ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
(No, you're NOT stupid, lazy or crazy!)
Shari Schreiber, M.A.
written this for folks like me, who've struggled with shame and frustration
most of their lives, because while we might be very smart, we're not
so great at studying or following through with goals or plans, even
if our initial feelings of enthusiasm for them are extremely high.
I've lived with these challenges, I intimately understand yours. I've
surmounted a lot of my own ADD obstacles, and my hope is to help you
surmount some of yours.
Deficit Disorder or ADD, is a very common neurological issue that
for years, has been classified as a learning disability. If you’re
born with it or acquire it during your lifetime, you do not
"outgrow" it--though it's likely you'll invent some
useful coping strategies to make your symptoms feel less troublesome.
is a cyclical disorder that's attended by mood
fluctuations, which coincide with periods of intense productivity,
contrasted by periods of apathy or inertia. These cycles impact your
self-esteem and confidence no matter how talented or intelligent
you are, because you're not able to consistently demonstrate
from various challenges you may face, there are a great number of
positive aspects or characteristics
associated with this "disorder" (I kid you not), which
are discussed a bit farther along in this literature.
self-diagnostic material is intended to help you discern the degree
to which you may have ADD/ADHD. If you've struggled with some of the
obstacles mentioned here, there's help to overcome them! Imagine breaking
free of the shame that's a by-product of this disorder, and
creating a life more rewarding, than you've ever thought possible.
You are on your way there, right now.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
this material; http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/web-reader-text-to-speech/id320808874?mt=8
MOST TYPICAL HALLMARKS OF THIS CONDITION ARE:
procrastination~ always putting things off until the last
minute, or indefinitely--especially if it's a task you'd prefer to
to commit~ You
make appointments 'on the fly,' when you're in need of seeing your
doctor or chiropractor, 'cause you're never sure of how you'll be
feeling, when you've booked that appointment weeks ahead
cycles ~ sometimes up, feeling motivated, confident,
“normal” and capable of getting a lot accomplished--and sometimes
down, feeling unmotivated, inert, disorganized, insecure,
overwhelmed, ashamed, “crazy or stupid” and mild to moderately depressed.
if you're manic-depressive, or "a little bipolar." Believe
it or not, lots of ADD'ers have questioned this at one time
or another! Check out my piece on Bipolar
Disorder, and discern the difference for yourself.
like an underachiever~ no matter how much you’ve
accomplished during your lifetime, and it just never seems like enough!
started, is the hardest part! Once
you're at the laundromat you do okay, and
momentum carries you along--but it's beginning a chore, that's
the most difficult. Just start, and you'll be fine!
may feel like an impostor or fraud. Your
accomplishments are usually within areas of innate talent
or ability (you're born with 'em), which means they're fairly effortless!
Because they've come so easily, you may take them for granted, and
can't feel deserving of accolades, honors or rewards for
your work or contributions.
of follow-through~ starting projects and seldom finishing
them. Loss of interest, motivation, enthusiasm for an activity or
goal that might have previously generated a lot of excitement (I've
coined this, The Gym Membership Syndrome).
may be a Novelty Junkie~ you'll
get really excited about a new health benefit or gadget, but lose
the 'juice' soon after. You keep buying stuff on infomercial's, and
end up with a kitchen or closet full of items you've never used more
than a few times (if at all). You may have solid plans to turn these
into a service business--but before you can, the novelty wears off,
and you're out another few hundred bucks. Great intentions fizzle-out
before they get off the ground.
work best under pressure~ in the ‘eleventh hour’
when time's running out on a task or project you must handle,
you're suddenly efficient, focused, driven and effective. (More on
"running late" (see 'pressure' issue above).
inclined to find 'shortcuts' for resolving an issue, rather
than going through the usual or "proper" channels to get
drawn to work that allows you a lot of creative expression~
actors, writers, artists, designers, photographers, directors, inventors,
architects, plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, etc.
many goals, so little focus!
'Changing the channel' of focus feeds your need for diverse stimulation,
and may inspire you to create several streams of income. More on this,
under "The Good News" section (below).
to jobs or careers that involve a high degree of risk or danger~
stunt people, firemen, paramedics, emergency room doctors/nurses,
interventionists, etc. You're drawn to environments that are highly
stressful and production oriented, or where various types of activities
are all going on at once. Any kind of job requiring your attention
to be several places simultaneously, or hyper-focused when
there’s a crucial situation you must respond to with the
added pressure of time limited, high yield performance (i.e. physical
to high-risk activities for sport or pleasure: Jumping out
of airplanes, off cliffs/bridges, high risk snow or water skiing/surfing,
mountain climbing, dangerous, high-maintenance (Borderline)
partners, or potentially fatal sex practices, etc. In other words,
“adrenaline junkies” who insatiably crave
romance with someone who has personality disorder features (like NPD
or BPD) is stimulating to an ADD'er, whether the partner is invoking
pleasure in them or pain. Pain is grounding, and makes us feel alive.
The craving for a sense of aliveness keeps us going back for more,
even when it harms us.
are many symptoms associated with ADD and these
are just a few! Not all of the above may apply to you, but if you
resonate with several of them, it may serve you to (at least)
browse the rest of this piece.
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ALWAYS FELT LIKE I WAS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEOPLE."
are. This is an extremely common perception
among ADD'ers, because your rhythm or pacing is different from other
individuals you've known. You may get various tasks accomplished and
do them well--but this is according to your
tempo, and they're more easily managed when the “pressure’s
on” or during periods when you're feeling more energized, up or
are times you’ll feel productive, focused and on top of your game--but
at other times, it's just the opposite! It's been my opinion for years,
that Attention Deficit Disorder should be
called Attention Inconsistency Disorder, as this is a far
more accurate description of how ADD affects literally hundreds of
thousands of individuals.
it's true that you have this learning disability, it doesn't mean
you're unable to learn--you just have special ways of doing
it! ADD'ers are typically more visually
oriented than auditory, which is a very typical characteristic of
creative minds. You might say that your brain's "processing plant"
is a little different from other folks; it generally needs to form
mental pictures in order to make sense of information, and
determine how to respond/react.
stimulation can inhibit your ability to process auditory
information, and this affects us in various ways. Have you ever noticed,
you can't look at your waiter while he's describing that
day's specials, and retain the information? This happens because your
mind's eye has to construct images that
help it 'see' what's on those dishes being described, so you can more
easily make your choice. Lowering or closing your eyes as you listen,
lets your brain do what it does best (and no, it's not rude). By the
way, foreign/subtitled films, or movies where much of the storyline
is told through the characters' dialogue, can be anxiety provoking
and troublesome to ADD'ers for the same reason. In essence, we're
visually distracted, and become afraid we'll miss important points
that help us understand or 'track with' the story that's unfolding
ways of learning are linear. People with ADD/ADHD have a non-linear
way of learning. The creative ADD brain is capable of making abstractions,
which is a higher order of thinking that we ideally
develop between the ages of 9 - 12 years old~ around the time we're
supposed to learn empathy.
bright mind finds ways to process new information by applying
it to various other similar situations in his/her life. This requires
analytical ability! The ADD'er automatically looks for ways to make
fresh data 'fit' with other parts of his puzzle. He presumes that
if something's true in one sense, it could be true in others--and
naturally connects the dots! Someone stuck in a concrete
(lower order) way of thinking can't do this. Their mental process
is more childlike, simple or linear.
can arise between adult children and their parents, if one is stuck
in a concrete level of development, and the other has acquired the
capacity for abstract thinking. Often, the child has surpassed the
parent's mental/emotional capacity in this regard, and frustrating
relationship dynamics ensue, because they're literally speaking different
languages! It can feel to the adult child like he/she is trying to
make themselves understood by a small child. A gifted therapist can
illuminate this issue, and help them discover new ways of communicating
with a shared language that can serve the relationship.
(AND WHY) DOES THIS DISORDER EXIST?
There's a small structure at the base of your brain called the Thalamus.
Your Thalamus combines with a tentacle-like structure called the R.A.S.
(Reticular Activating System) that functions much like the valve on
a garden hose, to allow stimulation to reach your cerebral cortex
(thinking part of the brain) or not. When this “valve” is closed or
shut down, it’s like having a kink in your garden hose, and water
can’t flow through.
When this happens to your brain you’re unable to get the
stimulation you need, to think clearly and function/perform as you
would like. You work best under pressure,
because when time's running out on a task that's needing your attention,
your body's anxiety response to it triggers an adrenalin
release in your bloodstream. This chemical
functions like high-octane fuel for your brain, so that it can go
into 'overdrive,' and help you push through most resistance/procrastination.
worst part of living with attention deficit issues, is you've carried
around a lot of shame about not being able to get your ship
in the water~ and those around you (like your parents or partner)
think it's your fault, for "not trying hard enough."
CAN CAUSE IT?
trauma; serious bruising/concussions, etc., during any
part of your life, either in childhood or adulthood.
earaches; or multiple ear infections during childhood.
fevers; particularly, if they've lasted 24-hours or more.
if your parent or close relative suffers with ADD/ADHD (or
bipolar issues), there’s a genetic probability that you will too.
experience (NDE); especially if your brain has been deprived
of oxygen for more than a few minutes.
trauma; umbilical strangling during the birth process, or
other types of fetal trauma involving oxygen deprivation or acute
pressure to the head.
in-utero; if your mother regularly smoked or drank alcohol
during pregnancy, this could have impaired normal brain development,
and left you at risk for acquiring this disorder.
is ADD that includes a hyperactivity component.
This disorder is far more readily identified (and treated) in childhood
than ADD, and is more prevalent in males than females (nobody’s quite
sure why). In children and adults it's generally characterized
by restlessness, agitation, inability to focus or concentrate, irritability,
inattention, lack of follow-through, difficulty resting, feeling relaxed
scholastic or professional success might be easier for ADHD'ers; their
ability to self-activate could be enhanced, simply because it's harder
to sit still! Depressive episodes and inertia are not quite as common
with ADHD, but the ability to focus or slow down enough to complete
a task, may be more challenging. ADHD'ers often feel flooded
by stimulation, which can easily prompt sensations of overwhelm. When
overwhelm occurs, it's like an electrical overload that 'short
circuits' our brains, and causes a mental system shut-down that can
feel paralyzing, and subsequently depressing.
HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS . . . !
tend to be exceptionally bright, and are typically highly
creative, artistic and/or inventive. It is believed that many of our
most famous artists and inventors throughout history had ADD, which
allowed them to harness acute, sustained focus for extraordinary periods
of time. Their capacity for 'hyper-focus' when motivation was high
enough, enabled them to produce tremendous works of art or significant
and important inventions, which have contributed greatly to our advancement
as a society. ADD/ADHD'ers are not
stupid. In fact, they're often way smarter than the average
Once diagnosed, attention span issues can be easily managed,
and various treatment modalities are discussed later in this article.
It's also important to know that certain kinds of professions or occupations
require abilities and skills that are especially
suited to ADD’ers! As mentioned under the "hallmarks"
section, people living with this disorder are particularly adept at
multi-tasking (managing several different tasks at
once) and performing well under pressure! Split focus is as natural
as breathing for people with ADD, and productivity is more
easily maintained in fast-paced environments where there's lots of
interaction with others.
is an ADD blessing. Quite often, I'll get fired-up/inspired about
a topic, and begin writing an article in the early hours of the morning.
Before I know it, I've worked straight through until it's dark outside!
I might have wanted to get out and do some fun stuff or errands--but
I just couldn't put that piece down and walk away until I ran
out of steam, and my mind got to a place where I could accept
this quasi-organic segue. That's passion for ya!
is housed in the second chakra of the body, or your abdomen/lower
back area. It's right in there with sexuality, reproductivity and
creativity. It's virtually impossible to be creative on demand--because
that's like requiring yourself to feel sexual on cue! It's
not gonna happen (well, not unless you're in the porn
industry). Working on an artistic/creative project is literally like
giving birth. At times, you'll feel depleted and a little sad, after
you finish a task. This is like postpartum depression, and you'll
need to recharge your batteries for awhile, until you can get up for
the party again. This is normal. Go
to popular belief, ADD'ers may have strong organizational
skills on the job or in a workplace--even
if their home environments appear completely chaotic! The structure
and stimulation of a work environment can actually allow their creativity
to shine. For example, they might set up an entire filing or billing
system that's far more effective and efficient than what's
existed before. Remember, ADD'ers like taking/creating shortcuts,
and they'll usually find a quicker, more expedient way to get to the
'cheese' in any kind of maze. In short, the pressure and responsibilities
they face while working, can help order their thoughts, and
heighten their capacity to focus and function.
not uncommon for ADD'ers to maintain several occupations
(streams of income) simultaneously, or have avocations that
augment a primary job or career. For many, being able to switch
focus is essential, because it provides relief from
boredom, and allows access to different types of stimulation
that can virtually 'jump start' their brains. Starting a new project
can produce feelings of euphoria; returning to one
after a hiatus can be richly gratifying and productive. Unfortunately,
self-judgment about not having found a specific 'niche' during one's
lifetime, can be harsh and demoralizing. Very young, we're programmed
to believe that we need to "decide" what we're
going to be when
we grow up, and this limiting notion must be dismantled.
The truth is, ADD'ers are generally capable of being several
things at once, because their talents and abilities are nothing short
of your talents this way; imagine that you're asked to draw a picture
and given a full box of Crayolas--but you're only allowed to use one
crayon from that entire box, to do it. How would you feel about that?
Would this artwork reflect your true abilities? Of course not! Well
that's what happens when we try and pigeonhole ourselves--or put all
our eggs in one basket. It stifles us, and leads
to depression. Discover your strengths, and follow your passions.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Deficit Disorder is fairly easy to treat and manage, using a variety
of interventions discussed in this article. Plus, within areas of
ability that inspire your interest and passion, symptoms can virtually
disappear for long stretches of time. What's crucial,
is that you stop beating yourself up for having
to grapple with certain impediments and obstacles associated with
this issue! Living with untreated ADD, can be like trying
to reach an island in a small boat that has a hole
in the bottom. As you keep trying to get to that island (your goal/aim),
your boat keeps taking on water, and you must periodically
stop and bail it out, so you can stay afloat, and begin rowing
again! Maybe "next time" you'll be able to get
to your destination before you start to sink--and maybe not. You must
begin to accept that it's NOT your fault that you suffer
from this condition, over which (if unassisted) you have very little
folks with mild to moderate levels of this disorder aren't diagnosable
with standardized tests administered by a physician, which are
expensive, incredibly tedious, painstakingly long and frequently,
inconclusive! Still, they suffer terribly from psychological and emotional
scars incurred throughout a lifetime of trying to live with, and surmount
this issue. Tremendous
feelings of shame, guilt and remorse over not living up to one’s “potential”
(or the expectations of others) are constantly with ADD’ers.
Since many people have never had this diagnosed (or even, identified)
in their make-up, they go through life feeling like failures, and
believing that if they "try just a little harder"
they’ll be able to stay on target, and create the kind of Life that
matches their daydreams. Sadly, if this condition remains untreated,
this is seldom the case; this is a physiological issue--not
a personality defect or character flaw!
can very easily acquire ADD around the age of 3 years
old! While they've become fairly adept at walking, their
little leg muscles and joints are not fully developed, so their ability
to balance themselves is compromised. Climbing stairs isn't
too dangerous, but descending them is! Unfortunately, many
parents think their toddler is able to independently
perform this task, and leave him/her to negotiate it on their own.
I've met with a considerable number of ADD'ers who've reported "falling
down a flight of stairs at the age of three," and none of their
siblings genetically suffer from this disorder. It is a grave mistake
to not maintain solid hold of your child's (or grandchild's)
hand or arm while coming down stairs! Walking down beside or just
ahead of your child, is not
an adequate preventive measure to keep him or her from tumbling
down, and incurring brain trauma that can cause Attention
Deficit or Bipolar Disorders!
In short, just because your toddler isn't bleeding
after a fall, it doesn't mean he/she hasn't been seriously
can feel completely overwhelmed with personal setbacks; romantic,
financial, familial, etc. Basically, any sort of event that 'startles'
the brain can virtually blow their circuits, and trap 'em a state
of emotional paralysis that can take weeks (or months) to
these same lines, inability to
achieve desired results from any efforts made during an up-cycle
can be hugely disappointing, and inhibit forward movement
for long stretches of time. It's important to note, that energy expenditure
during a 'push' time can leave one feeling
depleted, once a task or project is accomplished--meaning, gearing
up for more productivity can be very difficult; it's literally like
the aftermath of an adrenalin rush. Since ADD cycles are
attended by fluctuations in energy and mood, self-esteem levels can
be impacted as well. Depressive episodes of varying degrees are almost
always part of this picture, and can further compound one's struggle.
This is generally why actors (and other creative
types) may lack the confidence, impetus and mind-set they
need, to consistently self-promote! In essence, not seeing
immediate results from efforts made during an inspired time
is deflating, which derails them from trying again within
a reasonable period.
chewing can help us focus. For some reason, the very act
of chewing interacts with the brain, and helps to calm and
center us. I've heard of studies done with school-aged children, which
suggested that cognitive function was improved by letting them chew
gum. It seems ADD/ADHD'ers compulsively
eat, partly due to this issue. Eating can help us 'change
the channel,' break up our boredom or inertia, and improve our mood.
The simple mechanics of chewing may engage a part of our
brain that helps us override certain symptoms we're struggling
with at that moment. If you're routinely having meals or
snacks while working at your computer, try sugarless gum instead.
What have you got to lose, besides a few extra pounds?
much ‘alone time’ is tough on ADD'ers. They thrive
on stimulation, but often lack the ability to produce it for themselves.
Individuals with ADD or ADHD respond best to fairly disciplined/structured
schedules, even though they hate regimen!
Free time or time-off from work, can easily be frittered away or spent
unproductively, and self-reproach is very common under these circumstances.
While unstructured time can seem appealing to ADD'ers, an
over-abundance of it can make 'em feel dissatisfied, overwhelmed or
even, depressed. For some, a sort of emotional autism (stemming from
infancy) kicks in, to help them adapt to these deficits in
interaction, which may then convert to self-imposed hibernation. While
these periods may be somewhat safe/comforting (and familiar), they
can also feel imprisoning.
need to balance stimulation and contact with quiet/restorative time,
but this can be very challenging. Due to the cyclical nature of this
disorder, it's often difficult to make plans in advance or commit
to future activities, because ADD'ers cannot predict how they'll be
feeling, when an upcoming event actually arrives--which
(naturally) influences vacation plans. Getaways may have to be more
spontaneous, arranged by a partner/spouse--and be organized in a way
that's highly stimulating, activity based and structured, particularly
if there are ADHD issues.
is often the drug of choice for ADD/ADHD'ers. Smoking calms us and
helps us focus, mostly because we're getting more
oxygen and blood to our brain with every deep drag we take! ADD/ADHD'ers
might have a hard time giving up cigarettes. Start breathing more
ADD'ers can be "late bloomers," because
the obstacles they've faced while living with this disorder (and
presumptions that "everyone's like this, and it's normal")
held them back from tangible achievements and successes earlier in
life. What I often hear from people in their forties through sixties
is, "I sure wish I'd gotten help with this much
sooner--my life would have been so different!"
news is always bad news! In the absence of a return
phone call, an ADD'er typically scans his or her internal landscape
(mentally replaying their behavior and/or dialogues), and hyper-focuses
on all the possible reasons they're not
hearing back from you! In short, they personalize your lack
of responsiveness to them, and may suffer a great deal in the
interim before you get around to making contact.
DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS~ IS IT ONLY ADD??
hear from a lot of folks who've read this article, and want to blame
their difficulties solely on ADD/ADHD. This neurological
disorder can influence how you feel and act, but it seldom constitutes
the entire diagnostic picture for all people who struggle with it.
I've written this
piece to help you determine if some of your issues are emotional,
and should be factored into this mix as well.
an enormous distinction between cogitation ('kau-ji-tay-shun')
and procrastination! To cogitate means you're giving consideration
to how you want to go about executing a plan, project or goal. This
could be something you've thought about off and on for years, but
may feel more ready to tackle now. You're not wanting to just forge
ahead and risk making some costly mistakes, so you might cogitate
on it awhile, to minimize risk and maximize potential. I'm a huge
cogitator. For instance; I may want to start writing an article I've
been planning--but my subconscious mind needs time to think it through
(or 'chew on it') beforehand. This helps me determine the best way
to present the material, bring the pieces together in a clear/cogent
manner, figure out a catchy title, and find time to put my accumulated
data into an informative, cohesive format. A finished piece take could
take months or even years, but I've come to trust that cogitation
is an essential part of my creative process. Sometimes, we can kick-start
our creativity--but it's very hard to manufacture on demand.
is more about delaying an unpleasant task that makes us put it
off, due to the emotional, mental or physical demands it puts
on us. This could involve anything, from organizing your yearly receipts
for your tax preparer, to approaching an uncomfortable but necessary
conversation with an associate or close friend. Anything we feel a
level of resistance or apprehension about, is probably going to fall
within the procrastination zone--and this is when mock deadlines
really come in handy!
IS THIS DISORDER TREATED, AND WHAT CAN HELP?
foods that are protein based (eggs, fish, fowl, meats, cheese,
certain nuts and seeds) help maintain brain chemistry at levels that
facilitate focus and encourage sustained mental activity. Stay away
from SOY products, as these can impair cognitive
ability, and exacerbate ADD/ADHD issues (for more about the dangers
of soy consumption, contact Dr. Kaayla Daniel at: www.wholesoystory.com).
Caffeine is often helpful for jump-starting
the brain and enhancing focus, but may be counter-productive
because it can rev them up too much. Sugary, starchy, high-carbohydrate
foods (oatmeal and other breakfast cereals, potatoes, pasta, breads,
rice, pastry, etc.) trigger a series of chemical changes in the brain
that result in serotonin release. This chemical helps us feel calm
and relaxed--but often drowsy or tired, which inhibits concentration
and mental acuity. Might be better to save these types of foods for
your evening meal or before bedtime. Magnesium supplements
at night may be useful in decreasing symptoms.
rigorous workouts that are aerobic bring more blood and oxygen
to brain tissue, enabling an enhanced sense of well-being and more
feelings of “aliveness.” Running, vigorous walks, sustained weight
training, etc., are all positive interventions that help ameliorate
symptoms of this disorder. Try to breathe more deeply when you're
driving, or just going about your day.
pharmaceutical intervention can be extremely effective
in mitigating a lot of symptoms related to ADD/ADHD. In many instances,
you can finally begin to reach goals and
dreams that have eluded you thus far, because you’re able to harness
the impetus or focus you need, to remain stimulated long
enough to stick with a project or activity. The feelings you experience
during an “up cycle” are available on a more consistent basis with
the help of a stimulant. Occasionally it takes a few trials and a
bit of time for you and your doctor to figure out which drug will
work best for you, but a little patience can yield dramatic, life
and other stimulant drugs start working almost immediately, and have
a fairly short half-life (the time it takes to leave your
system). This half-life depends on whether you're taking a time-released
amphetamine or not. The standard version of a stimulant generally
stays in your system for 4 - 6 hours, and is often available in various
dosage strengths. As opposed to a daily dose of medication,
you may take your stimulant discretionally, or during times
you think you really need it! Having a non-time-release
version of your stimulant on hand, can more easily facilitate discretional
usage. As your physician comes to know you better and he/she is willing
to work with you on this, you can take either depending on
need. For some, this can be a more favorable option, as amphetamines
rev up your brain and body, and (with extended
usage) can seriously deplete your system of much needed rest or recovery
THE MEDICAL ROUTE . . .
most of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat this disorder are amphetamines
(controlled substances), which require a special prescription--not
all stimulant drugs are classified as amphetamines. If you discovered
'uppers' or "speed" while in college
and this helped you maintain focus and study for exams, it could be
that you were self-medicating an attention
deficit issue! If you have a history of substance addiction or drug
abuse, your doctor will avoid prescribing an amphetamine-based drug
regimen to help alleviate your symptoms, but this should be addressed
in your intake with him/her. Young children should not be prescribed
amphetamines such as Ritalin, as it may stunt physical growth.
A couple of alternatives to amphetamines such as Ritalin, Dexadrine,
Concerta, Adderall, Cylert, etc., are Strattera and Wellbutrin. Wellbutrin
is an antidepressant with stimulant properties, and physicians frequently
prefer it over amphetamines, for initial drug trials. A good
number of my clients have benefitted from WellbutrinXL,
which is a recently developed, longer-acting version of this drug.
Strattera might be a better option for ADHD'ers,
as it's less likely to cause irritability and nervousness.
seems that ADD has reached almost epidemic proportions in the U.S.
and fortunately, new drugs are continually being formulated to effectively
treat this disorder with few side effects. If you're on antidepressants
in addition to stimulant therapy, read; ARE
YOUR ANTIDEPRESSANTS WORKING FOR YOU, OR AGAINST
just a small amount of an SSRI-type antidepressent can greatly improve
our ability to focus. If there exists some anxiety or a tendency for
obsessive-compulsive thinking, a micro-dose of Celexa, Lexapro or
their generic, Citalipram might effectively reduce symptoms associated
with ADD better than a stimulant drug can, by moving minor depression
aside. I experienced this while trying to study for my state board
exams many years ago. I'm not an obsessive thinker, but I felt depression
over having to harness the focus I needed, to gear up for my first
test. I took a small amount of Zoloft daily, and realized I didn't
need Ritalin to help me stay on point for several hours each morning.
You might say, I've been my own best Guinea pig all these years.
Everyone’s blood/brain chemistry is uniquely individual. The trick
in effective medical intervention is finding the right formula
that works optimally for you. This can be a daunting
and frustrating process, but negative side-effects tend to show up
pretty quickly (within a few days), and it’s important your doctor
assesses a “typical” short term discomfort (as you're adjusting
to your meds) from what should prompt a trial with another drug or
drug type. Frequently, a change may be called for within a day or
two, and should be implemented based on how (and what) you’re feeling.
A psychiatrist can usually send you home with some (non-amphetamine)
drug samples to try before filling your Rx, and this can
save you a great deal of money. The more information you can give
him/her about your experience with a current drug therapy, the more
positive your outcome will be. If you feel your physician isn't responsive
to your needs and concerns, find a doctor who is!
AN EXTREMELY EXCITING DISCOVERY . . . !
been researching potential benefits of cranial adjustments
in relation to ADD and Bipolar Disorders. Preliminary information
strongly suggests that this specific mode of treatment can positively
impact these neurological issues, particularly if onset of
symptoms is associated with head trauma.
Relatively few chiropractors specialize in this work,
but if you think you'd benefit from seeing someone who does, you
can find practitioners who do craniosacral work in your area, by going
to The Upledger Institute's website; www.Upledger.com.
these same lines of more natural forms of treatment;
Omega 3 (fish or flax) EPA/DHA oils
may enhance focus and cognitive function, and lessen ADD
symptomology. Some individuals have difficulty with these repeating
(particularly the fish oil capsules) and understandably, neglect to
take them consistently for this reason. Any
deep sea or cold water
(check the label) fish oil is especially well tolerated (as are the
new 'odorless' varieties) and unlikely to repeat or leave an aftertaste.
Other types can be taken just prior to eating, to eliminate
most of this unpleasantness. Both types can usually be found at most
retail health food establishments, or large drugstore chains (like
CVS). If you can't find this type of product, ask your local vendor
to order it for you! Two to three capsules with each meal may positively
impact cognitive function and alleviate depression. These
products should be refrigerated once you get them home.
surprisingly, magnets have greatly enhanced my ability to focus for
long stretches of time (how else could I get all these articles
written?!), and they may also help you. I haven't the slightest
idea of how they actually work, but my experiences with them have
been pretty amazing. You can find magnetic jewelry on the Internet.
Might be worth a try.
don't want to neglect to mention homeopathy and bio-feedback. You
may be inclined to explore whether these options can be effective
for you, before trying pharmaceutical intervention or other forms
of treatment. As is the case with any treatment modality,
results can vary widely. Some feel that homeopathy and bio-feedback
are more effective for children than adults, but (so far)
I've not seen outcomes that have seemed conclusive enough to justify
the significant time commitment or monetary costs of these approaches.
WILL HAPPEN IF I DON'T GET HELP?"
are frequently misunderstood and misdiagnosed by
therapists, as their symptoms can mimic other issues, such as Bipolar
and/or Personality Disorders, Attachment Disorder, intimacy issues
or non-compliance with treatment. Needless to say, lack of
an accurate diagnosis can unnecessarily prolong therapeutic
intervention! These issues may be part of your clinical picture,
but should definitely be ruled out by someone qualified to identify,
differentiate and diagnose ADD/ADHD. Unfortunately, few psychotherapists
have learned to recognize and respond to this condition (it's not
part of their schooling/training), 'cause it's neurological
(not psychological), but troubling and scarring to the psyche just
the same. What will happen if you don't get help? NOTHING.
And that's the problem!
studies are suggesting there's a link between ADHD (seldom seen or
diagonosed in females) and Borderline
Personality Disorder. Attention deficit issues are attended
by mood cycles, which can certainly heighten acting-out behaviors.
This newfound awareness may help us more easily discern what type
of pharmaceutical intervention can lead to favorable outcomes. While
this does not imply that BPD problems are exclusively neuro-chemical
rather than emotional, we may just begin to treat/manage the symptoms
of this disorder differently and more effectively.
repercussions from untreated ADD or ADHD are poor
self-esteem, emotional and psychological scarring, addiction to various
drugs/substances or compulsive behaviors (shopping, gambling, over-eating,
etc.) in effort to self-medicate the “down times.” Relationships
may be compromised, as the spouse/partner of an ADD'er usually carries
the lion's share of responsibility for the couple's financial and
emotional balance, as well as social planning and goal setting for
the relationship! He or she must frequently manage more of the household
and/or parenting tasks. All these elements can lead to feelings of
anger and resentment, which prompt conflict in an otherwise
compatible and harmonious coupling.
romantically involved with someone who has ADHD
can be sexually and emotionally frustrating, as his/her attention
span and internal rhythms are very different
than yours. If you relish intimate contact that includes languid love-making
sessions, meaningful conversations and long periods of 'hanging out'
with your partner, you'll have difficulty getting these needs met
with an ADHD'er. You may require time to
replenish and recharge your batteries on the weekends and crave
this in your romantic connection, but your partner needs to keep changing
the channel with a variety of other activities, which can leave
you feeling short-changed in the intimacy zone of your relationship.
your partner, friend or relative interrupt you mid-sentence?
This can be infuriating, but it's pretty common with ADD/ADHD,
and here's why: As you're telling your story, it triggers
their memory of a similar experience or issue they'd like to share
with you. Because it's difficult for them to retain a thought
or idea before their channel changes, they've acquired subtle anxiety
that makes them jump in and sweep you away on their tangent, the very
moment you touch on something they're wanting to relate! They're not
meaning to be rude, they're just attempting to connect with
you. Help them become aware of how this makes you feel (frustrated,
angry, etc.), and why you suspect it happens. A nearby notepad
makes it possible for them write down a word or two in reference to
what they want to relate to you, so they can return to it when you've
finished speaking, and join you in conversation.
the start of a new romance,
ADD’ers are usually highly stimulated and motivated, but their sense
of elation may quickly fade. This can impact their ability to follow-through
with contact, or remain engaged long enough to allow a relationship
to unfold. This tendency is dramatically influenced by unpredictable
and ungovernable mood fluctuations, making ADD'ers feel like
they can't always bring their "best self" to the relationship.
Naturally, this invokes and reinforces familiar, long-held
feelings of shame. In response, they 'hide out' for awhile, hoping
to recapture their original enthusiasm. The longer they have to wait
for this impetus to return, the more embarrassing and difficult
it is for them to resume their previous connection. This issue can
be exacerbated by the fact that ADD'ers typically 'scan the horizon'
for disaster, in order to feel more control
over their existence. This causes them to mentally fast-forward
into the future to try and mitigate anxiety
about unknown or potentially threatening elements that might lie ahead.
In the process, the entire relationship may be envisioned to its conclusion--and
the concern this invokes, compounds their need to distance.
In essence, they can easily talk themselves out of an involvement,
before they've even begun! The potential (new) lover senses a
shift in their connection, because there's a visceral departure from
what he/she experienced in the beginning. This triggers feelings of
confusion and loss, which can be very painful. This issue is often
attended by Borderline
Personality traits, which could also be a crucial part of this
DRUG THERAPY, EXERCISE AND DIET ENOUGH?
Not usually. It's especially helpful to engage the services of a counselor
or therapist who's experienced in treating this disorder,
so you're supported in learning healthier, more productive coping
mechanisms and organizing strategies, in addition to medical intervention
you receive. Very typically, there are levels of shame
and inferiority you've had to live with most of
your life, in relation to how attention deficit issues have influenced
your learning capacity and behaviors. Gaining insight into how profoundly
this issue has held you back and impacted your self-image
and relationships, is crucial to developing a more empowered,
extreme cases, you might be incapable of holding down any
kind of job, but this is somewhat rare, and may be related to dual
or mixed diagnoses which can include mood disorders.
This must be explored within your initial psychiatric evaluation,
because bipolar issues, dysthymia and ADD/ADHD can easily co-exist.
Varying degrees of ADD and atypical
forms of Bipolar
Disorder are frequently overlooked, which means
that an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms may be missed
in a 'psych-eval' (psychiatric evaluaton). Once various medical and
clinical concerns are ruled out and your ADD has been identified/diagnosed,
specialized support can help you perform well in arenas that
hold special interest for you, and correspond with your innate talents.
Effective therapeutic assistance helps you discover
your passions, and gain a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and
DIDN'T I KNOW ABOUT THIS SOONER?!"
you were a hyperactive kid who had a lot of difficulty in school,
ADD wasn't suspected, recognized or attended to. In recent years,
ADD and ADHD have steadily received more focus than ever before within
scholastic and medical communities. Unbelievably, there are 'doctors'
(and I'm using the term loosely) who still think this disorder
only affects children, and that we “outgrow it” in adulthood! If you’re
missing the hyperactivity component in ADHD, your doctor or psychotherapist
can easily overlook this diagnosis. This can curtail your
progress and extend your talk therapy--which means that a
lot of your money could be going down the drain.
you have a child with ADD, it's crucial that you introduce
him/her to topics or activities he/she might enjoy or find interesting
and stimulating. Each child has his own unique talents and genius!
One of your most important tasks as a parent, is
finding out what these are, and gently encouraging expression and
expansion in these arenas. Your nurturing, patient support combined
with a greater understanding of the obstacles your child wrestles
with, will make a substantial difference in Who
he becomes as an adult, and how he
feels about himself throughout the remainder of his life! Learning
about ADD will help you develop more compassion for your child or
partner, and assist him/her in getting the help they need to
move forward. If you’re an adult who's personally resonating
with what you’ve read here, it can be highly beneficial to explore
treatment options, so you can begin creating
a richer, more rewarding life, and actually achieve your
find more information about ADD in FORUM
LETTERS, Volume II (scroll to the bottom of that page).
Phone sessions are available. If you have more questions on this issue
or your group/organization would like me to speak on this topic, contact
If you wish to share this article with someone you care about, make
sure you capitalize "ADD" in this link,
or they won't be able to find it! Example; www.GettinBetter.com/ADD.html.
If you're a clinician who's interested in learning more about recognizing
and helping with Attention Deficit Disorders in your practice, individual
training and group lectures are available. E-mail
or phone for details.
PsychSavant at Twitter.com
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2017, Shari Schreiber, M.A. All Rights Reserved.