Adult ADD/ADHD and insomnia help?

Hey everyone,

I haven’t posted in a while but I am going through a little burn out this semester. I thought I could handle two science classes and a math class this semester but I guess I wasn’t ready for it. I’m doing poorly in math and the science classes are just slightly above average. I was wondering if anyone here is familiar with adult ADD/ADHD or knows anyone with a severe case of it? Possibility offer some suggestions on how to control it? As of the last few years, I’m starting to see my ability to focus go on a steady decline where I’m easily distracted and finds ways to avoid studying by putting off everything until the last minute.

I’ll admit there’s a lot going on right now in my personal life and I don’t even know where to begin. Just can’t seem to focus anymore. Is it too early for a midlife crisis? I’m wondering if I should just drop these classes I’m taking at my local CC and just start off fresh with my Post-Bacc program. It will add a couple of more W’s to my transcript which I do not like but at the moment I just feel lost. Drop deadline is Monday March 19th, so I do have a decision to make.

I’m waiting to hear from an internship program I applied and interviewed for this summer. It went really well, I was told that they are in the process of matching me at potential places to intern at which means another round of interviews to go through. This also means taking time away from school time to interview, which has already happened a number of times this semester.

Plus I’m not sleeping well these days, and truth is I don’t recall ever sleeping well within the last 10 years. Sleeping pills don’t really work, melatonin supplements don’t work. Currently unemployed so I don’t have health insurance. Man, things are just going crazy. Maybe turning 30 later this year is subconsciously bugging me, I don’t know.

Cliff -

My son had both childhood and adult ADHD. In high school he did ok with a homeopathic med (prescribed by an MD) of Lycopodium, which I’ve spoken anecdotally to other adults with ADHD about who reported it was very helpful for them as well. As I understand it, it tends to work well for those without a large hyperactivity component. With this, he was able to complete high school work using about twice the “normal” time (versus not finishing at all).

In college (which took him 7 years) he eventually went to the doctor and was placed on ritalin which worked well for him and dramatically improved his academic performance. He got a long acting (8 hr) pill, and a short acting (4 hour) pill to take when he had continued studying to do at night. He uses it now in his computer programming job.

Insomnia can go along with depression. Inadequate serotonin in the brain can lead to depression and the type of insomnhia when one can go to sleep but tends to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep (trouble staying asleep). If along with your difficulty sleeping and your academic difficulty, you can’t think of what you’ve last done that made you feel happy, I’d consider it likely that you are depressed and might benefit from an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). People do use St. John’s Wort over the counter which has SSRI properties but it generally does not work for moderate or severe depression, only mild depression, and can cause some clotting difficulties too, so probably not the best choice.

Those are my thoughts. If you are uninsured, you might try your county mental health services which would be on a sliding scale (generally very reasonable) and who could send you to an MD in their system to chemically address depression/sleep (and also ADHD).


Thank you Kate, I really appreciate all the information.

Hi, Cliffpremed. Wow, you sound like me about a month ago. I was feeling on a major and unusual downspin and it was affecting my scholastic pursuits. I tend to get low in the winter months and have a bit of mild to not so mild SAD. I figured that was it, along with a bit of burnout. I, too, am taking two science courses (gen chem II & genetics) and a math(Calculus) this semester. On top of volunteering four hours a week, working in the lab 8 hours a week, working off campus demading sales job 8 hours a week, and being a single mom (with a lot of help from Dad & others, mind you) to an independent 3 yr old girl, I was spent and my mind was going. I was experiencing serious FUD. I thought to myself, if I couldn’t handle this what the H would I do in med school? But, I am and was proactive. I didn’t let it get out of control. I was thinking that I, too, had some sort of Adult ADD. Though, I have never had issues with concentration that were long lasting enough for me to suspect it, and in the end what I was dealing with was not ADD.

So, in my case, it was winter blues, mixed with burnout and sleeping issues. I managed to get the issue remedied, but it took a bit of time and some outside help, but I am back on track.

I was doing okay academically, but then all of a sudden I couldn’t keep track of my thoughts and was having a hard time following in class. I was getting high B’s in gen chem II, A’s in Calc & Genetics, but something was “off”. The Gen ChemII high B’s were unacceptable to me, and truthfully, a warning sign for me. If it weren’t for an 85 on my first chemistry exam, and one really awful quiz, I may have just muddled through. I’m glad I didn’t and now am feeling remarkably better. I am focused again, FUD is gone for the most part, and I am back on top in all my classes, including gen chem II.

Everyone is different, but your symptoms do sound like depression. The sleep and focus issues in particular. It sounds like you have reached a point also where it is not just going to “resolve itself”. I held out a few weeks, hoping it was just a “fluke” or that it was just me getting my feet on the ground with a new semester, but I didn’t let it go longer than that.

There are many resources out there for people w/o health insurance. Your campus should have many resources. Every campus is different, but I think at my campus we get an email every week on mental health issues on campus and how to seek help on campus for alcohol, depression, eating disorders, etc. You may have to search your campus website/directory, but I would be surprised if there wasn’t a place for you to go to find help within your school. Most campuses have depression screenings, but these can often be found in the community also for non students.

I have a friend with bipolar disorder who has had times w/o health insurance. Being a single man with no children he never was able to qualify for medicaid or other programs and had to seek out other options. In Milwaukee, the county has a mental health complex that offers free services to county residents. I think it is more than once a week, but there are loopholes. No appointments are taken. A county resident just has to show up at the designated time and wait to be seen, with no guarantees. It’s not a perfect system, but it is a resource. My friend was able to do this and got in to see a psychiatrist, got his meds at no cost and was able to then schedule follow up appts without having to “wait in line”. For someone with bipolar, like himself, it literally saved his life.

There are resources out there so please seek help! Mental health is just as important as anything else. Premeds and those involved in other demanding pursuits don’t like to admit “vulnerability” but we’re all human. It may seem at many times that premeds, med students, residents, doctors and others have to be super human and as a result a lot of us “suck it up” and often don’t seek help or admit to times of struggle. This has to change! If we hide behind this veil of overachievement and nothing can get us down mentalities we risk hurting ourselves and we keep these issues under wraps further perpetuating the problem.

I am proud of you, cliffpremed, for taking the steps to seek help by posting your concerns here. It’s a big deal to open up.

Best of luck and keep us in the loop!


I was not sure how much I wanted to divulge but everything is on my blog anyway

I have diagnosed adult ADHD which is asymptomatic for the hyperactivity as my maturity (haha) helps me with that. However, I am unable to sit still at work, am constantly on the go, make sure I have meetings all day every day for as short as possible in order to mitigate the hyperactivity part.

In addition, when I came back to school, a doctor whom I was dating suggested I get put on Concerta. It has made ALL the difference in the world.

ugrad GPA 1983 - 2.196

current GPA - 3.86ish (more on the “ish”)

The student medical clinic cannot prescribe ADHD medications without a licensed, off-site, full day analysis of the potential ADHD. I did that full day - it was horrendous. By the end of the 9 hours, I thought I was in a pressure cooker. My brain was fried. The full day testing is all cognitive and done without medication.


One of the reasons I have declared as being degree seeking is that I get student health insurance. It is fabulous insurance with very few limitations. One of the limitations is that I have to use the university’s medical clinic (okay!), cannot get prescriptions for Concerta subsidized (okay!) and that is the end of it.

My life was, well, I don’t know what word I would use to describe it starting in 2007 through 2010. I do not know how I mentally got through it; brutal is not descriptive enough. Was I depressed? Cannot imagine that I was not. I did not feel depressed, I am generally happy by nature and felt so at the time, but I did not sleep, did not eat, made poor decisions, acted hastily, and forgot much.

School helped in that it allowed me to “escape” my life outside of school. During the few hours I was in school, or studying, I could forget what a nightmare I had at home. I could forget the wrongful nature of what was happening to me. School became my “mistress” so to speak. What helped school was Concerta, and propranolol for the panic attacks during tests.

My suggestion is to see if you can somehow get school sponsored insurance. If not, then see what the state offers for supplemental insurance. I know when I tried to get insurance on my own, as an individual, I was declined because I had not had insurance for 3 years. The state then would have picked it up (for $500/month) but I went back to school and got it there instead.

Last, find your disability services department on campus and ask them for help. The department at my university has been instrumental in me overcoming many of the learning hurdles I had and in helping me get the help I needed to succeed.

While I will not ask for accommodations for the MCAT, I DO use them for courses now - double time, private room. You may find the same or similar where you attend… with the DS help and support.

Best of luck to you -


Shanon and Ad2b,

Thank you very much for taking the time and sharing your stories. Trust me when I say that it really means a lot to me. I’m not sure where the trouble began but I was really hoping that it was not depression. I’ll try to keep my story short.

During my senior year of high school (some 12 years ago) I was deeply depressed and was going through a very tough time. I’m not even sure what triggered it then, it just all of sudden hit me really hard. I had to do some heavy dose of counseling back then and I thought for the most part it went away.

Fast forward 5 years after that, I found out my father passed away and I had difficulties coping with that. The strange thing about this is that I was not close to my father at all and he left my mom and my sisters when I was young. Before his passing, I did not see him for nearly 15 years. I do remember the pain it caused my mother and how she was dealing with being a single mom of 4. My father was a really nice guy. He taught me how to value education and how important it is in life. I just couldn’t find the answer to why he left many years ago. I fell back into a short depression as this happened during the summer of my junior year in college. I told no one, I thought I could self diagnose myself and I somehow suppressed all that when school was back in session.

Fast forward even more, to two years ago where I found myself losing my job. It was really devastating and some of my family members were not so kind. It was very difficult to find any work and even low end jobs were few and far between. I remember so many sleepless nights wondering if I was going to pull through. I had to make a financial decision that I am not really proud of and I know will haunt me for many years. This is when researching a career in medicine was starting to develop.

I wonder if my brain has some kind of cycle where imbalances happens once every couple of years. Does depression stay dormant for some time? Maybe it’s always lurking just trying to find the right time to make an appearance. It’s also unfortunate that bad things tend to happen during those times.

My sister is a psychologist, in fact she is only a few weeks away from taking her board exam. In the past I was able to seek her out for some counseling when we used to live in the same house. I’m not sure if there is any problem with seeking family members for therapy but I think it was helpful at the time. However, it is completely different now. Her husband (brother-in-law, unfortunately) thinks I’m a complete failure and has talked so much trash about me very often. I’m not sure what his deal is but my sister has to deal with his ranting on a daily basis. He’s never said anything mean to my face but my sister tells my other sister and stuff within the family gets around. So going to see her for counseling is no longer an option.

This brings me back here today, I know it is okay when dealing with FUD but some nights I wonder if my brother-in-law is speaking the truth or not. Out of my fears of failure and rejection, I seem to lose a lot of focus and motivation. I shouldn’t be this distracted. I’m not married, no kids and my bills are at a minimum. Yet at this point in my career, I feel I have accomplished absolutely nothing. I know I have the ability, mental capacity and determination to pursue medical school. Just wonder if I’m mentally ready. This is why I may need to take the remainder of this semester off so I can completely conquer this once and for all. Talking with some of my professors, some of them weren’t as understanding and indicated that I should drop or risk not passing the class.

I’m just hoping for this internship to happen this summer so I can move out of here and return to the Bay Area. If anybody knows anything about Stockton, CA it is ranked the #1 most miserable city in America. For whatever reason, there is a lot of truth to that. Here’s hoping a change of scenery may also help.

I’m not even sure my school offers counseling services for mental health issues as we are so underfunded with so many programs cut. I know there’s a disabled students department so I’ll look into that. Thank you all.