ADD and Dopamaine

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Hi there, I have read everything you have read about the dopamiane connection to orgasm. I have been diagnosed from a young age with Attention Deficit Disorder. It is well known that one of the big issues in the ADD brain is less dopamine, which is why addictive behaviours are common. I myself have dealt with an eating disorder, as well as addiction to pornogrophy etc. I find if i remove the " high stimulation" things that boost the dopamine that i dont get naturally, I feel horrible. The normal highs and lows from everyday life have never been high enough for me. Any comments appreciated, especially by those familiar with ADD.


I have ADD. I few years ago I found that taking the meds (dexamphetamine sustained release) every day, rather than just weekdays, worked better for me. In other words, the ADD is not as bad if I have consistent brain chemistry every day.

Now, what else causes fluctuating brain chemistry? Orgasms, right? So 8 months ago I quit having orgasms completely. At the same time, coincidentally, I ran out of ADD meds, and just stopped taking them. I've found that I do about as well without meds and without orgasms as I did previously with meds and with occasional orgasms.

Recently it has felt like the ADD has come back, but I think that is because of mental turmoil due to contemplating divorce. I'm still pretty sure the celibacy is helping, and that I would be worse off if I started masturbating again - sure enough that I'm not tempted to try it, even as an experiment!


So, last night I came home and found a huge bag of corn chips on the kitchen table with about 3 ounces of chips left in the bag. I had read some of the other recent posts about dream orgasms being preceded by eating corn chips. You can probably guess right now where this post is going... Smile

Dream orgasms don't bother me, and I have them rather infrequently. (Although I had one just a few days ago in which I had three O's in one dream! Don't remember the details of the dream. And another recent dream, I simply got in bed with some woman and cuddled - no sex, no orgasm.) Anyway, I saw this as an opportunity to test the hypothesis that eating corn chips before going to bed leads to dream orgasms. I snarfed down the 3 oz of corn chips, about 2 hours before I went to bed. And...? (I can see several people leaning forward in their seats, eagerly waiting to read the outcome.)

This morning, just before I woke up, I had a dream... about parliamentary procedure, of all the crazy things one could dream about. Nothing sexy about it. I guess the dream was just an amalgamation of several things I had been reading or thinking about in the previous hours and days.

Is someone keeping score? I think it's about 3 people who had dream O's following corn chips, and 1 curious fellow who didn't.


A local friend who has been bi-polar for years said she started making the same no-orgasm experiment about a year ago, and she has *definitely* been better. She volunteered the information, and I didn't ask for details as there was no time.

Gary and I recently listened to a program on "All in the Mind," an Aussie radio show. The doctor (Randolph Nesse) interviewed was commenting that depression (yet another brain chemical imbalance) is highest in the USA...and that "clearly something is dysregulating us."

I can't help wondering if part of what's dysregulating us is our experiment with Kinsey's overly confident conclusion that orgasm is "merely a pleasurable outlet." Orgasm certainly didn't bring out the best in me - although I didn't see the connection with my sharp tongue and powerful projections onto others. And Gary's chronic depression is gone since we started making love without orgasm as the goal almost 8 years ago.

I wouldn't say it's a "magical cure," in that every day isn't "roses," Wink but it's certainly interesting to hear that this change helps some of us.

Wish we knew

more about ADD. Unfortunately, we don't. That is indeed a very interesting experiment CF!

A forum member recently sent me this article, which makes me wonder if TV is a culprit in this epidemic of ADD.

But back to your post. Low dopamine sucks. But lots of things raise dopamine *somewhat.* And all of us feel an extreme need for dopamine when we're post orgasmic. You're not alone.

So I'm curious. Have you come out of the orgasm cycle long enough to discover whether you can get by without feeling miserable by substituting more balanced sources of dopamine, such as exercise, companionship, meditation, etc.?

The fact that someone feels better with intense stimulation makes sense (we all do), but doesn't necessarily mean that is what that person really needs for better well-being over all. I mean, an alcoholic *always* feels like a drink is his perfect medicine...but it's actually not as good for him as daily AA meetings when he's moving toward recovery.

How long do you think it

How long do you think it would be neccesary to be out of the " orgasm cycle" as you put it, to know whether one can get by by subsituting more balanced sourced of dopamine? To be totally honest i have not given it a real shot, becaus i always feel so bummed out and depressed without the " highs" orgasm/over eating, so i have only been able to eliminate either or from my life, but not both. I guess this is what you would call addiction.
Your last paragraph really makes a lot of sense to me

ADD and Dopamine

Salutations looking,

I also have ADD, a symptom of which is a constant low-level depression. I think this is pretty common of people with ADD.
its not a crippling depression, its just a gloomier day-to-day experience. Life seems dull, and its hard to stay motivated unless the reward is high (ie: true belief in what you are doing/ rewarding experiences on the job).

Anxiety is another common factor. Both anxiety and depression are tied to either low or high levels of dopamine. People with ADD are constant self-medicators. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc. Highly addictive behaviors often a priority (video games, shopping, eating, sweets/sugar, porn, heavy substance use/abuse).

When you describe that removing these "uppers" makes you feel "horrible", I wonder how long you have tried to completely abstain from neurochemical rewards... As they say, what goes up must come down. You are probably used to self-medicating regularly throughout the day. I know this is true of me when I am at my worst (what i call my "point of disintegration"). I run to every possibly outlet to keep me from feeling anything - escapism into videogames for me is a mindless way to forget my problems. but it doesn't fix anything. I will make an entire pot of coffee, sit and drink 8 mugs in just a few hours, eat anything I can get my hands on, play videogames, and anxiety continues to build until I finally get so restless I actually do something my body *really* wants me to do. I will go for a walk, or write in my journal. find a friend to spend time with.

ADD is really tricky to navigate. what your brain thinks it wants is actually the least productive and most destructive things. You need to call on your higher consciousness to override your reward system, and take control to do what you need to be healthy and productive. (ironically, these words are like poison to the always cynical ADD mind...)

The good news is that our brain pathways are PLASTIC. and this means that they are malleable and over time will change.
think of a thickly grown forest. the first time you try to navigate, it will be slow and hard going. the more you use the same path, the trail gets beaten down, and eventually there is a new path that becomes the fastest route.

You CAN rewire your brain circuitry so that the highly rewarding and addictive behaviors are used in a healthy way (very occasionally), and you can arrive where it seems everyone is - at "normal".
start by organizing your living space. if you house is clean and tidy, your mind will be less cluttered too.

The Dopamine will eventually level out. you dont need medication. but dont expect short term results, either. that is the bad news. it will take years, and it will be so gradual that you will barely notice. I have been trying to rewire my brain circuitry for 2 years now, and i do notice slight changes. but it is still a conscious battle, and I have to be very intentional to stay on the path.

Recommended reading: "Scattered: How ADD Originates and what you can do about it" by Dr. Gabor Mate.
this book changed my whole life.

Best of luck to you. hope you found some of this useful.

I can see as a fellow ADDer

I can see as a fellow ADDer you understand exactly how my brain works. My whole life i have used something as a coping mechanism. All of the various methods i used were unhealthy, food, pornography/masturbation, spending money etc. I will be honest, the thought of not having some outlet scares me, and almost makes me feel like there is nothing to look forward to. Can you undertand that feeling?

Well, the only way to find out

is to try. You can always go back to your current habits.

As for timing, it matters how hooked you are. The basic hangover cycle seems to be about two weeks. But there's a protein that hangs around in addicts' brains promoting relapse for 1-2 months.

Can you start by making a list of some *other* things you like to do, even though they don't offer highs that are as intense? (In other words, even though they *feel* to your brain like they are "less good medicine.") Make it a long list. Wink That way you'll have "somewhere to go" when you feel miserable.

You might also start with a better diet and meditation, even before you cut back on masturbation. Seems like that's helping some guys here.

Good things for that list are: getting outside, talking or smiling at people, learning a musical instrument or some other creative thing, singing, dancing, having some favorite *healthy* foods that you can turn to so you don't feel utterly deprived, exercise that you enjoy, doing something to help someone *else*. And so forth.

Things that are best avoided are video games, sexual cues, gambling, TV violence, high-sugar foods, and so forth. In short, all those nice dopamine rushes. Smile

Good luck. It *is* daunting. In fact, the only thing worse is the feeling of being caught in a downward spiral. So when you're ready...give it a try.

*a big hug*

sense of dread/hopelessness

Yeah, i understand that feeling. Whenever things seem really hard, working up motivation is the worst. Your gut feeling is just to run away, to what is comfortable.
I like Johnny Cash's song "Unchained" ...i feel like it describes me perfectly.
"Its so hard to see the rainbow through glasses dark as these." -->

I am glad you are wrestling and trying to come to grips with ADD. I believe that the folks with ADD are the greatest people in the world. What comes with the feelings of shame and self-loathing/deprecation are true insights into life. People with ADD have great depth, and understanding. Artistic and creative by design - hypersensitivity reveals itself in so many ways. Sometimes I have wished I didn't have to cope with the shittier side of it. But I wouldn't trade my ADD mind for anything.

When I really apply myself I know I can produce beautiful results. I sense that you, like me, realize this and are trying to overcome.

I like that.
Again, read "Scattered" will change your life.

Hi , I purchased Scattered

Hi , I purchased Scattered last night by gabor mate. In true add fashion i read most of the book last night in various forms. It is refreshing yet scary. I felt he was talking to me and knew every detail of my life, and how my brain works. Its scary because it shows me all the areas i struggle in, that i have never previously associated me ADD with. While i have been diagnosed 15 years ago, until recently had only associated my learning challenged with ADD, and just assumed the challenged in the other areas of my life including addictive tendencies were just bad thoughts and habits. I didnt find the solutions as detailed as the explanations in the book . What have you done that has helped with managing your ADD?
have you tried medications? or what else has worked for you?

Its a hard hand to hold.

For me personally, I have been off medication since I was 15. I was diagnosed as a kid, when my 2nd grade teacher basically told my mom that either I take medication, or I couldn't be in her class... I never liked taking medicine. It did make me focus more, but I always felt like I wasn't being true to my real nature.... that taking medicine robbed me of my uniqueness.
most days I would skip off to school without taking it... unless my mom handed me the pill and watched me gulp it down.

Now I am 22. I am in college, taking on 18 credits this semester and maintaining a 20 hour/week job. It takes a lot of intentionality. I balled my eyes out as I read through the pages of Scattered. Usually I wouldn't even make it through a chapter, and I would have to put it down. Dr. Mate does have some suggestions about how to change ADD patterns - without the use of prescription drugs.

The best tools I have found to cope with ADD are to keep your living space clean...
I know this one can feel like too much if you already have adopted a habit of clutter, and have lived in the same place for a long time. My mom has entire rooms in her house filled from floor to ceiling with "stuff". (that is not an exaggeration. she has ADD, too.)

If you are like my mom, start with a desk, with a table, with a room. keep working towards the goal of getting rid of "stuff". less clutter is key.

if you dont currently use Google Calendar to stay on top of appointments, it really helps to remember things. I use mine for EVERYTHING. email reminders all day long to do this and that.
the things i am telling you about are the things that can make life more bearable. I still haven't figured out how to deal with the emotional and psychological issues. my relationships with women are complete disasters. I have broken a lot of hearts because I cant figure out what my problem is. and in nearly every relationship I am always the one who leaves. Girls get addicted to me. (and I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that I am so complex and mysterious. deep and interesting. but fickle and flaky at the same time.)
Even though I know a lot about what exactly my problem is now... i still dont know how to change the way I feel. I guess I just need to find a sweetie that loves me, and stick with her even when I dont feel it.
---or else learn how to be alone, and stop getting girls hopes up. It just seems I will never be happy either way.

Hey, welcome back Glass!

Thanks for checking in. I was wondering how you were getting along.

It's interesting to see how everyone's path wiggles a bit. Yet people get the help they need once they set a new goal. For better or worse, it always takes time and has to be built brick by brick....

I think you're right about addicts and sex and insufficient information about brain chemistry. But it's all so new. Unless a health care professional was educated in the last ten years, s/he seldom really understands the reward circuitry and why all compulsions/addictions interact, etc. But that's changing.

I hope our new book can speed up the learning curve a bit. A young-ish psychiatrist reviewer said it's the best description of the reward circuitry he has ever seen. We've tried to keep it simple enough for lay readers.

*big hug*