ADD and programming....

Hey guys,

I’m going to see a doctor in a couple hours for anxiety and I was planning on checking to see if I have ADD or some sorts.

My wife believes me to be a hypochondriac (which may or may not be true lol), but I strongly believe that I have some form of ADD. I can’t seem to sit through a meeting at work without day dreaming of some sorts… or even a conversation with someone for that matter.

Honestly, I tend to stop paying attention to people 10 minutes into just about any conversation. My notes are littered with doodles and drawings, I spend probably 7 minutes max reading documentation before going to the internet…the list goes on.


The main concern that I have is that I really do enjoy day dreaming… it’s like one of my most favorite hobbies, and I’m afraid that if I take any medication it’ll disappear. So I was wondering if anyone on here is currently taking Ritalin or any other ADD type medication, and if so, what’s your experience?

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:


I realized that body of my message only covers about 50% of what the title says… I couldn’t think of a good way to phrase the title when I started this lol.

I’ve heard from people that Ritalin actually increased their focus when doing mental tasks like programming, but I was also wondering. Does it affect motivation to start a task?

-Pickle :slight_smile:

Self diagnosis is bad. I think pretty much every person I know would say they had ADD if asked. Some people "treat’ it with caffeine. I have no idea if it actually helps, but then they claim they need some minimum amount every morning to not suffer from ADD and at the same time take extra caffeine throughout the day when they crave it. They behave as if they have medically prescribed themselves caffeine supplements (coffee, energy drinks, candy, supplements, etc.) one hour (it’s a very important ritual) and then casually drink coffee in the middle of the day like any other coffee drinker. That seems like addictive behavior. It is as if they are validating another behavior by diagnosing themselves with a medical condition.

It’s not a personal fault. People just seem very anxious about such things and over react. Culture normalizes some behaviors that drive addiction (caffeine consumption, “social” networking, internet browsing) so that people don’t see them as even requiring moderation (" says it’s harmless, so it still should be harmless if not helpful in larger quantities") and warps a person’s personal expectations. Besides that, people feel really insecure because they never really see how other people struggle to conform to unnatural systems and social norms.

Doodling is not a bad thing. A lot of people do better in school if they doodle while taking notes. It helps them focus and makes it easier to remember things. It probably applies to other situations. (But if you do it on the job, someone might assume you are unprofessional, unless you hide it with mathematical equations, block diagrams, pseudocode, or other forms of glorified doodling they teach you in college.) Keep in mind that long lectures are a bad way to learn for every person, but it’s normalized because its customary and cuts costs by allowing extremely high student/teacher ratios. No one has the attention span for more than 20-30 minutes of lectures, but it’s forced on them anyway.

From a programmer’s perspective, reading documentation is something that should be minimized. If I had to spend 7 minutes looking for the information I needed it would drive me crazy and really hurt my productivity. Sometimes it will take you that long, but it’s bad documentation. It’s not the readers fault. (At least Java is 1000% better than most languages in terms of being productive with third party code.)

Communicating with humanoids is something all programmers are bad at. I think it will continue to get harder each year for the entire population thanks to commercial electronic communications. I think people predisposed to that problem have it even worse than past generations of nerds.

So, in summary, don’t use Ritalin, caffeine, or anything else you might convince yourself you need in order to cope. It helps to identify real problems (plural) ahead of time so you don’t get scared into convincing yourself you need to change yourself entirely and so you know whether something is actually helpful or harmful. – I am not particularly against medication as a form of treatment, but I do think you should see an expert for advice. You must be careful not to convince yourself ahead of time that you need something because even experts might be eager to sell you something. Even if they don’t do it consciously, doctors have the same troubles other people do and are lobbied by friendly drug company representatives.

Daydreaming is a good thing on my list. Your mind is free to examine all the ideas, and dream up new worlds.

Unless it hinders you or harms you in some way I’d not try to do something about it. I wish I could daydream more, but quite often I am too restless, and it seldom it happens that I can sit and dream.

Keep it, it’s an ability that you’ll miss much when you don’t have it.

In past I could do lot daydreaming, but now all I can do is nightdreaming (the moment you lie on bed before sleep and thinking “Oh God why”).

I think most people start to zone out a bit after 10 minutes of conversation. I have problems paying attention from the first few seconds, and it’s a real effort of will to pay attention to what the person is saying and not what I was thinking just previously.

One’s ability to focus depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which is genetics, conditioning, physical and mental condition, and different people always have different attention thresholds and span. Whether or not an attention deficit has a “real” identifiable cause, it’s a disability if it negatively impacts your ability to live normally.

Thanks for the input guys :slight_smile:

I went to the doctor, filled out a 96 question survey, and the doctor said I don’t have anything of the sorts although most likely the symptoms I’m having are a side effect of anxiety.

So I’m back on zoloft, which I’m happy about because i don’t seem to get upset over trivial things any more, and stress is basically non-existant.

-Pickle :slight_smile:

I don’t think that’s trivial. Our only weapon as thinker is a insane healthy mind.

Glad you back!

lulz ADD. My entire family on my moms side has severe ADD or has ADHD. I don’t have as many issues but there is no need to medicate for it. I know many friends that were put on Ritalin and it stunted their growth. Now for you that would not be as important but never be quick to drug.

Most adults lose focus between 7-15 minutes into anything so you are normal. I have love daydreaming but sometimes I do it too much instead of doing something more constructive like I don’t know…coding. Doodling is also a form of staying focused for some people. People who doodle remember more of a lecture because although they lose attention for a short while, their mind stays active and will still pick up important parts of a lecture. Learned a whole lot in my public speaking class.

I think ADD can be a benefit in some forms of work as most people who have it are very good at multitasking or holding down a job that is very active mentally or physically.

Yeah… since I got back on Zoloft, I’m seeing an increase in my ability to focus… I still can’t focus for long periods of time, but I seem to at least be functionable at work…which is really all I was concerned about lol :slight_smile:


I daydream constantly…about how I’m going to program certain features in my projects ^^

I find myself day-dreaming during school sometimes (sometimes my ‘day-dreaming’ is just not consciously listening to whatever is being said, not neccesarily thinking of something)

But somehow, my brain manages to pick most of it up, and I can remember it later. EPIC WIN!! 8)

That happens to me a lot. But only when nothing else is going on around me.

My problem is that if I ponder too much about my projects it kills my sleep - my brain just goes on thinking and solving problems all night. Next day I still feel real tired though and get little done, so this is very counter-productive. But also hard to change.

I’ve had numerous nights with this problem… I think that’s why I program/draw better at night.

-Pickle :slight_smile:

Also works for gaming to be honest, not only programming. If I am playing Borderlands 2 right before I go to bed, I’m fighting a war the entire night. If I’m programming right before I go to bed, my head is haunted by code listings and unsolved problems.

I have to apply the following solution to that: shut down the computer at least an hour before going to bed and watch dumb entertainment television (cartoons work the best for me; Family Guy, Futurama, South Park, whatever). That puts my mind into such a simple state that I sleep like a baby.