Strategies for Raising Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More

Strategies for Raising Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More

Raising kids is tough, but raising neurodiverse kids can present extra challenges that parents of neurotypical children never encounter.  Elaine Taylor-Klaus of Impact Parents joins Ned to share some of the techniques she uses to help parents who are raising kids with ADHD, autism, depression and other complex issues.

Their discussion includes how parents can benefit from having a coach, and “Taking Aim,” the strategy Elaine uses to help caregivers narrow their focus and make one change at a time.

Elaine’s latest book, The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids, is available on her website HERE or wherever books are sold. 

If you have a question or comment about the podcast reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Ned’s new book is out now! Get a copy of ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!  

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson and our producer is Sarah Guertin.

Check out this episode!

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ADHD Q&A: Symptoms, Stimulants, and Sleep

ADHD Q&A: Symptoms, Stimulants, and Sleep

Dr. H responds to emails from listeners with questions about ADHD and stimulant medication, recognizing symptoms, becoming a coach, brain differences, and sleep/fatigue issues.

If you have a question you’d like answered in a future episode just like this one, reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Ned’s NEW BOOK is out now! Get a copy of ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!  

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

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Creative Solutions to Common Problems

Creative Solutions to Common Problems

ADHD coach Jeff Copper spends a lot of his time coming up with unique ways to help his clients. In this conversation with Ned he shares some of the interesting ways he’s helped people get things done and manage their time better. As you’ll hear, Jeff believes it’s all about using what works for you, even if it’s unusual!

Jeff’s coaching website: DIG Coaching Practice

Jeff’s podcast: Attention Talk Radio

Ned’s NEW BOOK is out now! Get a copy of ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, Omega Brite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years and so as my wife and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at OmegaBriteWellness.com and Brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E. OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. I have a wonderful guest today, a true a veteran and hero in the world of ADHD by the name of Jeff Copper. He is the founder of DIG Coaching. He’s a coach for excellence and the host of Attention Talk Radio, which performs a tremendous service to the ADHD community. The podcast is designed to help adults and children with ADHD in life or business who are stuck, overwhelmed or frustrated. And that includes most of the people in the world who have this fascinating condition. So, welcome to the podcast Jeff.

Jeff Copper:
Thank you so much for having me on and thank you so much for the work that you do for the ADHD community.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You asked me what I’d like to talk about and I said whatever you want, but I think most people are always, always intrigued to hear a personal story. So how did you get into this world of ADHD and the Attention Talk Radio and the coaching business that you have? Can you tell us about that?

Jeff Copper:
Sure. It’s actually a really, really long story with a lot of steps, but in a nutshell, I was a athlete that struggled as a kid with dyslexia and ADD. I didn’t know about ADD at the time and I struggled in school, but what got me through is I was a competitive swimmer. I swam internationally for a period of time, was able to get to college on a scholarship. And when I got there, I had to figure everything out on my own. And I did with some pretty unorthodox means, if you will. Fast-forward I got into the working world and had some success, went and got my MBA, but later. And then started to kind of experiment around with some things and some people said you should be a coach like a life coach. So, I explored it a little bit and ADD coaching really seemed to be a place to go because I was a particularly organized person and people was like, “Hey. You could really help some people in this realm.” So I got into it and immediately started having some difficulty.

Jeff Copper:
So, I struggle with writing. I believe you’re dyslexic if I’m not mistaken and you do a really good job with the written word and done well with it. I struggle with it. So, when I first got ADD coach and I had to kind of figure out how I was going to do it on my own and coach myself and so interviewing people was a lot easier for me to create content. So, I started Attention Talk Radio back in 2009. And since that time I’ve done a show every week for over 10 years.

Jeff Copper:
And you and I have had some great shows. One of my honors was in 2014, when you came on the show because I realized that the first written reference to ADHD coaching was in Driven to Distraction in 1994. And that was the 20th anniversary. And so it was a real privilege for me to interview you on that and all the other experts that I’ve had. And since that time, I really like ADHD coaching because of the creativity that’s required to really talk about people and try to help them understand what works for them. And so I’ve been doing it ever since. Real joy, more of a calling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And yes, thank you. Thank you for recognizing that it was in Driven to Distraction that I basically invented coaching and then left it to other people to take it and run with it. And thank goodness. The academic community laughed at me and they said, “Hallowell thinks coaching is important for ADHD.” And Biederman said, “Oh, I thought that was for baseball players not for patients.” And now it’s a mainstay. There’s seminars on coaching, continuing education on coaching, institutes on coaching. And it’s really works. Why don’t you tell listeners what’s so good about… What is it, first of all? And what’s so good about it for people with ADHD.

Jeff Copper:
So, when it comes to coaching, there’s kind of two forms as I describe. One is a behavioral approach where if you’re struggling with time management, somebody will walk in with a Franklin planner and a bunch of colored pencils metaphorically and tell you what to do every day and you kind of coach your behavior. Then there’s the other side, which is more of a life coaching side, where you really look at people and you begin to say, “Hey. Listen, you’ve got some systems.” So, what that looks like is a woman called me up one time with some time management problems. And I said, “Tell me about time. What does it look like?” She said, “It’s like a river that flows.” And I won’t go into the detail, what’s fascinating is how there’s droughts and the rainy season and the river goes fast and there’s rapids and it goes slow.

Jeff Copper:
But anyway, I started saying, “How would we manage time in the context of a river?” And we experimented around with timelines and for whatever reason, timelines work for her. And you can’t buy timelines in the self-help section of the bookstore, but we really tried to understand her individual brain wiring and understand how she saw time and we were able to come up with something that worked for her.

Jeff Copper:
Now, again, there’s different kinds of coaches, but I can pair and contrast those two because both of them have a real good place. I enjoy the more, I don’t know what’s going to work for you. Let’s try to figure that out. As an aside, I actually had a woman one time had credible sense of smell. Off the charts. And so we started experimenting around with it. And so we discovered a smell based to-do list and to my surprise-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh wow.

Jeff Copper:
Crayons have odor and that’s how she did it. And so as you can see, that’s not something you’ve probably heard of, but for some people with ADHD, because their brain wiring is a little different, with a little bit of creativity, you can come up on some solutions like that, that seem really, really odd that really, really work for people like her. Makes sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a great example. So how does the smell based to-do list work?

Jeff Copper:
I don’t recall why, but when she would smell a crayon, by the way they have color, I think you can get the 164 pack. She would associated things with it. And literally all she would do is take the color and she would draw a line on the sheet of paper and she would just take her nose and she’d smell it and she’d go through her list and for whatever reason it’s almost like the smell kind of hung in her mind. I know I do exercises what I call attention exercises with other people on some of the topics and I’ll talk to them and I’ll say, “Well, how’d you remember that?” Said, “I could hear your voice echoing in my mind.”

Jeff Copper:
So for whatever reason with her, she would smell it and would hold her attention and she would be able to remember to go execute whatever task that is. And so, you’re more of an expert on the brain and the particular wiring and I’m just a coach. I just help people find out what works and we do it. But that was just a fascinating instance.

Jeff Copper:
Another story, I was working with a woman one time and she wanted to talk about a to-do list. And I said, “What would it be like if you drew pictures of what your to-do was?” So she gave it a shot and she came back the next week she says, “Oh my God, that was really, really helpful.” And I said, “Great.” Normally I would end there, but she said, “You know something, I never realized that a letter is a symbol. And when I add the letters of a word into a word, that’s a symbol And then when I read a sentence, I actually have to build a picture in my mind.”

Jeff Copper:
So, she noticed how she would read the to-do. Then she would go and get distracted and she would have to go back and reassemble the picture in her mind. And she said, “I just get to where I wouldn’t do anymore.” She said, “When I draw the picture, I can look at the picture. I would make that association. I wouldn’t have to build the picture in my mind.” She said, “Because I didn’t have to go through the work. I would follow up on a little bit easier.” Again, just a fun little story to share what this looks like.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, absolutely. The visuals always matter in the world of ADHD. And you added in smell. That’s brilliant. That is brilliant.

Jeff Copper:
That’s one of the things that I spend a lot of time on because working memory is visual imagery or self-talk. And a lot of people with ADHD that struggle, a lot of times they’re struggling because they can’t visualize something or they can’t think in their mind. I do a lot of helping them realize that focus problem that you have is a focus problem but when you are working memory is over taxed and you can’t see it, let’s focus on relieving that, and then they can actually pay attention to for a little bit longer. So, you just brought that up and I just wanted to reiterate that a lot of times in coaching, we’re looking at working memory to try to address that, to make it easier for people to think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. That’s make it easier to think. So you get what’s standing in the way out of the way.

Jeff Copper:
Exactly. It’s a little bit of digging down a little bit deeper to some things as opposed to just more superficial type ways of addressing stuff. I know one of the things that I do a lot of is back when I went to school, you would highlight a book and your notes and you put it right next to you and your eyes would dart back and forth to read and compare notes. In an academic world a lot of students are trying to work on a laptop. And if you read something and then you click on a tab and you scroll down trying to remember what you read from one tab or one browser to another often, you forget what you read while you’re scrolling.

Jeff Copper:
Well, that’s a working memory issue. And a lot of students will want tips, tricks, and strategies to deal with that when they really just need a second computer screen so they can put both of them up and their eyes dart back and forth. Not a commonality in the college environment, commonality in a corporate environment because they realize that’s there but a lot of students don’t realize it’s not the tip trick or strategy. It’s just, you need a second screen. So your eyes don’t have to hold that while they’re scrolling around.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s another great idea, Jeff. Yeah.

Jeff Copper:
Did an interview years ago with Dr. Russell Barkley and we talked about working memory and how paper, sometimes high-tech for people with ADHD because you can spread it out and see it all as opposed to trying to look through everything on a really small computer screen.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right, right. What are the ideal age for coaching? What’s the youngest you can successfully coach.

Jeff Copper:
I’m more of a behavior modification I think is probably more appropriate for the younger ones, teens, et cetera. I spend more time with adults 20 and up because I do a lot of trying to help them understand what works based off of their successes, as opposed to trying to change the system. We always go back and say, well, what systems do you have in place? And for an older adult, it’s easier to have those conversations, which is… I actually have a philosophy about organizational systems and everybody has a system. And if you focus on your current system and understand why it’s there, it’s usually easier just to tweak that system than it is to build something completely new. Makes sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Makes total sense. Yeah. Yeah. It’s always easier if you’re not starting from square zero. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of Omega Brite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking Omega Brite’s Omega-3’s CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now there are many different products or brands of fish oil. Why is Omega Brite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with a mega bright is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And Omega Brite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers showing Omega Brite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So, that’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits we know come from Omega Brite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3 which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it that just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners. You can save 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com by using the promo code Podcast2020. All right, let’s get back to today’s topic.

Jeff Copper:
So, one of my favorite stories, I was coaching a real estate agent, residential. And it’s funny, she came to me because she described herself as a hot mess and she was disorganized. And one day she said, “I need to organize the way I track my prospects or my sales.” And what’s traditional is you go in, you log all your clients into a contact relationship manager which requires you go to the computer and a lot of tedious stuff. And I said, “No, no, no, no. Let’s just take a look at your current system.” And she argued with me that she didn’t have a system. And I said, “No. You do. You sell, you’ve got some clients.”

Jeff Copper:
So, after spending about 15 minutes of having a conversation with her about what she was doing, we realized every morning she’d wake up and she would scroll through her texts in her phone and she would scroll through her voicemails. What we realized is that everybody is reaching out to her or contacting her by those means. She would scroll and she would see the names, which would help her work a memory, identify what was there. And sometimes she would be really busy in a day and she wouldn’t get back to everybody. So, the next day she felt a little bit panicked trying to catch up, whether it’s her texts, her voicemails. And we began to realize it was a routine that she did every day was scrolling through her phone. We didn’t have to do anything about that. She would identify and react to it so that was working.

Jeff Copper:
But she was overwhelmed by it all because she couldn’t see all the clients and literally all we did is we got some Post-its two colors. One was for buyers and one was for listing agents. She went through, put their names on the Post-its, put them on a poster board and put on a chest of drawers and she put the prospects that were hot at the top, buyers on one side, listers on the other. And now she could see all of her activity. In that moment, number one, she was like, “Wow, I’m doing pretty good.” And number two, calm came over her because the issue is that she had a good system, but she felt overwhelmed because she couldn’t conceptualize it. And all we did was put it on the Post-its and she could see it. She didn’t interact with it and just brought a lot of peace to her.

Jeff Copper:
So in that situation, I’m demonstrating how we didn’t have to go to a whole new organizational system. All we had to do was solve this one little problem and what didn’t seem to work was actually working very, very well. Didn’t look like what maybe a system should look like, but I find a lot of people with ADHD sometimes if you just look at things as to what’s working, what’s the system, you can just tweak them a little bit and all of a sudden you get something that works. Feel different, huh?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Wonderful. You’re a wealth of creative interventions, Jeff. It’s terrific.

Jeff Copper:
And another story, one of my favorites is I was actually coaching a psychiatrist one time they had ADHD and they wanted to coach her one day because they were late all the time. And, “You want a time management system?” They said, “Yeah.” “So, Let me ask you, how late are you?” They said, “10, 15 minutes late.” I said, “Are you ever an hour late?” “Well, yeah. Daylight savings time.” “You ever an hour early?” “Yeah. Daylight savings.” “Ha. You’re funny.” So I said, “Let me get this straight. You’re 10 to 15 minutes late, like 98% of the time.” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, what’s your system?” They said, “That’s what I want to cut you on.” I go, “Well, if you’re consistently that late, you got to have a system. If you didn’t have a system, you’d be like 45 minutes late, you’d miss appointment.” He goes, “I don’t know. I guess I don’t like to be bored.” And I go, “There you go.”

Jeff Copper:
He goes, “Where I go, well, there’s no time management system in the world that’s going to solve that problem.” Then we began to have a conversation about boredom. And sometimes when a patient would come into the room and the nurse was there, he would walk in waiting for that. He barely would get off on something that he shouldn’t have been doing and would get in trouble because he didn’t do well with boredom. So when we got done, we began to realize, number one, he did have a system. Number two, there was a legitimate reason why he had that system to keep him out of trouble.

Jeff Copper:
And so we walked away feeling good about it. Now people complained a little bit about it, but he’s like, “I know you’re complaining about it, but it’s better than if I’m doing something I shouldn’t do and I don’t have to regulate.” So again, these are some stories that some people probably didn’t expect, but by looking at yourself and trying to understand why you do it, sometimes you can find some pretty cool stuff in the coaching paradigm. Sometimes you might do something to put Post-its, but other time it’s wait a second. I actually do have a system. So from an emotional perspective, I can realize there’s nothing wrong. It’s legitimate reason I do that. And sometimes it comes to grip with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Jeff Copper:
Just fun stories.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You have wonderful stories, wonderful stories. And tells us about Attention Talk Radio.

Jeff Copper:
Well, Attention Talk Radio as I described earlier was born for me because I couldn’t write. So, I started interviewing experts, topically. When I first started doing it, I was like, “Okay, I’ll probably do a year’s worth of topics because there’s 52 weeks in a year. How many topics could there be?” Well, it’s over 10 years later still been doing the same thing and still been coming in with more and more topics. And as I’ve done that, I’ve learned over the years, a lot from again, experts like yourself or Dr. Thomas Brown or Dr. Barkley, or like Anne Dolan, educator, or other coaches, et cetera. And so it’s always been amazing to me that fundamentally there’s a limited number of concepts, but we’ve come up with lots of ideas that we illustrate. Like one of my favorites was with Ari Tuckman one time when we talked about manners, teaching kids manners.

Jeff Copper:
Now we think of manners as something that kids should do. But when you think about it, self-regulation is the ability to pause and override your urge just to do something. And if you’re going to have manners like hold the door for somebody or wait for everybody to be seated, you actually have to practice self-regulating. So, we did the show and we kind of illustrated how, as a parent you can use manners as a self-regulation exercise. Don’t worry about the mayors come into place, but continue to do it on a regular basis because it actually can teach kids the skill of stop, pausing and overriding some of that stuff to help them develop that skills.

Jeff Copper:
We’ve had other shows that I’d like to do is like years ago I was interviewing Dr. Roberto Lombardi who’s a psychologist. And we talked about how when he did his Harvard dissertation, he wrote it in two weeks. Most people would write their dissertation in a room with quiet. He actually wrote his with punk rock videos playing on the same screen that he was writing. And he said, the beat of the words kept him focused so he could get through that stuff.

Jeff Copper:
And so it’s been a fun journey along the way with Attention Talk Radio. Learning from mental health professionals, learning for teachers, lived experiences, some quirky things that worked for some people and et cetera. So, it’s been a real journey. And for me. I started doing it as it means not to write, but to get something out there. Little did I know I would get an amazing education along the way. And I know you’ve got a bunch of stories of things in your life that really kind of helped you. And one of my favorite is I think it was your first grade or second grade teacher who helped you read. And I think I’ve heard you say before, “Who would have believed that I would make a living with words when it was such a struggle back in those days.” I think really the story about people it ain’t cheap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I couldn’t agree with you more. Absolutely Jeff. It’s really terrific.

Jeff Copper:
I’ve heard you speak a lot. And one of the things that you say that I know everybody gets is that it’s in the moment that you accept yourself and you quit fighting your ADHD and you begin to step in who you are that that transformation really takes place. And I think that you’re a testament that as other people are. And again, you said that before, I just want to highlight, your own personal story is your own triumph and accepting who you are. And I know you dedicate your practice and what you do to helping people do the same thing. And so those that are out there, that are struggling, I encourage you to take that mindset, it will help you a lot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re so right. And you’re very kind to say that. And you certainly done the same thing. Well, listen. I’m sorry. We are running out of time. You can find Jeff on the web at digcoaching.com and you can check out his podcast at attentiontalkradio.com. Jeff is a marvelous contributor to the world of ADHD and just a font of stories, experiences, tips as you’ve gotten a taste of today.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. If you haven’t heard my new book, ADHD 2.0 is available now. You can find a copy wherever books are sold, or by going to my website, DrHallowell.com or by clicking the link in the show notes. And remember to follow Distraction on social media and please continue to reach out to us with your comments and questions. Our email address is [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our audio engineer is the wonderful Scott Persson and our producer is the supremely talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thanks to Jeff Copper and thanks to you for listening.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at Omega Brite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at Omega Brite. And that’s B-R-I-T-E. Wellness.com.

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Why You Need an ADHD Coach

Why You Need an ADHD Coach

More people than ever before are hiring coaches to help them manage their lives. In this mini Ned explains what an ADHD coach actually does and why you should consider finding one.

Ned’s NEW BOOK is out now! Get a copy of ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega3 supplements for many years and so as my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com. And brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today we are going to do a mini episode on the topic of, what does a coach do and why do you need one? Well, if you’re playing baseball, the coach will develop the batting order and give signs as to when to hit and when to steal. And you need one because it’s hard to run a baseball team without one, but that’s a baseball player.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In the world of ADHD, why might you need a coach and what would that coach do? Well, it depends on who you are and what kind of coach you’re looking for. When I came up with the idea of a coach for ADHD back in the early nineties when I was writing, Driven to Distraction, it occurred to me that most of these kids and adults for that matter didn’t need psychotherapy so much. That was the standard clinical intervention when you have an issue that brings you to a mental health professional was you get psychotherapy, which is talking about emotional conflicts in childhood and so on and so forth and that’s really not what people with ADHD needed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I said to myself, the best model I can think of for what they need is indeed what that baseball player needs, someone to establish the batting order, someone to tell them when to hit and when to take, so on and so forth. Somebody to help them plan their day, their plan of attack, to have a game plan, to do what a coach does, what a sports coach does. That’s what they need with the practical details of life. So that’s what a coach does and why you need one is if you’re having trouble doing those things. People with ADHD typically know what they want to do, they just don’t do it. And that’s where a coach can help you plan, set up a schedule, set up a routine, whatever the structure is that will aid you in achieving what you want to achieve. He or she won’t tell you what to do, it’ll ask you what you want to get done and then set up a template, a program to help you get it done.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s very simple, very simple. It’s not psychotherapy and it’s not high level project management. It’s nuts and bolts. When do I brush my teeth? When do I pick up my book bag? When do I handed my paper? When do I apply for a raise? When do I get a haircut? When do I go to the dry cleaner? When do I have lunch? These are the kinds of things that hang up people with ADHD and a coach can help you get past that. It’s a wonderful intervention if I do say so myself, since I developed it. But it’s now very common, there are thousands and thousands of coaches and books about coaching and institutes on coaching and academies to train coaches. It’s taken off and well it should because it’s a wonderfully, wonderfully helpful intervention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, well, that’s it for me today. Thank you as always to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. Save 20% on your first order with the promo code, podcast 2020, at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I’m very happy to share with you the news that my new book, ADHD 2.0, is out now. I wrote it with Dr. John Ratey, my colleague and buddy. And we lay out a revolutionary new approach featuring new science and strategies to help people with ADD ADHD thrive. You can learn more about ADHD 2.0 and order a copy by clicking the link in the show notes or by going to my website at drhallowell.com. That’s D-R, no period, D-R-H-A-L-L-O-W-E-L-L, .com. You can also find it wherever books are sold.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And please reach out to us with your questions and comments by emailing [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the wonderfully talented, Scott Person. And our producer is the equally wonderfully talented Sara [inaudible 00:05:08]. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at OmegaBrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E, wellness.com.

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ADHD 2.0 Reveals New Science and Strategies

ADHD 2.0 Reveals New Science and Strategies

Dr. Hallowell’s latest book, ADHD 2.0 is out today!

Ned’s longtime writing partner, Dr. John Ratey, joins him for a conversation about the latest research they uncovered including how the brain’s “default mode network” is especially dangerous for those with ADHD, why “ADHD” is a terrible term and we should call it “VAST” instead,  and how finding the right amount of difficult can help you stay engaged in a task.

They also discuss the role the cerebellum plays in regulating our attention, how exercise can help with symptoms, why ADHDers are more susceptible to addiction in all forms, and the importance of connection.

You can get a copy of ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or JohnRatey.com, or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years and so has my wife and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabrite.wellness.com and Brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. We have a very special show today because my dear friend, John Ratey, Dr. John Ratey is joining us to talk about our new book, ADHD 2.0: New Science and Strategies for Thriving with Distraction. It will come out January 12th and we’re hoping to tell you enough about it that you will want to run out and buy the book yourselves. So without further ado, let me welcome my wonderful friend, John. Hello, John.

Dr. John Ratey:
Hello, Ned and hello everyone in podcast land.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Just so you know, I’m coming to you from my third floor studio office in Arlington, Massachusetts and John is coming to you from, where are you John?

Dr. John Ratey:
I am in Los Angeles, California, Beverly Hills, to be exact from my wife’s apartment in her office and enjoying talking with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good. Well, so we have this new book that listeners maybe remember our first book, Driven to Distraction that came out in 1994 and then Delivered from Distraction came out in 2005 and so now in 2021, we have ADHD 2.0. Let’s just jump right in and tell listeners what’s new about it. One thing that’s new in the book is our term for ADHD, which is a terrible term, it’s not a deficit of attention, it’s an abundance of attention and we don’t see it as a disorder, but rather a trait. If you manage it right it’s an asset, if you don’t, it can be a terrible pain in the butt. So we invented a new term for the condition that does not connote as much pathology as ADHD does with its deficit disorder.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Our new term, which we introduce in this book is vast, V-A-S-T. First of all, it is a vast condition, but vast is also an acronym stands for variable attention stimulus trait. Captures the two key elements of stimulation and attention and everything in this condition is variable. So VAST, we hope will be more appealing to people and actually far more accurate than the old ADHD. What do you have to say about that, John?

Dr. John Ratey:
No, exactly. And I think we’ve been trying to say, “Look, this is a normal condition across a spectrum,” and it’s when you get… because we all have variable attention, right, and we all have trouble with it. But especially some people have the genes or have the upbringing or have circumstances that lead to more of it. And especially in our overstimulated world, we all have trouble with our attention. We’re not building it up like we used to or so it goes. But the problem with ADHD and the problem with a diagnosis like a deficit is that it makes people feel problematic. It makes them feel defunct, deficit, they’re less than. That’s not a way to think about it. It’s something to be mastered, to be understood and to be guided.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. So with a more affirmative term that is actually more accurate because there’s no deficit of attention, it’s wandering of attention, an abundance of attention. The need is to control it. So we offer VAST as both a more accurate and a more affirmative positive strength-based as we like to say, strength-based term. So that’s one thing that’s new in this book. Something else that’s new comes from the realm of a neuroscience and it’s a complicated cumbersome term, but once you understand it, it’s incredibly powerful. This is the default mode network, the DMN, which I call the demon and you’ll see why. John, do you want to give them a explanation of why we think the DMN is so useful and powerful an idea?

Dr. John Ratey:
Right. Well, first off, it’s looking at the brain as a bunch of networks and the major one is the default mode network, which is parts of the brain that are all connected and that are being employed when you’re letting your mind wander. This is sort of a condition that ADD people love and are very much into. But it’s when we’re not paying attention to something, we go into the default mode. This is great when you can control it. But again people with ADD have trouble getting rid of it. They’re too much into it. We can get out of it when we have a task performance network, which is another network that takes us into something that we’re paying attention to, something that we’re worried about, something they were doing. It usually in people that don’t have attention deficit disorder. When this happens, when you get into something, your default mode shuts up or goes down. However, with ADD it’s always pressing to say, “Hey, pay attention to me,” which means, let’s go into a mind wandering situation.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I think what people find so useful about the DMN or really revelation is that it can just stream out really negative ideas, thoughts, feelings, images. So you go into the DMN, the demon, and it takes over and you get into this sort of trance-like state of rumination and you can stay in it. As people with ADD know only to well, you can stay in it for a long time, spend an hour just brooding and ruminating on all the ways in which your life is miserable and you’re miserable and everything’s miserable. People take medication to prevent it and they do anything they can possibly think of to prevent it, but the best way to prevent it is to do something else, to get back into the task-positive network, to snap out of the demon.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And so I say, “Don’t feed the demon,” and we tend to feed it with our attention. Attention is its life’s blood, its oxygen supply. Well, if you pay attention to something else, like dig a hole or play a piano or talk to a friend, anything, do anything, do jumping jacks, focus on your breathing. The key is to focus on something else to break the hole, the DMN, the demon has over you to break that negative about how you’re awful and your life is awful. It’s a state that people with ADD go into and the mistake they make is they mistake the productions of the demon for being reality. Yes, I really am that bad, yes, life really is that awful. And it’s not. It’s your imagination conjuring up all this negative stuff. Rather than take a pill or take a new philosophy course, simply do something else, anything to focus your attention elsewhere so you’re not feeding the demon with your attention.

Dr. John Ratey:
The trick with this too is that the DMN and the TPN and the task-performance network-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Task-positive, isn’t it?

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes, task-positive network is, the connection between them is clunky. It doesn’t quite go as easily as it does in the so-called neuro-typical person or the person that doesn’t have ADD. And so having structures, having a positive focus in your life and the 3M’s meditation, medication and exercise, which is not an M, but all help correct this clunkiness so that you’re able to switch easily enough and get out of it if you get caught into the rumination problem.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think the M you were looking for John is movement.

Dr. John Ratey:
Movement, yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Meditation, medication and movement.

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But to deal with the DMN, you really don’t need medication, you just need the insight that this is not reality, life is not so terrible, I’m not so terrible and just focus your attention on some other tasks. You’ve got to shut off the demon’s oxygen supply, namely your attention and redirect your attention to some other tasks. Do a crossword puzzle, dig a hole, call a friend, do 25 jumping jacks, just focus on your breathing. You’ve always got your breathing with you. And if you can do that then you will shut off the demon and you’ll stop this horrible, horrible spell of trance-like brooding, ruminating negative thinking that really hounds most people who have VAST or ADD. It’s such a simple trick to learn, but so gripping is the habit of the negative thinking that a lot of people just buy into it and keep feeding the demon with their attention.

Dr. John Ratey:
Right. It’s been very helpful for patients and people in general who have trouble with their attention, sort of giving them this model saying that, “You have something that you’re trying to attend to, but you’re being pulled out of it by the default mode that’s a chatterbox and just won’t shut up.” So it’s helpful to use this model and people have said, “Aha, that’s what it is. When I’m trying to pay attention and keep on what it is I want to do, I’m being pulled back to this default mode to have my mind wander or get into the very ingrained rumination of how you’ve not done right in life, you have been a failure, whatever.” But just having that explanation has sparked a lot of, not just insight, but action-oriented insight when people can say, “Okay, now I just need to do something or change my thoughts or flip into another mode, to fry an egg,” like your one patient who said, “Yeah, I’ve fried 25 eggs now, what?” I mean, it’s-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When we were first learning about this, one of the first experts we listened to amused us both because his antidote to the demon, the DMN, he would just shout it out. He would say, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and that would shut off the demon. He’d out shout it. He’d just say, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and that would shut off the demon. So you can do that. Of course, you have to be in a place where nobody’s going to think you’re going out of your mind, but it’s-

Dr. John Ratey:
No, but that checks it off you see.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, exactly.

Dr. John Ratey:
Then you’re able to use your energy to things that are positive and things you want to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. So don’t buy it. See, that’s the key selling point. Don’t let it own you, don’t let it take over, don’t think, “This is the terrible insight that, I really am doomed and my life really does suck and I suck and everything sucks.” Don’t buy that. Don’t mistake that imagining for reality because it’s not reality and you can shut it off just by doing something, engaging, focusing on something so you activate the task-positive network. I hope that’s clear because it is complicated from a neuroscience standpoint, but it’s very true, very valid. You can see it on FMRI and it’s really learning how to use this scientific bit of information in a very practical transformative way.

Dr. John Ratey:
One of the chapters in our new book is called, Finding the Right Difficult, which is finding something that really is compelling and that is a bit hard, but something that you want to master, you want to be involved in and this will keep your attention. If you find the right one, you can keep coming back to it, whatever it is, or solving a problem, figuring out whatever your bills or how to-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s not usually going to be your bills, but the two key elements of the right difficult are number one, it has to be challenging. If it’s not challenging, it’s boring. And number two, it has to matter to you. It has to really hold you. And so those two combined, it matters to you and it’s challenging then you’ll engage and in many ways, the more difficult it is the better. I discovered my right difficult in high school when my 12th grade English teacher challenged me to write a novel. A novel, I knew Exeter was a tough school, I didn’t know I had to write a novel, but I did it because he encouraged me to do it. I took up the challenge and by the end of the year, I’d written a novel and it won the senior English prize and I was off to the races. The beauty of that and it’s been my right difficult ever since, no pun on, write, with 21 books and still counting. It all began in 12th grade when that teacher introduced me to my right difficult.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And that is a third element of it which we found is so important in living and mastering this condition, namely that you have a creative outlet. We’re like cows, we need to be milked. If I don’t have a book going, I get depressed. We need that creative outlet. I think it’s been overlooked in the writings that people have done about ADHD. We haven’t stressed it enough ourselves. It’s so important. You find it through the right difficult. So you find some activity that’s challenging and matters to you that you can put in your creativity. That’s why paying your bills is not particularly a good example. So it’s got to allow for your creativity to be brought into the process.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And so you have those three elements that it’s difficult, but it matters to you and there’s room for your creativity to activate it and advance it. When you find that and you can have several, then you’re ready to get into the zone, you’re ready to take advantage of the advantages that come with this condition, the creativity, the originality, the industriousness, the refusal to give up, the stalwart nature of, spunky nature of most people who have it. But remember those three elements that it’s got to be difficult, it’s got to matter to you and there has to be room for you to really put your full supply of creativity into it.

Dr. John Ratey:
Right. Well, I was thinking less about pills and more about manipulating the stock market and figuring that-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There you go. Okay. There you go.

Dr. John Ratey:
Because I have so many patients who find that right difficult by day trading or dealing with the cryptocurrency. These are difficulties to get it right and to master it. So that’s what I was really thinking about this morning.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely, absolutely. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking OmegaBrite’s Omega-3’s CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Could you tell us a little bit about the study, recent study that showed OmegaBrite reduced inflammation and anxiety in medical students?

Dr. Carol Locke:
This was a great study. It was done at Ohio state and it was done on medical students, 68 medical students without any medical problems done over 12 weeks. It was a blinded study meaning the researchers and the students did not know if they were taking the OmegaBrite or the dummy capsules. What it found was a 20% reduction in anxiety and a 14% reduction in the inflammatory cytokine IL-6, so that you had a very powerful benefit from the OmegaBrite shown in this study. That’s something that people could use right now in their life, reducing their anxiety and stress and inflammation,

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at omegabritewellness.com by using the promo code, Podcast 2020. All right. Let’s get back to today’s topic.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So now we have two elements in our book that have not been in previous books, a new name for ADHD, talking about the default mode network, talking about the right difficult and then a fourth new topic in the book, you want to talk about the cerebellum, John?

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes. The cerebellum. What a great part of our brain. It’s amazing. We used to only think of it as dealing with keeping us coordinated, keeping our movements coordinated. In the past 20 years, there’s been an explosion of interest in the cerebellum as keeping our thinking in order, keeping our experience in order. This is really important. It’s not just about balance and rhythm and for our motor system, but for all of our higher functionings, especially for attention, that the carry over of our cerebellum in involvement and attention is so great.

Dr. John Ratey:
We know that, 35, 40% of kids with ADHD have a discoordination problems, problems with their coordination and balance and whatnot. And same so do many of adults who get diagnosed with ADHD, they have coordination and balance problems. The beauty of it for… in our book we talk about is that the cerebellum is something that is very trainable, that is, you can make it better by doing balance training, doing yoga, doing Tai Chi, doing the martial arts or doing some kind of exercise that impacts your balance and makes it better. This has an impact on your attention, on the clunkiness of the default mode and TPN but also in doing all the things for our executive function that the medicine can do. It can help greatly.

Dr. John Ratey:
There’s study after study now showing that this is something to really pay attention to. Ned, you have this case in China, that is in our book where you did this sort of from afar over email to a mom and getting her son to really change his life by doing balance exercising in the morning and led to massive change in his attention and his performance and in the school that he was involved with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what’s so important is that it’s not just you get better at balance and coordination, by doing exercises that stimulate the cerebellum, you, in fact, directly impact the circuits that have to do with executive function and detention. This is work from Jeremy Schmahmann at Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School showing there are connections from the cerebellum through the vestibular circuit to the prefrontal cortex and all the elements that are so involved in ADHD. In fact, there’s a syndrome called Schmahmann syndrome named after Jeremy Schmahmann where injury to the cerebellum results in a syndrome that looks ever so much like ADHD. So it’s not just that you’re getting really good at balance so you can ride a unicycle, it’s that by stimulating the cerebellum, by doing exercises that challenge balance, you are also directly impacting the circuits that create the problematic symptoms in ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And as John’s saying, I learned about this… I went to Shanghai a couple of years ago and gave a talk and at the end, the mother of one of the kids, an eight year old boy came up and said, “You’ve got to treat my son.” And I said, “Well, I can’t. I live in Boston, you live in Shanghai.” And she said, “That’s okay. We’ll use email.” And so she was so persistent, we went ahead and we devised a treatment plan that involved the elements that we outlined in the book. It’s not just a cerebellar stimulation, but it’s also creating an environment, what we call a stellar environment of warmth and connection and support and instead of the boy being humiliated and hit with a stick when he got something wrong, they started understanding him and the teacher went along with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then in that context, we had him do a series of exercises for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening that involved balance. So he’d stand on one leg, stand on one leg with his eyes closed, he would do some juggling exercises, a series of exercises that challenged balance and coordination. He went from being the absolute rock bottom of the class at the start of the year in September to by Christmas being number one in the class and it was just this simple, straightforward program, no medication whatsoever that took this little boy combining a stellar environment of warmth and understanding with exercises that challenged balance and coordination.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That little boy I’m still in touch with him interestingly enough, he just got into the best secondary school in China. He’s thriving, he’s soaring and he won’t stop doing the exercises. He says to his mother, “I’m not stopping these. Dr. Hallowell gave them to me and I’m going to continue doing them,” and he’s off to the races. His American name is Boots and he and his mom it’s just wonderful to see them. But if a doctor from however many thousand miles away, Boston to Shanghai using no medication and just coaching on stellar environments, warmth and cerebellar stimulation, I can get that of a result, I mean, it really shows that we’re onto something new and important and really the way was paved by Jeremy Schmahmann and the important connection between the cerebellum and the front parts of the brain where the action is in ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s a real breakthrough. I’ve spoken about this before with the Zing program, Wynford Dore in England, with his marvelous program of cerebellar graduated series of exercises. He has over a hundred different exercises that stimulate and challenge balance and coordination and get wonderful results, not just in ADHD, but in other autism and autism spectrum and that sort of thing. So this is another breakthrough that we highlight in the book that John and I are very excited about. If you noticed a change in my voice or John’s voice it’s because I had to move from one location to another, it’s still the same person just located in a different place.

Dr. John Ratey:
I just completed a study with about 26 autistic adolescents, where we had them trained basically on balance and coordination exercises and saw a vast improvement in their attention and then a decrease in their off behaviors and an improvement in their socialization. And these were very complicated autistic adolescent. So it works and it can really make a big difference and with your patient Boots who wasn’t your patient, it was just an advice to the mom, it really changed his life and it’s something that we can easily do for so many people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. And it’s real exciting application of advances in neuroscience to the practical treatment of this condition. What else is new in our book, John, before we wrap up here. We talk about medication, we talk about nutrition, we talk about coaching, the new developments in coaching, and now with the pandemic, coaching has become even more important because it’s harder to see people in person.

Dr. John Ratey:
Well, we also have a whole chapter on exercise and how exercise has such a profound effect on the attention system. Because when we exercise, we liberate more neurotransmitters that we affect with our stimulant medication and other medications we use for ADD. But exercise produces them in a big, big way and very quickly, so that we’ve known in all of our books from the very beginning, that exercise was a component of treatment and now we know how it works and why it works and even studies now going on about what kind of exercise to do and there’s no guarantee that one’s better than the other, but the more you do, the better you become at exercising, the better your attention will be.

Dr. John Ratey:
When we started, we heard all the time about kids doing really well when they were playing a sport and then when they were off season that’s when the trouble began. And we have so many examples of that in our star athletes that have the same kind of program that when they stop training, then they get in trouble because their attention system is wild and not focused and then they get into the inevitable problems with addictions that so many people with ADHD have.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s another element that we take up throughout the book really, the overlap with addiction. Probably the single biggest hazard in life with ADD is to develop a chemical addiction or a behavioral addiction. The rate of addiction in the ADHD population is 5 to 10 times higher than in the neuro-typical population. And another interesting fact, 80% of addiction begins between the ages of 13 and 23. So we are talking about major risk for people between 13 and 23. One of the best ways to stay off to avoid addiction is taking medication. This has been shown over and over again, people think, “No, you shouldn’t take medication like Adderall. That’s a gateway drug.” No, just the opposite. It helps close the gateway.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So by taking medication, you’re reducing the risk of addiction. Contrary to popular belief, taking stimulant medication helps prevent the development of addiction. Remember, behavioral addictions are very important too, screen addiction, gambling addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction all of these sort of compulsive behaviors go on wild are way, way, way more common in life with ADHD. And then another element that I think we have to stress because now it’s so missing in so many people’s lives that we stress in the book is the importance of connection, the importance of human connection, of warmth, which I call the other vitamin C and it is as vital for life as ascorbic acid. So many people are suffering from a vitamin connect deficiency these days. You see the symptoms, it’s listlessness, low grade depression, lack of motivation, lack of zest, lack of get up and go, all because they’re not getting enough human connection, not getting enough people and we need people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think it’s one of the really most serious and not often acknowledged consequences of the pandemic is the social isolation that absolutely cripples people. Well, people with ADHD, it’s critical that they get it and they often don’t get it because they’re socially awkward, they don’t join, they don’t jump in and as a result, they suffer the consequences of vitamin connect deficiency. Well, that’s a long menu John of new ideas and suggestions in this book, which is by far the shortest of all of our books.

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes. It really is the shortest, but I think it’s power packed even though. It’s short and quick but it brings to light a bunch of the new stuff that keeps coming out about ADHD and what to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It boiled down to its bare essentials. The manuscript that I handed in was 125,000 words and the manuscript that you’ll buy, if you but the book is 50,000 words. So just think of the labor that went into reducing it in size so it’s absolutely pithy and condensed and every word counts.

Dr. John Ratey:
The other thing about the final product is it hasn’t lost its humor and fun. And we try to keep that in there so that it moves along quickly and you can enjoy the reading of it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What would ADD be without humor and fun. There’s no serious case of, a VAST as we like to call it now that… well, we hope you’ll get it. You can go to Amazon and order it or any other book selling outlet. You can go to my website, drhallowell.com, John’s website. What’s yours? johnratey.com.

Dr. John Ratey:
johnratey.com

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You can go to your bookstore, the bookstores that are open. We hope that with this book and the documentary, that’s going to come out two months later will really have a movement to take the stigma away from this misunderstood condition and really help people turn it into an asset from being a liability to turn it into an asset. Any last thoughts, John?

Dr. John Ratey:
Well, I just think that this book really captures the essence of the new stuff that we are so excited about and as well as how to manage your attention and the deficit or the attention difference or the variability problem that you have. I think it turned out to be a terrific resource and recommend it to all of you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. And I think we really stress that this condition is not a disorder. It’s a way of being in the world and it has its positives and its negative. We’ve been working with people who have it for so long. We really know what you need to do to maximize the positives and minimize the negatives of this way of being in the world that is so misunderstood. And instead of carrying around these moral diagnoses that you’re undisciplined or a loser or can’t get your act together, we’ll show you how, in fact, you can turn all that around. So that’s why we call this a good news diagnosis. Unlike most diagnoses in medicine, this one is good news because things can only get better. John and I had been doing it long enough, we’ve seen it thousands of times now, thousands upon thousands of times with people, their lives really demonstrably, measurably, improving. Sometimes only a little bit, but more often a lot, major, major improvements.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And that’s why we’re so zealous about it? A patient said to me the other day, “You’re like Moses, you’re leading people out of bondage into the promised land.” And I said, “Well, I don’t think I’m Moses, but this knowledge is Mosesesque. It really can take people out of a condition of bondage and offer them a whole new life. John and I have seen it so often that we really want people to understand it and get the message. We’re not selling anything, we’re trying to report the truth that we’ve seen over and over and over again.

Dr. John Ratey:
That’s great. I think that’s a wrap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much to my dear friend and colleague John Ratey. You can learn more about John at his website, johnratey.com that’s J-O-H-N-R-A-T-E-Y.com. And you can learn more about our new book ADHD 2.0 in the show notes and on my website and John’s website as well. My website is drhallowell.com. And of course, you can get a copy of ADHD 2.0 wherever you buy your books. Remember to follow Distraction on social media and please continue to reach out to us with your comments and questions. We love getting questions from you and every now and then we devote an entire show to your questions. Our email address is [email protected] That’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media, our audio engineer is Scott Persson, the brilliant and always ingenious Scott Persson and our producer is the delightful, equanimitist and harmonious Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thanks so much for listening and I look forward to being with you next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at OmegaBrite and that’s B-R-I-T-E. wellness.com.

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Being Productive When You Live In Chaos

Being Productive When You Live In Chaos

Kristin Seymour knows firsthand how tough it is to be productive when you have ADHD. Not only does she have ADHD, but Kristin is the mom of two ADHD teens, and she’s also an ADHD specialist.

The advanced practice nurse returns to Distraction to share more of her “life hacks” along with some special advice for parents of ADHD kids.

As Ned puts it, “Kristin has the knack, the understanding and natural empathy of one who has been there, of one who really burns to make sure others do not suffer the way she did.”

Kristin’s website: http://www.ADHDFogLifted.com

If you like this episode, please rate and review Distraction on Apple Podcasts! If you have a question, comment, or show idea please email it to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0!

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

This episode was originally released in November 2018.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years, and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com. And brite is intentionally misspelled B-R-I-T-E. Omegabritewellness.com

Kristin Seymour:
Everybody was just like, “What is going on?” And I really believed he was on the wrong medication, it was working, in fact, probably against him. That child is on the right medication now, he had three letters of commendation from emails from teachers this week, and is respecting mom at home.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today, I am thrilled to be joined by a guest we’ve had before, but we cannot have often enough. Kristin Seymour is one of our favorites. She is a clinical nurse practitioner from St. Louis. She is a specialist in cardiology on the faculty of the Barnes-Jewish hospital, one of the leading academic hospitals in the world, and she also just happens to be an expert on ADHD. Not only because she has it herself, but because she’s made it her business to develop a specialty while continuing to be specialists taking care of critical patients in the field of cardiology. She went on to write a book entitled The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey With ADHD, where she told about her personal struggle growing up in St. Louis. Ultimately, the amazing victory she had, where she now is really at the top of her game. And it’s a great treat and pleasure to welcome Kristin back to Distraction.

Kristin Seymour:
Well, thanks, Ned. I’m not sure I’m worth all of that, but thanks for the kind words. Good to be back and talking with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, we wanted to touch on a couple of topics. The first one being one that you’re often asked, namely, how do you manage to get done as much as you do? Being not only a cardiology specialist and ADD specialist, but a mom, a wife, and a incredibly busy woman, how do you achieve productivity in the midst of the chaos that ADD can create?

Kristin Seymour:
Right. That’s a good question because it’s probably the first thing everybody always asks. And I think the most important advice I’ve been giving people lately, and I’ve been taking myself, is to always come back to the core four, which is my four family members, myself, my husband and my girls. And every day starts and ends with what’s best for them, and what they need to get done, we all need to do throughout the day, and everything else goes around that. Barnes-Jewish hospital, I work my job around that, the girls, gym, my consulting works around my family. As long as you always keep your priority and your eye on the ball, which is your core four people or five, or your key three, however many in your family, that is the most important thing.

Kristin Seymour:
And that’s why I can do what I do. So that’s how each day begins and ends, and then everything else works around that. And so, I always try to figure out a way and resources available, to make sure I can get done what I need to do with my priority of the day. That’s probably the biggest thing, the first most thing. The second most important thing is just to be gentle with yourself and know you can only do so much, and not be afraid to say no. So, if someone wants to see me or do something or meet or have me take on an extremely time-consuming case and I know I can’t, I will wait a few weeks. You can only do what you can do. And a lot of us ADHD’ers are pleasers, perfectionists, always want to say yes. The other thing is incentivizing yourself.

Kristin Seymour:
Most all of the teams I work with, and college students, don’t understand the real meaning of incentive. Because we’re dopamine driven, love positive feedback, we need to reward ourselves for doing things that are mentally challenging or exhausting. So if somebody has to do a paper that they’re just completely dreading, they need to set time on it, attack it in compartments or small intervals, and then reward themselves when the paper is done. That soft and hard deadlines, things like that. Set a soft deadline of maybe a week before it’s really due or a few days and a hard deadline of the day it’s due. So you can have that cushion of time, it’s a backup. If it doesn’t get done due to illness or unexpected events.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You also had some other tips about productivity that I remember.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, the life hack. They’re shortcuts and ways to make things easier. I have a cooler in my car on certain days when I’m going to be running around town, going from place to place or hospital to hospital with ice packs in it. So I can pop by the grocery and throw a few items in it. Moat people like to go to different grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, wherever, and then put the different items and it keep them cold. So you’re not backtracking where you just were earlier that day, taking pictures of your receipts, that you have to expense items for your job. Not only do you have the day and time and receipt, you can virtually move that to a folder of 2018 expenses and a subheading. So you’re not messing with all of these different receipts.

Kristin Seymour:
So things like just trying to take shortcuts like that, or taking a picture of where you parked your car, because so many of us have that poor short-term memory at times. Dictating in your note, if you’re fortunate enough to have a smartphone, which I think most of the population does anymore, you can use the voice activated memo. And I dictate my to-do-list, dictate my emails, dictate things for… It’s hard for many of us to write down all of our thoughts and then uploading it to an email. And then you’ve got your whole some brief notes to go back to if you don’t have time to sit and write something. So those are all some good ideas to help people save time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
On another note, I know that you have worked with a number of high school students who were particularly lost, and do you have any sort of general themes and trends because I’ve seen you really turn them around? What are the issues you think are there?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, the best thing is when you can partner with parents, whether they’re married or divorced, all of these, every parent or guardian wants their child or student to succeed. And when you partner with them and better understand the dynamics, not only at home but at school and with their athletics and sports and extracurriculars, it’s a bigger picture than maybe sometimes the teacher sees, or maybe a parent can’t see the whole scope all the time. So what I like to do is if I can, and most often the families welcome it, it’s having a meeting of the minds with the school advisor, the student’s advisor, the head of the school, the Dean of students, the parents, and sometimes, with the student and sometimes without to just see what pressure this kid is under. Because sometimes when everyone’s on the same page, things go amazing.

Kristin Seymour:
But sometimes people are missing a link. So partnering with the school, really understanding everyone and learning what’s best for the student, it’s just really, really effective. You have some parents who think the school should do every single thing and the parents should do nothing. That’s not correct. You have some parents that think the school does nothing, and they have no idea what the school is capable of because they’ve never sat down and looked at the whole picture. So when they start learning, when they’re younger in high school and junior high, it’s really cool and fascinating and remarkable to see what they’re able to execute on their own with mom and dad far away, their coach, me, far away on their own, thing outside the box to partner with the school

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you say partnering with the school comes as news to some parents?

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly. And the biggest thing, if I can say that I’ve witnessed is when the parents come in with an open-mind and calm and wanting to partner and say, “Thank you for all you’ve done for Sally,” whoever, the student. “We are so fortunate to have a team like you.” And not have to kiss their rear end, but really partner because the school works really hard too. And then say, “What are we able to accomplish within reason?” And they’re going to work with you, but coming in, they’re angry and upset and kicked off and with a chip on your shoulder and offensive about something or a diagnosis a situation, that will not be a helpful approach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s a pretty natural of alliance. I mean, you’re all on the same team. So it’s really, you’re opening a natural door. There’s no reason to keep it closed. And because all that stuff is born out of anxiety, how do you help parents become less anxious? And how do you help them come into the school with the right attitude?

Kristin Seymour:
That is a great, great question. The first thing I usually do is just tell them, and I sometimes feel rude saying this that I have to say, “Let’s just slow down.” And I hate when people say that to me. So I feel like I have regret, but, “Let’s just take a breath. Let’s sit down. Let’s slow down. Let’s see what the grades really are to date.” How anxious is the student? How vital are sports? How far are we in the season? And it just lets the parents settle down and know that we probably can drop an AP course. We probably can maybe decrease the time on the ACT for our class on a weekend, on top of the tournament. Let’s space things out differently. The school’s on our side. If it’s a public school and private, but more public, there’s laws that protect that parent. It don’t have to be so hysterical.

Kristin Seymour:
There are standards in place if you’re not getting what we need for your students. Private schools, they have standards as well, very high ones as well. But those same laws are always applied. So therefore, you can say, “We’re paying tuition. We’re seeking this education. Let’s partner on this together.” But not in a threatening way. The parents didn’t think you’re right. The ball is in our court. There’s one parent that I’ve ever had to say who actually was so anxious that we had to do a meeting before the meeting to role play. And then, that parent is probably going to… There’s some parents that end up needing a little bit more, like working out, exercising, and taking out caffeine because they just feed their anxiety. But other than that, they usually get very calm when they feel they have a partner or that the school is really on their side.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, just your sort of taking the by the hand and saying, “We can do this together.”

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. And the parents were just like, “What is it that you’re doing that we’re not?” And I’m like, “It’s just because sometimes it comes from somebody else who’s not in a position of authority like a teacher or a parent, but they command. They have the respect for it as well, and you’re up here, but you get the brain because I lived it.” And I know what they’re saying when they say they can’t focus. I know why they have to get up after 10 minutes to take a break.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking OmegaBrites, and Omega-3s, CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now, there are many different products, brands, fish oil, why is OmegaBrite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with OmegaBrite is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And OmegaBrite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers, showing OmegaBrite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So, that’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits we know come from OmegaBrite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3, which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it. That just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at OmegaBritewellness.com by using the promo code Podcast2020. All right, let’s get back to today’s topic. What do you wish someone had told you when you were in high school in trying to figure it all out?

Kristin Seymour:
That it truly can be an asset and it’s good news. It’s a gift, if you harness it properly, that it’s not a curse, that it sometimes might feel like one, but that you have an incredible ability to think large and accomplish much. You’re not a failure and you are smart because all of us feel so dumb.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how did you beat the odds? I mean, how did you manage to make it?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, probably when I got my diagnosis, I was so relieved to know it wasn’t my fault, if you will. And at 19, I was like, “This is such a relief to know I’m not stupid and I’m not lazy and I’m not applying myself.” And after trying everything that was non-medication, scheduled routine structure, diet, exercise, sleep, everything like that, then when I went on the medication, it was really a big game changer because I was such a textbook case. And that was what changed it around. But then I thought nothing’s going to stop me, nothing was getting in my way. I just had this desire to be a nurse. And I’m like, “I don’t care what I have to do to do this. I’m going to do it.” And then that clarity was a relief.

Kristin Seymour:
And then I was like, “This is fine, and this is easy.” And I can’t believe how much I actually liked school. And the other thing is, this is just a side note. My parents never gave up, they really didn’t. And they did love me through that. But when I was dating people or if my friends in high school college and post-college, those people believed in me and those people cheerleaded [inaudible 00:14:53] like gym, the whole way through. Those are the people that have your back and support you in so many loving ways, why I was successful off medication too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. How much difference did medication make for you?

Kristin Seymour:
100%, because everything else was not, I mean, working that we had tried over so many years and even after diagnosis. And so in 1992, Dr. Garrett Burris was like, “Let’s just try this.” And I think this is, “She’s a classic case,” and we did it. And it was literally like turning on the windshield wipers in a rain storm and clarity or a cable from a non-cable TV. It truly is that way. And I had a patient I’m working with, he’s so impulsive in 8th grade, he opened the car door while his mom was driving down an interstate, and he’s fine, but he was just doing so many impulsive things. And just everybody, the school, everybody was just like, “What is going on?” And I really believe he was on the wrong medication, was working in fact probably against him because it was not the right dose.

Kristin Seymour:
It was like sometimes when you don’t have the right medication at the right dose, it’s sub-therapeutic. It’s not effective. It’s not against him, but it wasn’t working in his favor. It wasn’t making a difference. So, that child is on the right medication now that I suggested to as a psychiatrist. He had three letters of commendation from emails from teachers this week or last week, I apologize, at the end of last week. And is respecting mom at home and doing so well. And that is so fast that you can see how fast the correct plan all around and medication can be effective in major ways.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The correct plan and medication, I think so true. But I would add, and you don’t know how well you do this, but I’ve seen it. You advocating, you really go to bat for these kids. And I think in a way that a lot of doctors don’t have time or don’t feel that it’s their role or what have you, but I’ve seen you. I mean, you go right in there, you go right into the school and you get right in with the kids and you really cheer-lead them in a big way. And I think that element is often forgotten that people don’t realize how important that is.

Kristin Seymour:
You’re exactly right. And when you work with cases where you have to always remember that child, your parents are trusting you and them as a team. And that child is all I care about. I mean, the parents vision and their mission and their beliefs is important, but one parent goes, “Medicine’s not an option for us.” And I said, “Well, this isn’t your journey, this is Sally’s journey.” And we need to really reevaluate what this is about. Let’s look at the facts, because right now, your child is so defeated. They’re going to turn to something else possibly to calm their mind, and that’s that.

Kristin Seymour:
And that usually is very powerful because if she was diabetic or chemo if she had cancer, or eyeglasses for vision problems, I mean, let’s stop and think about this. And that really bothers them when they don’t want to, because they don’t believe in it, or they don’t believe the facts. Look at the MTA analysis. Look at all the good data out there that shows how effective it can be without long-lasting side effects. To be effective, it’s not about making friends with everybody. You have to be direct and factual and represent and do a good job for that student.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Why do you think there aren’t more services like the ones you provide? They’re very hard to find people who do it the way you do it.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. I don’t know. I think probably because some people think that they’re a good coach or accountability coach or advocate and they probably are. I mean, I think there’s just not a lot of people who’ve lived it and lived it well that want to talk about it, and share some of the struggles I had and how I wanted to get in there with them and say, “I know you’d probably rather poke your eyeballs out or starved herself to death than do this paper, but I know that feeling, but let’s bite off in little chunks.” Not a lot of people would admit they had to go through that to get through school, or didn’t even know they had it, or don’t care enough, or don’t want to spend that much time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I mean, I think people forget this is not just take a pill and see me in the morning kind of thing.

Kristin Seymour:
Right? No. No, it’s literally the student and I meeting with the parents and going sometimes to where they… Whether it’s FaceTime, virtually or in person and seeing the dynamic and the setup. What does homework look like in your house? Where are you sitting and how can we make this more effective? And let’s make some strategies that will work or… You know what I mean? It’s kind of like taking on a family, “Okay, I see this girl who I love and I’m working with right now.” And this girl is awesome. I mean, she’s more athletic, smarter, prettier, more competent than I was and I diagnosed with ADHD, combined type with anxiety, just similar to what I would have been in high school.

Kristin Seymour:
This girl wants to help herself so much and is willing to do anything I say and suggest, and her parents as well, that I burn to help them. So my daughter, I take care of my girls, take care of my family, take care of myself. And then when I have time and my kids are out or doing something else, I will go over to that house. So I will meet in my office and help this family, because this kid wants it as bad as I do. But when I seem to care more than the child or more than the parent, that’s not good. Those are the cases I do my best with, but it’s when the parents are so wanting me and they’re all engaged that I just like in it with them. And those are the ones who have the fastest improvement too within a month.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I could talk to you for a long time. I want to remind people that you’ll be at the International ADHD Conference in St. Louis, November 8th to the 11th. And you’ll be talking about self-medication and vaping, is that correct?

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. In all students, but particularly in ADHD, impulsive students and what that does to the brain and their behaviors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And the conference will have a ton of wonderfully interesting speakers. So if any of you want to go and can go, I really recommend it. And again, Kristin’s book is called The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey With ADHD. And if people want to reach you, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Kristin Seymour:
They can reach me on my website. It’s ADHDfoglifted.com, and there’s a contact form there. But they’re into my email, I believe my business email’s in my book as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good. Well, your messages is very practical, but also very hopeful and inspiring. You’ve lived it, you practice it and you put in that kind of work and don’t give up and you do get a good outcome. Well, Kristin, thanks a million for taking the time to join us. I know how really busy you are and as always, you’re wonderful. We have to have you on again soon. Thank you so much.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction, and thank you so much for joining us. The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at omegabrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E, wellness.com.

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Pat Yourself On The Back For Making It Through 2020

Pat Yourself On The Back For Making It Through 2020

Ned shares congratulations on making it through one of the most difficult years in our lifetime. He extends a wish of hope and continued resilience for 2021 with the Distraction community.

We are so grateful for all of you!

If you like this episode, please rate and review Distraction on Apple Podcasts! If you have a question, comment, or show idea please email it to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0!

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Dr. H has an honorary degree from Landmark!

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, Omegabrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years, and so as my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast, I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at Omegabritewellness.com and brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E Omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College, another institution that I have warm personal relationship with, in Putney Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at LCdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. I’m talking to you on the eve of new year’s eve. So of course, I’m thinking about the new year as most of you are as well. And what a hellacious year 2020 was. I’m sure we’re all looking to much better tidings come 2021, but looking back I just want to congratulate you all because simply getting through a amounts to a lot. Particularly if you have the fascinating trait that we love to talk about called ADHD, or as we renamed it in our new book, VAST. If you have ADHD/VAST then dealing with the uncertainty of everyday life becomes even more stressful, problematic, upsetting, frustrating, and raging difficult and leads you to want to pull out your hair, if not your fingernails as well. It’s really stressful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So if you were sitting there listening to this, you deserve tremendous congratulation. You deserve enormous, enormous pats on the back and whatever other kinds of goodies you like to get. It’s no small feat to have gotten through the horrible obstacle course that was 2020. And to be looking at the new year with an attitude of hope, knowing that we’re not out of the woods by any means but that there is reason to hope. The vaccine gives us reason to hope, and we hope the transition from one administration to the next will give us hope. We’re together, bonding, connecting, getting over what I call a massive vitamin connect deficiency, which is hitting people right and left and leveling them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So now’s the time to connect. Now’s the time to come together, hug one another if it’s safe, hug one another figuratively otherwise, and just feel the good vibration that can start circling around the country and around the world. Congratulations on having made it through 2020, and now steel yourself, gird your loins and march into 21 with gusto, enthusiasm and high, high hopes. I think 21 will prove to be a wonderful year.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This is Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you the happiest of new years you could ever imagine. Take care, stay safe and be well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at Omegabrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at Omegabrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E, wellness.com.

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Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria Is Common with ADHD

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria Is Common with ADHD

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is common in those with ADHD. And the pain that people experience is very real as Dr. H describes in this mini episode.

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

Now is a great time to try OmegaBrite as Ned has arranged for a special offer for the first 250 Distraction listeners who respond. Distraction listeners who buy one bottle of 70/10 MD Omega-3, will get a FREE bottle of CBD Full Spectrum 25mg Softgels with the promo code: NED. You’ll get FREE shipping too! These are the same supplements that Dr. H takes every day.

Just enter the code: NED after adding the Omega-3 to your cart and the FREE bottle of CBD and FREE shipping will be automatically applied.

Click HERE to learn more about our other amazing sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is sponsored by OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD full spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, Ned, at omegabritewellness.com. Distraction is also sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Today I want to respond to a couple of questions that have come from my recent debut on Tik Tok #nedtalks on Tik Tok. If you go there, you’ll see a bunch of 60 second video clips that I’ve made. A couple of questions that have come up… On Tik Tok you don’t have a lot of time to answer a question. So a couple of questions that would take a little bit more than the brief space we have on Tik Tik to answer questions I thought I’d deal with here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The first one regards rejection sensitive dysphoria, RSD, condition that William Dodson, one of the great clinicians in our field has really taken to the general public. It’s received widespread attention because it’s so common. Now rejection sensitive dysphoria is a bunch of syllables that simply refers to a person’s tendency to be more than average sensitive to rejection. None of us likes rejection. If someone comes up to you and says, “You’re ugly,” you’re not going to like that. Or if someone comes up to you and says, “You’re stupid,” you’re not going to like that. Or if you apply for a job and don’t get it, you’re not going to like that. Or if you ask someone out and they say, “You must be joking,” you’re not going to like that. So, it is a baseline fact of human existence that rejection is not pleasant.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
However, there’s tremendous variability in how people respond to rejection. Those of us who have what’s called rejection sensitive dysphoria, we have an exaggerated response to rejection. Oftentimes we imagine rejection when it really isn’t there. Someone can say, “Oh, I really like your tie.” And you think, well, does that mean you don’t like my shirt? So we can imagine rejection where none as intended. That’s the dilemma of the person who has RSD, rejection sensitive dysphoria.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It happens to be very common in people who have ADHD. People don’t have ADHD can have it as well. People with anxiety disorders, people with post traumatic stress disorder, people who have a very insecure childhood, never got the kind of grounding and reassurance they needed and never developed what I call the emotional shock absorbers to allow you to deal with and rebound from rejection or disappointment. So there are many ways you can acquire rejection sensitive dysphoria, but it happens for whatever reason to be common in the ADHD population. We are inclined to overreact to rejection and to imagine rejection where none is intended.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What do you do about that? Well, you begin by simply knowing that it exists, that you have an exaggerated response to rejection, and sometimes you perceive it when it’s not even there. Now that can help you put it into perspective, you see, because by definition, the rejection sensitive dysphoria is a loss of perspective. You are magnifying the importance of the disappointment. You are magnifying the damage to your self-esteem that the rejection has done. You are turning a molehill into a mountain. So you want to learn how to bring that mountain back down to the molehill it ought to be.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a skill that you can cultivate. One good way is to go to my favorite rule which is never worry alone. Talk to someone about it. Do you think that person really hates me? Do you think my not getting the job means I’m a total loser? Do you think my not getting a good grade in the course means I have no future in this field? You want to reality test, as the jargon puts it, your reaction, because your reaction is exaggerated. One way to bring that mountain back down to a molehill is to test your reaction out with a friend and say, “This is how I reacted to that. What do you think?” And the friend will say, “You’re exaggerating.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, in order to do that, you have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable. You have to be willing to say, “I had this extreme reaction.” Then let your friends say, “Gee, it doesn’t sound like that person really was putting you down all that much.” Or the job you didn’t get it, well, there’s plenty of other jobs out there, and it doesn’t mean you’re a loser at all. There’s nobody in this world who hasn’t applied for something and not gotten it, whether it’s a team, a job, a date, or whatever it might happen to be.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, start building your emotional shock absorbers as I call them. You do that with friends, with belief systems, with faith, with aphorisms, slogans. Epictetus, the great stoic philosopher, really the father of cognitive therapy, was a slave, and he discovered that the one thing he could control was his thoughts. So even as a slave, he was happy. His master freed him because he said, “Epictetus, if you can explain to me your secret, I’ll set you free.” Epictetus did, and it worked. The master set him free, and now Epictetus is revered as one of the fathers of a whole school of philosophy called stoicism. So, it’s about learning how to take control of your emotions and your thoughts instead of being at the whim, the horrible often devastating whim of your perceived rejections. You want to learn how, and seeing a therapist can help a great deal, learn how to build up your emotional shock absorbers, your reality testers, your capacity to reassure yourself, to give yourself self-talk without necessarily having to find another person.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Dr. Dodson also recommends a couple of medications that oddly enough can be helpful for this. They’re not antidepressants. They’re what are called the alpha agonists. Clonidine is one, and Guanfacine is another, that in low doses have been found to be effective in dealing with RSD. Now, why that is, we don’t know. But it is very interesting that a medication can help improve a person’s capacity to tolerate rejection. It just shows there’s this tremendous interface between the mind and the body, between what we think of as femoral and psychological, as opposed to what we think of neuro-transmitter driven biology. They overlap. They’re, in a sense, one and the same, that you can use a medication to treat what seems like such a purely psychological experiential phenomenon. So rejection sensitive dysphoria.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The other part of the question the person asked was, “Well, what if the rejection is real?” What if you have been dropped by the person of your dreams? What if you did make it up to the final cut and didn’t make the team, or didn’t get the job, or didn’t get the promotion? There’s no doubt that’s a rejection. What if it’s real? Well, you deal with it in exactly the same way. You rely on your emotional shock absorbers. You rely on your support system. That’s why it’s so important to have a support system, what I call your network of positive connection, connection to friend, connection to family, connection to a dog, one of the ones that I champion all the time. Connection to ways of self-soothing be it music, be it beauty, be it a walk in nature, ways of self-soothing, reliable ways of self-soothing, and avoiding the dangerous ways of self-soothing, which is excessive alcohol, drugs, dangerous seeking behavior, impulsive acting out. So you want to try to cultivate the adaptive forms of self-soothing and steer clear of the maladaptive.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But that’s why it’s important to have a philosophy, or a belief system that you can reliably turn to, a passage from literature, a letter from a friend, something that you remember that stuck with you that helps to bring it out when times are tough. My father-in-law who’s since passed away, loved the poem “If”. I’ll send you to that poem. It’s a great one if you want to have something that you can turn to for some degree of stabilization. We all need that. People who have this predilection toward overreacting to disappointment and rejection particularly need to develop those emotional shock absorbers that you can bring out so that you don’t suffer the terrible pain that RSD can create if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hope that makes sense because it’s a common phenomenon, not just in the world of ADHD, but in life in general. Life has enough pain in it, but you don’t want to… I call there’s necessary pain and then there’s unnecessary pain, and the pain of RSD is unnecessary pain, so take it upon yourself to learn how to master it. Work with a professional. You’ll discover that these episodes, while no fun, do not have to be devastating, and indeed can turn into growth. That is a fact, that the painful experiences, the old saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, it’s true. It’s true. But we don’t want you to get killed in the process.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Before I go, I’d like to thank our sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD full spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, at omegabritewellness.com. Please reach out to us with your questions and comments by emailing [email protected] That’s [email protected] And if you happen to be on Tik Tok, my new favorite platform, you can find me there with the username @drhallowell. I’ve posted a whole bunch of videos about common ADHD issues, and they’re only 60 seconds apiece. Take a look and let me know what you think. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the estimable Scott Persson. Our producer is the very talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard, just now heard, was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD full spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, at omegabritewellness.com.

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Ned and Sue Answer ADHD Relationship Questions

Ned and Sue Answer ADHD Relationship Questions

Dr. Hallowell’s wife Sue returns to Distraction to address listeners’ ADHD questions. Sue Hallowell is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and has been married to Ned for 30 years. They’ve also raised 3 children together who all have ADHD, so you could say Sue is somewhat of a subject-matter expert! Listeners ask about issues with their kids, spouses and more.

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

Now is a great time to try OmegaBrite as Ned has arranged for a special offer for the first 250 Distraction listeners who respond. Distraction listeners who buy one bottle of 70/10 MD Omega-3, will get a FREE bottle of CBD Full Spectrum 25mg Softgels with the promo code: NED. You’ll get FREE shipping too! These are the same supplements that Dr. H takes every day.

Just enter the code: NED after adding the Omega-3 to your cart and the FREE bottle of CBD and FREE shipping will be automatically applied.

Click HERE to learn more about our other amazing sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

This episode was originally released in August 2017.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is sponsored by OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of Omega Brite CBD Full-Spectrum Softgels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, Ned, at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is also sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, the college of choice for student who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s very demoralizing for me when I come up with a new idea, “Let’s start a goat farm tomorrow morning,” and have her say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” So we each try to manage the other’s expectations a little bit, and we’ve been married how many years, 28 years? It’s…

Sue Hallowell:
It’ll be 28 years September 17th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, we’re still working at it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction, the podcast. Today we have a very special episode because my wife is joining. My wife, Sue, has joined us in the past and it made for one of our most popular episodes ever, and so we’ve invited her back.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
By way of introduction, Sue is my wife of 28 years, the mother of our three children, now 28, 25, 22, but professionally, she is a licensed independent clinical social worker, LICSW, has been in practice for 30 years, is really honestly the best clinician I know. She is truly, and I don’t I’m biased, but I mean it. She’s remarkable. She’s incredibly empathic, incredibly warm, but also very decisive, incisive, and smart. She specializes in couples, particularly couples where one or both members have the wonderfully interesting condition called ADD. Welcome, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you. It’s such a privilege to be here. I’m really happy to be asked back.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, the privilege is ours. And with that, we will take our first caller. I’m very happy to welcome a caller by the name of [Suta 00:02:45]. Hello, Suta.

Suta:
Hi, how are you?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
[crosstalk 00:02:48].

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah. Hi, Suta. How are you?

Suta:
Nice to meet you, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Nice to meet you.

Suta:
Thanks for having me on your show with Dr. Hallowell.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, it’s nice to have you here.

Suta:
Where are you calling from, Suta?

Sue Hallowell:
Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how can we help you?

Suta:
Well, I’ve been with my husband for 22 years, and he was diagnosed late in life with ADHD, so I listened a lot to ADHD podcasts and I’ve learned a lot about it, but I still struggle with a few things. One of those is how do you respond when your ADHD spouse comes to you with a new idea, a new hobby, or a new business venture? I know that I should respond positively but I still have a hard time with it. Sometimes I maybe question a little bit too much and I think it comes across as being negative.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m only laughing because this comes up in our coupledom all the time.

Suta:
Yes. And my questions generally revolve around the time commitment and money. So I was just wondering, do you have any thoughts on how to respond positively and be supportive, but still be able to get your questions answered?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, as Sue said, this comes up between Sue and me all the time. So let me let you, Sue. How do you handle me when I come up with a new idea?

Sue Hallowell:
Often, probably like you, almost automatically, I come up with, “Oh, yes, but.”

Suta:
Yeah.

Sue Hallowell:
And one of the things that Ned and I have talked about over the years is that drives him absolutely crazy. And it’s my own anxiety that gets perpetuated immediately, and I feel as if it’s happening right now, that if I don’t respond in a responsible way right then, that we are going to have something happen that’s beyond my control without even beyond a blink of an eye. So what I’ve really tried to learn to do is just suppress that part of myself and realize that what’s most important first, is to just be enthusiastic, and say, “Geez, that’s a great idea. Tell me more about it. Wow, that’s so interesting,” because there’s going to be time for questions. It isn’t going to happen immediately, and if I take the time and talk about what’s good about the idea, or really hear what he’s thinking about it, then he’s often much more responsive when I do say, “Well, but have you thought about this, or have you thought about that?” But if I bring up those concerns immediately, he’s not going to listen to me and it just leads to a fight.

Suta:
Right, it shuts down pretty quickly in my household too.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s exactly right. But for me, it really is, and I don’t know if this is true for you, but I just want to underscore, it’s my own anxiety about things getting out of control that leads me to respond so quickly.

Suta:
Yes.

Sue Hallowell:
And sometimes, actually, if I stop and I really listen to him, he can almost, he’s already considered a lot of things that I didn’t even know he thought about, and/or as he talks about it, sometimes he can see the issues himself. And so that has helped a lot. Would you agree, Ned?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I rely on Sue to be the brakes. My analogy of ADD is I’ve got a Ferrari engine for a brain with bicycle brakes, and so I’ve spent a lifetime trying to strengthen my brakes. And one of the ways I’ve strengthened my brakes is by marrying Sue, because she doesn’t have a runaway brain and she is able to put on the brakes, and what I have to learn to do is take her temperance as just that, instead of thinking of her as the official wet blanket, to instead say, “Yeah, you’re right. We can’t immediately open a goat farm tomorrow morning in our backyard and it does take some planning.” And so I’ve tried to learn to appreciate her putting on the brakes, just as she’s tried to learn to appreciate my new ideas and not rain on the parade right off the bat. Because it’s very demoralizing for me when I come up with a new idea, “Let’s start a goat farm tomorrow morning,” and to have her say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” So we each try to manage the other’s expectations a little bit. And we’ve been married, how many years, 28 years? It’s…

Sue Hallowell:
It’ll be 28 years September 17th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, we’re still working at it.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I still get upset when she bursts my balloon, and she still gets upset when I go off half-cocked with yet another new idea. And…

Sue Hallowell:
And, may I say, that sometimes your half-cocked ideas have turned out to be pretty fabulous things, down the line. It’s just taken a little bit of a slower process with it. And as you said, sometimes my temperance has helped us maybe stay out of a little bit of trouble sometimes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, and also, I’m not the only one with ideas. For example, I’m just finishing a memoir that I’ve spent the past two years writing, and it’s completely different from anything I’ve ever written. And the only reason I wrote it was Sue telling me, “You really ought to write a memoir. You really ought to write something totally different from all the other books you’ve written.” And only with her encouragement, and only with her assuring me that people might actually want to read it, was I able to get up the courage to write the proposal and sell the idea, and now I’m just finishing the book. So, sometimes she comes up with the bright ideas, and I’m the one who needs to be encouraged.

Suta:
Right, right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much for calling in, and-

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah. Yeah, it’s really great talking with you.

Suta:
Yes. Yes, thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you, Suta. Take care.

Suta:
I appreciate it. Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Sue Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, next up we have a question from [Cheryl 00:09:11]. Hi, Cheryl, this is Ned. Where are we reaching you?

Cheryl:
I am just outside of Portland, Oregon, in a little town called Lake Oswego.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Well, welcome to Distraction, and how can we help you?

Cheryl:
Okay. Well, my question is around the mindful parenting courses that I’ve been seeing a awful lot of both online, I mean, you can take them online, or you can take them in person. And I’ve been seeing those on different ADHD sites and mostly on the parenting sites. Very recently, I started practicing mindfulness and meditation for myself to help kind of manage my nine-year-old ADHD son, and it helps quite a bit.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Cheryl:
We’re having fewer power struggles, mostly because I feel like I’m stopping and taking a breath. So my question is, what’s your take on these course offerings? Do you think they offer a more directed plan for parenting a complex kid?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Before we comment, I’d like to hear you describe what has been in the course, and by the way, when I hear mindful parenting, I always think, “So what’s the opposite, mindless parenting?”

Cheryl:
[crosstalk 00:10:25].

Sue Hallowell:
Well, that’s what we do a lot of the time, Ned. We often do mindless parenting.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, tell-

Cheryl:
I think they call that autopilot.

Sue Hallowell:
There you go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So tell us, what is in the course? What have you learned? What are they advising you to do?

Cheryl:
Well, some of the modules involve, obviously, there’s a module on mindfulness and meditation and being able to step back, kind of do the old school count to 10 routine. They talked about effective communication and communicating with your child more on their level, and don’t let them push your buttons. I mean, several of the courses have, and they’re anywhere from six to 10 or 12 different modules that you can go through and some of them are self-paced online, and some of them are in person, where they do a webcast. So I mean, there’s several different pieces involved with the courses.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
My take on it is, what’s not to like? I mean, they’re advising you to learn skills of self soothing, of breathing, of meditating, of being in the moment, of being patient, of waiting and not engaging in struggles, and if the adjective applied to it is mindful, fine. You could call it patient parenting. You could call it taking a deep breath parenting. I think most of these kinds of courses have a lot to offer, simply by allowing you a forum to step back and ponder and consider what you’re doing as a parent. And the oldest job in the world. Sue and I have three kids, and the most important thing we’ve ever done was raise those and some days we were mindful and some days-

Sue Hallowell:
We were not.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We were mindless. But I think these courses, by and large, they’re all good. I mean, unless they’re recommending terrible things, but by and large, I think what they provide is support and certain techniques that have time tested. Goodness knows, breathing and meditation have been around for thousands of years, and learning forbearance with kids who are by nature rambunctious, and we all need support, a guide and someone to worry with and so you feel more confident and less stressed.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Sue Hallowell:
I would basically agree. I mean, I think I heard in one of your questions was you’ve already taken some mindfulness courses? And-

Cheryl:
Well, I haven’t actually taken the courses yet. I was more wondering if, I mean, would this be a good model to follow-

Sue Hallowell:
Yes.

Cheryl:
Or am I in just as good a place in the different little tidbits and things that I’ve stumbled across kind of on the web?

Sue Hallowell:
First of all, I think that I love groups where you can interact with other parents.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Sue Hallowell:
Because I think that that is one of the most healing things that can happen, no matter what the techniques are, right? I think that just being able to have the opportunity to interact with other people who are struggling with the same kinds of issues with your child, is most important. We run this camp in Michigan every year, a week, it’s called ADHD Family Camp, and the kids work with this master educator who does a wonderful program have the kids and the parents work with Ned, and I come in one day. But I always like to joke when I talk to families and say, “Even though Ned’s giving you information and talking with you, what the most important thing is the interactions that you get with the other parents and what you learn from them.”

Cheryl:
Okay.

Sue Hallowell:
So you can read the tidbits and you can get information, but it’s the connection and also having to be able to practice some of it really makes a difference.

Cheryl:
Oh, okay. Awesome. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There’s a wonderful book, if you want a book along these lines, by Shefali Tsabary.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you go to Amazon and look up Shefali Tsabary, her books are wonderful. And then-

Sue Hallowell:
And Cindy Goldrich.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There’s another author, Cindy Goldrich, and her parenting course is terrific.

Sue Hallowell:
Calm and Connected Parenting.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So those two books, those two authors, both Sue and I know and endorse.

Sue Hallowell:
And Cindy actually not only has a book, she also runs a Calm and Connected Parenting workshop that people really love.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But it’s on the East Coast, so it’s not exactly convenient.

Sue Hallowell:
But it’s a webinar.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, it’s a webinar. Oh, okay. Oh, okay.

Sue Hallowell:
She does both in-house and webinar.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, great. Great.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Terrific, then.

Cheryl:
Oh, very good. Thank you so much for your insight. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, and thank you for giving us a call and it was nice to talk to you.

Sue Hallowell:
Good luck.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good luck.

Cheryl:
Thank you. Have a great day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You too. Take care. Bye-bye.

Cheryl:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, so Sarah, I understand there’s a new offer from our wonderful sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness.

Sarah:
Yes, there is and we’re really excited. I like to call it the Ned pack, because they’re, basically our listeners are going to have the chance to take what you take every day. So all you have to do is add the OmegaBrite 7010 MD Omega-3 to your cart at omegabritewellness.com, and if you use the coupon code Ned, your name, N-E-D, it’ll automatically add a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full-Spectrum 25 milligram Softgels to the cart, and you get free shipping. So, pretty cool.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow, that’s an excellent offer. I’m so glad they’re using my name not in vain, but to bring people to this wonderful product. It is a wonderful product.

Sarah:
It makes it nice and easy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, and my wife, really, if they really want to get someone who loves it, they should get my wife, Sue, on because she, and she’s very skeptical about all kinds of things. I mean, she laughs at me for the various stuff I take, but this is one that she absolutely swears by, so I’m glad to know. So they just go to omegabritewellness.com and put in the code Ned and they get all this cool stuff.

Sarah:
Yep, they just have to add the OmegaBrite 7010 MD Omega-3 to their cart, and then with the promo code, they’ll automatically get the free CBD Full-Spectrum 25 milligram Softgels. They’ll get free shipping, and I should note that this is limited to the first 250 Distraction listeners. So people kind of got to move on if they’re interested.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, and the offer code is Ned.

Sarah:
That’s right, N-E-D.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Very good. Okay. Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah:
Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, now I’d like to welcome Christian to Distraction.

Sue Hallowell:
Hi, Christian. Thanks for calling.

Christian:
Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Where are we catching you? Where are you?

Christian:
I live in Massachusetts.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You have Sue and me together. What can we do for you?

Christian:
So my question for you guys is my wife Michelle, we’ve been married 16, almost 17 years, and she has ADD and I think I have ADD as well, but Michelle has a real severe case of it. So it’s frustrating for me, as a spouse where, a lot of times Michelle has great intentions, she’ll say, “I’ll do this for you,” or, “I’ll run this errand,” and I’m like, “Okay,” and I count on her to do and then it doesn’t happen. And that happens often and I know she doesn’t do it deliberately. It’s just she gets caught up with a lot of things going on in her head. But I guess my question is, how can I, I don’t want to be frustrated anymore and I don’t want our kids to kind of sense that from me, because then [inaudible 00:18:18] they may internalize that and think that Mom just lets them down. So I guess that’s my biggest question.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, my first question is, is her ADD being treated?

Christian:
It is, yes. She sees a doctor, I think, once a month, and she works on it. She listens to your podcast. She reads a lot. And I got to be honest, she wants me to read a book, and I haven’t read it. [inaudible 00:18:45] So I also have to do my part, as well, but yeah, she is being treated for it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, is she taking medication?

Christian:
She is, and if I have it correctly, I think it’s called it Ativan? No.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Adderall.

Sue Hallowell:
Adderall.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, the biggest mistake that people make is they don’t get maximum mileage out of the medication. The medication is by far the easiest intervention we’ve got. There’s plenty of other things you can do, but if you are open to using medication, and really the medical facts are tremendously reassuring along those lines, then, once you start, you’ve got to titrate the dose so you get target symptom improvement with no side effects. And that can take some backing and filling. If she’s forgetting stuff, it sounds to me as if the medication dosing should at least be looked at, if not revised, because it’s a shame to… It’s like having the wrong prescription eyeglasses. You don’t get the best results. Or the wrong shoe size. You want to make sure that she’s getting the maximum mileage from the medication. And then-

Sue Hallowell:
But.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The second suggestion is for you to sit down with someone like me or Sue. You can see either one of us, I’m in Sudbury, she’s in Cambridge, and do some couples coaching because-

Christian:
Right. Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll let you take over with that.

Sue Hallowell:
So I have some medication, though I absolutely agree with you, it does have its limitations and people can be adequately medicated with… Still these issues come up, what kinds of things does she, can you say a little bit more about what you notice or what happens?

Christian:
Sure. Just every… It can be any task, like household things. I’ll do the groceries and then, okay. I like to do the groceries because I, just with my experience with her, I’ll go and get everything that’s on the list, but when I give it a list, she comes back with one third of it. And then she’s like, “Ah, oh I forgot this,” and if she says like… It can be any household chore, like, “I’ll do the laundry,” or, “I’ll do the bills,” or something. Lots of times she just forget, she just doesn’t get it done.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Christian:
And I know that she doesn’t do it deliberately. I know that she’s not doing because, “Ugh, I don’t want to do laundry.” No one really wants to do laundry.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Christian:
She’s just, I think her mind is so preoccupied with a lot of things that she just literally forgets.

Sue Hallowell:
Is she working, or is she-

Christian:
She works part, yeah, she works part time. Yep.

Sue Hallowell:
She does. So she’s out of the house, some. Because one of the-

Christian:
Yes.

Sue Hallowell:
One of the challenges that I’ve seen with a lot of people, women with ADHD who are at home is they feel like they need to be home because they have ADD and they can’t manage everything, but the unstructured life at home actually, in many ways, is much harder for them than if they actually had more of a structure.

Christian:
Right. It’s funny you mentioned that because she worked at home for a while and then she got really, she did a home daycare, and it just was, that was a lot. She did it for seven years and then she stopped. And then she took a break from working and she always said that when she works and she gets out of the house and she works, she can put 100% focus onto work tasks, but when she gets home, she has a very difficult time.

Sue Hallowell:
She loses it. Right.

Christian:
Yeah, so she definitely, what you just said, is definitely true for her.

Sue Hallowell:
Right. The structure really makes a huge difference.

Christian:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
And so the more that structure can be built into things, the better she will do.

Christian:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
The other thing is to really talk with her about what she is good at and what she’s not so good at. One of the things that people with ADD, and not that that means she doesn’t have to do anything, but really playing to what her strengths are around the house is much better than having her do things that she’s really not good at.

Christian:
Yeah.

Sue Hallowell:
That can help. Also, don’t pick up the pieces so much. So, if she forgets things at the grocery store, instead of you taking over going to the grocery store, going back for her, one of the mistakes people make is they begin to overcompensate for their partner and then their partner ends up sort of feeling crappy about themselves, really, because they feel like they’re never quite doing it, doing everything they’re supposed to do. And I understand that it’s frustrating and you worry about, “Well, are things going to fall between the cracks?”

Sue Hallowell:
Well, you have to think about what’s good enough versus what is your idea of how things need to be, because sometimes you have to look at what your style is, and what’s important to you, because sometimes with an ADD family, it’s not going to look like other families. And it’s what’s good enough and what needs to get done and how to do it, as opposed to, this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Christian:
Right. No, it makes a lot of sense. And we’ve done that recently. We’ve… She enjoys doing the finances and taking care of those things, and she does a great job at it and she does a lot of things with the kids’ school. Our kids started going to private school this year, so she’s taken a lot of those tasks.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How old are your kids?

Christian:
14 and 12. Our daughter’s dyslexic, and our son is has processing, executive function things going on, and they both have made tremendous strides just in one academic year. It’s been a blessing for us. But Michelle has been really in charge with that and in advocating for the kids. And so yeah, I guess so, we’ve done that in the last few years. We’ve focused on trying to give her a structure, I guess, without even thinking about it.

Sue Hallowell:
And raising kids with issues like your kids have, don’t underestimate how much time and effort that takes, and it sounds like she does a terrific job with that. And so-

Christian:
[crosstalk 00:24:59]. I mean, she’s phenomenal.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Christian:
Yeah, so.

Sue Hallowell:
And so focus in on that, and if you have resources, filling in the places that she doesn’t do as well, or… I’ll tell you a story of this one couple I see. He is someone who would really get very upset when his wife would put, they had one small child, and she would put the plastic plates that he was eating on in the dishwasher, which he felt was not a good thing because of health benefits. He felt like… And they would go, and she would really mean not to do it, but then would forget, she has ADD, and would put it in. And it was just this struggle and she didn’t want to do it, but she would forget it was… So I finally said, I said to them, I said, “Well, why don’t you just stop using these plastic plates?”

Christian:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
I mean, and that sounds so simple but they both looked at me like I had given them a magic wand and made it… And so now they have more glass, these pottery that are sturdy, and that she can put them in the dishwasher, and yes, they break sometimes, but it’s really made a major improvement. So I’m saying that you have to sometimes think outside the box a little bit. And-

Christian:
Yeah, no, you’re absolutely right. Yeah, and it’s… We’ve been married 16 years and thank god, our marriage is great and she’s phenomenal. And we’ve had two different upbringings, so that’s also another thing. Life isn’t always the same as when you were a kid.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right.

Christian:
But just this short conversation with you guys has definitely, it makes me think a little bit more.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful.

Christian:
And I agree 100%. I think it can only be a benefit for us to talk to a psychologist, or a doctor like you guys, in terms of figuring out different methods to help us, because if we just try to do it on our own, it’s sometimes [crosstalk 00:27:03].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, someone who has experience with ADD, a little coaching.

Christian:
Right, exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just a couple of sessions can go a long way, strategies and…

Christian:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, good luck to you.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you so much for calling and good luck.

Christian:
Thank you very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you, Christian.

Christian:
All right. Thank you. Have a good day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You too. Bye-bye.

Sue Hallowell:
You too. Goodbye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to recommend to you Landmark College. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Go to lcdistraction.org to learn more. That’s LC for Landmark College, distraction.org, to learn more. It’s a really wonderful special place in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It’s bucolic, but what goes on there is unique. It is a truly specialized learning environment for people who have the conditions I’ve got, ADHD and dyslexia, for us to learn how best to acquire knowledge and also to express our own ideas. It’s a marvelously talented, sympathetic, lively faculty. The courses are rigorous, but also wonderfully forgiving if you have one of these conditions. Please go to Landmark College, lcdistraction.org, to learn more, and feed yourself with the banquet you’ll find there. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now Sue and I are going to speak with a Distraction listener who reached out to us by the name of [Janine 00:28:50]. Hello, Janine.

Janine:
Hi, Dr. Hallowell. Hi, Susan. I’m so delighted to talk with you both.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what can we do for you today?

Janine:
Well, you know what, it’s interesting, because when I got your initial email that you were exploring marriage issues, it was a week before our 30th wedding anniversary and the question really came to mind is, how on earth did I make it this far, or we make it this far? Because I never thought we’d be celebrating 30, although we both are really stubborn. But there were times when I thought, “There’s no way,” and I guess one of the big things that has helped us survive and be stronger is you in my life, your podcast, your books. And back in 2011, I was part of your summer intensive at Leelanau [crosstalk 00:29:53] School-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Ah.

Sue Hallowell:
Ah.

Janine:
And that was really my first jump into this crazy ADHD brain and kind of understand it, because that’s when my son had been diagnosed. I think what I wrote you about is just being grateful that you were there as a resource, and that you really focused on the connection piece, because that was another big way that we have made it through, is we have a group of friends that we camp with all the time and we just grew our families, and our kids grew up together and they accept us for who we are, but they hold us accountable.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janine:
So that’s critical.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s so important. And I want to say something about when you said how did we stay married for 30 years.

Janine:
Yeah.

Sue Hallowell:
And one of my favorite answers to that, Ned and I had these very close friends, Priscilla Vail and her husband, who were, what, about 10 years older than us?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
Maybe even 15 years older than us. And they… Priscilla described this evening one time that it was she and her husband and these three other couples, and between them, they were probably married 200 years, just an enormous amount of time. And they discussed, they wanted to talk about why did we stay married or what keeps people together, when so many people divorce. And everybody went around and some people said a sense of humor or respect or all these things, and Donald, her husband, went last, and he said, “It’s the determination to stay married.”

Janine:
That’s so true.

Sue Hallowell:
And I think that it’s really your testament to that, right, that you and your husband, it’s not always been easy, but you kept trying to go back and solve the problems or solve the issues and try different ways of looking at it, it sounds like, and having a connected life with people outside of yourself so you didn’t get so insular. I think that if you hadn’t had that determination, you can call it stubbornness or you can call it determination, then you may not have been a family that survived and wouldn’t that be unfortunate?

Janine:
It would be.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now after 30 years of marriage, what’s the upside? See, we’ve talked about sort of grim determination but what’s the-

Sue Hallowell:
Hey, hey, hey, I didn’t say grim determination. I-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the joy?

Sue Hallowell:
You are terrible.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the fun? What’s the joy?

Janine:
Okay. You guys make me laugh and that’s fun.

Sue Hallowell:
I mean, really.

Janine:
It’s interesting, now that our sons are almost launched and pretty much on their own, I mean, just our intimate life is probably better than it ever been because we… There was a time when we could go months and months without sex because first, we didn’t like each other very well at that point and who had any kind of… You just fake it and that wasn’t fun. So that part of our life wasn’t really active, and that has reemerged in our 60s, believe it or not.

Sue Hallowell:
And I have a question. I often find, and I don’t know if this is true for you, but so many couples, when they’re struggling, they really just focus on what their partner is doing wrong or what makes them unhappy about their partner.

Janine:
Yes.

Sue Hallowell:
And I think that when people are able to finally stop and, sounds like you did a little bit, take stock of what’s good and what’s not good, and what do I really want, then sometimes you’re able to say, “Okay, what can I do differently?”

Janine:
Exactly. I was spending a lot of time being the martyr and blaming, and…

Sue Hallowell:
People fight that because they think, “Well, no, but I’m right in what I believe,” and I often say to people, “Being right is sometimes not the best thing in a relationship.” Sometimes it’s more important to pay attention to what works for the relationship, rather than being right or not, and maybe you don’t have to react to every little thing, whether you’re right or wrong.

Janine:
Exactly. And I felt so justified in pointing them all out. It felt really good but it didn’t get to the end goal of us really being a better couple and enjoying each other.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Janine:
And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s funny-

Janine:
[crosstalk 00:34:41].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I remember a woman that I saw years and years ago, and she worked in the corporate world, and she was absolutely brilliant, but she wasn’t getting promoted to the level that she really deserved until she figured out why. And she said, “I used to go into meetings with the sole purpose of being right, and I was the smartest person in the room. I had done the most preparation, but my way of being right was to make everyone else feel wrong.” And she said, “Now I’m a recovering righteous bitch.” She said, “When I was able to not have to be right, and allow other people their say, everything changed.” And I think that’s true in couples. Being right is really overrated.

Janine:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Getting along is what you want to do.

Sue Hallowell:
And of course, I mean, Ned’s going to yell at me now because I always have to qualify everything. Of course, we’re not talking about… Obviously, there’s some times when you have to take a stand, but in general, taking a stand isn’t always needed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now’s the time for Sue to issue a disclaimer that we do not have a perfect marriage. We fight all the time.

Janine:
Well, we do too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We don’t fight all the time, but she would just as soon say that we do fight all the time.

Janine:
Well, we banter. [crosstalk 00:36:06].

Sue Hallowell:
Banter.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, we banter. We banter.

Janine:
We banter. And I think it’s learning to respect each other’s needs, because I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 50s, and then I also have dyslexia, so I have a bunch of triggers about being stupid. So I work real hard at [crosstalk 00:36:25] stupid.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Janine, where did you, you are anything but stupid. I can tell just talking to you, you’re very smart.

Janine:
Well, yeah, but I didn’t think that for years and years, so I can’t underestimate or I can’t say enough really for the work you both do and your commitment to this, and it’s not easy stuff and you’re a voice out there that people can go to and trust. And it’s sort of this beacon in the middle of the storm sometimes that, “Oh, there is a different way,” and, so thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you for those encouraging words, and we really have fun doing it. And we see the greatness in ADD, not just the problematic part of it.

Janine:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And we have fun with each other.

Sue Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janine:
Yeah, I can tell. You laugh a lot, and you don’t take each other quite too seriously.

Sue Hallowell:
No, you can’t.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We don’t have much grim determination, I’ll say that.

Janine:
We’ll just keep using the strategies we’ve been using and being gentle with each other and try and listen and not be so bullheaded and I think it’ll work.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Yeah, it’ll work. It obviously is working. Enjoy the next 30 years.

Janine:
Hey, thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right.

Janine:
And it’s been delightful talking with both of you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thanks, Janine.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s so nice to talk to you, Janine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Take care.

Janine:
All right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Janine:
Take care. Bye-bye.

Sue Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s our show, our very special show, featuring my wife the inimitable Sue George Hallowell. Do you have any closing remarks, sweetheart?

Sue Hallowell:
I just want to say thank you to all the callers today. I’ve always felt like it’s such a privilege to be able to get a little insight into people’s stories, and everyone today just had such incredible stories that I’m sure that many of you out there share many of the same issues. And so, I thank them for being willing to call in and to share their stories with us, and help others along the way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely, Sue. And the major theme of our show is the power of connection, and we really depend on you listeners for that, and so please write us, call us, be in touch with us, comments, stories, suggestions. We love hearing from you. We’ll do another show like this soon, I hope. Love to get your input and love to create the force field of connection that really is the key to pretty much everything good in life. Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, saying goodbye for me and for my wife, Sue, until next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s going to do it for today. I hope you all had fun. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you learned a lot. If you did, please tell your friends. We’re trying to grow our audience and the best way to do that is for you to tell other people about us. Thank you for all of you who reached out, and please, if any of you feel moved to write a question, write it, email it, record it, whatever. We will almost definitely be airing your question and I’ll get a chance to take a stab at providing my best answer that I can come up with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you have a question or comment you’d like us to include in a future episode, write it or record it and send it to, here you come, here you come, [email protected] Send it to connect, the word [email protected] Remember, please to follow Distraction on social media and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen, so you’ll never miss an episode. I’m now also on TikTok, if you can believe that. I’m loving TikTok. It’s a perfect, perfect format, 60 second bits about different parts of ADHD. So, you can find me there too. My username is @drhallowell.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so much for joining us today. I love this audience. I just appreciate lending me your ears, as it were. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazingly talented Scott Persson, and our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. Thank you all and see you next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard, just now heard, was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full-Spectrum Softgels, with free shipping, when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, at omegabritewellness.com.

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Who Can Diagnose and Treat ADHD?

Who Can Diagnose and Treat ADHD?

Ned clears up some common misconceptions about who can diagnose ADHD, the types professionals you might encounter on your treatment journey, and what questions you should ask any professional before working with them.

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

Now is a great time to try OmegaBrite as Ned has arranged for a special offer for the first 250 Distraction listeners who respond. Distraction listeners who buy one bottle of 70/10 MD Omega-3, will get a FREE bottle of CBD Full Spectrum 25mg Softgels with the promo code: NED. You’ll get FREE shipping too! These are the same supplements that Dr. H takes every day.

Just enter the code: NED after adding the Omega-3 to your cart and the FREE bottle of CBD and FREE shipping will be automatically applied.

Click HERE to learn more about our other amazing sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is sponsored by Omega Brite Wellness. Get a free bottle of Omega Brite CBD full-spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name Ned, @omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is also sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more @lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Today, we’re going to do a mini based on a few questions that come up all the time in my practice, in many people’s practice and in your lives, as you wonder about ADHD and how to get help so let me address them. I’m going to talk about who is qualified to diagnose ADHD, who is qualified to treat ADHD and what the difference is between a psychiatrist, psychologist and a therapist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Let’s start with that last one. A psychiatrist, which is what I am, has an MD. In other words, I went to medical school, and then I did a medical internship, taking care of heart attacks and GI bleeds, and that sort of thing. Then I did a residency in adult psychiatry for two years and followed that with a fellowship in child psychiatry for two more years. So it was four years of medical school, a year of internship, and then four years of residency and fellowship for a total of nine years after college, before I was set out upon the world to do what I wanted to do, not that I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing as a resident.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But a psychologist, on the other hand, has a PhD. So a psychologist does not receive medical training unless he or she goes out of his way or her way to get into biological psychology. So a psychologist has a PhD and in order to get a PhD, you have to go to grad school, take some courses, traditional courses, and then write a thesis, write a dissertation. If you ever hear of a psychologist saying I’m ABD, that means all but dissertation. He or she has done everything, but write the dreaded dissertation, and it becomes kind of a rite of passage for these folks.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then in the grouping of therapists, there’s many different stripes. I think if I were to advise a young person to go into the field, I’d advise them to get an MSW, master in social work. That takes two years. Once you get that, then you have to do some thousand hours, it varies from state to state, to get licensed and become an LICSW, licensed independent clinical social worker. The beauty of their training is it’s very strength-based, unlike psychiatry and psychology, which are skewed toward pathology.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then there are many other people who can do therapy. In fact, anyone can do therapy. You can not even have a high school diploma and put a sign out saying “I’m a therapist.” So, there is zero quality control unless you get into one of the licensed disciplines like social work, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then there are licensed marital therapists, there licensed counselors. Again, it varies from state to state. But once you see the word ‘licensed’ in front of somebody, that means they had to pass some requirements set by the state board, usually including an exam. Then they have to answer to that board so there’s some quality control and supervision.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The word ‘licensed’, not anybody can call themselves a licensed therapist, but truly anyone can call themselves a therapist, which is both good and bad. It does open the door for a lot of people who really shouldn’t be doing it. But then there are some people who were gifted and do a great service.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But to review, psychiatrist, someone like me has an MD, and we’re very trained in the medical sciences, the biology of the mind, as well as the psychology. Psychologists do not have the medical background and as a result, unless you have an MD, you can’t write prescriptions. So psychologists have a PhD, but they’re not allowed to write prescriptions with some exceptions. Some states have opened the door for psychologists to write prescriptions, but that’s more the exception than the rule.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The only non-MDs who can write prescriptions are nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, and they are allowed to write prescriptions. They are usually under the supervision of an MD, again, depending upon the state licensing requirements.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the therapist, as I said, there are many stripes of therapists, but licensed independent clinical social worker, LICSW, is a reliable one, licensed couples therapists, licensed counselor, licensed family therapist. Those are all sort of a summary of the mental health professionals, including nursing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then occupational therapists who often do get involved in the treatment of ADHD. Don’t want to leave them out, nor the addiction counselors. They do tremendous work, licensed addiction counselor and addiction counselors in general, tremendous amount of work to do there because there’s a big overlap between ADHD and people who have what’s now called substance use disorder. We don’t use the term ‘addiction’ because it’s so pejorative. We go with substance use disorder, which is true. It is a disorder, a disease and needs to be respected and treated as such.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, who is qualified to diagnose ADHD? Well, the answer is any professional, preferably licensed professional, who has experience in working with children and adults who have ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now that’s a wide swath, but you can’t, just based on the person’s initials after their name, know whether they have experience so you ought to ask. The people who have the most training in ADHD are the people who are from my discipline, which is child psychiatrists. That’s an MD who’s done extra training in child psychiatry. We get the most training of any professional in ADHD, but we’re rare as hen’s teeth. It’s very hard to find child psychiatrist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But you don’t need to have one. A diagnosis can be made by a pediatrician, family physician, neurologist. Anyone with an MD can do it as long as they have experience in working with ADHD. As I said, among the MDs, among all professionals, the child psychiatrists have the most training and the most experience.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
A psychologist can also diagnose this condition, so can a social worker, so can any licensed therapist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What you want to do is ask the person you’re seeing how much experience do they have. I’ve treated tens of thousands of people over my 40 years. It’s pretty hard to find someone with my level of experience. But you can certainly find someone who’s treated a thousand people, or even 500. That is what you’re looking for.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you’re having trouble finding somebody, and the best way to get a referral is from somebody who’s seen that person already, but call the nearest medical school. Medical schools are good quality control clearing houses. Call the nearest medical school and ask for the department of psychiatry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you’re an adult looking for an adult referral, say, “Do you know of any adult psychiatrists on your staff or on your referral base who treat adults with ADHD?” If you’re looking for a child, ask for who on your staff or in your clinic or in your referral base is good with children who have ADHD. That’s a good quality control measure.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Every state has a medical school. So no matter where you live, you are within somewhat striking distance of a medical school and a state medical society and a state psychiatric society. You can call all of those people, and those are good resources.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Finally, who is qualified to treat ADHD? Well, again, anyone who has experience, the more, the better, in working with children and adults who have it. Now, only MDs or nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can write prescriptions. So if you want to get medication, and medication is a standard tool in the toolbox of treating ADD, then you have to see an MD or someone who works with an MD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Most psychologists, PhD psychologists, who treat ADD, and most social workers and other professionals who treat ADHD are affiliated with an MD who can prescribe. So if you happen to be with a psychologist, that psychologist almost always has an MD who he can refer you to, if you want to get a trial of medication. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and go find an MD and get diagnosed all over again. That’s the way most of those folks take care of that issue.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
To summarize, who is qualified to diagnose and who’s qualified to treat? Bottom line is a licensed professional who has a lot of experience in doing it and, again, I reviewed which those people are. Then in treatment, the same thing. Find someone who has a lot of experience.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Make sure you don’t see a one-trick pony, someone who can only prescribe medication, for example, because there’s a lot more to the treatment of ADHD than prescribing medication. You want to see someone who takes a more inclusive, multimodal approach, where you use some of everything, whether it’s exercise-based treatment or meditation or coaching or cognitive behavioral therapy or medication, all of those treatment modalities you want, whoever you see, to have experience with all of those, or at least many of those. Don’t just see someone who’s pushing one kind of treatment, someone who just does neurofeedback, for example, who just does nutritional counseling. Whatever the angle might be, you want someone who is more eclectic and goes by my motto, which is whatever works. As long as it’s safe and it’s legal, I will do whatever works. That’s the kind of approach you’re looking for.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So we’ve reviewed what’s the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and a therapist, and we’ve reviewed who’s qualified to treat ADHD and who’s qualified to diagnose ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Before I go, I’d like to thank our sponsor, Omega Brite Wellness. Get a free bottle of Omega Brite CBD full-spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name @omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Please reach out to us with your questions and comments by emailing [email protected] That’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you happen to be on TikTok, my new favorite platform, you can find me there with the username @drhallowell. I’ve posted a whole bunch of videos about common ADHD issues, and they’re only 60 seconds apiece. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Soundscape Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the estimable Scott Persson, and our producer is the very talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard, just now heard, was made possible by my good friends at Omega Brite Wellness. Get a free bottle of Omega Brite CBD full-spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned @omegabrite wellness.com.

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ADHD and… Driving, Divorces, and Daughters

ADHD and… Driving, Divorces, and Daughters

It’s one of Ned’s favorite things to do… respond to listener emails! Today’s questions have Dr. H discussing the real dangers of driving with ADHD, how to handle marriage troubles when your ADHD is getting all of the blame, why girls are under diagnosed, and medication tolerance.

If you have a question or comment you’d like to share, please write an email or record a voice memo (like Miles did in this episode!) and send it to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

Now is a great time to try OmegaBrite as Ned has arranged for a special offer for the first 250 Distraction listeners who respond. Distraction listeners who buy one bottle of 70/10 MD Omega-3, will get a FREE bottle of CBD Full Spectrum 25mg Softgels with the promo code: NED. You’ll get FREE shipping too! These are the same supplements that Dr. H takes every day.

Just enter the code: NED after adding the Omega-3 to your cart and the FREE bottle of CBD and FREE shipping will be automatically applied.

Click HERE to learn more about our other amazing sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is sponsored by OmegaBrite wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full Spectrum soft gels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega 3. Use offer code Ned. That’s my name, Ned, at omegabritewellness.com. Distraction is also sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thanks for joining us today. We have my favorite kind of show today, which is dealing with questions from all of you. As you hear these, please think of your own questions and send them in to us. We love doing these shows. As we normally do in these episodes, Sarah Guertin, our wonderful sturdy, steadfast, brilliant, et cetera, et cetera, producer is joining me to read your emails because I can’t read. No, I’m just kidding. She’s going to read them to me so you can hear them, but I haven’t seen them yet, so these are done cold. I had no chance to rehearse my responses, so what you will get will be my spontaneous reaction to your question.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, with that as an introduction, let me turn it over to my wonderful producer and friend Sarah Guertin. Take it away, Sarah.

Sarah Guertin:
Thank you, Ned. Hello there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re very welcome. Hello.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay, today we are starting with an email from a woman named Karyl. She’s a 45 year old mother of two boys who both have ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just have to interrupt you because I’m looking at this. I have never seen Karyl spelled that way. This lady spells her name K-A-R-Y-L. Good for her, how to individualize a very generic name. This is Karyl with a very special spelling of Carol. Sorry for interrupting Sarah. My ADD runs away with me.

Sarah Guertin:
There you go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Race car brain with bicycle brakes, just can’t stop myself.

Sarah Guertin:
Well, this question, not surprisingly Karyl discovered that she had ADHD after her sons were diagnosed. So her question today is about her own ADHD, and it’s about books, so you’re going to love this. She says, “I read for about 30 to 45 minutes to wind down in the evening with a mystery or with your book, Ned, which was the first one I hungrily devoured after the initial diagnosis.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Isn’t that nice?

Sarah Guertin:
“I have been able to zip through, but there are about eight books, different books on my shelf. I am reading, but have not finished. I don’t so much hold off on these books as a form of procrastination, although they do help me get sleepy enough to sleep every night. I see these books as golden opportunities for learning, so I want to savor each piece and put it into practice before moving onto the next nugget. I would not like to just gloss through the info just to get it done like some of the mundane tasks of my life, such as payroll and preparing tax docs for the CPA. The problem I see though, is that sometimes I take such a long break that most of what was already learned, I am not always able to connect with the new information.”

Sarah Guertin:
To give you an example, she said she’s currently reading Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “I am on page 150 out of 330 pages. I bought the book 20 years ago. That is an extreme example, but I’m wondering if I should give myself a kind of deadline for a book. If I’m not done with it, shall I just put it on the back burner “maybe” shelf and pick it up again? With strong coffee, colorful lists and an agenda book I am able to complete most of my other daily tasks with no problems. I would like to get your opinion on whether my evening reading routine needs tweaking. Shall I only have one or two books on the shelf or is it okay to be reading eight books at once?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Karyl, let me tell you what I think, and it’s not what you’re going to expect to hear. You said you have eight different books on your shelf that you’re reading. I have about 2,000 throughout my house. I’d say even more than that. Of the 2,000, I may have read, oh, maybe 50 of them all the way through, and I don’t feel guilty about that, you see. I feel wonderful about it. I see these books, it’s like I own a beautiful apple orchard and my orchard is full of ripe ready, bright red apples. What makes this orchard special is that these apples never go bad. They never fall off the bow. They’re never… They’re just waiting for me to pluck one down and take a bite. I can take a bite and guess what? The apple still doesn’t go bad and I can stick it back up on the tree. They’re replaceable stems, you know?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
My orchard is always there waiting for me, any book I can pull off the shelf and you’re right, if I hadn’t read it for 10 years, I’d had trouble coming back to it. The person who really taught me this wonderful way of looking at things, I was an English major at Harvard, and when I was finishing my degree, at Harvard, you get what’s called a tutor and it’s a professor in your field and you meet with him or her one-on-one. I had this legendary professor for two years, junior and senior year, William Alford was his name. He’s now in heaven, but he was just the most wonderful, wonderful man in the world. I sort of breathlessly confessed to him in our final meeting, we were talking about the greatest novelists of all time, and we were compiling a list, and I said to him, because he put as his greatest novelist of all time Tolstoy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I looked down at the floor and I said, “Professor Alford, I just have to confess. I’ve never read War and Peace.” Without missing a beat, he said, “Oh, aren’t you lucky?” What he meant by that was I have such pleasure in store for me that instead of saying, “How can we call you a Harvard grad English major and you haven’t read the greatest novel ever written” and making me feel ashamed and guilty, which is what an awful lot of professors would have done, he immediately said, “Oh, you’re so lucky you have that pleasure yet in store for you.” That’s the way… By the way, I still haven’t read War and Peace, so I guess I’m still very lucky, but I guess what I’m saying is if you can look at those books as pleasures waiting for you…

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now it’s true enough, if you don’t get back to some of them pretty soon, you’ll forget what’s in them and you’ll have to catch up, but I wouldn’t guilt trip myself about it. I wouldn’t say, “Oh, I’m a bad person. I have eight books going.” I would say that’s a indicator of how enthusiastic you are, how curious you are, how varied your tastes are. You go from a mystery to a science, to a history, to a memoir, and you like to change it up. You don’t want to just stick with one genre or one author because, after all, this is not an assignment. There’s no exam. You have the freedom to peruse your shelf, as you would like to. Think of it as your special apple orchard, with all these beautiful, bright red, shiny apples hanging from the branches and they never go bad. They never go rotten. They just hang there waiting for you to come eat them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This is one problem I would reframe not as a problem at all, but as a delight and the fact that you want to read and that you’re curious and imaginative, that’s all and you just need these books to feed that curiosity and imagination. I hope that makes sense to you. I hope I freed you from feeling like you’re somehow failing the course or not doing your duty as a reader and encouraging you just to run wild, run free in your own personal orchard.

Sarah Guertin:
I love that. You always know just what to say.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I still remember Bill Alford saying that to me, “Oh, you’re so lucky.”

Sarah Guertin:
Well, and like you said, you’re still lucky, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. I still haven’t read it.

Sarah Guertin:
Maybe you’ll read it some day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Some day. I hope.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. This next email we have is from Donna who lives in London. She wrote in part, “Hello, Dr. Ned. I’ve listened to many of your podcasts and have to thank you for how informative and helpful I have found the topics, but I hope you can help me with a trait I’m finding problematic to get help for. I have a big problem when it comes to driving. I have never felt I’m a confident driver. Even when I was learning to drive, rather than getting easier and more relaxed with each lesson, I was getting more anxious to the point where I would sweat excessively through nerves. I must have had over 300 lessons over a two year period. Driving did not and has not come naturally. Driving for me is more like an ordeal than a pleasurable experience.

Sarah Guertin:
After looking into the traits of ADD, I now believe that my brain becomes so overwhelmed with the task of driving, which is why I struggle with it. Having the inability to sustain attention with what my brain classes as a boring task, trying to stay focused, transitioning from one task to another requires the brain to shift its focus, and now I understand that that causes the brain to overreact and go into a startled state, leading to the feeling of anxiousness. It was just by luck I passed my driving test in my early twenties, but I’ve been left these last 20 years not understanding why I had this problem with driving. What can I do to get over this trait? How do I stop my brain sabotaging my ability to drive? It’s probably worth pointing out that I’m single, I live on my own and live miles away from friends and family, so I do not have a close network near me, and with the coronavirus lockdown, there are social distancing rules in place, so not able to see others currently.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, it’s a very common problem that people with ADHD are not good drivers. In fact, Russ Barkley has researched this, and traffic accidents of all kinds are eight times more common amongst us who have ADHD than the general population. If you think about it, it makes sense. You’re daydreaming and you don’t see the stop sign. You’d be willing to stop, and you actually do see it. I mean, it lands on your occipital cortex, but you don’t do anything with having seen it. In other words, you see it, but you don’t comprehend it. So you see the stop sign visually, you’re not blind, but you don’t comprehend it. You don’t turn it into the action of stopping your vehicle. If you’re driving through stop signs, you’re going to have accidents and sometimes tragic accidents, so you’re hardly alone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now what to do about it? You’ve had over 300 lessons over a two year period. I think you’ve demonstrated that you don’t have a natural ability to drive happily and confidently. One question I would ask, however, is are you taking medication for your ADD? Because that could make a huge difference. If the meds work, and we’re talking Ritalin, Adderall, the stimulant medications, if they work, they could turn you into a good driver. It’s just that simple. It’d be like getting eyeglasses. If you get the right eye glasses, suddenly you can see, you can drive better. Rather than taking another 300 lessons, I would say, try to get on the right medication. A medication will work about 80% of the time, so it’s a pretty good batting average. Otherwise, you really are endangering yourself and others by driving.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hate to put it that way, but it’s true. If you can’t drive, if you’re so anxious that you’re driving along a nervous wreck, you’re better off not to drive, to take public transportation or Uber or Lyft, or have a friend or what have you. Try and create some kind of social community where people can pick you up and take you to where you’re going. Those would be my two suggestions. Is your ADD being treated? I don’t think… If you’re not taking medication, I do think it would be really worthwhile your getting a trial of it because when the meds work, they truly give you the ability to sustain attention. You say you have the inability to sustain attention. Well with meds, you could gain the ability to sustain attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then driving, even though you class it as boring, you could drive well enough to stay out of trouble. Remember, thinking of it as boring, it puts you in a dangerous spot because if you have an accident, suddenly it’s anything but boring. Obviously, it can end your life or someone else’s life or leave you with terrible, terrible consequences. So my two bits of advice, number one, look into a trial of medication, and number two, look into ways of living your life without driving a car, and lots and lots of people do that. Between public transportation and Uber and Lyft and friends picking you up, it is possible to live in this world without driving an automobile. Thank you for your question. It’s a really interesting question and brings to light one of the really dangerous aspects of having untreated ADHD, namely the dramatic increase in traffic accidents.

Sarah Guertin:
That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that. Okay. This next question comes from Anita. She writes, “Hello, Dr. Ned. I’m a 36 year old mother of three. My nine-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago and I cried with relief because here was a plausible explanation for everything. I knew he was a brilliant empathetic child, but I couldn’t explain the cause of his symptoms. However, I understood his symptoms because I was wrestling with them my entire life as well, especially emotional regulation.

Sarah Guertin:
Last week, I was also diagnosed with ADHD, but this was not so much of a surprise, just a formality. I didn’t want to self-diagnose, so I went to my doctor and got a proper evaluation. We will both be starting Concerta next week, and I’m excited for us both to finally feel what it’s like, quote, “to have the glasses on,” as you put it. In my gut, I think my 11 year old daughter has the inattentive type and because of her natural brilliance, it wasn’t picked up at her school the way my son’s hyperactive ADHD was picked up. Should I get her an evaluation? Thank you very much, and God bless you and your lovely wife and team.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much for that and God bless you as well and your children, and a very sweet way to end your email. Should you get your daughter an evaluation? Absolutely 100% yes. Females, whether it be the children or adults, are the most undiagnosed group. Why? Because they’re not disruptive like your son was was disruptive, and he called attention to his symptoms, but your daughter could be just sitting there quietly daydreaming in class. She’s very smart, so she’s able to get by without doing much in terms of class presence, engagement, or participation, but nonetheless, she’s missing a lot. You ask her what is it like to be in the classroom, and she’ll say, “It’s fine. I’m almost never there,” because her mind is wandering. So it’s absolutely worthwhile to get your daughter, and 11 years old as a perfect time to have a look. Just make sure you see someone who really understands ADHD because she doesn’t fit the stereotype of the hyperactive little boy, but she absolutely could have it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I look forward to you also getting the trial of medication because it could absolutely change your life. I mean, that’s the beauty of getting treated for this condition. You can really get a whole new lease on life. At 36 to be coming to terms with your ADHD at the same time that your son is, and maybe your daughter, that’s pretty wonderful. That’s a good Christmas present to your entire family. Stay in touch, and let me know how this works out. I’d love to get a follow-up email from you once you’ve gotten into seeing how the treatment goes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When we come back, we’ll hear from a listener who is going through a separation with his wife and his ADHD is a point of contention. Okay, so Sarah, I understand there’s a new offer from our wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness.

Sarah Guertin:
Yes there is, and we’re really excited. I like to call it the Ned Pack because basically our listeners are going to have the chance to take what you take every day. All you have to do is add the OmegaBrite 7010 MD Omega 3 to your cart at Omegabritewellness.com, and if you use the coupon code Ned, your name, N-E-D, it’ll automatically add a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full Spectrum, 25 milligram soft gels to the cart and you get free shipping. So pretty cool.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow, that’s an excellent offer. I’m so glad they’re using my name, not in vain, but to bring people to this wonderful product. It is a wonderful product.

Sarah Guertin:
It makes it nice and easy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, and my wife really, if they really want to get someone who loves it, they should get my wife Sue on, and she’s very skeptical about all kinds of things. I mean, she laughs at me for the various stuff I take, but this is one that she absolutely swears by. So I’m glad to know. They just go to Omegabritewellness.com and put in the code Ned and they get all this cool stuff?

Sarah Guertin:
Yep. They just have to add the OmegaBrite 7010 MD Omega 3 to their cart, and then with the promo code, they’ll automatically get the free CBD Full Spectrum 25 milligram soft gels. They’ll get free shipping, and I should note that this is limited to the first 250 Distraction listeners, so people kind of got to move on it if they’re interested.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, and the offer code is Ned?

Sarah Guertin:
That’s right, N-E-D.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Very good. Okay. Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah Guertin:
Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. We’re back now. Let me ask the wonderful Sarah, what is the next question?

Sarah Guertin:
This next one is from a listener named Miles who is going through a separation with his wife and he is struggling. Miles actually recorded his question for you. So Scott, can we hear that?

Miles:
Hi Ned, this is miles. I’ve been listening to your podcast for, I don’t know, a month now or so. I’m 42 years old and diagnosed with ADHD in fourth grade. I now have twin boys that are three years old and a marriage, which is going through a separation and also own my own business, and my most recent business started in the end of 2015, just before we had kids. I’m starting to understand my ADHD quite a bit more and things are majorly overwhelming. I have some resources that I’ve been working with right now that I’ve been fortunate, but can’t seem to get enough of what I need to make a difference quickly enough. My question to you is this. Working with our marriage therapist, I am pretty much labeled as atypical, although my therapist is really pretty understanding of me and that’s been a gigantic relief. When I work with him individually, I feel his support.

Miles:
However, when we work together with my wife, it just feels as though I’m labeled as atypical, and somehow my wife thinks that I need to be doing the majority of the changing here, and it’s not her. My thought on this is that, hey, there’s two people in a relationship together and what needs to happen is that the two people need to understand each other in order to figure out a way to work with each other best just as though it would be two different people, each with their own personality. I’m curious what your thoughts are on not only being labeled atypical during therapy, and that basically undermining my part in the relationship, as well as how a relationship should work with two people where one has ADHD.

Miles:
I guess a side question would be how to get my wife to understand me better so I can avoid just being labeled as I confide in her, and at the same time, let me think what I was going to say. I’ll probably put it in an email to you as I remember. All right, thanks again. Bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Miles of course, in any couple, takes two to tango. Very often people come into couples therapy and the either explicitly stated or implicit message is if only the other person would change, everything will be fine. We’re sort of saying, “I want her to change. I want him to change.” Of course the only person you stand a chance of changing is yourself, your behavior. What often happens in a couple where one has ADHD and the other does not is a kind of parent child dynamic develops where the non-ADD spouse feels like, in this case her husband, is another and she’s picking up after him and reminding him to do things and getting exasperated with him, and the ADD spouse, in this case you, feels like he’s a little boy who’s being chastised by a scolding mother and that’s very anti-romantic and leads to all kinds of problems.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If the couples therapist could help identify, first of all, is that dynamic in play, and if it is, make sure your ADD is treated and then begin to address that parent-child dynamics so you can become partners instead of a parent and a child, if there’s still time for that. Often, a good therapist who understands ADHD can truly save a relationship. Now maybe this relationship is just not meant to be and you should separate, and that’s the end of it, but in your next relationship, you want to watch out for this. As for his calling you atypical, I have no idea what that means. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all atypical. what does he say to his other patients, “Well you’re typical”? I mean, I don’t know what that means.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think we all have our funny parts and we all have parts that we share with others as well. I think the label atypical is pretty unhelpful and maybe his shorthand for saying there are parts of you that he can’t make sense of, and I would say there are parts of everyone that we can’t make sense of. I would suggest that you pursue trying to sort out the parent-child dynamic, if that does exist, pursue getting your ADHD treated as you want to get the most mileage you can out of medication because that’s the easiest intervention we’ve got. Then based on the increased focus you get from that, begin to discuss with your wife the dynamics so you can recreate the romance that brought you together in the first place. Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much. Sarah, do we have another email?

Sarah Guertin:
We certainly do. I was just going to say we like that he recorded that one and was able to record it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Yes.

Sarah Guertin:
That was perfect.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Guertin:
This last question comes from a listener who wanted to remain anonymous, but it says in part, “Dear Dr. Hallowell, I have one question specifically that I could not find the answer in any of your books or podcasts, how exactly to find the right dosage for medication. I know you talk a lot about fine tuning medication. I have a psychiatrist prescribing Adderall to me. I get tremendous great results from Adderall with no side effects that I can note, but if I see great improvement with 30 milligrams, shall I go to 40 plus milligrams if I get even better results and advantage? As the improvement is relative, how do you find the optimum dosage? I feel the higher the dosage, the better I perform, so is it recommended to go to the highest possible dose, and what is that for Adderall? Is there any potential of building tolerance? Should I only use the minimum effective dose and leave room for an increase in the future in case I build a tolerance? Thanks so much for all your great work and support. You have changed my life with your publications and podcasts.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well dosing, when it comes to stimulant medication, is unusual in that most medications are given on a milligram per kilogram basis. In other words, you weigh 80 kilograms, you would take X number of milligrams of the medication based upon that. Most medications, that’s how the dosing is determined. In stimulants, it’s not the case. It’s some big people need a little and some little people need a lot. It’s based on brain receptor sites that we can’t measure. The way you find out the right dose is trial and error. Now the good news is these meds are in and out of your system the same day. You can try two or three different doses in the space of a week. It’s not like you’re waiting around forever.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Once you get a positive response, you can continue to increase. I wouldn’t leap by 10 milligram increments. I’d probably do by five milligram increments, but you can keep increasing until you get target symptom improvement or side effects. You’ll know you’re too high if you start getting side effects, and the three that you want to particularly look out for, number one, weight loss, number two, elevated heart rate, number three, elevated blood pressure, and then insomnia as well. Those are sort of the four leading ones, and the two most critical naturally are elevated heart rate and elevated blood pressure. If your blood pressure goes sky high, you got to stop the meds. Get a blood pressure cuff and learn how to take your pulse, measure your heart rate, and with your doctor’s supervision, you can increase by five milligram increments every other day until you get the sweet spot where you say, “Okay, this is good.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you bump it up five, you start getting side effects, you say, “Okay, I’ll just go back to the previous level.” That’s how you zero in on the optimum dosing. Trial and error is really the way to do it, but fortunately you can go through many trials in a short amount of time. Tolerance usually not. What happens sometimes is someone will say, “Well, the meds just aren’t working the way they used to.” What you want to do then is just stop them for a few days and then restart them at the same dose, and they’ll usually kick in effective again.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You don’t want to keep chasing increasing dosing levels. It’s not necessary, and obviously it’s a bad idea because you’re going into higher and higher doses. Usually once you get the right dose, you stick with that and stay there for years. Years, and years and years. I have patients who’ve been on the same dose of Vyvanse for 10 years. You don’t need to be increasing it and you don’t need to save room for going up in case you get tolerance. Try to get the optimum dose by trial and error and then stick with it. If it seems to stop working, don’t increase the dose. Just stop the meds for a few days and then start back up at the same dose.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you for your question. It’s always an interesting one because these meds are unusual in the dosing is not based on milligrams per kilogram. And thank you for your thank you. It’s really nice to hear good words like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s going to do it for today. I hope you all had fun. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you learned a lot. If you did, please tell your friends. We’re trying to grow our audience, and the best way to do that is for you to tell other people about us. Thank you of all of you who reached out, and please, if any of you feel moved to write a question, write it, email it, record it, whatever. We will almost definitely be airing your question and I’ll get a chance to take a stab at providing my best answer that I can come up with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you have a question or comment you’d like us to include in a future episode, write it or record it and send it to, here you come, here you come, [email protected] Send it to connect the word, [email protected] Remember, please, to follow Distraction on social media and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen so you’ll never miss an episode. I’m now also on TikTok, if you can believe that. I’m loving TikTok. It’s perfect, perfect format, 62nd bits about different parts of ADHD. You can find me there too. My username is @Dr.Hallowell.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so much for joining us today. I love this audience. I just appreciate lending me your ears, as it were. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazingly talented Scott [inaudible 00:32:15], and our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. Thank you all, and see you next Time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard, just now heard, was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full Spectrum soft gels with free shipping. When you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega 3. Use offer code Ned. That’s my name, at omegabritewellness.com.

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The What, When & Why of Neuropsychological Testing for ADHD

The What, When & Why of Neuropsychological Testing for ADHD

The process of reaching an ADHD diagnosis rests primarily on your    personal history. However neuropsychological testing can reveal a ton of useful information for expanding your understanding of your own ADHD. As Dr. H says in this ep, “It’s the closest thing we have to an MRI of your mind.” But as Ned also points out, this type of testing is not necessary for a diagnosis.

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years, and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast, I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com and brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College, another institution that I have warm personal relationship with in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today I’m going to do a very short mini on a very important question that comes up all the time in practices around the country and around the world, namely, when, and why, and how much do you get neuropsychological testing? First of all, what is it? There’s psychological testing, and then there’s neuropsychological testing. Well, psychological testing is the kind of thing, you’ve heard of the Rorschach test with the inkblots, and you say what you see there. You maybe have heard of the MMPI, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. You have certainly heard of IQ tests, many different kinds of IQ tests, the Wechsler probably being the most famous, these are all examples of psychological testing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s a series of questions that have been researched and normed. So they have some degree of validity in answering descriptions, all trying to give a description of the mind that the individual can’t self-report. They try to get at parts of yourself that are unconscious or out of memory, or simply not part of your everyday self-awareness, for example, your processing speed or the difference between your immediate memory, your recent memory and your distant memory, things like that you can’t self-report, or intelligence, whatever that means, different kinds of intelligence you can’t self-report.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So psychological testing is aimed at asking questions or getting you to perform exercises and tests that will help us quantify different elements of cognitive and emotional life, then neuropsychological testing adds an element of neurology. So this gets more at things like processing speed, or evidence of past head injury, or deficits in memory, the neurological elements. Well, the Rorschach can be used that way too, but neuropsychological testing adds in more of the biological exploration to the psychological exploration. And neuropsychological testing is what is commonly offered as part of the diagnostic workup for ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, this is a very important point that I’m about to make, and it’s widely misunderstood, so listen carefully. You do not need neuropsychological testing or any psychological testing to make a diagnosis of ADHD. There is no test for ADHD. Many people come to me and say, “Well, I don’t have it, I was tested and I don’t have it.” There is no test that can tell you whether you have it or you don’t have it, really important point. The closest thing we have to a definitive test for ADHD is your history, the story of your life beginning when you were born. And the diagnostic criteria are laid out in the DSM-5 and two sets of nine symptoms. And if you have six out of nine on one or both set, then you by definition have the diagnosis.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So the process of reaching a diagnosis rests primarily on asking you questions about your childhood and your immediate life and comparing them to the criteria as set out in the diagnostic manual, that’s it. Sure, there are qualifiers, you need to make sure it’s not something else, you need to make sure you’re in proper shape to offer your history. Usually best taken from two people, because people with ADD are not good self observers. With all of those qualifiers, it still comes down to your history and that is the truth.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, why do we offer neuropsychological testing? Because it can reveal a ton of important, useful information, not necessary for diagnosis, but certainly helpful in expanding your understanding of yourself or your child. Neuropsych testing is really the closest thing we have to an MRI of your mind. It gets at all sorts of things that you can’t self-report. You can’t self-report processing speed, memory scales, unconscious biases, a specific reading problem, a specific math problem. You can generally report them, but you can’t get more specific and detailed about them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So neuropsychological testing is very valuable, but it is not necessary. And this becomes important because it is expensive. And [inaudible 00:06:31] what city you’re in, the ballpark of $5,000. Now, if insurance doesn’t cover it, and some insurance policies will, some won’t, then you have to think long and hard before you want to plunk down $5,000. Now, if money is no object to you, please get it, it’s worth it, it’s always nice to have. But if you have to decide between spending the 5,000 on neuropsych testing or spending the 5,000 on followup treatment, coaching, tutoring, additional services, by all means, spend it on the additional services, the coaching and the tutoring, not on neuropsych testing. It’s a wonderful thing to have if you can afford it, but it’s not necessary. You do not have to have it in order to make this diagnosis, nor is it definitive.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And if the history, for example, says, yes, this is ADHD, but the neuropsych testing says, no, it is not ADHD, believe the history, because neuropsych testing is notorious for producing false negatives, that’s because the combination of structure, motivation, and novelty creates focus, essentially treats ADHD. For example, a video game full of novelty, full of structure, and you’re motivated, you want to win the game, so you focus. Kids with ADHD can focus for hours on a video game.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, neuropsych testing includes the same three elements. It’s done one-on-one, nothing could be more structured, it’s full of puzzles and games, novelty, and there’s a natural motivator because you want to beat the test, and that’s why a lot of kids and adults who have ADHD on the testing look as if they don’t, because the test itself treats the condition it’s trying to diagnose.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a quick summary of neuropsych testing, when to get it, why to get it. And I think the most important point for you to understand is it’s a wonderful thing to have if you can afford it. It’s expensive, but it is not necessary in order to make the diagnosis in a child or in an adult.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s it for me for this mini episode of Distraction. Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. Save 20% on your first order at omegabytewellness.com with the promo code podcast2020. And please reach out to us with your questions and comments by emailing [email protected] And if you’re on TikTok, you can find me there with the username @Dr.Hallowell. I’ve posted lots of videos about common ADHD issues, each one only 60 seconds. Take a look and let me know what you think. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the wonderful Scott Persson, and our producer is the also wonderful Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time when I will still be Dr. Ned Hallowell.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at OmegaBrite, and that’s britewellness.com.

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