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ADD and radiation/chemo/…?

ADD and radiation/chemo/…?2010-12-04T08:22:15+00:00

The Forums Forums Ask The Community ADD and radiation/chemo/…?

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  • #88697

    Post count: 14413

    Hi all,

    I’m currently a grad student, and I’ve been having ADD symptoms for years, but people would dismiss them or chastise me for having them, so I tried to suppress them or work around them. It’s worked so far; I’m a high achiever in school (it just takes me a LOT longer to get stuff done). I’m 26, and I’m at the point where I’d like some help, thanks.

    My actual question: I see on this site that there’s a genetic cause for ADD/ADHD, but what about external causes as well? I’ve been through cancer twice, and I’ve had intrathecal chemo and total body irradiation. I’ve found research pointing to those as causes of myriad learning disabilities and such, but is it really a plausible cause for my symptoms? (I know it’s equally likely to be genetic for me–my mother has many of the same symptoms I do.) And is there anything that would be different in handling these symptoms if the cause is environmental as opposed to strictly genetic?



    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    If you think you might have ADHD, you should get a proper diagnosis, from a psychologist or psychiatrist who is experienced with Adult ADHD, or is a recent enough grad to have learned the latest information on it. Unfortunately, many doctors have failed to update their knowledge, and still think that ADHD is just a children’s condition. So you may have to look around for the right psych.

    ADHD is passed on genetically. End of story. If a close relative has ADHD, then there is an increased likelihood that you have it. If no close relative has it, then it is less likely that you have it.

    All that mis-information out there about it being the result of allergies or environmental factors is complete BOLLOCKS, usually from people trying to sell you their alternative “cures”.

    However, the actual *symptoms* can become more severe in the presence of illness or hormonal changes (including PMS), and during the severe stresses that a major illness, not to mention chemo, places on the body. These more severe symptoms can be mistaken for a sudden onset of the condition. Did you notice any change in your ADHD symptoms during your cancer treatments?

    As for treatments for ADHD, the best way involves a combination of meds, cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. Some supplements also seem helpful, including Omega 3-6-9, and Melatonin (at night, to help you sleep), but check with your doctor before taking anything.

    You’d have to discuss all of the pros and cons of potential ADHD meds with your ADHD specialist and your cancer specialist. Due to your medical history, you may have an increased risk of sensitivity and side effects, so you and your doctors would have to tread very carefully. It would be more difficult without the meds, but it would be necessary if you and your doctors determined that the risk of side effects outweighed the potential benefits.

    There are some great books on ADHD, including “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?” and “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD”. They’re not too expensive on Amazon, and they are excellent!


    Post count: 14413

    Larynxa–thanks! Yes, I might say that I had increased symptoms during and following treatment, but some of the symptoms overlap with side effects of certain medications I was on at the time, so I can’t conclusively say yes.

    I am very sensitive to medication changes; I’m concerned about adding more medications since I do have very strong reactions to anything new. I’m more interested in the behavioral approaches, because they’re less likely to turn me into a drooling zombie (definitely not taking THAT medication again). My oncologist is rather dismissive, but I’m hoping to change doctors in the near future to someone with a better handle on the whole person approach to medicine, rather than just addressing the things he/she feels like dealing with.

    Thank you for the book recommendations! I’m definitely adding them to my “to read” list for my winter break. I’ve already talked to my department chair and the disabled student services folks about accommodations, and having extra support for further talks would be a big help.

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