Close your eyes and picture the person who has become the youngest woman in history to conquer “The Seven Summits”-the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, and the youngest American to stand atop Mount Everest.
Did an image of a 20-year-old girl come to mind? Most likely not. The fact is, Danielle Fisher does not look or seem the part of a mountain climber who has scaled the renowned Seven Summits – the awesome alliance of peaks that includes 29,035-foot Mount Everest.
Fisher’s Struggle With ADHD
But the challenge of mountain climbing is not the only thing Fisher has surmounted; she has also spent her life struggling with the challenges of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She has tackled ADHD as just another mountain; going at it with determination, strength and a good support team, including friends, family, a physician and a counselor.
When Fisher was diagnosed with ADHD in the sixth grade, her doctor explained that ADHD is very common-approximately 4.4 million children ages 4 through 17 have the disorder. The core symptoms of ADHD are inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. Fisher’s doctor prescribed Adderall XR (mixed salts of a single-entity amphetamine product), a once-daily medication, to combat the symptoms of ADHD.
Fisher says of her diagnosis and treatment, “I had to find a balance between knowing that I needed help and making an effort to push through it myself. I realize that medication helps me. It certainly makes it easier to focus, but I also have to make the personal effort to make my dreams possible.”
Managing her symptoms of ADHD was essential to Fisher being able to undertake the record-setting climbs. To prepare for each climb, Fisher not only had to stick to a strict fitness and diet regimen to meet the physical challenges of the extreme mountain environments, but she also had to raise money to fund each climbing expedition, which could cost several thousand dollars for travel, equipment and guides. For Fisher, managing her ADHD symptoms was the key to paying attention to details and staying focused to meet her goals.
Reaching New Heights
Fisher grew up around the majestic Cascade Mountains in Bow, Wash., and started climbing them with her dad the summer after her sophomore year of high school. It was when Fisher first climbed Mount Rainier at age 15 that she fell in love with the sport and grew excited at the thought of climbing other mountains and achieving record-setting goals.
In January 2003, Fisher conquered the first of the Seven Summits with a 22,848-foot climb to the peak of Aconcagua in Argentina. In July of that year she did two more climbs: 19,339-foot Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and 18,481-foot Mt. Elbrus in Russia.
Fisher’s next challenge was 7,320-foot Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, which she climbed in January 2004, followed in May of that year by the 20,320-foot-tall Mount McKinley in Alaska. She then headed halfway around the world to Antarctica and, in January 2005, she reached the top of the 16,067-foot Ellsworth Range. Finally, in June 2005, Fisher reached the 29,035-foot peak of the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest in Nepal, Asia.
Upon Fisher’s return home from Mount Everest, she received a flood of media attention from around the world; everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the young girl who triumphed over ADHD and climbed the Seven Summits of the world.
Fisher credits her success to the support from family and friends, to her determination to achieve her goals, and to her ADHD medication, which helped her to stay focused.
Climbing To The Future
Fisher is currently pursuing a degree in material science engineering at Washington State University. Fisher’s summer plans include climbing Pakistan’s Gasherbrum II, the 11th highest peak in the world at 26,360 feet, with the hope of becoming the youngest person to reach the summit. If you would like to follow Fisher’s journey, log on to www.daniellefisher.com.
Important Safety Information: Adderall XR was generally well-tolerated in clinical studies. The most common side effects in studies included: children-decreased appetite, difficulty falling asleep, stomachache and emotional lability; adolescents-loss of appetite, difficulty falling asleep, stomachache and weight loss; adults-dry mouth, loss of appetite, difficulty falling asleep, headache and weight loss.
Adderall XR may not be right for everyone. Patients should speak with their doctor if they have a history of high blood pressure or any heart conditions, glaucoma, thyroid problems, emotional instability, mental illness or a known allergy to this type of medication. Abuse of amphetamines may lead to dependence. Misuse of amphetamine may cause sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse events. These events have also been reported rarely with amphetamine use.
If you are currently taking or have recently taken a type of antidepressant called a MAO inhibitor or have a preexisting structural heart abnormality, you should not take Adderall XR. There is a potential for worsening of motion or verbal tics and Tourette’s syndrome. A patient should report any new psychological symptoms to his or her physician.