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Adrienne Dellwo

ADD/ADHD Drugs for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By October 29, 2011

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Logically, it seems like a hyperactive child and an adult with chronic fatigue syndrome would have nothing in common. So why would doctors and researchers eye ADD/ADHD drugs for their patients who have no energy at all?

When you look at what we know about the physiology of both illnesses, though, they actually do share several features.

  • Both involve an inability to focus attention and difficulty learning.
  • Both involve an in ability to tune out environmental stimulus.
  • Both involve dysregulation of several neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain).
  • And at least some people with both illnesses, it seems, respond to the class of drugs called neurostimulants, including Ritalin and Adderall.

Research on neurostimulants for chronic fatigue syndrome is in its early stages, but so far it looks promising -- at least for some subgroups. Several (but far from all) specialists recommend them and prescribe them regularly for this condition.

To learn more, read:

Have you tried these drugs? How did they work for you? Has a doctor ever recommended them for you? Leave your comments below!

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Comments
October 30, 2011 at 1:47 am
(1) Christy says:

My husband takes adderall he has adult ADD, I have heard several success stories about the benefits of these drugs to treat CFS, I did ask my doc about possibly letting my give it a try but was told he could not prescribe that class of medication? So I would have to see a shrink, which I’m sure would not understand my wanting to take that for my condition, I have tried all kinds of meds and I am desperate for a treatment that works, I don’t know what else I can do?

October 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm
(2) Ed says:

I went to about 8 psychiatrists over the years before seeing the one I have now. I can’t say much for psychiatry as a profession but there are some good open minded ones if you have the time, money, and perseverance to keep looking. It helps to present yourself as already well, ‘nobody’ likes a sick person that presents as desperate for help. That just makes you look like your crazy. Psychiatrists are more likely to take advantage of you if you come off that way. Its kind of a sad commentary on our medical community but often true, nonetheless.

Sorry for being factitious but I learned from experience. My reading suggested that Adderall might help with my alcoholism but when I asked psychiatrists about it, they said they couldn’t prescribe it because I was an alcoholic.
The ‘logic’ was that it wasn’t ethical to prescribe a controlled substance to an addict. My logic that it might save my life fell on deaf ears. I think the fear of the DEA and lawyers has alot to do with psychiatrist’s ‘logic’. The DEA is practicing medicine without a license by setting the policy/protocol that controls the dispensation of the med.
Currently there’s a shortage of Adderall because the DEA has set an arbitrary maximum yearly limit to the amount of the active ingredient manufactured. It’s criminally irresponsible for the government to be proactive in depriving people with a genuine medical need of the medication they require to function effectively. That’s life in the new U.S. S.R.

My psych is in Oklahoma City. He’s a nice guy and open minded. He would probably be OK with you trying something off-label in a controlled way. He’s definitely not a pill pusher though. I have my alert on so if you post, I’ll know it and if you want his info, I’ll try to figure out a way to mail it to you without either of us having to divulge same here for purposes of confidentiality.

November 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm
(3) Cari says:

Wow! Thank you, Ed, for pointing out the true reason that I’m sitting here struggling along on Ritalin rather than the medication that worked the best for me, which was Adderall. In their response to my query regarding the shortage of Adderall, the FDA did cite a shortage of the ingredients used to manufacture the medication, but they certainly didn’t make me aware that it was due to the DEA setting an arbitrary limit on those ingredients. What a sad testament to the United States that those of us living with a chronic illness should be made to suffer due to the actions of the few ‘bad apples’ that abuse these medications. That the truly ill get punished for the crimes committed by a few unscrupulous individuals hardly seems logical, let alone just.

October 30, 2011 at 4:18 pm
(4) Ed says:

1/3

I spent the first 45 years of my life thinking I had CFS or something related. I only recently learned of dysautonomia which can produce symptoms similar to CFS. At 46, I was formally diagnosed with combined type-predominantly inattentive ADHD. My first formal examination for some type of disorder was around age 6 when my parents took me to an audiologist because I wouldn’t respond cogently to people talking to me. The examination revealed normal hearing ability and 119/120 pitch recognition. Inattentive type wasn’t formally classified back then so attempting to find a disorder with symptoms similar to my own wasn’t successful. Minimal brain dysfunction was the old term for ADHD hyperactive type if I remember correctly but wasn’t a close enough fit to embrace as my own. That was a disorder for dumb kids, I thought, because I consistently tested at I.Q. levels in the superior range, ranging from 122 to 140. I didn’t subsequently become aware of the later added “inattentive type” ADHD until the mid 1990′s as my life had been so disrupted that I had given up looking for a solution.

October 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(5) Ed says:

2/3

I tried getting stimulants from a couple of psychiatrists but they failed to make the diagnosis and so I didn’t have a chance to try Adderall until I was 46 after going to another psychiatrist with the results of an online ADHD test offered at amenclinic.com, the website of the Daniel Amen, the psychiatrist with the largest SPECT imagery database in the world. My psychiatrist coincidentally employed the same ADHD test as a screening test and, after examination, allowed me to try Adderall, Ritalin, and dexedrine. Ritalin did nothing, dexedrine helped, and Adderall worked, though not a magic bullet. It helps with both attention and energy though I’m not sure how the two are related. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to improve attention much but does improve energy which is necessary to attention. Try focusing on something when all you ever want to really do oftentimes is lay down and rest.
My personal opinion is that the two are related but not sure how or why.

Regardless of why it works, Adderall does help and was an instant ‘cure’ for my then controlled drinking. I say ‘then’ because in times past I had drank alcoholically and in long binges at times, most likely due to the unexplainable gap between my accomplishments and my expectations. While I wasn’t drinking alcoholically at the time I was prescribed the drug, I haven’t been drunk since starting it about eight years ago. That’s a miracle.

October 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(6) Ed says:

3/3

I had previously tried AA and other things with no success.
Alcoholism is a common comorbid condition with ADHD and considered incurable in most circles. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, according to AA. Before Adderall, I agreed with their assertion. Since beginning Adderall, I’ve drank at times but at a frequency comparatively miniscule to my binge days which increased in severity with age. I still drink about once every 3 weeks but have no strong compulsion to do so. If I stopped Adderall, that might change. While many say, maybe truthfully, that I simply substituted one addiction for another, if so, I substituted an addiction that makes life liveable for one that very likely would have killed me eventually if for no other reason than most people so dislike drunks that they feel justified in accusing/attacking/sabotaging/lying to/etc. same regardless of whether there exists a genuine justification for doing so. When your a drunk, even a guiet shy, unobtrusive one, anyone can victimize you and be the hero. Alcoholism is as much a danger because it renders you defenseless against a scornful community as it is because of it’s physically destructive features. Ever heard of a sober person hitting a drunk driver in an auto accident?
I never had an accident while drinking but no doubt would have been assumed or charged with being at fault had I been involved in one.

Further research should be done because, in my experience, ADHD, CFS, dysautonomia, autism, and related disorders seem to be inter-related along the lines of focus and physical energy, also possibly in connection with deficiencies in early childhood ego development, ego boundaries, shyness, assertiveness, physical and emotional sibling abuse (big brother), social phobia, maternal OCD/depression, emotional hypersensitivity to even mild criticism, physical coordination, oral dependency (pacifier until age 6), smoking, drinking, dysthymia, and others.

October 31, 2011 at 10:22 am
(7) Smith says:

Adderall can do a good job of masking symptoms for a short period. I use it for the couple of hours a couple of times a week I rejoin the rest of the world. I still have to work on my health the majority of the rest of the week and rest up for events. It simply enables me to fake normalcy for a couple of hours because I seem much less exhausted. But it isn’t “free” energy. I always have to pay for the extra exertion, i.e., feel worse the day or so after. And if I try and push myself more than an hour beyond my normal limit, I crash very hard. If I try to use it more than a couple times a week, I really suffer the backlash for a week or so.

October 31, 2011 at 11:10 am
(8) Rachael says:

I drink two mild cups of coffee every morning as part of my routine, along with other supplements and medications that seem to help me with my CFS symptoms. Even, though coffee is considered a stimulant, I notice right away that it seems to slow my brain down and that I can concentrate better. I only drink coffee in the morning because otherwise, I do not benefit from its effects and too much can cause anxiety, especially in people with CFS.

October 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(9) John says:

I would like to provide another perspective for the use of Adderall with FMS/CFS type conditions. About a year and some months ago, my grad school friend was researching his wife’s condition, which was in part FMS and some female issues, and found some research out of Philly suggesting that water retention and regulation might have a role in certain pain disorders. It was a coincidental observation he made in one of his studies of how to help women with their water retention issues. He found that for the women who took what is now Adderall for his study also somehow found a decrease in their FMS-like symptoms. He offered a possible explanation as to why this may happen, but it was only a side observation.
So my buddy suggested I read this after talking to him about my FMS. I thought about it for a while, then found and called this doc. After a few months of work (I followed the same diagnostic plan that he gave the subjects in his studies), I was able to have him virtually review my history and recommend that Adderall was worth a try (in a very low dose).
I can say that it has been one of the only improvements I’ve seen from a medication, but is not the end-all answer to my FMS. Since I’ve been diagnosed with Spondilytis, but I can say that each morning my hands are very swollen and after about an hour after taking Adderall, I feel much more normal.
Do note that this med is highly controlled, you have to see a doc for every prescription fill, no call-ins (at least in my state). Note that it is a stimulant that is tough to adjust to at first, but after about 2 weeks I seemed to come to a steady state. And it may not be a solution, but it’s worth a shot. What’s amazing to me, as I did not know much about this med before a year or so ago, is that it is controlled so much more than many pain killers.

October 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm
(10) Ed says:

My brother was initially diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but the diagnosis was changed to spondilytis sometime later.
As a sibling, my risk of developing ra was 50%, not sure about spondilytis. I have adhd, inattentive type, or so the evidence suggests. I’m wondering if their is a genetic correlation between adhd and ra and/or spondilytis. RA is an autoimmune disorder, not sure about spondilytis. Adhd presents with fatigue symptoms similar to dysautonomia, which is an autoimmune system disorder also. Could the fatigue aspect of adhd be autoimmune related?

Just slogging through the possibilities. No clue what I’m doing but then, do any of the experts?

November 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm
(11) Jim Luzadder says:

I very recently posted a similar message about Fibro Fog. My markedly impaired STM (short term memory) and my erratic global memory were involved with a short attention span and an inability to complete anything more than the simplest of tasks. As an LCSW who worked in mental health for over thirty years, I talked my psychiatrist into trying me on Aricept, a drug for early onset Alzheimer’s (There are a number of similarities between Fibro Fog and a mild sub-clinical dementia). I can now do any and all tasks, I play-and win- at duplicate bridge, can remember names, facts, activities, etc. I had poor results on ADD meds…

November 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm
(12) Cari says:

Adrienne, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for publishing this article.

Well over a year ago, my fibromyalgia/CFS doctor noticed my inability to focus. He’d known me for at least 4 years at the time & admitted he’d been keeping an eye on that with me as well as keeping an eye on the studies as to what medications could help. We discussed things like what tasks I was accomplishing/completing at home, how long could I pay attention to a phone conversation with a friend before having to say “Sorry. What did you say?”, how often do I forget important birthdays/anniversaries or due dates for bills, & how often do I walk out to the kitchen only to forget what I was looking for. He just shook his head sadly & asked me why I hadn’t told him all of this before, to which I responded that I’d simply written it all off to the fibro-fog/CFS & figured there was nothing that could be done about it.

That day, he wrote me a prescription for Adderall (generic due to insurance not covering such medications in patients over 25 years old) &, while I was leery at first of taking it, once I finally did my life changed for the better. I’d always been a relatively intelligent woman, but the fibro-fog had me feeling as though I’d lost that part of myself. A good conversation with my doctor & Adderall gave me that seemingly lost part back.

Unfortunately, there is currently a nationwide shortage of Adderall. I’ve written to the FDA to confirm this & there is no estimated date as to when the shortage will end as the generic manufacturers have all but ceased production citing low availability of ingredients that make up the medication. Due to that, my prescription has been changed to Ritalin (again generic). Unfortunately, this does not seem to help nearly as well as the Adderall had been, so I hope the shortage ends soon.

November 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm
(13) Taliba says:

I had to go through several doctors before finding one that would trial me on Ritalin for the brain fog, and given that I’m having success with it I am frustrated that it took so long to find a doc open minded and educated enough to know that it may help.

I agree that it ‘masks’ symptoms to a degree, and that it is important to remember pacing. But the positives far outweight the negatives. I tell me husband that I feel like someone has flipped a switch and turned the lights back on in my head! And I’m able to work 2-3 days per week, effectively! The other benefit has been giving me the ability and capacity to work through some of the emotional turmoil that has stemmed from 20 years of chronic illness and all the fun that it brings:P. Feelings are arising that I literally did not have the strength to process before.

November 4, 2011 at 4:56 pm
(14) AIDAN WALSH says:

I have a nephew with A.D.D. and he says any meds make him 10 times worse and stays far away from what he refers to as the QUACKS… HE even said once to us those people phyciatrists are not normal people…I also wonder what connection with A.D.D. is with ‘chiari/stenosis’…From what I have read is that numerous patients are fully recovered from surgery and leading complete full active lives and off any/all medications…They claim to be free of illness but then there are some who showed no improvements at all…

November 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm
(15) Chuck says:

After over two decades of seeing so many doctors that I lost count I finally had a good doctor that actually listened to me and did a complete review of my long medical record. She gave me a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue in 2007. After discussing treatment options we tried Concerta (extended release form of Ritalin). The extended release helps prevent the peaks and valleys of Ritalin. It worked pretty well and I was able to function at a higher level. Not a magic bullet, but defiantly better, more energy than without it.
Unfortunately, after years of taking Concerta my body seemed to adjust to the medication at its ability to provide energy became minimal.
After talking to my doctor we changed the medication to Nuvigil (armodafinil). If you think itís hard to get a prescription for Ritalin try getting a prescription for Nuvigil. Essentially they will only prescribe Nuvigil for Narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. Luckily?, I do have obstructive sleep apnea so there was justification for Nuvigil. Nuvigil has worked much better than the Concerta. Iíve been taking it for about a year and a half and so far it seems to still be working as it did when I first started the prescription.
Word of warning for both these medications. You may feel that you have energy but your body really isnít providing any more energy. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT YOU STILL HAVE TO LIVE AS A ME/CFS PATIENT!! You will feel better and have more energy to do little things. However, if you over do it and expend a lot of energy you will still pay the price. Before I realized this I would take on big projects and expend a lot of energy as I felt good. Then I would be hit with overwhelming fatigue and have to spend the next few days in bed trying to regain my energy, and no amount of Nuvigil or Ritalin would be able counter this energy drain.

November 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm
(16) Kim says:

I have been on adderall for almost a year, I take any wheres from 60-80 mg a day, my pharmacist says that a normal person on that would be flying, I can say that it does help me functions so I can at least get threw my job, and some days can do more then other days, but like said before that if you do over do it on a day that your feeling half way descent you do pay for it the next few days or week, even on the adderall i am still exhausted most of the time, my sleep Dr. is the one who put me on this drug, when I asked him how he felt about chronic fatigue syndrome he said we are all fatigue at some point, that really brought me down, he now has a new Dr. working with him and i will be seeing him next week and am very excited when I had asked him if he belived in chronic fatigue syndrome he said yes, so cant wait to see what he has to say.. I love all the info that Adrienne give on this I have learned a lot, I have also told my family Dr. to send me to U of M to a Endocrinologist I know that they will do a lot more testing for thyroid and hormones and such, so very excited about that, I know its good to be told when you have testing done everything is normal, but when you feel the way that we do and you know something is wrong its very frustrating…

November 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm
(17) Kim says:

talk about brain fog, I for got to put that in my comment above, it seems to me my brain fog has gotten worse, like the other day I knew I had to go to the bank and 3 time I drove right by it and all 3 times forgot to stop. its so frustrating, forget things that I have said or asked my family and have to repeat my self, I do write appt. down because if I didnt I would forget about them…

November 5, 2011 at 5:42 am
(18) Tess says:

Thank you Adrienne for doing this article, we are all lucky to have someone like you who has started a website like this, I feel very fortunate to have found you on the big www. Anyways, I have been taking Modifinil the last few months but that was only from my sleep Dr. since I also have sleep apnea and sleep shift worker disorder. I had begged my family Dr. and a few other Drs. considered “FM/CFS specialists” but they all refused me since that drug was basically for Narcolepsy. I persisted and even got into trouble since I argued and yelled at one Dr. who just wanted to give me anti-depressants(15 different ones which I tried since 2002 with no success and always left me feeling more tired and in pain than before I was on them). I also persisted since I have been off work for several months and I had done a lot of research and now I feel I would like to get back to work especially since being on the Modinfinal I feel this could be accomplished. Finally! I feel like I have hope for better tomorrows! Thank you to Adrienne too!

November 5, 2011 at 7:17 am
(19) ReMe11 says:

I have tried the ADHD med Vyvanse for about 6 months. Initially it totally changed my life. My short term memory great improved as did my energy level. After a few months it seems that I am feeling lots of symptom returning that were under control, i.e. inducing an episode, ears ringing, dizziness, hypoglycemia, etc. Not sure where to do from here, but DEFINITELY worth trying as it has been a miracle so far.

I am getting treatment for my CFS as an immunological disorder and antiviral. But that doc will not address the symtptoms like short term memory, fatigue, etc. I have talked to MANY doctors about treatment and all refused to address CFS or the symtpoms as a real entity.

In my quest to try a stimulant, I went to a psych office and simply answered questions related to ADHD. I slightly hinted of CFS and they said they did not treat it. So I stuck with describing my symtpoms as related to ADHD. Brain fog symptoms so fit the DSM criteria for ADHD. So I did not discuss my whole disorder of symtpoms but stuck with what they treat. Works like a charm.

To address the shortage of adderall…. There is sporatic shipments of generic adderall immediate release and 20mg completely out. The generic extended release is sporatically available as well. So find out what is available and let your physician know what they have. The DEA is limiting is made.

November 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm
(20) Shoshana says:

Oh you are so clever! I have also found that you have to manipulate doctors to get the treatment that you want and know that you need. The minute I mention fibromyalgia and brain fog, I see the doctor himself getting instant brain fog and his eyes clouding over as he just does not believe in this!!! so I give him the symptoms that he is happy to treat and in this roundabout way get some of the help that I need. Thanks Adrienne and all you wonderful people for posting on this site and helping others to feel “normal”.

November 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm
(21) poodleloverdlj says:

I’ve been on ‘speed’ (the old name for Adderal) for 7 years. When I was in college 1mg was enough for me to clean a roommates filthy bathroom: even with a toothbrush! We’re talking tons of energy. 7 years ago I convinced a Rhemy to prescribe Adderal. I no longer had the rush of energy. In fact, I didn’t have any until I took 30-40mg at once & still it was bearly enough to get off the couch.
My Psych later prescribed me with Attention Defic. Disorder. I later learned that if you have no responce to Adderal (except improved concentration) you have Attention Defic.
One problem is that Adderall stays in your system a very long time (not just extended release) It interfers with sleep. When your sleep is already nonrefreshing this means you are really in the minus. It also increases restless leg & PLMS syndromes. Which further complicates our sleep problems. Therefore, one wakes up in more pain & more fog, even if one did not attempt a large project. That’s if 1 can even get to sleep no matter how exhausted after taking it: I can’t without taking 2 Ambien & sometimes that doesn’t help.
another warning if you have RLS & take it B4 surgery (to help you get there in time & awake) & the surgery requires you to be extremely still ie eye surgery; they will have to give you extra medication to ‘freeze’ the site. RLS is all over your body, not just your legs. SO Adderall will make your eyes bob more.
Just a warning. It happened to me with cataract surgery. Now I advise the hospital immediately. It’s strange that medical personel don’t know that CFS patients are more prone to infection, that’s why CFID’s is a better name. I had 3 infections after shoulder surgery & duh it was because they left the site open with rods sticking out for the hospital staff to stick right to me! Again our own knowledge is 1 of the best defences, if only they’d listen to us….

November 14, 2011 at 9:53 am
(22) Shelley says:

I have had fibromyalgia for over eleven years and had the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) added last year. Without AD/HD medication (dexamphetamine to be specific), I would not be able to get out of bed or function in any meaningful way. I take Geodon for Fibro Fog which has also been quite successful. In addition, I take a number of vitamin supplements including COQ10 and B12. I am not running any marathons and I still have days when I cannot move off the couch, but with my current medication regime I’m the most functional I’ve been in eleven years. Obviously, each person is different but if you are having problems with getting out of bed and having enough energy to get dressed, consideration of AD/HD drugs is a good one. As the founder of FibroCares, A Support Group for people with Fibromyalgia, I have heard a great number of stories to support the value of such types of medication. These types of medication are quick-acting so you will see results very quickly – it’s certainly worth a try. Talk with your doctor!!! And remember to not over-do over the holidays!!!

December 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm
(23) K.V. says:

About 2003, I was first prescribed Adderall XR, the lowest dose there is, and it made a huge difference. I could focus and concentrate for the first time since the early 1990s. In early 2005, it seemed to lose its effectiveness after many months of working 12-18 hours a day, often 7 days a week.

Around that time, I found the Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers in Nevada and began treatment with Alina Garcia, M.D. She prescribed Provigil, which made me feel nearly normal for several months, along with a low dose of cortisol. I also had more energy after immunoglobulin injections there. Since late 2006, when I ran out of money for treatment and travel to the F&FC, Iíve gone downhill.

I was prescribed Adderall XR at a higher dose (45 mg or 60 mg) than I’m on now and which did seem to help — although not as well as before — until the last year or so. Because it’s “controlled”, the nurse practitioners who work with my doctor donít want to prescribe it. I felt better and functioned better on the higher dose, but they donít care. I can barely do one activity every other day and I am unable to shower for days and days at a time.

I am easily distracted, inattentive, undisciplined, impulsive, unorganized, and pretty much like I was in childhood and until my 20s when I would drink pots and pots of coffee a day.

I have no problem sleeping with Adderall. I guess I can say that Adderall XR has really helped me because otherwise I’d be homeless or bedridden somewhere, and it has prevented sudden narcoleptic episodes I had from about 2001-2008.

If, however, your health care providers don’t want to prescribe it, your best bet would be to find a way to get admitted to a long term care facility because in my experience, fibro/CFS gets progressively worse, not better. I wish someone had told me this so I could have planned better. I am not living because I am barely alive.

February 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm
(24) Janice Boyer says:

I have CFS and ADD amd have been taking 70mgs of Vyvanse a 3 times a day for several years.. Unfortunatley, my nuerologist told me that she will no longer treat me with this drug. I am at a loss. Without this medication I am unable to function on any level of normalcy. I am worried that I’ll lose my job and health insurance, homelessness will not be far behind. I live in the Atlntic City, NJ area if anyone knows of a doctor who can help me. I am 54 years old and alone and really need some direction to find help. Thank You, Janice Boyer

May 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm
(25) Lise B Jensen says:

I have strugggled with CFS for almost 30 years and tried every imaginable treatment both holistic and traditional. I was at my wits end a few weeks ago as I saw my Dr. He suggested I try CONCERTA(18mg.). I filled the prescription reluctantly, but was amazed at the result that very same day. My brainfog cleared and I had energy to do more than I had been able to in decades.To top it off I slept like a baby that following night ans had vivid dreams I easly recalled in the morning. In short – I AM DELIGHTED – and recommend a central nervous stimulants to anyone who is dealing with debilitating affliction. Everyone reacts different to meds. naturally, but this is surely worth a shot.

BE WELL & HAPPY.

July 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm
(26) Gette says:

I have systemic Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and fibromyalgia. I didn’t even think fibro was a “real” disease until my Rheumatologist insisted I had it and insisted that it was the reason for some of the pain I had that the RA and Sjogren’s couldn’t explain. Needless to say, with two autoimmune diseases, and the medications used to treat them (hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide, gabapentin…) I deal with CONSTANT fatigue. I eat a very healthy diet and exercise, but still require 10-12 hours of sleep a night and tend to nap on days I don’t work (yes, I still work.). I have asked my Rheumy about ways to overcome the fatigue as I have tried B vitamins, diet, and exercise to no avail (Energy drinks with ingredients like taurine are big “no-no’s” with systemic diseases like mine. My kidneys can’t process that stuff.). He has suggested a low dose of adderall to give me more energy, but I am hesitant. I feel as though I already have enough toxins running through my system, I don’t know that I want to add another.

August 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm
(27) Ros says:

After reading many suggestions for a stimulant, and approaching it a few times to my pain specialist, I finally brought in the book, From Fatigued to Fantastic and opened it up to the section dealing with stimulants. Gives dosage suggestions as well. I started on short release dexedrine (5 mg, twice a day). Seemed okay, but I still needed to rest several hours every afternoon. Since I can’t swallow pills (sticture in my esophagus), my dr suggested switching to adderall extended release, 20 mg daily (can be sprinkled into apple sauce).

Both made me feel more normal, but not 100% of my former self. I don’t feel jittery or wired, just a little bit less exhausted and impatient.

Am hoping that the stimulant will continue to help for driving (I’m a taxi service to my children) and not having to sleep in my van, in between appointments!!!

I had gotten to the point that with effective pain management (nerve blocks, pain meds, and an antidepressant) that the bone crushing fatigue was, on most days, more debilitating than the pain.

Fingers crossed that this will help – was knocked clean off my feet 3 years ago and haven’t had significant or sustained improvements at all.

November 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm
(28) Michelle says:

I was diganosed with CFS Epstein Barr Syndrom in 1988. In 1994 or so I was started on a low dose of Ritalin 5mg/day along with a low dose of Antidepressant. Over the years doctors have continued to prescribe ritalin for the fatigue but an ever increasing dose of anti depressants because I always complain of pain and sleeplessness. Long story short I found a fantastic Naturalpath and she encouraged me to get off all the anti depressants so I did and I felt so much better — the flu like symptoms decreased and my mind was clearer. However the pain and sleeplessness continued and I went to see a pain doctor he diagnosed me with Fibromyagia and put me on Savella 50mg 2x/day this in itself was life changing and the pain all but went away.

Fast forward two years — I am still having major problems with sleep and being horribly fatigued during the day. Thought I would loose my job it was so bad. Went to see a memory specialist/Internist because I was not having any luck with my GP. I was still taking the Ritalin but up to 5mg 2x per day and having to suppliment a lot of caffein to survive the day. The Dr. changed the ritalin to 27mg extended release and I cannot believe the difference in my day.

Anyone who says if you do not have ADD/ADHD that you should not be taking these drugs needs to study up. The reason these drugs work so well for patients that do not have ADD/ADHD is how the chemical works in the wake up centers in the brain — that is why this drug is sold illegally and is so controlled is because it is essentially SPEED. People are using this drug to be more alert and productive illegally so it is making it hard for people who really need it to get it.

November 21, 2012 at 3:36 am
(29) jake says:

All you self proclaimed doctors need to grow up. First off, its easy to convince yourself you have a “disorder” and even easier to believe you know how to treat the disorder better than a medical professional. Of course a shrink or competent doctor wont prescribe adderall because you feel tired. It’s basically speed, and not much different than meth. The neurochemistry in your brain is delicate, and subjecting yourself to unnecessary chemicals will give you an extremely brief period of relief followed by a hellish in-balance that will last for months after the medication no longer helps. Altering your brains chemistry is one of the most risky things you can do. There are legitimate disorders out there, but they usually occur in less than 1 percent of the population and no more than 3 percent. For everyone else its mental, or induced by a poor diet, sporadic sleep, and lack of exercise. I am a recovering addict that would self diagnose and prescribe. I know first hand that all these miracle drugs will make you happy and secure for a time, but will quickly leave you alone, discouraged, addicted, and far worse off than before. Look to the basics first when you are having issues. Give it a few months of eating right, exercising, and following a conservative schedule before you jump on the magic pill band wagon.

March 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm
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May 26, 2013 at 8:13 am
(31) Jasmine says:

I too have struggled with an extreme case of fatigue. I could sleep 10 hours and still not be rested or have energy. It was debilitating. I didn’t have the energy to function normally and no one understands how hard it is to get through the day or to just show up to work. Especially on time. I was recently presdcribed Vyvanse 30 mg to start and I feel great!!!! Everything is not a daunting chore and I have been in a much better mood because it doesn’t take so much effort to do things. I feel like doing stuff and hanging out with friends. For me, everything before was irritating. Now I feel like a normal person. This experience makes me believe in medication. If you have high blood pressure, you would take medication. The government will promote a gazillion antidepressants that hav horrible side effects, but make it almost impossible to get stimulants. I know people abuse them but why make everyone who has a disorder suffer for it. If it were not or this drug, I’d be on the road to a SSI check.

July 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm
(32) Cat says:

After three years on up to 40 mg of Adderall XR for ADD, depression, and chronic fatigue, I finally identified as the culprit for making all three things WORSE. Yes, I said WORSE. I am slowly weaning off of it and am now down to 5 mg and taking L-Tyrosine and NAC to help me and after a few weeks I finally feel less depressed with more stable energy. I was dealing with more severe depression, feeling dead inside, unmotivated, anti-social, isolated, and exhausted with shortness of breath and chest pains. I fully blame my use of Adderall for making things worse. I was having lack of clarity of thought, memory problems, and hyperfocusing on the negative of life with the severe depression. I am glad I figured out what a sham and a bad idea this drug was for me on all fronts because I came this close to getting ECT finally. One day I stopped and asked myself what was so different in the last few years that things got SO much worse and the only thing I could come up with was the Adderall. It’s not for everyone and I don’t think it’s a good idea long-term for chronic fatigue. I also turned up wiht a structural heat defect which may have caused these issues to be worse for me due to Adderall. Doctor never checked my heart first. 1 out of 4 people have a PFO. I didn’t know this and I have an aneurysm with it and my internal medicine doc was shocked my psych never looked at my heart. Adderall is bad stuff. It about killed my spirit on some level and I am finally getting my old self back and yoga and good nutirition is starting to make me feel better again. It promises a lot and then takes away a lot leaving you wondering when things got so much worse….So be careful. The crash is not worth it when it starts to wear off.

October 12, 2013 at 9:55 pm
(33) sealymay says:

Adderall is a terrible drug for me. I have been on it (10-15 mg/day) for 1-1/2 years. For 10 months or so it did help me get going (I have FM), but I had to stop it from time to time because of terrible muscle aches. I didn’t want to give up the “energy” it seemed to provide, but in the last three months the body pain is so severe I can’t stand it. I know that it is exacerbating my FM, and there are other mental changes that I don’t like. I will miss its “energy high”, but I think I will just go back to my old friend Kava. I am weaning down to 5 mg/day for the next two weeks and then I am stopping it. It is just not good and I think it is really a danger over more than a year of taking it. It does not provide any real energy; it just revs up one’s neurons to a fever state. The “energy” is an illusion. No more of this dangerous stuff for me.

January 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm
(34) Shellie says:

At 40 or so, I began Strattera for ADD and it helped me focus but gave me no get up and go. Even losing weight and exercising didn’t help the chronic fatigue I’ve battled since my 20s. I’ve never been diagnosed with CFS or FM, but have had countless labs and tests run for lupus, MS and I’ve been on all types of meds for hypothyroidism.

I recently stopped Strattera because it gave me mood swings and made me angry and depressed. I started on Adderrall xr 20 mg this week. It has made a huge difference. I struggle to get out of bed when my fatigue flares up. I work 50 hours a week or more and my house suffers. I am a mom of one and my husband is chronically ill so I have to be strong and do most everything.

I have focus, energy and I’m calm and more myself personality wise. I’m very tired when it wears off. I’m not super woman stimulated, but I’m able to do the basics like laundry, cooking, dishes and light cleaning even shen working.

I’m so hoping that this continues to work. I asked my doctor for this medicine after reading your article. I empathize with everyone suffering from chronic fatigue…people don’t understand how it affects you and its damn depressing because I have a demanding career and many responsibilities at home. I often feel that I fall short.

One last note…not eating sugar, gluten or corn really helps too. Bless you all.

April 11, 2014 at 9:46 am
(35) raven says:

I was on this stimulant for A.D.D. and had psychotic episodes, now as a result of this “medicine” I have to take anti-psychotics possibly the rest of my life. I wouldn’t give it to my worst enemy. Think twice before you use it!!

April 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm
(36) Pedro - la llaga says:

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