Need for intense relationships - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Need for intense relationships

Alan0127 profile image
Alan0127

Is it common among people with ADHD to seek out intense emotional relationships? Even with the ADHD under control, I feel that urging. I have gotten into trouble with it. Regular relationships are (frankly) boring. Maybe that's just my personality but I wondered if it is part of ADHD?

10 Replies

I’m not sure what you mean by “intense,” exactly, but the ADHD brain seeks stimulation (to boost dopamine), and starting arguments can serve that purpose. There are certainly healthier ways to keep things interesting, though!

I guess there is still some of that dopamine deficiency in there. I started Wellbutrin, it is a dopamine re-uptake inhibitor like Prozac is a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. Maybe that will help.

It may. I’d imagine that it would also help to continue to bring your awareness to it, and train yourself to look for an alternative behavior when you notice it happening. Maybe something in here will help: additudemag.com/too-much-dr...

Unfortunately, I would tend to agree with you Alan, I know only too well the feeling that you're describing. Birdwatcher's recommended article was helpful to me. The restlessness that I feel, a precursor to either start an argument or worse, is, underneath it all, a desire to build up dopamine levels. It's somewhat enlightening to find out that our emotions are the result of chemical deficiency.

Alan0127 profile image
Alan0127 in reply to TAJB

Yes TA,

It's enlightening to know that my personality, a lot of my personality anyway, is driven by all these chemicals (proteins) in our brain. I studied the brain a few years back and it is one complicated mess. There are something like 200 different types of neurotransmitters, dopamine being just one. There are like 86 billion neurons (brain cells) and each one has between 1 and 10,000 inputs to get it to fire. They are all connected by synapses which is where these neurotransmitters do their job. SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, etc. increase the serotonin in the synapses. The output from one neuron (brain cell) releases the neurotransmitter into the synapse which triggers a change in the input of the neuron it is connected to. Once it is done the job, it is reabsorbed back into the output of the neuron where it came from. Reuptake inhibitors block the channel that reabsorbs them for a bit, leaving them to trigger more change in the next neuron. Wellbutrin does this same thing except it blocks dopamine and norepinepherine reuptake channels.

There are two types of neurotransmitter. 1) Excitatory and 2) Inhibitory. Serotonin is inhibitory and tells the subsequent neuron NOT to fire where as dopamine and norepinepherine are excitatory and tell the next neuron TO fire. There are billions, maybe even trillions of these connections forming millions of neural networks in our brain with each brain cell able to fire up to fifty times per second.

There are circuits in our heads that produce depression, those are where the serotonin works. It tells the depression circuits NOT to fire. We need these circuits to do things like go to sleep or get depressed when something depressing actually happens. Dopamine and norepinepherine work on the circuits that make us feel 'good' by telling them TO fire.

I haven't studied how stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse work but I suspect they just add dopamine to the brain somehow and trigger the circuits that activate us rather than depress us.

What's eerie to me is all these neurotransmitters in all these hundreds of billion, perhaps trillions of synapses are what make up the complex networks of our personality. And that's only half of it. The same neurotransmitters are used outside of the brain all throughout the body except, when they are outside the brain in the body, their called hormones. There are indeed many trillions of cells in the body that trigger, stop triggering, produce other hormones, stop producing other hormones, and even kill themselves when they need to be replaced (apoptosis). All this is "ME" or maybe just where the consciousness I call ME lives. We know absolutely nothing about consciousness as far as I have been able to study.

Weird science :)

TAJB profile image
TAJB in reply to Alan0127

Well, your elaborate response certainly challenged all my neurotransmitters :-). You definitely have studied the workings of the brain. I'm just bewildered by how much of what I feel is simply either a chemical deficit or surplus. We know that chemicals can manipulate the emotions but there must be some point where what we feel is choice and not just a combination of chemicals. The consciousness is yet another matter and one that I tend to interpret philosophically.

Alan0127 profile image
Alan0127 in reply to Alan0127

Indeed it's bewildering! I have a theory that emotions are just the physiological response to 'an idea'. We experience something and it triggers millions of neural networks searching for context or to determine if it is new enough to learn (change the neural network, or just change it's concentration of neurotransmitters) or run from or stay involved in, or whatever. It might trigger complex networks that store memories recent or very far back in our lives. The result might be that they trigger even more cells in our hypothalamus (the interface between our brain and our body) to send hormones through our blood stream, in turn triggering organs. They may dictate our veins to dilate or constrict, our heart to speed up or slow down, our gallbladder to produce more or less stomach acid, our inner ear to make us feel dizzy, on and on and on. The variable combinations of all of these physiological responses constitute our bodies 'feelings', which in turn feed back to our brains to decide if this current feeling should be stored for future, or subsequent event (learning or neuroplasticity as the smart medical dudes and dudettes call it).

Yes, I studied it but for a different reason. I had a very close friend die and I guess it was my way of trying to make sense of it, to figure out what happened to her life story. I really hoped there was a 'cloud backup' of all of her experiences that maybe I could enjoy some day, or at least know that her entire 42 years of life experience were not just erased. When she died (heart failure) her brain cells just slowly disintegrated. They held all the info that was "Her". I took it as far as I could but found no answer there. From there I studied quantum physics to understand if there was something there. I got a little comfort there but that world is even more bazaar than cellular biology. I am not resistant to the idea of the spiritual or God but for me anyway, that is entirely received by faith. I know I have a lot of faith in my life; I have faith in money, the reasonable variations in weather, the spinning of the earth, gravity, many of which I can't explain at all.

Now I am trying to experience rather than figure out consciousness. There is no explaining it but I experience it continuously. Anyway... this is way off the track of ADHD and seeking out intense experiences. Some of my most recent quests for intense experience have been really destructive though. So far nothing illegal, and no desire to do anything like that but I gotta live on the edge for some reason. Close enough to feel like I could go over but not close enough to actually go over.

Oh yeah! We totally sign up for intense relationships. Absolutely part of our DNA. I feel like some have other addictions/dopamine seeking triggers but for some of us it’s relationships. I struggled with intense relationships for years. I ended up marrying the most boring, not intense man (after a divorce) and I have to say it’s the best, worst relationship I’ve ever been in. The lack of interest I have sucks soooo bad BUT I’ve never been so stable. One thing I learned from the ingest relationships is that as fun and hot/crazy they are, they also come with bouts of anxiety, depression, emotional instability, irrational behaviors and sometimes a lot of deep damage. Now, I prefer myself level. I’m stronger for the boring relationship. I look for my addiction/thrills else where. Though now that I have meds (didn’t for 40 years) the urge is almost gone. Absolutely the Wellbutrin will help settle it down once you get the right dose and/or combination of medication.

I hope it works out for you. You’re not alone. But don’t forget to start trying to think before you act. It’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised to get strong. Step one STOP! Step 2 think. Step 100 act 😂

I like authentic relationships. Because I work in mental health, i have them. I also really appreciate my therapist too. What do you mean intense emotional? Often people struggle to maintain intensity but that might be a good thing. I like simple, is simple boring? I hope you are finding what interests you.

Hey Alan0127, I have always loved the oddballs, goofballs, the creative nuts, the ladies that wear Christmas balls as earrings around Christmas, the deep thinkers, the philosophers why, because “we” are so cool and interesting! Hugs 🤗

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