View Full Version : New here and some Q's re: standardized tests and meds


bambam92
10-20-15, 01:47 PM
Hi guys,

I am a 23 year old recent college grad. I was diagnosed with ADD my sophomore year of college--so three years ago. I was initially prescribed adderall IR. This helped me in the short term. I was a bio/pre-med major at school and finished with a 3.83 cumulative GPA. So yes, I was high functioning, but at a cost--I was an anxious, paranoid wreck! I would study so much, and became obsessive. Note: I was only taking 20-30 mg daily of adderall. Nothing crazy. I have always been a more anxious person. Anyways, eventually I got off the adderall and switched to focalin---thinking it would have less sides. It didnt interfere with sleep as much, but it also didnt really work. Such short duration as well. So next I tried dex, and vyvanse. I was interested in ditching the levoamphetamine portion of adderall and seeing if it helped with anxiety etc. Yes, it did help. But it wasnt as affective as the "get **** done yesterday" drive adderall gives. However, I feel I could think more critically on dex/vyvanse than adderall. I.e. adderall was good for get this BS paper done, or plow thru this long *** chem lab--but for complex physics problems etc not so good.

Anyways, I graduated in May. I am currently working a job in neuro clinical research at a hospital for my gap year. I am also studying for the MCAT. Now I was put on celexa my senior year of college. Wow, this drug sucked. It made me an emotionless zombie--it also crushed any motivation I had. I gave it 5 months to "work" it never happened. Next I was given paxil--which was actually better than celexa, but I still have anxiety in certain cases. The problem I have and many ADDers have is that we have anxiety, but we also have ADD. So if we just take anxiety meds we have no motivation to do anything, but with just ADD drugs we are anxious, jumpy wrecks.

So currently I am prescribed vyvanse, dexedrine IR for afternoon, and paxil 20 mg. Note I only take 40 mg vyvanse, and take dexedrine in 2.5 mg doses. I break the 10mg tablet into 4 pieces. I am very cognizant of not taking too much as I feel more =more anxiety. The main problem I have, and I want to see if others can relate is that the MCAT is a critical thinking test that requires reading complex, convoluted experiments and answering questions on that passage, all in a timed manner. On my ADD medication when I try to do practice passages, or practice tests for the MCAT I get this weird brain fog type thing. I basically cannot process stuff fast the way I could if I was off the drug. BUT the problem is off the drug I cant even get myself to initiate any form of studying. So basically I feel like these drugs are good for us to get mundane tasks done...i.e. go to work, do our homework for undergrad, study for tests that are brute memorization...i.e. all of undergrad for me. However, when it comes to thinking critically I get this weird feeling on my medication. Its like I cant process stuff quickly, and I feel dumb. Now dont get me wrong, if I have a week to study for an organic chem test in college the meds are great--I will just sit in the library and study for 6 hours everyday until the test comes.

I looked into this on google ---and found that people with ADD who were taking the LSAT found they scored lower on practice tests on their medication than off of it. Also some people took the actual test on their meds, and then retook it off the meds and did better. They explained that the meds slow down their thinking, make you want to take too much time, hyperfocus etc. I feel the same exact way. I am worried that I am not going to be able to pursue my dream of being a doctor because I cant take this damn test with or without my medication so to speak. I look to hear from people who can make connections with me and maybe have taken highstake standardized exams i.e. MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, CPA, CFA exam etc. Not to sound insulting but if you just work a 9-5 job that doesnt require much critical thinking and take adderall/dex w.e. and feel its great and allows you to focus and do your work this post isnt intended for you. I want people who can connect with having to take a difficult exam that is critical thinking based and how they did it. I appreciate any input you guys have for me! I am losing my mind with this.

TangledWebs
10-20-15, 02:39 PM
The problem I have and many ADDers have is that we have anxiety, but we also have ADD. So if we just take anxiety meds we have no motivation to do anything, but with just ADD drugs we are anxious, jumpy wrecks.

You could be on both stimulants and anxiety medications.

Also some people took the actual test on their meds, and then retook it off the meds and did better. They explained that the meds slow down their thinking, make you want to take too much time, hyperfocus etc.

I don't feel like Adderall necessarily slows down my thinking, but I am more of a perfectionist when medicated, so I do take longer to finish things. I mean, my work is much better, but when you're being timed, that changes everything. I took less Adderall when I took my state exams.

Also, I was able to get accommodations, such as a quieter room to take the exams in and the amount of time I had to take the exams was doubled. You should look into getting accommodations.

bambam92
10-20-15, 06:34 PM
You could be on both stimulants and anxiety medications.



I don't feel like Adderall necessarily slows down my thinking, but I am more of a perfectionist when medicated, so I do take longer to finish things. I mean, my work is much better, but when you're being timed, that changes everything. I took less Adderall when I took my state exams.

Also, I was able to get accommodations, such as a quieter room to take the exams in and the amount of time I had to take the exams was doubled. You should look into getting accommodations.

Thanks for the input. The problem is I havent found anything to even touch my anxiety:(. Celexa and paxil have done nothing. And I have given them each 4-6 months to work and varied doses etc. My friend said benzos are the gold standard for anxiety...but I am scared to go that route. Especially with the addiction risk, and now all of the research linking them to increased risk of alzheimers. yikes. What do you and others suggest for anxiety? My Pdoc is pretty open to anything really.

qanda
10-20-15, 09:46 PM
My daughter is similar to you so while I have no suggestions we are also looking for answers. For her, Benzo's did nothing to help. Weird but it seems there is a small percentage like her. But if they did, I would have gladly given them to her, but tried to limit them as much as possible. She also takes a blood pressure med to lower her heart rate. Maybe that helps a bit, not sure.

TangledWebs
10-20-15, 10:18 PM
Thanks for the input. The problem is I havent found anything to even touch my anxiety:(. Celexa and paxil have done nothing. And I have given them each 4-6 months to work and varied doses etc. My friend said benzos are the gold standard for anxiety...but I am scared to go that route. Especially with the addiction risk, and now all of the research linking them to increased risk of alzheimers. yikes. What do you and others suggest for anxiety? My Pdoc is pretty open to anything really.

Personally, I feel Zoloft improves my anxiety symptoms the most for some reason. I thought Celexa was weak in comparison.

Yeah, I heard about the research linking benzo use to an increased risk of Alzheimer's Disease. People with ADHD are already three times as likely to develop Lewy Body Dementia later in life. Eek!

Xanax and Ativan significantly improved my anxiety, but I also experienced benzo-induced blackouts while on both medications. Basically, I wasn't able to form new memories while the drugs were in my system. I would not suggest trying either of them.
Klonopin, also a benzo, significantly improves my anxiety and does not affect my memory in the slightest. I've never experienced memory loss on Klonopin.
Propranolol, a beta-blocker, is used to treat performance anxiety and has reduced my anxiety symptoms in the past.
Gabapentin, an antiepileptic, somewhat improved my anxiety symptoms, though I know other people who have really benefited from this medication.
Buspar, an antianxiety agent, to some extent improved my anxiety, yet still not as significantly as Klonopin.

sarahsweets
10-21-15, 02:48 AM
I look to hear from people who can make connections with me and maybe have taken highstake standardized exams i.e. MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, CPA, CFA exam etc. Not to sound insulting but if you just work a 9-5 job that doesnt require much critical thinking and take adderall/dex w.e. and feel its great and allows you to focus and do your work this post isnt intended for you. I want people who can connect with having to take a difficult exam that is critical thinking based and how they did it. I appreciate any input you guys have for me! I am losing my mind with this.
I disagree with what you say about critical thinking and its not because I am insulted that you are taking such high level exams or courses and I am not. All I am saying is critical thinking can be necessary in life and yes, even in those boring old 9-5'r jobs. I am on disability, I have a BA in english lit, with a concentration in multi-ethnic lit and a minor in theatre. I may not be studying for the LSAT or GRE's but keeping track of schedules, kids, household sh*t, bills and everything else requires a great deal of problem solving and yes, critical thinking. I hope its ok that I am commenting on your post.
Back to your points:
Is it possible that you are not on the right antidepressant combined with too high a dose of stimulants? I know for me, paxil,celexa,wellbutrin and effexor were all too agitating to me, it was like my skin was crawling and I felt dumb as a bunch of rocks. Combine that with too high or too low a dose of stimulants and it could be similar to what you are experiencing. I take buspar for anxiety because I cant tolerate benzos anymore, It has helped a great deal but it takes time to build up. Its not instant relief like xanax. Its more like after a couple of months you can sigh with relief that you arent wrapped too tight.

michelle34639
10-22-15, 05:52 PM
Thanks for the input. The problem is I havent found anything to even touch my anxiety:(. Celexa and paxil have done nothing. And I have given them each 4-6 months to work and varied doses etc. My friend said benzos are the gold standard for anxiety...but I am scared to go that route. Especially with the addiction risk, and now all of the research linking them to increased risk of alzheimers. yikes. What do you and others suggest for anxiety? My Pdoc is pretty open to anything really.

Rats, that is my issue as well. There must be some correlation between ADD (especially ADHD) with anxiety. I have been on Vyvnse for almost 3 years of my schooling. I am very scared to get off of it, but I feel my anxiety level increasing. I take the lowest dose I can at 20 mg, but also have weird symptoms that I am actually in this forum to better understand. (Blurry vision, pins and needles in feet and now hands, and difficulty saying the words I want) Not good signs.