ADD or something else?


ADD or something else?


your avatar   Babydoll (21 year-old woman)

I have a very hard time concentrating and sitting still, I am very jittery and very paranoid. I'm obsessed about my weight, and talk about it 5 times during the day. I also have a hard time keeping a relationship going because I constantly argue with that other person, even when I know I'm wrong, I still feel I need to be right.

I also have a very weird problem with repeating things. I will think about something, but if it is bad I get really upset. I have to have a certain association in my brain with the bad to make it up. For example, I will think of my parents, then the Twin Towers incident. I can't do that so I have to think of my parents (with something good, like my boyfriend) then I have to think of the twin towers with something else (anything I do not really care about). Otherwise, and I know this is foolish, I think that if something bad were to happen to them it would be my fault. To add to all of this, I am an insomniac; I simply can not sleep no matter how tired I may be. It is like my body is telling my brain to stop because it's tired, but my brain will not listen. I will close my eyes and I just see stuff flying through my head.

I also go through feelings of depression. One day I will be just fine, and then the next day I won't want to leave the house, I will be depressed (for no apparent reason) I am defiantly not a candidate for suicide though, because I know that I am too important for that. I used to cut myself as a way of release but no one I talk to seems to understand that. They think that when I tell them "yeah, those marks are when I sliced my wrists", that I was trying to kill myself. I most definitely was not! It just seemed to be a way for me to release all of the tension that was inside me and for awhile it would work, it just does not seem to now, and I don't know what to do.

I would like to know whether or not you think I should go to a doctor. My boyfriend seems to think that I have ADD, but I do not think I do (and not because I am in denial). A lot of the symptoms I have are that of ADD, but none of my teachers in school ever said I was hyper as a child or anything like that, plus I was a straight A student in high school, so I obviously had no problem concentrating there. Also if I did go to a doctor, is there an alternative to medication, because I don't want to take it which is one of the main reasons for not wanting to see a therapist.


    Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, LPC, LISAC, DCC

Dear Babydoll,

I am sorry to hear that you are feeling so bad. From your description of what is occurring there isn't a doubt in my mind that something serious and significant is going on that needs to be treated. There are several possible disorders that might be occurring that share your symptoms.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological and central nervous system disorder that affects the prefrontal lobe of the brain. Essentially when someone concentrates that part of the brain shorts out and is unavailable to the individual. This can cause distraction, hyperactivity, attention span problems, time management problems, insomnia, depression, irritability, and disorganization. It is readily treated with a psychostimulant such as Ritalin and Addoral and an antidepressant. However, it is a widely misunderstood illness and so it is important to find a psychiatrist who specializes in this disorder. Many of your symptoms fit this disorder.

However, a number of your symptoms also fit another disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. This is a problem that is characterized by either unwanted thoughts that a person can not seem to stop and/or repetitive behavior that a person can not seem to stop. There is usually a magical quality to the thoughts or behavior in that the person feels that if they just do these things or think these things that the anxiety will stop. There is little or no reality basis to these beliefs yet they do take down the tension for a short while. However, the obsessions or compulsions increase again and the person is caught in a horrible cycle of tension and release that has no end. The person often wonders if they are crazy. They are not. This is caused by a chemical disorder and is readily treated with an anti-depressant that targets these problems such as Anafranil or Luvox. Both medication and counseling can be helpful for this illness.

Both of these disorders seem to have a hereditary basis and therefore other members of your family may be or have in the past suffered from similar symptoms. Both of these conditions can occur in the same individual as well. Many researchers are just beginning to theorize that there may be that these symptoms may result from the same problem. ADD, OBS, anxiety, Tourettes syndrome may be just different manifestations of the same problem and be a family of disorders. I am also worried about your tendency to cut on yourself and that it relieves the tension. This may be another symptom of the above conditions, but could also indicate Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a developmental problem that seems to be related to how a person was raised by their family. They often feel that they have very little control, are developmentally immature, and see people in very black and white terms as either all good or all bad. This evaluation can change easily and frequently about the same person given whether or not the person does what the person suffering from this disorder wants.

It is important to go to a good psychiatrist who can make a differential diagnosis to see which of these conditions is really going on. The problems will not get better without doing this. Take good care of yourself-you deserve it.

Jef Gazley

This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit:


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