As you know, I don’t really write about different ADD medications, or ADHD treatments, on here without either some solid research I can reference, or if I have experienced myself. That being said, I got this information directly from my new doctor, so I thought I would pass it along and then follow up.
GABA ADHD Motivation
I think this article about GABA for ADD related motivation issues would benefit from some backstory.
I’m in my 40s. I had hernia surgery a few years ago, but other than that, I haven’t seen a doctor in 10+ years. I’m not one of those stubborn guys who won’t go to a doctor, I’ve just literally never been sick enough to see one–with the exception of the hernia thing. That being said, I am in my 40s now, and that is the age where things can start silently killing you if you don’t have regular checkups with a doctor. The health insurance I have offers this service where you get kind of a discount that works especially well with a high-deductible insurance plan and an HSA. For someone who hardly ever sees a doctor, this is perfect. To join, you pick a doctor online, and then you go in for a full physical, and from then on, you manage your own healthcare online, even scheduling appointments without having to call anyone!
That’s how I ended up with a new doctor here in Denver.
During the interview part of the exam, I was asked questions as part of a depression screen. I don’t know if this is new or not (it’s been a decade since I did this last), but it was a first for me. Of course, as someone who has been diagnosed as having depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder, the questions were pretty familiar. By the end, the doctor was worried, so I gave her the run down on the old noodle.
I have the apathy kind of depression. It is fairly frequent, lasts a few days at time, to continuously. I do not feel sad or worthless, and I never have thoughts of hurting myself. If anything, I feel like I deserve more than I get, and I could have it too if my brain would just get out of my way and let me go work hard on all the things that I know could be great. Finally, I mentioned how my biggest problem is being able to start something, whether it is spontaneously, or if it was something I planned and committed to.
I told her that I had done some therapy, and that over the years I had tried numerous prescriptions including Adderall and Vyvanse, but that in the end, they didn’t really seem to make much of a difference in a way that mattered to me. That being said, I have been taking St. Johns Wort, and while it isn’t a booster in any way, I do feel as if it keeps me from hitting the no-motivation dumps as often. (Don’t mistake that from actually giving me energy and motivation, just that it keeps me from feeling like keeping my eyes open is too much effort.)
GABA Doctor Recommended for ADD and Motivation (and Depression)
Right about there is where your average health care professional bails out and figures at least I can keep going, so why bother with the extra effort.
This time, however, the doctor gave me some recommendations.
One was 5-HTP. I’ve tried this before, but not probably regularly enough to get the effect. Just like St. Johns Wort, it can take a while for the effect of 5-HTP to build up in your body and brain enough to actually help improve your serotonin levels. As an added bonus, it is supposed to help you sleep better, and we all know good sleep with ADD can be hard to come by, especially if you are taking ADHD medications that can be stimulating long after the effectiveness wears off.
I’ll keep you posted on the 5-HTP.
But, what I really wanted to focus on is called GABA. I have never heard of this before, and according to the bottle, this isn’t really up my alley. However, the doctor suggested it, particularly as something that might help with motivation
So, let’s jump in.
GABA and ADHD
So, GABA is short for gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which is a form of y-Aminobutric acid. Technically, that makes it an amino acid, but not in the way that people mean amino acid when they talk about nutrition and stuff, so forget about that.
GABA acts as an inhibitor in the brain. At first, this doesn’t really sound promising. In general, a lot of the research is about how GABA helps with anxiety. It is also supposed to help mood (although if you are less anxious, then your mood is probably better), and with PMS, if you might want some help with that as a side benefit.
The way it may work for ADD and motivation is this:
For me, motivation is a difficulty in getting started. It isn’t that I don’t WANT to do something, I just can’t get going. It is hard to explain because it isn’t that I really want to get started but something stops me, so much as when I sit down, I just start doing something else, and I don’t care that I’m doing something else, so much so that I can’t even make myself try to force myself to do something. Basically, I’m playing Candy Crush and fine with it, so that’s that. Trying to snap out of it causes me worry and anxiety mostly out of fear that I can’t and even if I do, I won’t like it.
How do you motivate when you can’t even care enough to try and motivate?
That is where the GABA comes in.
What if, I was feeling a little better (mood) and I had a little less resistance to getting started, then maybe, just maybe, I could find a way to get over the getting started hump before the resistance kicked.
Maybe, but I’m willing to drop a 10-spot to find out.
As usual, with supplements like these the research is small and inconclusive, but if there is the potential for it to help with both ADD and anxiety and maybe help me be the more productive person I’ve always tried to be, them I’ll give it a shot.
Update: It’s only been 5 days, but so far, I’ve noticed no difference between taking St. Johns Wort on its own after adding in 5-HTP and GABA. I’ll finish the bottles, but so far, this isn’t fluttering my raincoat.