Midlife crisis, ADHD, or what?

My husband and I have been married for almost 18 years.  We have 4 children - oldest 14, youngest 5.  We are both professionals, but I have been at home with the kids for quite some time.  As his job had more demands, he struggled to get it all done.  With some encouragement, he has been diagnosed with ADHD and has been on medication for just over a year - vyvanse.  Starting last summer, I noticed that he was more angry and was spending more time away, particularly away from me although he has also spent less time with our kids.  When I asked him in the fall what was going on, he said that he "did not love me" and was very angry with me all the time.  Needless to say, the time from then until now has been extremely hard.  On a day-to-day basis, he continues to come home.  We discuss very little.  We went to marriage counseling for several months, but it only became a place for him to reiterate over and over that he did not love me.  There was no exploration of why, no attempts to fix or change anything.  We stopped going, and he has told me it is "over."  Nonetheless, he has taken no actions to leave.  If I ask him about anything, he doesn't know.  Our oldest found out that we were in counseling and immediately went to him to ask when he would start caring about our family again.  It just keeps getting more challenging.  He is drinking a lot more (prob not to excess), and his sleep patterns are very different (can't fall asleep, wakes in the middle of the night).

I am struggling to understand where we are in life.  Is this a midlife crisis?  It is a result of the ADHD or the medication to treat it?  Is it depression?  No matter what it is, what do I do?  I am imperfect, and I recognize that.  I also know that this situation is not my doing.  There is something going on with him.  I love my husband and my family and remain committed to making it work if possible.  Fora and books on midlife crisis suggest that I simply hold the fort and let him come to some peace with his transition.  Information on depression / anxiety suggest I ask him to seek counseling.  At this point, I'm scared to do anything because I don't want to push him into leaving.  At the same time, it is incredibly painful to know every day that I will be ignored unless there is something he wants to discuss (usually tidbits of stupid stuff from FB, especially his old HS buddies).  There is no intimacy, no discussion at all.  I am not even allowed to discuss plans for summer vacation with him because "he isn't sure he wants to spend that time with me."

I would appreciate some feedback from those of you who have dealt with ADHD and/or midlife crisis and/or depression as to how to approach this situation.  I remain mostly hopeful that we can work through it, but I feel like we need to make some change.


Hello.  I’m so sorry you are going through this.  It sounds to me like the Vyvanse isn’t ideal for him.  Either the dose is too high, or he’d be better off with a different option.  I didn’t like my husband on Vyvanse much.  He is back on Adderall, which he also prefers.  But, he is also taking gabapentin as a mood leveler.  The psychiatrist says that there are mood side effects with the stimulants and there does seem to be growing anecdotal evidence on this board and elsewhere that the ADHD person becomes less rational and prone to angry outbursts.  A post in another area of this site by the person with ADHD said that his stimulant (I forget which one) made him feel more detached and like he didn’t care as much.  That sounds a lot like your issue here.  Medication can take a really long time to get right.

I also think counseling for your spouse alone could help with an ADHD specialist to work through the myriad related issues of depression and adjusting to having a brain disorder and often historical feelings of inadequacy, etc.  And counseling for yourself could be useful for dealing with this miserable situation.  Certainly not what you signed up for.

Meanwhile, recognize that the symptoms are not personal.  Try to remember the good things.  Do fun things together if he’s willing.  Treat him how you would want to be treated.  Take care of yourself.  Exercise is great for stress.  Eating well is good for all our brains.  Find a fun hobby.  Play with friends.


I really appreciate your comments.  I am hoping to get him to do some individual counseling.  He is a physician, and, while he did have a psychologist do the eval that diagnosed him with ADHD, another internal medicine doc wrote for vyvanse for him.  He has never had any real counseling input.  I have worked with a counselor off and on, and I suspect you are right that it is time again.  Fortunately, I do have a great support group of women who are here for me.  It helps a lot.  I try to keep it in perspective that it is not (all) me and keep it positive.  I can only hope that he'll find his way back to our family again with time.


Just checking--did he have sleep issues before starting the medication? My STBX had some pretty significant behavioral and personality changes on ADHD medication, even though it did help him focus at work. But the serious insomnia, anger issues, and mood swings started as well. Could your DH check back with his physician about this? My opinion is that medication and brain chemistry are a delicate thing and it is rare to get it right on the first attempt--lots of tinkering and trials may need to be done. 

I am so sorry you are in this situation. It is great that he is being honest, but it must be tough to hear that he does not want to spend time with you or hear him say he does not love you. It is hard to tell from your post what is going on with him. Try to take care of yourself and your children, and if he will not go with you any longer, can you go to counseling yourself? You may not get the answers you need, at least not quickly, from your spouse. If you can try to find things to make yourself happy and carve out your own life, your future may seem more clear. Best to you. 

He had no sleep issues prior

He had no sleep issues prior to medication (except during the previous depressive episode).  In fact, the mood and sleep issues all date back to about the start of medication.  Unfortunately, he strongly believes that the medication only helps him and has not been receptive to counseling to date.  I have and will go to counseling for me and for my kids.  I appreciate your thoughts.  I remain hopeful...