Massive Improvement with the Right Drugs

Our lives have recently been pretty drastically changed after my ADHD partner started a new medication, so I wanted to share this in hopes that it might help someone else.

M partner is in his early 40s and has been on just about every medication there is for ADHD as well as bipolar (which I'm confident was a misdiagnosis). He had been taking an SSRI and different variations of Ritalin for the past year or so, and things were not much better than when he started them. All of the classic ADHD symptoms that drive partners crazy were out of control, and I was wondering very frequently if I was going to be able to live like that. 

He decided to start coming off the SSRI (side note, unless you're very lucky, if you've been on an SSRI long-term and decide to come off of it, GO SLOWLY. Some of the worst months of our relationship when he tapered off too quickly). His doctor recommended replacing it with a drug called Qelbree (viloxazine). I had reservations about it because it was an antidepressant from the 70s that was "repurposed" as an ADHD treatment after it was discontinued for depression. It's a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor like Strattera, which he had taken a long time ago and didn't see much benefit from. I didn't have high hopes about it.

It's been a couple of months now, and I'm consistently amazed by what a difference it has made in symptoms that I was certain would never be controlled. He had continued to take a very small dose (2.5 mg) of Lexapro as a part of resuming a much longer taper. He has just recently stopped it, so we'll see how that affects things. He also takes Ritalin (immediate-release), but about half as much as before he started Qelbree. Typically, a total of 15 mg or so during the first half of the day. I say all this so you know the exact cocktail I'm working with. 

He became a completely different human almost overnight. He's suddenly helping out around the house more without me having to ask. He's come around about a number of "projects" I've been begging him to wrap up FOR YEARS because they've become far too much for any human to handle and they generate enormous stress (and mess). Typically these conversations turn into horrible arguments coupled with a complete emotional breakdown. Now, it's just a, "Yeah, I don't know what I've been thinking. I need to get rid of this stuff." 

Like so many with ADHD, he's got massive emotional dysregulation issues and has outbursts quite regularly over things that don't seem to deserve it. Lately, he has been so much less volatile about any number of things. Typically, we have bad interactions just from me telling him we have plans with friends that weekend. He has terrible social anxiety and always pitches a minor fit when I tell him we have to interact with people. Now, it's just a, "Oh, cool. I've been thinking we should hang out with them more." He doesn't get bent out of shape when I ask him to do something. He doesn't even get mad when I tell him something he said pissed me off (because he still has a tendency to be a playful asshole but I think that's just personality rather than symptom).

We used to fight all the time about his physical activity/eating habits and his weight. He gained quite a bit of weight pretty quickly and it was affecting our life in a number of ways. Some will probably be offended by this, but I knew from experience that his symptoms are DRASTICALLY improved by exercise, so I often bugged him about it and it always turned into a huge fight. I know this is a sensitive issue so of course that's not unreasonable, but I say all this to say that after starting this medication, it's like he's had an awakening. He started dieting on his own and coming up with an exercise plan. It's a good example of what's been an overall change where he just seems to make connections he normally doesn't make. I think his low energy levels have bothered him for years, but it's only now that he's made the mental connection that exercise will help that, and he's taking action accordingly (on his own!).

All in all, this drug has worked miracles for us. He did have to suffer through some problematic symptoms at first (mostly trouble sleeping and GI issues), but those are pretty much completely gone. He's been on it for a couple of months, and he's continuing to be what is best described as "level." No massive emotional outbursts, generally more helpful around the house (I think because this drug is actually helping with executive functioning), and just seems more stable than I've ever seen him in our 7 years together. It's too early to say this is definitely the answer, but if nothing else, it has given us both much more hope that a medication can make a difference. After watching him be on several throughout the years and not seeing much difference (or having side effects that were just so intolerable), I was definitely under the impression that drugs were not going to help. Now I feel like if this one ends up not working out for whatever reason, we'll both have hope that another one will. Hope can make all the difference sometimes.




A new drug called Qelbree has made a massive difference in ADHD symptoms, and our lives are infinitely happier for it.