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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Multiple Diagnoses and Prolonged Medication

10/25/2001

Question:

I asked if I would be on medication the rest of my life because I was diagnosed ADD but i was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. Does that affect my medication problem? I am also 16, what do i do?

Answer:

MEDICATIONS The important point about medications is that, in general, people with bipolar disorder (BD) should have their BD medically controlled before starting stimulants for their ADD. Otherwise, their BD may get worse. I have many patients with both ADD and BD who do very well on their medications. THE OTHER STUFF People with both bipolar disorder and ADD have a high likelihood of doing very well if optimal medications are combined with a trusting relationship with a good therapist. You may be on medications the rest of your life. Then again, we have advanced medical science so incredibly each of the last ten years that we may soon come up with something even more effective---something we can not yet imagine. Be assured that, although your combined diagnosis carries with it a lot of challenges, you are in good company. As we look at history, many wonderful famous painters, scientists and authors likely had similar disorders but went undiagnosed because we new less about such things and had no known solutions. Read as much as you can about yourself and others in a similar situation. Ask a librarian for book titles and find clinicians who you trust to help guide you. Your diagnoses would be difficult at any age, but your mid-teens can be a particularly hard time since most young people your age are questioning so much about themselves anyway. Remember, none of us is free of imperfections, mental or physical. What is important is how we use the beauty we have, both outside and in, for the good of ourselves and others.

Related Resources:

NIMH Bipolar Disorder Information

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati