View Full Version : ADHD meds and eating disorders


tarabeth21
04-14-07, 06:19 PM
What do you all think about ADHD in association with eating disorders? I have struggled with buliminia, and Adderall cures that for me. I am not prescribed to Adderall though, I've just tried a friend's. Does anyone have thoughts on whether I should seek help for this and whether ADHD meds could help? Any questions or comments greatly appreciated.

bioguy
04-14-07, 09:38 PM
I'd encourage you to see a doctor. Now, I'm certainly not one, but if you're struggling with an eating disorder you should be able to have your own prescription. As for AD/HD meds helping, I don't think their has been any studies. As for my personal experience, my eating habits haven't changed since I started my meds. Hope that helps.

HighFunctioning
04-14-07, 09:56 PM
I suppose it would depend on the underlying mechanism of the particular eating disorder (which varies from person to person). It does act as an appetite suppressant, which may discourage eating in the first place, but that effect will probably not last. I don't think there is a relationship between ADHD and eating disorders... at least beyond being skinny (a case of the meadd823 wiggles :-) ), or possibly being overweight (either eating impulsively or being hypoactive like an inattentive type). Usually eating disorders are related to anxiety. I would suppose that if one had anxiety and ADHD at the same time, it could allow for a situation where one eats impulsively and then later worries about their previous choices, leading to bulimia, but the key here is the anxiety, though the impulse control (lack thereof) makes it worse.

piglet
04-17-07, 08:12 AM
Oh, yesssssssssirreeeBob, there is a connection. And for me, making that connection hasm ade the difference between success in freeing myself from this compulsion, and living with this monkey on my back; maybe I wouldn't be acting on the urge, but I'd be always somehow needing to be in control; and with the Adderall on board, it's just not a struggle.

I can't recommend trying someone else's Adderall. You should get a checkup before taking stimulants; there are some people who find out they have a condition they didn't know about, and it would be bad forthem to take 'em.

And I HEARTILY recommend talking to a doctor. And then to whomever else would be able to legally prescribe Adderall or whatever is deemed apropriate. And also, dear, read. Read, read, read. Empower yourself. Read the medical literature about eating disorders, and about ADD. And then, read everything else you can, and think and feel what makes sense to YOU. You're the one who really will know what's true about why you're doing this, when you uncover it.

And I also recommend NLP (neurolinguistic programming), also called self-hypnosis. I found that was helpful in teachingme to control my thoughts better, and not to live in the darker corners of my thoughts, and bring my real self - my desires, my goals, my courage to be who I'm supposed to be - out of the shadows.

Eating disorders aren't necesarily about EATING. For me, I find that's just the visible tip of the iceberg. It was a self-defense and numbing mechanism, and it kept me from needing to deal with my emotions, and having to take the risk of letting people really know me. So Adderall is just a start; it may help you get the "acting out" under control. Then you have the space in your life to work on all the behaviors that go with it, that you aren't maybe aware of just yet because the binge/purge cycle is so obvious and the other disordered behavior is much more subtle.

PeterMac
06-23-07, 03:14 PM
I normally have a pretty poor appetite, and often forget to eat, or am too engrossed in something to eat, until I'm getting headaches from it. Eating is usually a concious decision and something of a chore for me, and when I'm feeling depressed and lacking in energy, I can lose weight very quickly from not eating enough. The worst so far was when I lost 15kg over the course of a couple of years, which I then regained, but now I've lost 5kg again over the past 6 months. I wish I could just get all my nutrients injected or something, and be rid of the whole eating and pooping business.

QueensU_girl
06-23-07, 04:17 PM
Patricia Quinn and Kathleen Nadeau discuss this topic of ADHD/ADD and eating disorders.

You should be able to GOOGLE one of their research articles.

bliss22
08-05-07, 06:08 AM
well... i don't think that anyone with anorexia should ever be allowed to take adderall or another stimulant. taking amphetamines is practically self-induced anorexia... so if you already have preexisting eating issues, it will only make it worse.
for someone with bulimia, on the other hand, it would probably help to cease the binge/purge cycle.. which would initially seem like a good thing.

but honestly, i think that all amphetamines are too dangerous for people with EDs.
it might help you temporarily, but they can be very addictive - and in the long run, it isn't a good solution. eating disorders are a result of soo many different factors...and the only way for you to truly recover is by unraveling the underlying triggers that cause you to binge. you should be going to therapy or seeking another support system... because you need to address the emotional aspect of everything.

adderall is just a quick fix... but it isn't curing anything for you.

Crazy~Feet
08-05-07, 02:31 PM
I had treatment and have been in remission for many years though, Blink. I have taken many stimulants, years later, without triggering a return to ED behavior. EDs are about control issues, in my book.

I just wanted to point that out to all of you :) because it is possible, down the line, after treating the ED, to take stimulant meds safely. I would never recommend them for someone with an active ED however.

bliss22
08-06-07, 02:01 AM
^agreed. :)

johbean
01-12-08, 11:16 PM
adderall has been a HUGE help for me- in regards to treating my add and my e.d. (bulemia). I am SO thankful. Only wish I had been diagnosed with add at a much earlier age, would have saved years of pain.
Thought I was doing well when I would only make myself sick like 3-7 times a week (better than the 2-4 times a day i was at). As of this past thanksgiving, I've been bulemia free for 2 years (except for 2- maybe 3 instinces- but I'm not going to beat myslef up over that, was off my meds for weeks at a time and managed pretty well I think). Adderall was what finally helped my kick the habit- so freeing...
definatly talk to your doctor- can't be taking your friends meds (although this is often how we find out about this stuff)
use caution with adderall, can be addictive. don't forget the reasons you are taking it. to normalize- not to get high or kill your appatight and loose weight! not good!

take care, best wishes, johannah ;o)

Missgoldie
01-21-08, 04:10 PM
I was bulimic for many years and lamictal and adderal have fixed that. I no longer obsessive about anything that is when I am taking my meds.

The second I stop, the old feelings of wanting to stuff down my emotions returns, this time I have vowed to stay on medication.

adhdogwalker
02-05-08, 11:06 AM
I struggled on and off with anorexia for years. I never told the first psychiatrist that I saw with regards to ADHD as I figured he would never give me an ADD med if he knew. Anyhow, I have been on adderall since April 07 and for the first time in my life have been free of all the obsessive body image, "I'm fat thoughts" and intermittent self-imposed starvation. I now eat on a regular schedule (unless I'm depressed, then I just don't care about eating), and try to eat enough calories in a day to keep from losing weight. I have skipped taking adderall a few times and instantly, my mind sinks back to the anorexic way of thinking. I suppose that my struggles with anorexia are partially caused by anxiety and the adderall really helps with my anxiety. This may not be true in every case, but adderall does not exacerbate my body image issues in any way, rather it helps me remain free of them.

Another interesting thing-- I do believe there is a link to eating disorders and ADHD (and I say this from personal observation, not scientific research). I am bipolar also, so that complicates things, but something that is very interesting is that both my mother and sister have ADD and both have struggled with eating disorders. My mother, with anorexia, and my sister with bulimia. I don't believe that my mother ever instilled any sort of eating disorder thinking in my sister and I, yet we both suffered from them. I also remember my grandmother being obsessed with her weight and being perpetually concerned about staying slim. I don't know if other family trees exhibit such a high occurence of eating disorders, but mine certainly does, which leads me to believe there is a genetic component as well.

pdtemple
02-05-08, 05:03 PM
I'm so glad someone else posted about this! I have been bulimic for over 4 years and was finally diagnosed w/ ADD 2 months ago and put on adderall. Since then my binging/purging has decreased by SO much. I never do it during the day when my meds are active. Sometimes I'll do it late night when I get restless/bored and need something to do. I never made the connection before about how I binged outa boredom, which led to guilt, which led to purging. Since the adderall calms me down and helps my impulsivity I am much less inclined to participate in my addiction. I'd definitely recommend talking to a doctor about this because maybe, like myself, you're bulimia is perpetuated by the ADD characteristics of impulsivity and an intolerance for boredom

Xero
02-06-08, 05:11 AM
This is good to know. I was also recently dx ADD and prescribed Dextroamphetamine. It's helping me with my ADD and I have been throwing up less. I guess my line of reasoning was "hey, if I chuck, I won't put on the pounds after 'eating too much'". It seemed like a third nature to me. I cant help myself and have done it the last couple of weeks since going onto Dex but it's improved substantially.

meggie5782
02-06-08, 12:07 PM
I've struggled with bulimia and binge eating for years. I've been on adderall IR for a couple of months and I'm up to 40mg (20mg in the morning and 20 at noon). It hasn't helped my binging at all. I think I can focus more and I'm more alert on it but it hasn't decreased my appetite at all. I'm taking it for inattentive ADD and also to help with impulse control when it comes to binging.

For those of you who have seen improvements in your ED, what dose are you on? If I don't see any benifit from 40mg will upping to 60mg not make a difference? I'm the only person who doesn't lose her appetite on this stuff. It figures. :(

pdtemple
02-06-08, 02:31 PM
I dont lose my appetite either! But often I would binge not outa hunger but out of boredom. I'm on 25mg xr right now and its helping some during the day but at night im binging/purging as usual

brewskijmu
03-17-08, 08:55 AM
i am so jealous of everyone that's said they can get add medication on here - my doctor wanted to give me strattera but not anything else. what gives??

sarey
03-17-08, 03:04 PM
my doc said that the medication side effect loss of appetite will last for aslong as your on the medication...
been true so far.
ive been on adhd meds for a few weeks and its defo made me loose my appetite

i think for people with eating disorders thats a good thing so then they wont feel like eating and avoid it alltogether anyway...
dunno..

HighFunctioning
03-18-08, 10:49 PM
my doc said that the medication side effect loss of appetite will last for aslong as your on the medication...
been true so far.
ive been on adhd meds for a few weeks and its defo made me loose my appetite

i think for people with eating disorders thats a good thing so then they wont feel like eating and avoid it alltogether anyway...
dunno..

Actually... I think one of the main problems with prescribing to those with eating disorders is that the loss of appetite does often go away with use of the medication over time (everyone's response may vary in this respect), and such individuals may be more inclined to increasing their dose in order to keep getting this effect.

Researching the use of amphetamine for weight loss might be of interest (as it is used for this purpose).

QueensU_girl
03-18-08, 11:21 PM
Doctors usually will not Rx stimulants to people with eating disorders. IIRC, stimulant meds are contraindicated in anorexia and bulimia.

As for taking your friend's Adderall: you know, there a lot of people here with ADD can't get meds. It is frustrating to hear that people are giving their meds away ('diversion').

Starvation and purging and laxative abuse, etc, can cause problems with attention, and memory and learning too (obviously).

re: discerning what the problems are when multiple things are present
There is a lot of stuff to be sorted out WRT 'what is the eating disorder?' and 'what is the ADD?' and 'what is the overlap?'

They do seem to co-occur in some folks, however.

I'd suggest memory and neuropsych testing -- if you really want the diagnosis figured out.

QueensU_girl
03-18-08, 11:28 PM
re: 4

I agree, Piglet! Good point.

Bulimia can also cause serious heart problems (like heart rhythm instability), due to electrolyte imbalances.

Adding ADDERALL to the mix could be even more dangerous.

My Doc gave me an EKG (heartbeat rhythm test) shortly after he put me on Stimulants.

If you are going to take stimulants, you need to be monitored.
---

N.B. Bulimia is a really serious illness. (People *do* die from it. e.g. heart attack from barfing up or laxativing out all their electrolytes; esophageal tear/hemorrhage from barfing, etc.)

I can't remember the exact mortality rate, but it is high compared to other 'mental disorders'.

I wish you sounded as concerned about the Bulimia as you do about the ADD. :S

sarey
03-19-08, 12:51 PM
Actually... I think one of the main problems with prescribing to those with eating disorders is that the loss of appetite does often go away with use of the medication over time (everyone's response may vary in this respect), and such individuals may be more inclined to increasing their dose in order to keep getting this effect.

Researching the use of amphetamine for weight loss might be of interest (as it is used for this purpose).


My dose had to be lowered because it was too high, and I still get the loss of appetite effect, and I'm not saying that 'OH YAY I LOVE IT' because sometimes I don't. I hate being ill. I hate feeling sick. I feel it too often, it's pretty tiring. But the side effects, for me, are worth it. And not just because you get loss of appetite, I still have to eat, I get forced to eat, so it'd make no difference.
My doctor told me that the loss of appetite is common and it's also common for that side effect to remain
My friends at school said their ADHD medication makes them loose their appetite and they've been on the medication for years

noussquid
04-20-08, 12:41 AM
re: 4

I agree, Piglet! Good point.

Bulimia can also cause serious heart problems (like heart rhythm instability), due to electrolyte imbalances.

Adding ADDERALL to the mix could be even more dangerous.

My Doc gave me an EKG (heartbeat rhythm test) shortly after he put me on Stimulants.

If you are going to take stimulants, you need to be monitored.
---

N.B. Bulimia is a really serious illness. (People *do* die from it. e.g. heart attack from barfing up or laxativing out all their electrolytes; esophageal tear/hemorrhage from barfing, etc.)

I can't remember the exact mortality rate, but it is high compared to other 'mental disorders'.

I wish you sounded as concerned about the Bulimia as you do about the ADD. :S

I'd like to encourage you to research further the link between eating disorders and ADHD. There have been recent studies suggesting that there is a link.

From personal experience I can say that adderall has helped me. I have had an eating disorder since I was 14 years old. I started taking adderall for my ADHD at 26 and I do not binge and purge any more at all. Also, my psychiatrist and psychologist are both aware of my eating disorder and the results from adderall. I never thought I would be free of the eating disorder. I tried a lot of different treatments over the years and nothing worked.

I don't obsessively think about food at all any longer. I don't count calories. I don't feel incredibly overwhelmingly guilty when I eat something that is heavy in calories. I don't spent the whole day planning my meals and their caloric content. I just eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not. I used to also obsessively weigh myself daily. I even had a "weighing" ritual. I don't do it at all any longer. It really has been quite incredible for me.

When I first realized that adderall has "cured" my eating disorder I was really angry that I wasted years of my life suffering when there was such an easy treatment available. I've been to eating disorder clinics as an in patient and an out patient and was really ****ed that no one took the time to see if I was ADHD to make the connection. I was then told that it is only recently that the links between eating disorders and ADHD are being explored, but that there is an indication that there is a connection.

So I'd like to encourage you to be open minded and maybe keep up with current research.

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/49720/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v31/n2/abs/0803400a.html

http://www.add.org/articles/eatingdisorders.html

Association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and bulimia nervosa: analysis of 4 case-control studies.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2006; 67(3):351-4 (ISSN: 0160-6689)
Surman CB; Randall ET; Biederman J
Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass, USA.
BACKGROUND: Impulsivity is a common feature of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and evidence suggests that impulsivity traits may be an indicator of poor prognosis for individuals with bulimia nervosa. To identify whether there is an association between ADHD and bulimia nervosa, the authors systematically examined data from children and adults with and without ADHD. METHOD: We systematically identified rates of bulimia nervosa in individuals with and without ADHD (DSM-III-R criteria) in our 2 large pediatric and 2 large adult samples (N = 522 children, 742 adults). Subjects were assessed from the late 1980s to February 1999. RESULTS: In the 2 samples of adults with and without ADHD, significantly greater rates of bulimia nervosa were identified in women with versus without ADHD (12% vs. 3%, p < .05 for 1 sample and 11% vs. 1%, p < .05 for the other sample). No significant differences in rates of bulimia nervosa were identified in men or children with ADHD when compared to sex-matched control subjects. CONCLUSION: Although preliminary and requiring further confirmation, these findings suggest that ADHD may be associated with bulimia nervosa in some women. If confirmed, this association between bulimia nervosa and ADHD could have important clinical and therapeutic implications.

Laura89
04-20-08, 05:43 PM
I'd like to encourage you to research further the link between eating disorders and ADHD. There have been recent studies suggesting that there is a link.

From personal experience I can say that adderall has helped me. I have had an eating disorder since I was 14 years old. I started taking adderall for my ADHD at 26 and I do not binge and purge any more at all. Also, my psychiatrist and psychologist are both aware of my eating disorder and the results from adderall. I never thought I would be free of the eating disorder. I tried a lot of different treatments over the years and nothing worked.

I don't obsessively think about food at all any longer. I don't count calories. I don't feel incredibly overwhelmingly guilty when I eat something that is heavy in calories. I don't spent the whole day planning my meals and their caloric content. I just eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not. I used to also obsessively weigh myself daily. I even had a "weighing" ritual. I don't do it at all any longer. It really has been quite incredible for me.

When I first realized that adderall has "cured" my eating disorder I was really angry that I wasted years of my life suffering when there was such an easy treatment available. I've been to eating disorder clinics as an in patient and an out patient and was really ****ed that no one took the time to see if I was ADHD to make the connection. I was then told that it is only recently that the links between eating disorders and ADHD are being explored, but that there is an indication that there is a connection.

So I'd like to encourage you to be open minded and maybe keep up with current research.

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/49720/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v31/n2/abs/0803400a.html

http://www.add.org/articles/eatingdisorders.html

Association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and bulimia nervosa: analysis of 4 case-control studies.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2006; 67(3):351-4 (ISSN: 0160-6689)
Surman CB; Randall ET; Biederman J
Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass, USA.
BACKGROUND: Impulsivity is a common feature of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and evidence suggests that impulsivity traits may be an indicator of poor prognosis for individuals with bulimia nervosa. To identify whether there is an association between ADHD and bulimia nervosa, the authors systematically examined data from children and adults with and without ADHD. METHOD: We systematically identified rates of bulimia nervosa in individuals with and without ADHD (DSM-III-R criteria) in our 2 large pediatric and 2 large adult samples (N = 522 children, 742 adults). Subjects were assessed from the late 1980s to February 1999. RESULTS: In the 2 samples of adults with and without ADHD, significantly greater rates of bulimia nervosa were identified in women with versus without ADHD (12% vs. 3%, p < .05 for 1 sample and 11% vs. 1%, p < .05 for the other sample). No significant differences in rates of bulimia nervosa were identified in men or children with ADHD when compared to sex-matched control subjects. CONCLUSION: Although preliminary and requiring further confirmation, these findings suggest that ADHD may be associated with bulimia nervosa in some women. If confirmed, this association between bulimia nervosa and ADHD could have important clinical and therapeutic implications.

Why is it just stating a link with bulimia? How about anorexia? I never really struggle with binging and purging. Just restricting all the time and binging out of starvation.

noussquid
04-20-08, 06:55 PM
Laura,

Bulimia was just the focus of that last study. There is some evidence for a link between eating disorders in general and ADHD, I just didn't look for any specifically because my problem as an adult has mainly been bulimia although as a teenager anorexia was dominant.

noussquid
04-20-08, 07:04 PM
This article goes in a hand with a lot of what was said in this post regarding stimulant usage to treat over eating and bulimia:

http://www.chesapeakeadd.com/pdf/adhd/eating_disorders.pdf

And it echoes some of the concerns for abuse...