My Wife Is Taking the Right Steps to Manage Her ADHD

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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Recently, my wife, Jill, underwent testing for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and discovered that she has it. This was not shocking news, as readers of this column know.

One of the questions her nurse practitioner asked was, “How did you live for 44 years without being diagnosed with ADHD?”

Jill’s answer was simple. She grew up in a family where many members had ADHD, so she never realized that she had it because it was the norm. The second reason was that she developed many coping mechanisms — such as setting constant alarms and writing notes to remind her of what she needed to focus on — all of which helped to mask that she had it.

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Jill said she was controlling her symptoms fairly well until she was diagnosed as gene-positive for Huntington’s disease (HD) in 2018. She doesn’t think HD caused the ADHD, but it certainly wasn’t making it better. But lately, she’s been having a hard time paying attention to conversations, keeping on task, and staying in the moment.

Jill has always had these issues, but they’ve gotten worse and started negatively affecting her life.

For instance, she recently had an important virtual meeting to attend, but despite setting an alarm on Alexa, a reminder on her phone, and talking to me about it the night before, she completely forgot about it.

I can relate, as I suffer from ADHD, too. I’ve written about my issues with it and know how frustrating it can be. I’m thankful Jill has been patient with me, so I try to help her as much as I can.

She hadn’t really noticed how bad it had gotten until our daughter, Alexus, who is also gene-positive for HD, told Jill that her ADHD had gotten to be “a lot.”

So Jill did the right thing and went to the doctor to get a proper diagnosis and a prescription for the right medicine.

I’ve heard negative stories about people becoming addicted to the stimulants often prescribed to treat ADHD, so I asked Jill if the risk was worth it.

She shared two points with me in response. She said there are risks every time we get into a car. We drive because we need to get from point A to point B. Sometimes, things happen on the way to the destination: a flat tire, traffic that makes us arrive late, an accident. But that doesn’t stop us from getting in the car and driving.

She also added an important point.

“I am using the medication for the right reasons and under the proper care of my doctor,” she said. “So I don’t worry about being addicted because I’m doing all I can to do the right things to make my mind slow down.”

If anyone reading this wonders if they have ADHD, it’s important to be careful about self-diagnosing. Any concerns about this serious mental health issue — or possibly taking medication to treat it — should be discussed with a medical professional, and no medication should be taken unless prescribed by a doctor.

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Dr. Herwig Lange avatar

Dr. Herwig Lange

Huntington patients do not have ADHD, attentions deficits are part of HD symptoms and have a very different biological basis than ADHD. Stimants don't work and even often make things worse.

Debbie Lacy avatar

Debbie Lacy

My husband has HD and takes Adderall for initiation and motivation. He suffers with depression, and it seems to help with that as well.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for sharing. I am happy to hear that they are working for your husband.

Linda Pimental avatar

Linda Pimental

My 31 year old daughter has HD. She was diagnosed at age 26. At age 22, while in college, she was struggling academically and was diagnosed with a combination type of ADHD by a licensed professional and she was prescribed Adderall XR. The medication helped her with her academic struggles, but we began to notice involuntary movement. Our Vanderbilt University neurologist, (Vanderbilt is an HDSA Center of Excellence) stated that stimulants are generally not recommended for people with HD. Even now, my daughter has to be very mindful of caffeine so she drinks just one cup of "half-caff" daily. Things got better in terms of movement after my daughter discontinued the Adderall, but her impulsivity got worse. It's a real catch 22 either way.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

I am sorry to hear about your daughter. HD is a devastating diagnosis, but it is especially hard to see younger people suffering from it. Thank you for the information. It seem like other people agree with you. For now Jill isn’t having any physical issues but we will keep a eye on how they will continue to affect her.


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