’ OCD and hyperfocus ADHD! It is a curse and a blessing. The phrase “attention deficit disorder” is often misunderstood because of the word “deficit.” Most assume ADHD comes with a very short attention span. While true, ADHD may cause a lack of attention, this is not the only symptom of ADHD.

    It’s more accurate to say that a person with ADHD has an uncontrollable attention span—either he/she cannot pay attention at all, or he/she focuses too much on one particular task, often disregarding everything else. I lose track of time and use timers to help me tear away from daily duties. Hours seem like minutes and the entire outside world is distant and almost non-existent. On the good side, hyperfocusing can be an asset for innovative types like me.

    Real ADHD is directly correlated with dopamine levels where OCD is not as easily contained in the neurotransmitter ‘box’ we all would like.

    ADHD is definitely extremely over diagnosed & our kids are really over drugged. None the less, ADHD is as real as OCD, just different.

    When Alex began 2nd grade, 6 years ago, 22 out of 31 kids in her class were diagnosed & being medicated for/& with ADHD med’s! Statistically, I believe this disproportionate percentage is one example portraying a very serious problem within society both now and into each misdiagnosed person’s future.

    Most medications prescribed for ADHD increase dopamine levels thus assisting in regulation. I’ve taken amphetamine salts for >10 years & they really help, but there is a price to be paid. Cocaine/methamphetamine’s also increase dopamine re-uptake inhibitor levels. Although, not my specific area of expertise, I’ve read studies regarding the long term usage of these ‘illicit’ synaptic dopamine increasing drugs and the eventual, consequential result in the brains inability to even closely ‘govern’ dopamine levels after long term use. Thus, the brain becomes accustomed/acclimated to the ‘drugs’ stimulus. The result: the brain needing the dopamine increasing ‘drugs’ to simply allow for any sense of normal life since correct dopamine levels are essential to ‘feeling pleasure.’ It is due to methamphetamine’s extreme effects on dopamine receptors which makes it categorized as the drug with the lowest rates of recovery…because they have damaged their brains, forever, and can’t ‘feel anything’ without it so the addiction continues.

    *So, what about our misdiagnosed kids with normal dopamine levels taking these dopamine drugs as their brains develop? Will they be able to live normally later in life without external dopamine regulators? Or will they be like meth addicts?

    • Janet Singer says:

      Thanks for the informative comment, Lisa. The research on the dopamine regulating drugs is particularly interesting. There is so much to learn! Thanks for your input!

    • Sasha says:

      There is no evidence that long-term stimulant use at therapeutic doses affects the brain negatively in people who actually have ADHD. The studies that have found those results were all looking at rats, or people, who DIDN’T have ADHD, not real patients, and many of them use doses that are not comparable to the doses given to ADHD patients. Laboratory rats can be given ADHD by knocking out certain genes, and I have never seen a study on THOSE animals, using doses scaled down proportionally from normal patient doses, that found long-term use caused the brain changes mentioned above.

      And increasing diagnosis rates are a very positive thing. If you don’t think that ADHD was hideously under-diagnosed in the past, then you haven’t seen the statistics on older prison and drug rehab populations, or high school drop-outs; MOST of them when studied are found to have undiagnosed or late diagnosed ADHD. These proved NOT to be harmless personality traits at all, however common they were.

      There is probably also a genunine increase in the number of cases. Asthma, eczema and short-sightedness cases have also dramatically increased in population percentage, more so than ADHD has. In the case of ADHD, you would theoretically expcet it to become at least somewhat more common, because pregnant women decades ago began doing such terrible things that they never used to half as much, like smoking and drinking and getting diabetes, all of which make ADHD more likely in the baby.

      In part due to the things pregnant women now do, the average classroom these days has many times more children in it than ever before who were born clinically or sub-clinically premature (even being a week early, which is not diagnosed as premature, is now known to be associated with ADHD) because prematurity rates have sky-rocketed and so have survival rates of the premature due to improved neo-natal care. This is the worst possible combination of changes for ADHD rates: not only are there far more premature babies, but a higher percentage of them are living long enough for the brain damage many of them sustain to show itself.

      Sometimes bad conditions are very common. Asthma is another example. Rates of that have increased dramatically as well, and I don’t see people crying ‘over-diagnosis’, instead they rightly start looking at ways to reverse the epidemic.

      • LISA DOUGLAS says:

        Good Morning Janet, I hope you are well. I’d like to respond to Sasha’s comments.
        Sasha, thank you so much for your excellent points and clarification. I, again, was not commenting as a professional but simply on what I’ve observed, experienced and read. Your statement, “There is no evidence that long-term stimulant use at therapeutic doses affects the brain negatively in people who actually have ADHD. The studies that have found those results were all looking at rats, or people, who DIDN’T have ADHD, not real patients, and many of them use doses that are not comparable to the doses given to ADHD patients,” is correct.

        I certainly do not want to be misunderstood or mislead in any way. My question was about the children who are misdiagnosed and treated with these drugs. I’m thrilled with all the advances were making in early diagnosis, research and over-all awareness regarding all and more of the disorder’s you’ve listed. Would you agree, however, with respect to children, mental illness and medications that error do occur? If so, with this possibility in mind and diagnosed ADHD kids, do you not consider there may possibly be enough of these diagnosed and medicated ADHD kids who clinically do not have ADHD to be a significant enough number to be considered valid statistically to, at least, consider into the equation?

        Having experienced such inexcusable, indefensible, medical; misdiagnoses, stigmas and medication debacles throughout Alexandra’s nine years with PANDAS (PANS), OCD, and Tourette syndrome that I am more aware of the many things, which can go wrong that nobody ever tells you, the parent, about. I only want us all to be as aware as possible to protect our children. Therefore, I do believe, there is a dialogue to be had about being cautious and wise about who diagnoses our children and how their issues are addressed. Alexandra lost her childhood to these ‘mistakes.’ Thankfully, now recovering, her life is and will be a life actually worth living. Thankfully, she will have her teenage years and onwards, but if I had known more…I could have protected her from many damaging medical decisions made by ‘experts.’ Here is a recent example: I just learned while attending the IOCDF convention that PANDAS (PANS) kids have been found to be extremely sensitive to SSRI’s and if used, must be done with thorough precision. Yet, for years and years, she was medicated with different SSRI’s, at the highest levels. Doctor’s were never even interested or concerned about the unimaginable side effects she endured until I decided enough was enough! Had I only known then! Furthermore, I am exceptionally well versed in the biochemistry of PANDAS and SSRI’s, what about those who are not? I only want us to understand the possibilities so as to empower our decisions with knowledge.

        When you stated, “If you don’t think that ADHD was hideously under-diagnosed in the past, then you haven’t seen the statistics on older prison and drug rehab populations, or high school drop-outs; MOST of them when studied are found to have undiagnosed or late diagnosed ADHD. These proved NOT to be harmless personality traits at all, however common they were,” I was confused.

        I did not mention under diagnosis in the past, I said in my opinion, from my observations and understanding that, “ADHD is definitely extremely over diagnosed & our kids are really over drugged. None the less, ADHD is as real as OCD, just different.” Yes, under diagnosis are real and a real problem. Again, not being my area of expertise, I still maintain: shouldn’t we also be cautious as we have a long way left to travel on our journey to understand the brain?

        Moreover, you hit the nail on the head with your following statements; “a genuine increase in the number of cases.” ‘pregnant women decades ago,’ ‘the things pregnant women now do,’ ‘the average classroom these days,’ those ‘born clinically or sub-clinically premature,’ and ‘not only are there far more premature babies, but a higher percentage of them are living long enough for the brain damage many of them sustain to show itself.” I do not put this ADHD medicated children topic into the same box as Asthma, however, because the remote, yet real, possibility for serious, long-term errors to occur in treatment exists.

        Upon reflection, the aforementioned school for which I enrolled Alexandra with such apparently disproportional numbers of diagnosed ADHD kids was, in fact, a ‘magnet’ school. Meaning, as an effort to socioeconomically diversify and upgrade inner city schools, the state chooses schools located in impoverished areas of the city, pumps them full of money & better teacher’s, and recruits children from different areas to attend. In theory, it made sense. I wanted her to have a diversified, culturally varied education, so I enrolled her for 1 year. She was the only child in her class who was different. All others were within one subgroup, which, in fact, may have proven your points perfectly. I had not considered these possibilities as potential roots to the astounding percentages of children being medicated for ADHD in her class. I was the room mother and was astonished. Alexandra received no attention as the behavior issues ruled the class, the teacher, and the educational process, wholly. Her teacher expressly suggested I place Alex into a ‘regular’ school the following year as it was unfair to her to remain.

        I really appreciate your widening my understandings of the vast variables involved. Sasha, in no way am “I crying ‘over-diagnosis, ‘I’m simply asking the question: is there the possibility for error? I’m simply asking, should we not be as aware and knowledgeable thus enabling us the wherewithal to protect our children? I am with you on, “instead they rightly start looking at ways to reverse the epidemic.”

        In conclusion, I thank you for your feedback and clarifications. I am always learning and that is why we are all here anyway, right?
        Respectfully, Lisa

      • Sasha says:

        Hi Lisa, thanks for your reply. I imagine that ADHD misdiagnoses do happen and that we should be very sure somebody has it before we give them ADHD drugs, in the same way that misdiagnosis of many other conditions happens sometimes. The reason I argue against statements that it is over-diagnosed, however, is because I think that even in the USA, there are probably more people undiagnosed than misdiagnosed when you include the adult and elderly population in the figures, and where there are lots of children diagnosed in one school, it could easily be because lots of kids from that school share either the same kinds of unhealthy pregnancies due to poverty, short distance from electricity pylons or other source of radiation, or another contributing factor.

        I live in the UK and as in most of the world, the vast majority of people with ADHD here are not diagnosed or treated for it, with usually only the very badly behaved ones getting referred for assessments. We have children who could benefit from ADHD medication being diagnosed only with dyspraxia, dyslexia, or autism, and these co-morbid diagnoses are used as a reason not to even diagnose the ADHD, let alone treat it. “Oh, you don’t need to see anyone about ADHD, it’s normal for dyslexics to be disorganised and unfocused!”
        So I’m not really suggesting that misdiagnosis doesn’t happen, just making sure that the message gets out there that many people go undiagnosed as well and that the medication is not harmful if you have ADHD, because without knowing these two things, more people are dissuaded from pursuing treatment.

        In fact, and I think this will interest you, I suspect that there is a fair amount of misdiagnosis indeed happening in the USA for one specific reason: comparing the youngest children in a class to the oldest as if they were the same age, when in fact there can be a whole year’s difference. ADHD is supposed to be diagnosed when symptoms of inattention/hyperactivity exceed what can be reasonably expected of someone your age and to such an extent that it significantly affects your life.
        Unfortunately, children are not always getting compared to peers who are actually their own age. The executive functions develop throughout childhood, adolescence and even beyond, and as children, an extra nine months of life is enough to make a massive difference. I know that this was not the reason I struggled to focus compared to my peers, because I was always one of the oldest in my class, and because now as an adult I am so obviously less organised than the average person of ANY adult age. But research has found that the youngest in a class are much more likely to get diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest.

        To get back to how misdiagnosis can run alongside undiagnosis: even this finding, in my opinion, could explain not just misdiagnosis, but why some people go undiagnosed until they leave school: if you’re the oldest in your year but your brain is developing too slowly for your age (i.e. ADHD) then combined with other factors like extra organisational support/tutoring from your family or high motivation, you might manage to keep just organised enough not to stand out against your peers as much as necessary for referral. Many people with late-diagnosed ADHD report that they only seemed to fall very far behind later in their school career or after they left school. That might be because their brain was not developing properly and by adulthood STILL hasn’t fully developed, but it was disguised by comparisons with classmates whose brains were younger, at an age when months still make a significant difference to how attentive and organised you can expect to be.

  24. ocdtalk says:

    Your comment illustrates the importance of determining if a child (or adult) truly has ADHD before medicating him or her. While the actual number of those suffering no doubtedly has increased, I’m inclined to believe there are still misdiagnoses being made. Thanks for your input!

  25. Wobbelwap says:

    I’ve got OCD and ADD (or ADHD-Pi)

    “Inattention: Having a short attention span and easily distracted. Really? Many people with OCD would love to be able to NOT pay attention to their thoughts.”

    I do have a short attention span, but somehow OCD related thoughts/actions aren’t disrupted by that and they are often the cause of the distraction.


    Not being able to make up your mind is a symptom for both ADD and OCD. Which is why the two are often confused.

    Hyperactivity, well, I’m the opposite (along with everyone with ADD). Right now I’m feeling inactive, although I’m not tired and I don’t have any compulsive thoughts that could cause it. So it can’t be caused by OCD.

    I’ve tackled most of my OCD problems with anti-depressants years ago and I must say, now that I’m on stimulants for my ADD, the OCD is getting worse again. The stimulants give me more energy, but don’t help me to use it better. Maybe I’m using the wrong ones, but it’s better than nothing.

    I’ve read articles saying that the combination of plain ADHD and OCD is very rare, but that ADD and OCD are frequently joined. I think that ADD and OCD might be the same condition but with a diiferent neuro transmitter involved. For a doctor to prescribe stimulants before checking for OCD or anxieties is simply stupid. Mine did so too, but I knew from the internet what the affects could be.

    I like your blog.

  26. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for commenting, and for sharing your situation. This OCD/ADD thing can get quite complicated! I agree with what you say about checking for anxiety issues before prescribing stimulants. It’s something so easy, and so important, yet how many doctors don’t even bother? Thanks again for your insight.

  27. ocd8 says:

    Having ADHD and OCD maybe a rare thing but it does exist. I am living proof of this wicked and twisted marriage between ADHD and OCD! My ADHD is severe and my OCD is worse. It does take great patience and a great psychiatrist to figure out the “prescription drug cocktail” but once it is found it works. Having both of these disorders is complicated. I am fortunate to have a fantastic support group – my family and friends!

    • holly says:

      Well said. I feel it is a constant tug of war that is going on in my head. It takes a good doctor to help by trial and error see what works. It isnt a solid sience and when things are percribed it is up to the patient to tell the doctor it isnt working or making things worse so they can try something diffenernt. The human mind is probebly the last real vast mystery because you cant quantify it with solid science!

  28. ocdtalk says:

    I’m so glad you have such a good doctor and family support system, and have found a “cocktail” that works for you. Thanks for sharing!

  29. deannspot says:

    Wow, I have found my group. I wish that I could get together with you guys. I am just now sort of figuring out that what was diagnosed as bipolar disorder in college is OCD and ADHD (w/ hyperactivity) combined with a even more wonderful PMDD (“luteal phase self destruction mode activated”).

    I am 34 years old and have identical 3 year old girl twins. One of them is exhibiting behaviors that I am familiar with. I am so glad to have read about the stimulants backfiring on someone with OCD, as I have not ever had stimulants prescribed to me, and have been worrying over what upcoming decisions may come about for my daughter.

    I had the most wonderful caring psychologist in college and saw him for a long time before he ever made any recommendations on drugs. The first drug he gave me was Paxil (20 mg/day) for OCD. I had gotten to the point of second guessing every little thing I did. When I came home from class, should I go upstairs or downstairs; when I was in my car, should I turn the radio on or leave it off…

    Within 2 days, I felt like the normal lady that I had remembered. I felt I had regained control of my brain.

    Because I finally was able to grasp and admit the feelings of the highs I would occasionally have (had those from very young, and these euphoric highs were very normal to me), I was prescribed lithobid (900/mg day). I now feel that these highs are related to ADHD. I used to do a lot of long distance bike riding, sometimes running, and techno dancing in college and just ride those highs (comparible to what I have read folks with ADHD do when they “let it go”) I liked to be left alone with my thoughts. And, boy, have I had some really amazing, sometimes brilliant, sometimes less so, sometimes just crazy thoughts. And many times I have acted on them, to the amusement and sometimes confusion of my family and friends.

    I eventually took myself off of the lithium, as I didn’t believe I was functioning very well on it. I would sometimes take one or two a day, and finally took myself off completely back in 2008 when I knew I was going to try and get pregnant.

    So, that brings me to PMDD. I had never even paid attention to when I ovulated, but you tend to do that as a woman wanting to get pregnant. I started to notice depression, anxiety, anger/rage and exacerbation of my other issues around mid cycle (right before ovulation when your discharge changes). I also started to notice that things usually got better as soon as my period arrived. Unfortunately, I think PMDD can be so traumatic for some women, they may not realize that they feel better when they get their period. Especially if they have other underlying issues like myself.

    I am just really happy to have a much better grasp on my own issues because I want to be the best mother and wife I can be.

  30. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for sharing (and we can get together – at the 2013 International OCD Conference in Atlanta 🙂 ). Your post drives home the point that it is so important to advocate for yourself. Nobody knows you better than you! Sounds like you are on the right track and I’m guessing you are already a pretty great mother and wife.

  31. Haley downin says:

    Hi my name is Haley. I am 14.
    My sister was recently diagnosed with OCD.
    However in 2007 she was diagnosed with ADHD. So we medicated her. One of the things about her OCD that she obsesses with taking her medication in the morning (The one for ADHD). In fact instead of canceling out each other, both disorders seem to bring out the worst in each other. For the ADHD she will become distracted from her current task. When she realizes she has dazed off in thought She becomes very worried that this will have a bad outcome. Hence the OCD. It seems to be a constant cycle. Of mental pain. She has started seeing a psychologist and we plan on adjusting her medicine with The new diagnostic.

    • ocdtalk says:

      Thanks for commenting, Haley. You sound like a very caring sister. I’m sorry it’s been so hard on your sister and you. Hopefully the psychologist your sister is seeing specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Please keep in touch. I’d love to hear how you both are doing.

  32. Mikkel says:

    I was diagnosed with both OCD and ADHD at the age of 11. I believe that I used my OCD to suppress my ADHD. I washed my hands very often and for way too long, and it worked as kind of medication for my ADHD. Also if I forgot to take my ADHD medication I would wash my hands even more frequently. I was medicated with anti-depressivs and ritalin at the same time, and as far as I can tell, they didn’t seem to work against each other.
    I do find this topic about if it’s possible to suffer from both OCD and ADHD quite interesting. I never thought of it in this way, but I do believe that you can develop OCD to suppress your ADHD.

    I apologize for any bad language

  33. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Mikkel. Yes, this is a very interesting topic and I admit it can get quite confusing! I hope you are doing well now. That’s the main thing!

  34. holly says:

    Hello, I am a 36 yr old woman with both ADHD(not ADD i have hyperactive) and OCD. One thing you have to remember is OCD doesnt present its slef the same in everyone and it is the same with adhd. My problem is I am so overly organized and OCD that I am paralized to even start something. Because I am unorganized it causes my OCD to go into overdrive. I get so obsessve that I cant clean because im scared to death of germs and dont even want to touch it with gloves on. So, I let it go and my house is so messy and dirty that I am parilzed to do anything. I am constantly obsessing on organizing and cleaning my house but my ADHD is fighting with it by taking away my attention and letting it get dirty in the first place! I have a constant inner struggle between the two disorders, and there is no doubt I have both. I spend my days obsessing on how to clean and organize but spend my days messing it up because i have no attention span what so ever. I think with any issue there is going to be trial and error in finding an acurate diagnosis be cause the mind can have comorbid disorders that can cause and present as something else. I also have depression. this depression is a byproduct of my OCD/ADHD causing such upheavle in my life. So, yes people can have comorbid disorders but one should definately question if something is working to see if it may be something else!

    • ocdtalk says:

      Thanks for sharing your struggles, Holly. i hope you have good healthcare professionals who listen to you and work together with you to find the best treatments.

  35. worrywartmom says:

    Hi, I am a Mom of a 15 year old with OCD. Without writing a book, let me just give an overall recap of my son’s story. I noticed when he was about 4, he washed his hands a lot, then got over that, then at 5, in kindegarten was obsessed with coloring in the lines, then at 8, in 3rd grade, had an anxiety attack in class and the doctor said he was having panic attacks. Brought him to two tourette syndrom specialists because he had ticks (a lot of them), no tourett’s, just different kinds of ticks that eventually subsided (mostly). At 10, he couldn’t wear the color brown as it reminded him of dirt, which reminded him of funerals and someone getting buried, couldn’t wear the color red as it made him think of the devil…had continual thoughts that we was going to hell…(that is continuous) .and so on and so on! Brought him in to see a brain specialist and they did a brain scan and diagnosed him with OCD. It was a god send and scary at the same time. Has gone through many different medications, Zoloft (which helped for 2 years and ran it’s course), switched him to Lexapro and ultimately ended with Luvox which he is on now. We have a good relationship with both doctors (therapist and our son’s medical doctor that we see on a regular basis) Our more recent concerns are his complete lack of focus and paying attention. He can’t remember simple things that are asked of him ie…chores that that he has done for years, simple things that someone who was focused could/should remember. It also takes him all night to do homework. I know he has major focus problems, it does however cause tension in our home because of the constant reminders, etc…I used to be so against medicine and still am not thrilled about it, but after all my son has battled over the years, I know (at least I think I do) that he needs to be on these medications to help him. I think he might have ADHD now as his focus has become increasingly worse and worse over the last few months.
    So sorry for the long post, but with this I am hoping that someone who might be struggling the same way our son has will see this and not feel like they are the only one or at the very least someone who can share some insight if they are or have gone through a similar situation. Our son is quickly approaching 16, has a typical teenager Attitude, has friends, but does struggle daily with these haunting battles. I hope and pray every day that there is some resolution to all of this and he can lead a happy and fulfilled life!

  36. ocdtalk says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, and I am sorry to hear things have been so difficult for your son and you. I am not a therapist and I would not advise you, but I’d just like to share a few thoughts regarding some similarities between our son’s situations.

    I don’t know if your son needs meds or not. That is between you, your son, and his doctor(s), who I assume you trust and are happy with. However, I do remember thinking (and being told) that my son “needed his meds” when the truth of the matter is they were harming him, not helping him. I know this doesn’t mean that will be true for everyone, but it is was for my son.

    My son also had the same lack of focus you describe, and his psychiatrist diagnosed him with ADD, even though I knew (and told the doctor) that he did not have this disorder. My son’s lack of focus was because he was so busy with his mental rituals, he could not focus on anything else. Once his OCD was treated, his normal focus returned.

    Lastly, if your son does end up taking meds for ADD, please be aware that many stimulants are known to exacerbate OCD. A couple of my posts expand on this, and there are plenty of other similar first person accounts on the Internet.

    Good luck as you move forward with treatment. I assume your son is receiving ERP Therapy? It’s the frontline treatment for OCD.

    • worrywartmom says:

      Thanks ocdtalk. I totally appreciate all your input as you probably know, it can be very overwhelming at times and with so much information can also sometimes be confusing. My son’s doctor was using cognitive behavorial therapy for a while, but having a son with the “mental” side of OCD, it’s much more difficult.

      I have been reading so much about the stimulants for ADHD and how they may affect his OCD it is overwhelming. I guess the only thing I can do it to bring these concerns up to the doctor and see what he says.

      With this disease, there is so much information out there (which is great at times) but can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you get both sides of the coin!

      I will definitely bring up the ERP which I have read about as well, thanks again for your kind words!

      • worrywartmom says:

        Have a question if you don’t mind me asking. Your son had OCD and had a hard time focusing? If he is not on medicine (that is great), how did you treat him? Was is just the ERP you mentioned?

  37. ocdtalk says:

    Yes, that is it in a nutshell. What helped my son was intensive ERP Therapy. You need to have a competent therapist who specializes in this type of cognitive behavioral therapy. My son also had primarily mental rituals; ERP Therapy works for that “type” of OCD as well. If you’d like more info or want to discuss further, feel free to email me at: ocdtalk@yahoo.com. I know it can be overwhelming!

  38. I know it may sound fantastic to you but I have symptoms of both, I also know people with both, When you have ADHD and OCD you have moments of ‘stickinthebutt’ perfectionism and moments of ‘whatever’, allow me to elaborate:
    sometimes you hyperfocus for hours and forget to eat or even to visit the bathroom

    sometimes you have to read the same paragraph 3-6 times and you just keep getting lost in the page.

    Is what I have not BOTH? well, maybe not in doctorspeak, but I can assure you, they do NOT cancel each other out.

    Do you know how manic.depression works? sometimes you’re up and vibrant and the chemistry in your brain changes and then you’re down and tired, that’s exactly how it works for me, I can never find middle ground, I go from hyper-distracted, too tired to get out of bed to hyper.focused and “I have to go do this and that and that now”

    (I’m not saying I’m manic.depressive, I’m saying the part of my brain where both ADHD and OCD are located switches between one state and the other willy-nilly).

    feel free to send me a message on my wordpress account but I should warn you I don’t login often 🙂

    • I forgot I was going to share something, yesterday I lost a spoon, I looked for it for several minutes, ended up using another one, but even as I kept browsing randomly all night, I kept thinking about the spoon, finally I found it by accident and felt such a relief.
      I mostly have ADHD symptoms, but if that wasn’t my OCD acting up, I don’t know what I have 🙂

  39. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, and I hope you have a good therapist that you trust to help you with these various issues.

  40. adhdocd says:

    I came across this forum when I was browsing for best ADHD and OCD treatments. I have been diagnosed with both but frankly, I don’t know what really causes my struggles. I obsess over what my diagnosis is and then I’m upset because I have obsessed for so long and then I start to obsess over thinking I’m just a hypochondriac.

    I was diagnosed “loosely” with ADHD by a professional family member as a young teenager and dabbled with Ritalin on and off which simply made me want to organize everything.

    My parents never knew much about all of my “rituals” because I was so ashamed that I spent so much time alone. I used to tell my mother that I was constipated because I had so many rituals in the bathroom. My father said I was clumsy because I was always tripping on the sidewalk, meanwhile I was simply trying to stay off the cracks. They thought I was being annoying when I had to jump forcefully onto the first staircase landing, meanwhile, I had to skip the last two steps and land “equal” on both feet. They thought I had Tourette’s because I had these odd facial/mouth movements, eye blinking, eyebrow raising, throat clearing, etc. Meanwhile, I simply had to do these rituals where I needed to blink once with my right eye and then twice with my left; if I cleared my throat once, I had to do it 4 times, etc. As a child, I used to say to myself that I was “superstitious” and that’s why I “had” to do all these things.

    I recall seeing a psychiatrist because I impulsively took my parents car to the store at age 14 and he said that my scores (which were all self-reports) indicated that I was “suspicious” at the 99th percentile. Huh?? I never went back to him but I continued to be “defiant” in my parent’s eyes. Looking back, I was too fixated on my rituals and obsessive thinking to have time to follow rules. So they always fell back on that loose ADHD diagnosis.

    It took me longer than everyone else to do my schoolwork, even in university and could never get through a textbook. It was a struggle to get though the first few pages of a chapter and I would just move right to the summary. I was still a straight ‘A’ student for the most part unless I didn’t hand assignments in or couldn’t go through with a crippling oral presentation.

    I finally was given alprazolam to help me get through my presentations and this helped. Then my doctor started treating me with antidepressants for long-term support. By the age of 23, I had likely tried every SSRI made with nasty side effects to all of them. Wellbutrin and paxil were the worst…I was sick and anxious and my heart was racing on these. I recall feeling better with Effexor, although after just over a year, the benefits were less and I had gained I think 15lbs or so. I forgot to mention that he had also given me Dexedrine to take as needed when I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork but I rarely took this as it would keep me up all night.

    After university and not getting into medical school as planned, I started working (a great job in the field I had taken). I don’t know what happened but I became withdrawn and didn’t want to get out of bed. I would go and get my work done in the late evening (was an independent position) but I began to dread this. I was living with my first boyfriend at the time who was doing his master’s and was always busy or at his office working and studying. I seemed to sit there for hours obsessing over his success and my failure with med school. I was still rehearsing the med school interviews over and over in my head.

    Then my eating disorder (which I just remembered I failed to mention but it was always there) was at its pime. Not only did most foods disgust me just thinking about where they came from or what they reminded me of (i.e. spaghetti was like worms), but now I was plagued with obsessing over being thin. I would go days without eating and well this is a long story itself but it became pretty bad. It became worse when I met a friend who had the same issues re eating and our illnesses just kept being fed. Obviously, this friendship ended badly when my eating disorder was on the mend and hers was worsening. She ended up leaving the province and later told me it was because of our dysfunctional friendship.

    The next kicker was that this friend got accepted to med school. So, my obsessions over this started again and so I applied again and had another interview. Same thing….my anxiety with interviewing just took over and I didn’t get in. I started a master’s program but couldn’t get the work done so dropped out after a year.

    I left that boyfriend of 5 yrs because there was nothing to the relationship. It wasn’t volatile, we just grew apart. I did have to leave that city though because I began obsessing over what actually went wrong and it was just a vicious cycle of self-blame.

    I was 25 at this point and landed a fantastic job in the big city at a reputable health care facility.

    I am absolutely drained from writing here about my life and as always, wonder why would I write all of this? So my typical behavior is to delete all of this and redo it in a brief summary. But for once, I shall not delete it because it’s supposed to be a support group and will hope that nobody thinks I am a basket case, although I’m not optimistic!

    So, I’m now 35 and would like to share how my life has panned out with various treatments, but unfortunately, because I have to do this carefully and chronologically, I will have to finish my post another day. If, after I check the forum a million times, because that is what I do, there’s no other posts or there’s a negative post about mine, I won’t finish my post. How terrible is that!

    FYI, I was in fact re-diagnosed with both ADHD and OCD, then it was ADHD and OCPD, then ADHD and OCD and Social Anxiety Disorder, and well you get the drift. The ADHD has stuck which I’m sure you’re thinking huh??

    I have ever been so honest and expressive about my struggles. I mean, really, how can I express this to people, lets be realistic.

    Thank you all for your forthcoming posts as they definitely gave me the strength to write this today. I can only hope that I have also made at least one person be able to relate to my struggles….that is, if one person actually got through this whole post.

    • StrawberryFields says:

      Hi! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am really interested to hear more. What treatments have worked well for you? I am also curious if you and other have gone through depression because of the struggles with OCD and ADHD? If so, what have you done about it? Thank you 🙂

      • adhdocd says:

        Thank you for listening and commenting and not judging. 

        As for pharmaceutical treatments that have worked, Effexor is one that I felt much better on; however, I found the effects were wearing off and I gained about 15lbs in a year so I went off. I likely could have increased the dose, however, my only thoughts were that I would just gain more weight. 

        Alprazolam always helped with those sudden or lingering physiological anxiety symptoms (i.e. butterflies, nervousness, etc) especially if I had to speak to a large group or do any kind of interview. 

        I now use clonazepam. At first, I was taking it as needed; however the psychiatrist I see recommended I take it regularly. It’s such a small dose (0.5mg x 1-2 per day) that I tend not to obsess too much on the long-term consequences of benzodiazepine use. At one point, when I was 29 and my anxiety was through the roof from a workplace issue, the family doctor I had at the time recommended I take 6 tabs per day and coupled this with 20mg of Cipralex. I was tired and I felt flat, or rather emotionless. I ended up just sticking to taking the Cipralex, which really decreased the anxiety but only for about 6 months. I still took it for a while but was also gaining weight and it always made me feel tired. 

        Keep in mind that I cannot realistically blame meds for losing their beneficial effects because I wasn’t fixing any of the behaviors. My thoughts are that I was merely masking them so I suspect that I needed to be in therapy PLUS take meds in order to maintain benefits. 

        Also keep in mind that I don’t know how much I trust my feelings that I was gaining weight and fatigued because of the meds. I say this because I tend to obsess over everything I ingest and if I have “heard” or read that certain meds or foods can cause X, Y, and Z, then chances are I may start to experience some of these side effects! So, I really don’t know how much is just “in my head” so to speak. 

        As for ADHD meds, Ritalin significantly increased my obsessive thinking and acting. Dexedrine seemed to help with my focus and to help me pull “all nighters” to get my work done but I only took it as needed which was not often and there’s no way I could sleep while taking it (but that was kind of the point I guess). I also had no appetite while taking it so given my history of obsessing over being thin, I eventually knew it wasn’t healthy for me to take.

        On concerta, I felt angry, irritable, scattered, and had bouts of crying for no reason. Worst med I ever took by far. I couldn’t even put a single thought together. 

        I now have been taking Adderall for 4yrs; however, I could not stick to it regularly for the first 2.5yrs. Finally, the psychiatrist I see said he couldn’t help me any longer unless I actually gave the treatments a chance. So, I slowly worked up to 20mg and eventually, I started feeling really tired on this. I was ok with tired over obsessing any day so I stuck with it. However, with increasing workloads, the anxiety of course just kept getting worse. 

        Recently, I began taking Cipralex again. At first, I started taking 5mg, then up to 10mg at night. My anxiety was still bad during the day where I still needed clonazepam so I started taking 10mg in the morning with the Adderall. Well, I would get this jolt of energy for about 2hrs in the morning and couldn’t get any productive work done during that time period. I also found that some days were “good” and some days I would sit on my IPad at work browsing the net, texting, or playing games. Very inconsistent.  

        So, now, for the past 2 weeks, I have been taking 5mg of Cipralex in the morning with the Adderall XR 20mg and then 5mg of Cipralex in the evening. I try to take only one clonazepam 0.5mg a day so this could be if I have a lot of socializing to do during the day or it may be in the evening. 

        What a cocktail of meds right?! It just doesn’t seem right to me to be on all of this. In trying to completely get off the Adderall, however, on several occasions, I couldn’t even get out of bed. I had no motivation to go to work and I would just lay in bed “thinking” and worrying. I could easily, however, get out of bed to play a video game, or to organize another closet or revamp another room. 

        Does that mean I have ADHD? I doubt it but that doesn’t seem to matter to me anymore. I am just finishing up a master’s degree that I began in 2009 so once completed (the goal is August), I can at least feel accomplished in that I have actually completed another of my goals, which I havn’t been able to say in a while. 

        It’s an effort for me every day to get to work but once I’m there, I’m ok. I seem to be less anxious physiologically (i.e. feeling nervous, etc.) with my meds how they are but my obsessive thinking and acting as well as my impulsiveness are all prominent right now. I often wonder how can I be so careful and meticulous at times yet so impulsive at others. What I find most challenging is the inconsistent days. 

        Aside from meds, it’s unfortunate that I havn’t been in any kind of structured therapy but this has been a goal of mine as I feel like it’s really the only treatment that will “maintain” stability and well being. I’m really not sure why I’m so fearful of initiating and taking this step when I feel like I know that it’s likely the right thing to do. I think I will be on meds my whole life but I would like to minimize this as much as possible. 

        As for your question re depression, well I don’t even know if I know what that feels like to be honest. I could be majorly depressed according to the definition and criteria, but this may just be my “normal.” I really don’t know. The psychiatrist I see says fluctuating moods are just part of, or secondary to, the cycling of ADHD and OCD. 

        Have I had suicidal thoughts which we typically associate with depression? Yes of course. Have I ever felt even a brief urge to actually follow through with these thoughts? No, not once.  I would never be able to do that to my family. Also, if I have struggled through this much already and achieved at least a couple of my goals, I sure as heck am not going to give up at this point. Life is a challenge indeed but if it stopped being a challenge, then what? 

        I guess I just choose not to fixate on the labels anymore because for a long time, this is all I did. I still have my moments but I do try. The only type of labels I know to be true for me are obsessive thoughts and anxiety because I know that I can keep trying to work on these. If I fixate on having OCD or ADHD, then, for me, it takes away the effort and motivation to treat the actual symptoms. I never want to be the person who excuses my own behaviors by using my diagnostic labels.  I’m self-defeating enough!! I feel like if I ever were to get to this point then I would just give up on trying to reach goals and would stop self-advocating. Again, if we take away the challenge, what is left?

        So another novel here but this has been slightly rejuvenating and insightful to say the least. 

  41. I have no doubt that a lot more than one person got through your whole post, and also have no doubt that many will relate to your story. I am so sorry things have been so tough for you, and because I am not a professional, I will not advise you. But I truly believe sharing helps everyone, and I want to thank you for taking the time to share some of what you have been through. I hope you have found, or can find, a mental health professional who will take the time to really listen to you and work with you to figure out how to best help you. I am thinking about you and hope to hear from you again.

  42. adhdocd says:

    Thank you Janet. I never share any of my story except to the psychiatrist I see of course; however when you apologized for things being so “tough” for me, it makes me sit back and realize that I guess I have come a long way.

    I did not ever let on to others that I was struggling with the actual particulars I mentioned above; rather I seemed to run away if I felt people were “catching” on so to speak. I always had goals and dreams and still do. It is just taking me a heck of a lot longer than most people to achieve these. Or maybe that’s just me comparing myself to others.

    Now that I’m in a professional setting, which happens to be mental health (go figure right), it’s not really so easy anymore to “hide” or run away from my superiors who I “think” do know. My workplace experiences over the past 10yrs are quite long stories and frankly, I’m surprised I still have a good job.

    I do see a Psychiatrist every 3 months only to renew meds and talk for an hour (he is 4hrs away) and have been seeing him for 5yrs; hence the different diagnoses I mentioned. I am, however bombarded with anxiety lately knowing that he is retiring in a year. This frightens me because, not only is he the only one who truly knows me but I have managed to keep all of the details of even seeing a psychiatrist and the meds I take from my family doctor (I know this is not good). I was referred by my previous family doctor.

    I often wonder why I cannot share this with others who really “should” know, but I think it’s because of the profession that I’m in and the fear of being judged or labelled. Also my family doctor worked at the same hospital I was working at so that made things tricky.

    With that said, I have been in a common law relationship for 9yrs and my partner and I have had some serious battles but he does, for the most part, know and try to understand my struggles. My rigidity is very frustrating for him and I am always plagued with guilt but we seem to get through the hurdles. I think it helps that he has some OCD “traits” himself!

    I have been in a bit of a downward spiral this past year and I feel like it could be the meds. I’m afraid, however to change anything because, as mentioned, the psychiatrist is retiring in a year.

    Overall, again thank you for listening and commenting and I have no problem at all with you offering advice from your personal and/or professional experiences; in fact, I would welcome this with open arms!

    FYI, I only checked my email 6 times yesterday and last night to see if there were comments which is slightly odd for me! Maybe I felt some relief in simply expressing myself fully on here or maybe I was simply exhausted…..I don’t know. Mind you, I did re-read my post 3 times and was a little upset with a couple of spelling errors!! That is so terrible, I know!

    Thank you for not judging and I feel grateful for your forum.

  43. Melissa Jean says:

    I have both and it’s does not cancel out!
    First off there are two forms of OCD and I am sure their are levels of severity in ADHD. Dyslexia which deals mostly with short term memorie issues along with other issues might be more of what “Dan” is also dealing with. Although, I was a daughter of an elementary teacher & principle, I was still not diagnosed till I was an adult. While I have all three of the above. In my late 20’s after they tried every anti depressant out there they finally realized I was ADHD. Only at during periods of time did I need simulants. It was like after being on them I would relearn and be able to function within boundaries which I felt comfortable and then would ween off them with supervision. Throughout the next 20yrs I was in tuned to when I needed to go back on them because the signs were obvious. Understand that I was a professional and was management level within Corp. America so it wasn’t like I was not functional.

  44. Jesper says:

    Well, firstly people with ADHD generally have very overactive minds and will mostly have a lot of trouble not paying attention to their racing thoughts, it is unwise to draw subjective conclusions regarding what is meant by “inattentive”. You should read up on “executive functions” and what it means when they are dysfunctional and how the expression of attentiveness works.

    It is also commonly believed that people with ADHD develop OCD-like behavior as a coping mechanism as a result of not having the ability to control and direct their own lives. Many have trouble with obsessive thoughts and rumination, stacking and counting osv. But from what I know OCD as a comorbidity to ADHD is in itself mostly not as severe as pure OCD, since it isnt “true” OCD but instead a symptom of the ADHD.

    • Thanks for your insights, Jesper. I know this is a complicated issue with no easy answers. I did write an updated post: https://ocdtalk.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/ocd-and-adhd/
      referencing recent studies on ADHD in those with OCD. I think it’s bound to get complicated when, for diagnostic purposes, labels need to be given to a certain set of symptoms. Of course there will be overlap and I think it’s often difficult to sort out one “illness” from another. I appreciate your comment.

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