When Good Is Good Enough: Overcoming Perfectionism

When Good Is Good Enough: Overcoming Perfectionism

ADHD and perfectionism often go hand in hand. And it can be a particularly devastating trap to fall into. Learn how to avoid a perfectionist mindset and recognize negative self-talk as Lauren Krasnow, a certified leadership and executive coach, shares some of the techniques she uses in her practice.

To learn more about Lauren Krasnow, go to her website HERE.

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our 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. Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite, wellness, creators of the number one, Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at [elsiedistraction.org 00:00:00:33]. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Hallowell:
Hello and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. My guest today is here to help our listeners who struggle with perfectionism. She also can talk about any number of other topics. She’s a professional certified leadership and executive coach to lawyers at major corporate law firms and other professionals. She herself was a long time, big firm, practicing lawyer. She was recognized as top lawyer coach by Diversity Lab and her own words she said, quote, “One lawyer recently told me that I have a gift for getting right to the heart of an issue with a great combination of candor, sensitivity, and humor.” What a great combination those three are. Well, welcome to Distraction, Lauren.

Lauren Krasnow:
Thank you so much, Dr. Hallowell. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, it’s lovely to have you. You want to just launch right into your thoughts about perfectionism?

Lauren Krasnow:
Sure. Let me start with, all of us struggle with this from time to time and if you’re one of them, which is basically everybody, there’s nothing wrong with you. The only question is how much of an issue is it for you and what do you want to do about it? I actually had the pleasure of studying with you in one of your seminars. And we talked a lot about perfectionism specifically with ADHD and some of the biochemical reasons that it can be harder for people who have ADHD to get themselves out of perfectionism in terms of the self-talk.

Lauren Krasnow:
And I guess I would say one of the best things that I have seen people do in terms of attacking perfectionism is just first becoming aware of it. It’s so very easy for us to conflate the voices in our head with reality. And I think disentangling them is always one of the most important steps and actually a huge chunk of solving the problem. I don’t know if you have anything to say about that, but that to me is once you do that it’s so much easier to actually look at what’s actually going on.

Dr. Hallowell:
Once you do, which… I lost you for a second.

Lauren Krasnow:
Once you just disentangle what’s real from what’s just the running commentary in your head about how bad something is or how good it has to be or the should’s that we put on ourselves. This has to be perfect. And instead of actually saying, “Is this good enough?” we say, “This has to be perfect because…” fill in the blank, “It has to be perfect because I will have failed so-and-so. Somebody in my life who is expecting me to be perfect, or I will… Some parade of horribles will happen.” And that’s not usually the case. I don’t think so. Usually one-

Dr. Hallowell:
No, you’re…

Lauren Krasnow:
… of the most important things is to say what’s real and what’s actually this running commentary going on in my head?

Dr. Hallowell:
And you’re so right. It’s so hard for these folks to do that, because they feel their perception is reality. That they’re abject failures unless they’re perfect.

Lauren Krasnow:
Right. I’m a huge fan of the Calm App. And I know-

Dr. Hallowell:
Yes.

Lauren Krasnow:
… some people are fans of meditation and mindfulness and some people may now be rolling their eyes. But I’m not talking about doing a 20 minute meditation every day, I’m talking about just training yourself for two minutes at a time to be able to have your mind be still so you can recognize in that gap and say, “This happened,” and actually the response that I’m having and saying, “This has to be perfect,” there’s actually a space, a small space where you can say, “Is this actually true?” And I think a lot of us are so conditioned that it becomes automatic. We don’t give ourselves the luxury of being able to see what’s real and what’s not real.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah. Would you say it’s pretty hard to do yourself and it’s easier if you can work with someone like you, someone who can coach you out of the bad mental habit of getting down on yourself if you’re less than perfect?

Lauren Krasnow:
Yes and no. I would say yes a lot of times I work with people… The most of the people I work with are lawyers at big law firms and they tended to be the people who did very, very well academically. I firmly believe that there are a lot of different ways to be smart. And most of these people are smart in the traditional academic sense.

Dr. Hallowell:
Right.

Lauren Krasnow:
And they have a lot invested in that emotionally and as a means of self identity. And I think because they’re surrounded by other people in the same [inaudible 00:05:15], there’s not a lot of checks and balances or questioning that goes on. And that’s why I do believe that working with a coach is very, very helpful because it’s somebody who can say, “Wait a minute. Did you notice that you just said this to yourself or did you notice that you just made this assumption?”

Lauren Krasnow:
And a lot of times the answer is no. I always tell the people that I work with, that I’m going to keep on calling them out and saying things like that. But my goal is that they get to the point where they’re able to do it for themselves. And most of them are. And I think it’s just something that we don’t even realize is as automatic as it is. And I say this as someone who lived it for many years and now somebody who gets to help other people identify that in themselves.

Dr. Hallowell:
You lived it as a perfectionist?

Lauren Krasnow:
Yeah. As a perfectionist for sure. Definitely. And when I was a lawyer and when I was in school, I would think, “This has to be perfect or else,” and as I’ve gotten older I’ve thought, “Why? It actually doesn’t have to be perfect.” And as a parent that’s been one of the biggest gifts is looking at my kids and saying, “They’re not perfect. Nobody’s perfect. And they’re still terrific.” And it’s a really liberating way to feel. But I think it’s very antithetical to the way a lot of us grow up and the way a lot of us are in our earlier younger professional days.

Dr. Hallowell:
Particularly the high achievers. How old are your children?

Lauren Krasnow:
I have a tween and a teen. And it’s funny. I’ve actually had this conversation with a number of friends and family members where I… “How much should your kid try?” And I said, “Well, if an A is a 90 or an A is a hundred and the kid’s goal is to get an A for whatever reason, let’s just say for college purposes or whatever. Do you want your kid to try to get the hundred or do you want your kid to try to get the 90?” And I think many people just assume that of course you would try to get the hundred. Why wouldn’t you?

Lauren Krasnow:
And I actually don’t believe that. I actually think that people are motivated by different things, figure out what you’re motivated by. And if there’s an intrinsic motivation that is encouraging the person to want to learn more or whatever, that’s great. And I’m not advocating slackerism exactly but I am saying, I work a lot with people now who 20, 30 years after they graduated from school are still trying to get the hundred and they don’t need to. And I say, “Why? Why are you doing that?” And they don’t really know, except that it’s a habit.

Dr. Hallowell:
Right. It’s the success cure that you… If you can pile up enough A’s then [inaudible 00:07:55] or other you’re all that. And I gave a talk some years ago at my high school. I went to a prep school in New Hampshire called Exeter Phillips Exeter and a very rigorous school where everyone is competing and wanting to go to Ivy league colleges and whatnot. And so, I gave a talk to the student body and I said what you really should do during your high school years is fall in love with a person, with a project, with an activity, with a piece of music, with a blade of grass. But the most important thing you can do here at Exeter or any high school is fall in love because that’s sustainable. A’s fade into distant nothingness but falling in love, that leads to getting an A, that sustains itself. And I think oftentimes kids, they need to hear from people like you and me to give them permission not to be seduced by the success cure, by the glitter of the A’s and what they think that might be.

Lauren Krasnow:
I love that. I love the concept of falling in love and I really believe that for two reasons actually. First I believe falling in love, generally paradoxically leads to whatever measure of success because when people do things that they’re passionate about that’s when they tend to be the best [crosstalk 00:09:24]-

Dr. Hallowell:
Exactly.

Lauren Krasnow:
… in the world of ADHD, hyper-focus et cetera. But I also think, and I learned this from you when I studied under you, is I believe all of us have our super powers. We all have our gifts. And if we’re sitting there trying to eke out some level of perfectionism, when good enough would have been fine, the energy and the time and the attention that we would have spent going from good enough to perfect is diverted. And from us doing something that I believe we could really use our, I don’t know, I hope this doesn’t sound cheesy, but purpose. Something that is really meaningful to us and something where we could have a really big impact on ourselves and on other people and on the world.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yes.

Lauren Krasnow:
And I always think people who are in the throws of perfectionism sometimes forget to look at the opportunity cost of, “What am I giving up by working so hard to get from the 90 to 100? And is it actually something that I’m choosing with intention or is it just something that I’m doing either based on fear or based on an automatic habit?”

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely. You reached a branch point in your life when you were a lawyer at a big firm and then you decided to go in a different direction. What was that all about?

Lauren Krasnow:
So, I really liked being a lawyer but I didn’t love it. And I think I always had this feeling that I was doing something that I wasn’t meant to be doing. And I don’t know if everybody feels this way. I think a lot of people have these feelings, I’ll call them intuition, and they ignore them. And there’s all sorts of reasons we ignore them. For convenience, maybe you’re attached to a certain income or you’re attached to a certain prestige or status, or you’re trying to impress a family member, quite often a parent. And looking at what that means to give all of that up is terrifying.

Lauren Krasnow:
And I think it’s really hard for people to come to terms with that. But the flip side is if you go along and are led by what I call a fear-based decision instead of a conscious intention and you wake up and you sometimes wonder, “What did I do? Was this the right thing for me?” And I don’t know that I believe that every single person has to be madly in love with their job. I think there’s a lot of hobbies and a lot of other things that people can do that can give them that of satisfaction. But I really, I do encourage certainly everybody who I coach, I encourage them to really think about designing their lives to be intentional so that the choices are born of a conscious intention as opposed to just default happening.

Dr. Hallowell:
And how do you help people who are holding back out of fear?

Lauren Krasnow:
I think like many coaches, I really help them look at the fear and own it. And I think a lot of people because they’re in this world where they’re surrounded by other people who are doing the same thing that they’re doing and frankly maybe also driven by fear, I think a lot of people are in that practice and asking themselves, “What do I want?’ They think, “What should I do instead?” And I say this as somebody who used to be one of those people.

Lauren Krasnow:
And one of the very, very first things I do as a coach is if I hear this right away, I say, “Can we come up with an agreement? Do you mind if I call you out every time I hear you say the word ‘should’? ‘I shouldn’t do this,’ or, ‘I have to do this.’ And they say, “Fine,” and we make it a game and we make it fun. But I’m very, very vigilant about observing that and recognizing it. And a lot of times people are very, very surprised because I think a lot of times we don’t realize what we say to ourselves and hearing it can be the first step into saying, “Is this something that I actually want or is this something that I want to change?”

Dr. Hallowell:
So, let me give you a… Not a hypothetical, a real example. Patient of mine in New York a few years ago, working for a well-known investment banking firm. He said, “I begin my mornings meeting with the three other guys for coffee. And each one of us starts our day by saying, “Will any of us have the nerve to quit today?” and we never do. But there he’s held hostage or he holds himself hostage because he can’t imagine giving up the six figure salary and the bonus that comes with it. How would you advise him? How would you approach him?

Lauren Krasnow:
Well, I think first we would spend some time unpacking what is the fear about and a lot of times it’s just fear of the unknown. And then I believe that there are sometimes… This is not me coming up with this framework that I’m about to share, it’s actually Stephen Covey. But the framework of scarcity versus abundance. And I think that is as tied into fear and fear versus conscious intention. I think if we believe that the universe is somehow going to provide for us and that things will work out and that we own our own power enough to make things happen, I think then we’re more willing to take risks.

Lauren Krasnow:
And I think if we don’t, then we’re more willing to stay in a place of fear and make decisions that come from a place of fear. And one of my favorite quotes is, “Where attention goes energy flows.”

Dr. Hallowell:
That’s great.

Lauren Krasnow:
And I believe that a lot of times when people are coming from a place of fear, they’re focusing all their attention on what they might lose and not enough attention on what good things might happen from taking a risk.

Dr. Hallowell:
And what if he says back to you, “But Lauren,” or, “Dr. Krasnow,” or whatever your folks call you, “I don’t have the talent. I don’t have the talent to go out on my own. I don’t have the talent to do what I’ve always wanted to do, which is start a marina,” let’s say, “And I don’t think I could do that. So, I’m better off staying here with my half million dollars a year and playing it safe.”

Lauren Krasnow:
Well, there’s two things that I would want to know. The first is, well, what are your talents? Let’s get granular and let’s look at what your talents are and how you could see yourself using them. And then just like any coach, I would say, “Well, what are the costs to you of staying in the status quo versus the benefits to you? And what would the costs and benefits be of an alternative course of action?” And I think people tend to be very gloss over the benefits of the alternative, very superficially, and they tend to talk about the cost very superficially. And I think really digging down deep sometimes gets people to say, “Wow maybe this cost is greater than I really acknowledged myself, or maybe the benefit would be greater. And maybe I really do have the talents to make this happen. I may be deficient in skills XYZ, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t get them or that I can’t hire somebody with a complimentary skill set, et cetera.”

Dr. Hallowell:
And you’re probably really underestimating your own talents because after all you wouldn’t have get… You wouldn’t have been hired at this high paying job at a New York investment ban, if you didn’t have a lot of talent. So, and the talent that you have can be transposed to the marina. You’re [crosstalk 00:17:00]-

Lauren Krasnow:
Absolutely. Thank you. That’s a great point. Absolutely.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah.

Lauren Krasnow:
One of the things I learned that actually, particularly when I took the course that I did with you, looking at your strengths in a different capacity. One of my favorite expressions is Einstein, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, then it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid.” When in fact Einstein believes, as do I, that everybody has a genius. Everybody has genius in them.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yes, absolutely.

Lauren Krasnow:
And I think a lot of times people spend times measuring themselves against a certain situation without taking themselves out and saying, “Well, in a different context, this could be unbelievably powerful.”

Dr. Hallowell:
Exactly.

Lauren Krasnow:
And one of the gifts of my job is that I get to be on that journey with people as they do that and discover that, and then bring those gifts to bear for their own lives and the lives of others. And it’s so rewarding. It’s unbelievably rewarding.

Dr. Hallowell:
You’re not just with them, you’re setting them free. You’re helping them break what Blake called mind forged manacles. You’re helping them break free. And that’s a [crosstalk 00:18:05].

Lauren Krasnow:
They’re helping them break free. I’m asking questions that I’ve been trained and skilled and practiced to ask because of my background in training, but they do the work themselves and it’s so empowering to see somebody really live into their own greatness. I feel like I did it myself, not to say that… Not in an unhumble way, but in a way of example, that I believe that anybody can do this and everybody should do this because I think the world would be better if everybody were living their talents to the maximum effect.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah. You’re not saying it in a non humble way, you’re saying it in a celebratory way. You’re celebrating. You, “Look, I took this chance and it made all the difference,” and you’re celebrating. And I think you’re, by implication, exhorting other people to celebrate too. To make the changes that will turn their lives into a celebration.

Lauren Krasnow:
Yeah. Thank you. I love that. Looking at it as a celebration because I really genuinely believe that. I believe that everybody has power within them. And the only question is when they realize that and then decide what they’re going to do with that.

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, you wouldn’t be able to do as well as you do it if you didn’t really believe that, I think, anyway. Well, Lauren Krasnow, what a pleasure to have you on this podcast. I could talk to you for an hour but we’re not supposed to go that long.

Lauren Krasnow:
Yeah. Thank you so much. What a pleasure to be here. And I just want to give a shout out to you. You really have inspired me by encouraging me to think about my own strengths. And as I said, I’ve gone on to do that with other people and then as they go and become leaders, they do it for other people. So, I just will say, I think everybody… You never know what ripple effects your own stepping into your own strengths and greatness will have. So, I want to say thank you to you Dr. Hallowell.

Dr. Hallowell:
Thank you so, so very much. I really, really appreciate that. It means a lot to me. Well, if you’d like to learn more about Lauren… Now you tell me if I get this right, Lauren. Go to voltapeople.com. V-O-L, V as in Victor V-O-L-T-A people.com/Lauren-Krasnow-coaching. Did I get that right?

Lauren Krasnow:
You did. Thank you very much.

Dr. Hallowell:
Volta people.com/Lauren-Krasnow-coaching. You’re a tremendous resource and we’ll put a link to your site in the show notes. Please continue to reach out to us at [email protected] And like and follow Distraction on social media. Remember to subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already so you never miss an episode. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by Scott Persson and produced by Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell thanking our very special guest Lauren Krasnow. Goodbye for now.

Dr. Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBritwellness.com.

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Does ADHD Cause Depression?

Does ADHD Cause Depression?

Dr. H talks about how ADHD, anxiety and depression affect one another and what you can do about it. 

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our 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 of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com, and by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently. Hello, and welcome to a mini-episode of Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. In today’s mini, I’m going to respond to an email we received from a listener. And keep that in mind, please send us an email with your question and I will respond to it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It begins, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I love listening to your podcasts and your YouTube videos. I’m wondering if you can touch on how ADHD and anxiety overlap in similarities. My daughter has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but I’m positive she has ADHD as well. And my feeling is that ADHD causes depression since the procrastination and distraction takes us away from getting things done or getting to appointments on time or forgetting to do things, and so forth. Thank you so much.” From Kathleen. Kathleen, by the way, I love the name Kathleen. It’s with a K and double E. Sometimes you see it with a C, but this is Kathleen. There’s just a beautiful ring to it. Yes, you are so smart and so right, Kathleen. Very often someone gets diagnosed with depression and anxiety and the clinician misses the ADD, but it’s the ADD that’s causing the depression and anxiety. And it only makes common sense if your ADD is not treated, you’re underachieving.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s a bummer. It’s not depression in the endogenous sense of depression, where you’re hopeless and helpless, and all that kind of stuff. It’s more just that you’re bummed out. You’re disappointed. You know you’re smarter than your grades reflect, or you know you’re more talented than your work performance reflects, and you don’t know what to do about it. So you look as if you’re depressed, but you’re really just frustrated. And then the anxiety, well, if you never know what you’re going to forget, what you’re going to overlook, where are you going to show up late, you begin to feel anxious because you don’t feel in control. And so that looks like an anxiety disorder, but it’s not. It’s in the wake of the untreated ADD. So when you treat the ADD, let’s say you start on medication, and if it works and it works about 80% of the time, your performance improves because you’re more focused, more organized better to follow through and deliver.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what had looked like depression goes away, because you’re glad, “Oh, hooray. Now I’m doing as well as I should be doing,” and it’s a big load off your shoulders. Plus, you feel more in control, hence you’re less anxious. Anxiety derives from feeling not in control. Well, when you get on the meds and you get your ADD treated, you feel more in control so your anxiety diminishes. So both, that what had looked like depression, goes away, you get into a good mood, and you’re happy clicking your heels, and what had looked like an anxiety disorder goes away because now you’re in control. You don’t have to worry what you’re going to forget, overlook, or misspeak. Very often, treating the ADD takes care of what had looked like depression and anxiety and spares you the need to take medications for those conditions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Common problem that comes up often missed by clinicians who simply don’t have enough experience in the field to realize that ADD is the driving force and they tend to rather to treat the wake of the ADD, namely what looks like depression and anxiety, but actually is not. Good pickup, Kathleen, and please relay to your doctor my suggestions. Thank you so much for that, and please, others of you reach out. Before I close I do want to thank our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. I’ve been taking it for several months and found that it does help me reduce my reactivity, my tendency to be impatient and annoyed. Distraction listeners can save 20% off their first order with the promo code “Podcast 2020” by going to omegabritewellness.com. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E wellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Remember to reach out to us with an email or a voicemail. Send us your questions. We love to get them. I love to attempt to answer them as I attempted to answer Kathleen’s very good question, Kathleen. Send your thoughts, questions, show ideas, or pictures of your family to [email protected] That’s the word [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant top of the line, first in the profession, Scott Persson. That’s Persson with two Ss. And our producer is the equally brilliant, talented, and always full of new bright ideas, Sarah Guertin, and that’s spelled U-E-R-T-I-N, not like curtain, although it rhymes with curtain. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you all a lovely rest of your day, wherever you may be. Tell your friends about us and come back for next time. Goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Being A Black Woman With ADHD – Candy’s Story

Being A Black Woman With ADHD – Candy’s Story

“I’ve often felt invisible as a woman of color with ADHD. Although there are plenty of us out here, we often get overlooked for one reason or another.” After reading these words in an email from Candy, a regular listener of Distraction, we wanted to learn more about her perspective. In this episode, Candy graciously shares some of her experiences as a Black woman with ADHD. This open and honest dialogue touches on a variety of topics including diagnosis, treatment, and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our 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. Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com, and by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Hallowell. We really have a very special episode today, truly. I mean, I often say that, but this is especially special. Especially special special. We have have an extra special, special guest. If you listened to last week’s Q and A episode, then you’ll remember, I hope, a letter we got from a listener named Candy who shared some of her thoughts with us about being a black woman with ADHD and mother of two boys who also have ADHD. Let me quote part of what candy wrote to us.

Dr. Hallowell:
She said or wrote, “I’ve often felt invisible as a woman of color with ADHD. Although there are plenty of us out here, we often get overlooked for one reason or another. I have been absolutely floored and thrilled to witness more conversation happening about race in this country, and I’ve been especially happy to witness it coming specifically from some of my favorite ADHD experts. I’m beginning to feel seen in a way I never have before.” Well, that’s just wonderful. Today, Candy has graciously agreed to come on the podcast to share more of her thoughts and experience with all of us. Thank you so much for joining me today, Candy.

Candy:
Thank you very much for having me.

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, so tell me when did you discover you have ADHD and how has it been both being a woman of color with ADHD, a woman with ADHD, a single mom with ADHD, all of those pretty stressful categories?

Candy:
Well, I first suspected that I had ADHD when I was in college. I had a roommate who had been diagnosed and she’s actually black as well. When we started talking about things, I resonated with so much of what she said so strongly. But I didn’t actually seek out a diagnosis until I was 25 or 26. The first doctor that I saw, I had to do this super long two-day, I don’t know, 12-hour interview thing with him. At the end of it, he just told me that I was depressed and I probably needed a prescription for an antidepressant and so-

Dr. Hallowell:
How many years ago was that?

Candy:
That was, man, I guess, almost 15 years ago now. Yeah, so I was really discouraged and actually I was in therapy at the time. So I brought the results back to my therapist and she disagreed and she was like, “I’ve known you for a while now. You’re not depressed, and I’m not an expert, but I really think you should go see someone else.” So it took me a while to do that, but eventually I did. I found a female psychiatrist who said on her website that she kind of specialized with adults with ADHD. I went in, I had a conversation with her, one conversation. At the end of it, she just validated me. She said, “You’re intelligent. I can tell you’ve done your research and I’m going to turn it back to you. Do you think you have ADHD?” I said, “I do. After everything that I’ve read and the people that I’ve talked to, I really do.”

Candy:
So at that point, I got a prescription and it was amazing. I mean, the change was just almost instant. I think I had been on the medication for maybe a week or two and it was around my dad’s birthday. So I was making him this super elaborate birthday dinner and dessert. My kids are running around and my mom came in and she looked at me and she said, “Don’t ever stop taking this medication.” I was like, “What do you mean?” She’s like, “You’re managing everything.” She’s like, “You’re cooking, you’ve got the kids and you’re handling it,” and so that was that.

Dr. Hallowell:
Wow. Wow. What medication was it?

Candy:
The first medication that I was on was Concerta, actually. So I’ve been on Concerta, I’ve been on Vyvanse and right now I’m on Adderall, and Adderall’s actually been even better, because with the other two, my appetite never came back and I had really bad headaches, so.

Dr. Hallowell:
Oh gosh.

Candy:
But still, just the fact that I was able to concentrate on one thing and then be interrupted and go back to it, that had never happened in my life before, so it’s been great.

Dr. Hallowell:
Now on the Adderall, you get the benefit, but no side effects.

Candy:
They’re not as bad. So I still get dry mouth and sometimes my appetite is not as normal as it is when I’m not on the medication. But it’s nothing like what it was before. I don’t get migraines and I’m able to sleep at night.

Dr. Hallowell:
Good, good.

Candy:
So, yeah, it’s a lot better.

Dr. Hallowell:
You take a immediate release Adderall or extended release?

Candy:
I take immediate release. So I take two pills twice a day.

Dr. Hallowell:
So two 5’s, two 10’s?

Candy:
I do one 20 in the morning and then one 20 in the afternoon.

Dr. Hallowell:
Great. That’s working well?

Candy:
It is, it is.

Dr. Hallowell:
That’s wonderful. I often compare it to eyeglasses. Suddenly, you can see.

Candy:
That’s really what it felt. I remember reading something, this was back in college. My roommate recommended a book to me and I don’t remember what that first book was. But there was something in there about when you have ADHD, it’s like someone else, your brain is a television set and someone else has the remote and is channel surfing and you have no control over it. I mean, it gave me chills when I read it. So college was a million years ago and I still remember that. Once I took the medication, it was like all of those channels just went off and I had control over it. So, yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:
Where did you go to college?

Candy:
I went to college at Middle Tennessee State University, right outside of Nashville.

Dr. Hallowell:
Did you grow up in Tennessee?

Candy:
I did not. I grew up in Illinois, but I was 18. I’d actually done a year of college. I graduated at 17, but I did a year here in Illinois and it was just… I was just kind of biding my time. It wasn’t really what I wanted to study and I also just kind of got that itch to be away from my family and away from home, and so I transferred to the school. I had never been to the school, but they had an excellent recruiting program, because at the time I was really into music and songwriting and I wanted to be a songwriter and a producer. So I transferred to the school so that I could study sound production.

Dr. Hallowell:
Do you still want to do that?

Candy:
So much has happened in my life. I love it still, but I do not devote the time to it that I used to. So, no. It’s more of a hobby. I’m one of those people, I went and got this degree and I’ve never done anything with it. At least not professionally.

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, the is young. You’re still pretty young. How does race come into play? How does being African-American-

Candy:
Well, I think for one, I think it came into play with that first doctor that I saw. I literally brought… So, like I said, I was 25, 26 at this point. I dug out report cards from elementary school, some statements from my parents and I was telling him these are things that I’ve experienced, the symptoms, I guess. I don’t even think he could see it and I don’t know specifically with him if it was race, if it was gender. I didn’t have a history of being hyperactive in the sense, that stereotypical little boy who’s climbing on his desk and swinging from the ceiling and that sort of thing.

Candy:
What I have since found out is that I was a little girl who’s extremely talkative, just non-stop. Even in preschool when we would have to nap, and my mother still tells this story, I would talk to whoever was around me. So eventually they gave me the job of going around and rubbing the other kids’ backs just to give me something to do, because I was not going to lay down and be quiet. So that continued, I mean, pretty much actually through high school. But in elementary school, I have all my report cards and it’s like my teachers would talking about, “Oh, she’s delightful, she’s this, but she won’t stop talking and she doesn’t pay attention to detail and she loses focus so quickly, but she’s so smart and we like her so much.” So [crosstalk 00:10:05].

Dr. Hallowell:
Pretty classic ADHD.

Candy:
Yeah, exactly. It’s interesting to me, because again, the more that I’ve read and listened to experts talk about it, like you said, that’s classic. He didn’t see any of that. At the time, that was actually a little bit before I separated from my husband, but I had been in therapy for some marital issues and some other things. It was like, that’s where that doctor stopped. It was just, oh, well, you’ve got two little kids and you’re having a rough time in your marriage. That’s it, despite all of the history. Then since then, like I said-

Dr. Hallowell:
I assume he was a white man.

Candy:
Yes, yes. He was. So again, I don’t know what was in his mind. I just know that it felt like he didn’t hear anything that I said. Then since then, a lot of times when I am reading articles or books or people are talking about their experience with ADHD, it’s gotten better in recent years, but the poster children for ADHD are very rarely people of color. Even in school, as I’m studying mental health, and I just did a class last term and we were talking about diagnosing children, so often little boys of color, particularly black and Hispanic ones are first found to be oppositionally defiant. That’s the first thing that they look at. So I didn’t have that experience. I was “smart” growing up so I was in all of the advanced classes. But I would lose my homework and mean to bring my math book home and end up with a science book instead.

Candy:
I could not turn anything in on time and I skated by, because, again, I think my teachers liked me and I tested pretty well so I just kind of skated by. But I do wonder if I had been male, if I had not been black, if someone would have noticed all of the difficulties that I’d been having for years and maybe thought, “Huh, this could be something else.”

Dr. Hallowell:
In this anxious back to school time, everyone is looking for ways to reduce the edge of anxiety, and one good way to try is by taking OmegaBrite supplement, Omega CBD, OmegaBrite CBD, as well as the OmegaBrite fish oil product, both are good for emotional reactivity and can take the edge off of that. They’re fully natural, very healthy, really developed by a top-notch company. Omegabritewellness.com, and you can get 20% off your first order by using the code podcast2020. Enter that, get 20% off, omegabritewellness.com. Okay. Now let’s get back to the show.

Dr. Hallowell:
It’s funny, the first person I ever treated for ADHD was a seven year old African-American boy from a very poor neighborhood who was admitted to the hospital having witnessed a murder the day before and then attempted to murder his sister.

Candy:
Oh my gosh.

Dr. Hallowell:
So he had multiple problems. But his IQ on admission, I did some testing and his IQ was 69, which is very low and among his many problems. When we cleaned him up and got to know each other, he and I became friends. I said, “You have among many other diagnoses, you fit all the criteria for ADHD. Why don’t we try you on this medication?” and called Ritalin and his mother agreed. His IQ after on the medication was tested at 140.

Candy:
Oh my goodness.

Dr. Hallowell:
I’ve never seen that happen again. The neuropsychologist would say it’s impossible. But clearly, when he was admitted, he was traumatized and then when we were able to give him focus, and here I was, an old white male treating this young black boy and, but we became the best friends. When I had to leave after years following him, I remember, I said, “We’ve really gotten to know each other pretty well. Haven’t we?” He said, “Know each other? We love each other.” I think a lot of the help was developing that connection. So you had connection, you said you have a really strong family. So that must have helped you get through.

Candy:
Tremendously. I think I said something about that in the email, the other issue, of course, just with mental health in general. If you’re in a lower socioeconomic status trauma, that level of trauma. But I was very fortunate. I grew up in a very solidly middle-class family, two parents, both college educated, going to work. They were involved. But even in that, I have a younger sister, she had a lot of other health issues growing up. So my parents miss things. So again, and I know a lot of people, I think, who are diagnosed with ADHD as adults talk about that experience of kind of people telling you, especially when people think you’re really smart, oh, you just need to try harder. So every time there was a note sent home because of homework or whatever that I didn’t finish, that was my parents, “You’re too smart. You just need to apply yourself. You need to try harder.”

Candy:
But in finding out that I’ve had it, they have just rallied around me. I’ve had super tearful conversations with my mom where she’s apologized for missing things. It’s one of those things. You do the best you can where you are at the time. Then [inaudible 00:16:30] you do better. But my family has been amazing, just through the ADHD, through the divorce, through all of it.

Dr. Hallowell:
That’s just wonderful to hear. Telling someone with ADD to try harder is about as helpful as telling someone who’s near sighted to squint harder.

Candy:
Exactly.

Dr. Hallowell:
This is the point. You need eyeglasses and the squinting will help a little bit and trying harder will help a little bit, but it doesn’t anywhere near get to the heart of the matter. So it must have been quite an awakening when you finally got diagnosed. You also say you’re floored and thrilled to witness more conversation happening about race in this country. Can you say more about that?

Candy:
Yeah. So I think that everything that happened when we all collectively as a country saw the video of what happened with George Floyd’s murder, I think a lot of people’s eyes were opened and it’s one of those things. I’ve grown up really fortunately. Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the country still. I live right outside of Chicago in a very diverse and integrated, it’s been integrated forever, area where growing up, I had friends of all different races, all different combinations of races and religions and ethnicities. So that’s been my experience, but because of that, I grew up talking to my friends about race and about our experiences and I think you have a lot of well-meaning people who get very uncomfortable kind of thinking about racism and the fact that it still exists and so they shut it down and they just, “I’m colorblind. I don’t see color. I treat everybody the same.”

Candy:
When that video came out with George Floyd, I have seen so many people kind of say, “We have to talk about this. We cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist anymore. We cannot pretend that people of color are not treated differently.” These hard conversations are being had. I’ve had white friends of mine just reach out with really heartfelt texts and cards and just to say to me, “I’m sorry that I’ve never talked to you about this before. I’m sorry that you’re going to have to teach your kids one thing, dealing with the police, than I’m going to have to teach my kids.” Having those conversations, It is uncomfortable sometimes, it’s rough, but it’s so necessary and it’s the only way we can change things. I mean, permanently changed things. I have been, I mean, so encouraged to see it in my personal life with my, like I said, with my friends and the people that I know, but even on a larger scale, watching the news and reading articles where people are really having a reckoning with it. I think it’s overdue, but it’s good to see.

Dr. Hallowell:
We are really happy to welcome Landmark College back as a sponsor. It’s my favorite place in the world as far as a college for kids who learn differently. It is absolutely a pioneer in the field and has set the bar for how to teach at a college level kids who don’t do school easily and they find the gifts in these kids. It’s all about finding strengths, not about just about remediating problems. They really get it. They have the added advantage of being in a beautiful town in Vermont, Putney, Vermont. It is an ideal college for students who learn differently. You could not do better. You’ll come out with confidence, direction and a real solid sense of what your special talents are. It is the college of choice for students who learn differently. Go to lcdistraction.org to more.

Dr. Hallowell:
What do you think, I mean, what was it about George Floyd’s murder and then subsequent death, organizations that used to be very conservative, like the National Football League or NASCAR are now completely behind Black Lives Matter, behind talking about it openly? It’s really remarkable. It’s not just a liberal cause anymore. It’s not just Al Sharpton and whatnot. It’s people who had been unaware, I think. I think, myself included, I didn’t know that an awful lot of black people, if not most, when they see a police car behind them, they tense up, like they’re going to be pulled over. I was so naive. I thought, “Well, we have the Civil Rights Act and we have… It’s a lot better than it was in the fifties and sixties.” But you tell me, I mean, your daily experience what is it like for you?

Candy:
I’m going to be very honest with you and say again, coming from where I’ve come, being raised middle-class in this area, a lot of this has been shocking for me too. I’ve had to really start thinking about my own privilege because, of course, like we said before, poverty is a thing and when you don’t live in poverty, there’s a privilege that comes with that. With being educated, with being I’ve grown up around people who are “very much like me”, even if we’re not the same race. Two parent households, two incomes, college educated, that sort of thing. I had to realize that I had a lot of ideas about those people, those people who didn’t grow up the way that I grew up and, what do they call it, respectability politics.

Candy:
So that’s been a thing. But I do think that there is only one good thing that I can say about the person who’s currently in the White House, him being there, I believe has just kind of just torn the veil on all of these things for all of us and we are all having to reckon with all of these, with regard to race and socioeconomic status and healthcare and climate change and all of these things. Just like you said, it isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. So many of this is just a humanity issue.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah, yeah.

Candy:
What does it mean for us to be in a country together as people in this nation? How do we take care of each other and how do we love one another?

Dr. Hallowell:
Right, and-

Candy:
So yeah, it’s been interesting.

Dr. Hallowell:
Deepening our appreciation and empathy for what it is to be different. You and I know that from our both having ADHD, we’re different, I think in a wonderful way, but we are different. You’re African-American. I’m Caucasian and I’m a WASP. I’m a Episcopalian. Are you a religion of any kind?

Candy:
I grew up Methodist. Now, I definitely have a spiritual outlook. I mean, I still believe in God, although I kind of grew up in that evangelical tradition. I have completely left all of that. But yes, I do have a spiritual outlook for sure.

Dr. Hallowell:
That’s another thing that’s I think we’re seeing happen that people are rediscovering spirituality in a less doctrinaire way.

Candy:
Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Hallowell:
One of my favorite prayers is Lord help me always to search for the truth, but spare me the company of those who have found it.

Candy:
I love that. I love that.

Dr. Hallowell:
So are you explaining your experience with ADHD to other people who don’t know about it? I mean, I think that’s such an important function if you can do that.

Candy:
I do. Well, I’m not going to say a little bit. Definitely in terms of the people that I get to talk to. I had taken a few years where I was pretty much off all of social media and a couple years ago I went back. So I’m on social media. So I’m always sharing something on Facebook or something on Instagram, a podcast or my own experience, just that sort of thing. My friends know that I’m very vocal about having ADHD. Even at one point, my therapist had kind of said, “Oh, you maybe don’t want to put it all out there like that in terms of when you’re looking for another job or when you are dating. Do you want people to know that right away?” I feel very much like maybe different with work, but yeah, in terms of somebody that I’m going to have a personal relationship with, yeah, they have to know this right away.

Candy:
It is not my identity, but it is a huge part of who I am and how I function. I need you to know that, and if you want to know more, I’ll totally help you know more. If you can’t accept it, that’s cool too, but let’s put it out there right away. I actually in a way kind of look at my ADHD the way I look at my race. I am black. You see that right away, obviously. I wouldn’t want to hide it. So it’s a very important part of who I am, even though my race does not define who I am. So my ADHD, same thing.

Dr. Hallowell:
Right, right. You can’t see your ADHD the way you can see your color, but-

Candy:
Right. Until you start talking to me.

Dr. Hallowell:
Exactly.

Candy:
Especially if I hadn’t I had medication, then you might.

Dr. Hallowell:
Be careful when you explain it to people to play up the positives. I tell people, I don’t treat disabilities, I help people unwrap their gifts because we, as a group, we have tremendous positives, creativity, originality, energy, intuition, entrepreneurialism. We never give up. We never say die. I mean, the positives are all qualities that you can’t buy and you can’t teach.

Candy:
Absolutely.

Dr. Hallowell:
We have those and I’m very proud of my ADHD, and dyslexia, I have that too. I wouldn’t trade that either. But don’t get me wrong-

Candy:
That’s the thing.

Dr. Hallowell:
I’m sorry?

Candy:
No, I was going to say that’s the thing. I agree with that, that creative piece, that’s what my son, a couple of years ago, my older one was right before he went on medication was struggling a little bit and I could tell. I remember being his age, that junior high school age, I feel like it’s really hard when you have ADHD, particularly when you don’t know it. But he was feeling really down about not being able to stay focused and forgetting everything. I really did have to tell him, “Yeah, that part kind of sucks. We’ll work on that, but you’re so creative.” That’s the thing. Nobody can touch ADHD folks and their creativity and their energy.

Dr. Hallowell:
Exactly, exactly.

Candy:
I think their passion too.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yes, absolutely.

Candy:
So I completely agree with you.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah, no. It’s so true. Those are qualities you can’t buy and you can’t teach, so it’s so important to nourish them. But the black community, I don’t know if it’s still that way, but they’ve been resistant to the diagnosis and treatment, because they think it’s a bunch of white people trying to control black children’s behavior.

Candy:
Yes. I think that the black community has a lot of trauma with the medical community in general.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Candy:
Which, I mean, if you know about the Tuskegee experiment, you understand why that is, and a whole bunch of other things. So I get that. I think it’s getting a little bit better. I also know that sometimes with the black community, that spiritual piece can sometimes get in the way of the mental health piece where people kind of tell you, “Oh, pray harder. Go to church more. Tithe, fast.”

Dr. Hallowell:
Right, right.

Candy:
I am very thankful that as strong a Christian as my mother has always been, she’s also like, yeah, but God also gave us science and medicine and doctors who know things and so we should listen to them. So I’ve been fortunate, and that’s another reason that I talk about it a lot, because I want other black people and people of color to hear me and see me and see, it’s not a death sentence, first of all.

Dr. Hallowell:
Just the opposite.

Candy:
There’s so much you can do if you know you have it.

Dr. Hallowell:
Tell the listeners what you’re doing now, what you’re studying.

Candy:
I am in graduate school in a clinical mental health program so that eventually I can become a therapist.

Dr. Hallowell:
That’s fun. What motivated you to do that?

Candy:
I’ve always been the person that my friends come to for advice, but what really kind of solidified it for me was going through divorce and having a great therapist who got me through it. It was very, very difficult for me on a lot of levels, and kind of as I was coming through that also while figuring out my ADHD and how to be a single parent to two boys and all of that, I just kind of felt like I want to pay this forward. I want to be able to help someone else do this thing too. So that’s [crosstalk 00:31:23].

Dr. Hallowell:
What was so difficult about it and how did your therapist help you through it?

Candy:
I did not initiate the divorce. So that was number one. I’m actually a child of divorce. I was very, very young when my parents split up. So my mom’s second husband is, he’s my dad, he’s raised me. But because of that, I always felt like I’m going to get married once and that’s it and we’re going to stay together and we’re going to figure it out. My ex-husband got to a point where he didn’t want to, and it felt like a personal failing to me. I also had a lot of, I think, kind of toxic ideas that came from being raised in evangelicalism. So there was that piece where I was like, “If I don’t hold this together, God’s not going to forgive me because he hates divorce.” So it was a lot. Then it was kind of trying to reimagine my life as a not married person and I couldn’t see it.

Candy:
My therapist really helped me see that there was something beyond what I thought my life was going to look like and there was so much beauty just kind of waiting me on the other side. I’m a really stubborn person. I really dig my heels in and she was just so patient with me and so that was really the thing that did it. It’s been rough and it’s not perfect, but I actually am really happy at this point that my ex-husband knew we needed to end because we really did and I see that now, so.

Dr. Hallowell:
What a wonderful story, and talk about paying it forward. I mean, you saw what a difference a great therapist can make and now you’re going to do the same.

Candy:
I hope so. I really do.

Dr. Hallowell:
Do you get Attitude Magazine?

Candy:
I do. Yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:
You ought to write an article for them about the experience of being a single black woman mother having ADHD. I think it would be a wonderful article to write.

Candy:
Well, thank you for that encouragement. I just might do that.

Dr. Hallowell:
Yeah. I can connect you to the editor. It would be wonderful for you to tell the story, because, as you said, it’s not talked about that often and you have single mother, African-American, ADHD and you’re thriving. It’s wonderful.

Candy:
It is.

Dr. Hallowell:
Really, it’s such a great story.

Candy:
Thank you very much. I have a lot of great support. So I have to thank that people who love me. [crosstalk 00:34:20].

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, I think it’s all about connection. I think that’s what saves us all.

Candy:
Absolutely.

Dr. Hallowell:
It’s all about loving connections.

Candy:
Absolutely. I completely agree.

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, you have a lot of love in your heart, Candy, and a lot of brains in your head, I’ll tell you that as well. You’re remarkable. You’re remarkable. Mother of two boys are lucky to have you.

Candy:
Thank you very much.

Dr. Hallowell:
Is there any last remarks you’d like to make to our listeners?

Candy:
I just want to thank you for just speaking on everything that you’ve been speaking on and just keep doing it. I mean, I wrote you. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of other emails from a lot of people. It’s that connection, like you said, and it’s that finding out that we really are more alike than we are different. I think you do such a great job in all of your episodes of finding that connection and reminding us of that. So again, I am so honored and humbled that you asked me to do this. Thank you so much for allowing me to speak with you today. This was fantastic. Thank you.

Dr. Hallowell:
Well, I am honored and humbled that you joined us, that you agreed and I just can’t thank you enough. Thank you so, so, so, so much. Those of you please reach out to us with your thoughts just as Candy did, and we absolutely will get back to you. We’ll take some of them and answer them on the air. We’ll be listening, doing another Q and A episode soon. So write or email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected] That’s the word [email protected] Remember to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re trying to build that community up on social media, and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen so you’ll never miss an episode.

Dr. Hallowell:
Thank you so much again, Candy. Let me close by saying Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the also wonderful, Scott Persson, that’s Persson with two S’s. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye and thank you once again to Candy. The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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ADHD and Accepting Help, Hormones, Meds and More

ADHD and Accepting Help, Hormones, Meds and More

What do you do when someone you love with ADHD won’t accept help? Do hormonal changes affect medication? What are the different types of ADHD treatment available? These are just a few of the questions Dr. H addresses in this week’s podcast as he responds to emails we’ve received from our listeners.

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our 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 of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com, and by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. In today’s episode, I will be doing one of my favorite things, answering questions and responding to emails from you, our treasured valued, esteemed, and just magnificent listeners. As we usually do with these episodes, my wonderful producer, the lovely, brilliant, so very faithful and good and true, Sarah Guertin is joining me today to help out. Okay, Sarah, who are we starting with today?

Sarah Guertin:
I kind of sound like a dog. Maybe that’s why we get along so well, you like dogs. I’m loyal.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You don’t look anything like it though.

Sarah Guertin:
Well, thank you anyway. Okay, so today we are starting with an email from a listener named Mary. She writes, “I enjoyed listening to the mini Distraction/What’s in My Toolbox podcast.” That was quite a while ago you did that one, but she says, “My son is almost 20. He was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia at age eight. He is a wonderful human being and very loved, but struggles daily and spends much of his time shut away in his room. He has friends and enjoys his time with them, but shuts himself away when at home. Throughout his life he has shunned any form of help, despite huge encouragement. He won’t accept our help or help from external sources, i.e., he rejected to help at school, left college as lecturers couldn’t help him, won’t let us teach him practical things, gave up on driving lessons. The list goes on. How can we overcome this barrier? If it was in his toolbox, he’d fly.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mary, your son, this is not uncommon, particularly among young men. He had a hard time early on, and he’s adopted avoidance as a coping style. That’s really the coping style that I hate to see, because it’s out of fear. He doesn’t want to fail. He doesn’t want to look stupid. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
He’s, as you say, a wonderful human being and very loved, but he’s hiding from the world. How do you bring someone out of hiding? How do you coax someone or persuade someone that it’s worth taking a shot? This is where creativity comes into play, even bribery, but if you can find something to interest him in, something to get him to stick his head out of his hole long enough to smell life and get excited by something, anything. It could be a project, could be a relationship, could be a sport, could be a puzzle. Could be something online, some chat rooms, some group of people, some game, anything to get him involved in life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s, I would say, the measure of a successful life is have you found the game you love to play? Have you found something you love to play? Whether it’s a business or a profession, once you get in the game and love the game, then the wins and the losses don’t matter. The victory is loving the game and looking forward to taking another shot. Right now your son, bless his soul, is dropped out of the game, because he’s afraid of embarrassing himself. He’s afraid that he doesn’t have whatever it takes, and it’s your job and the job of whoever you find to help you, and there are lots of people who can do it, doesn’t have to be a mental health professional could be, but it could be an uncle, an aunt, a grandparent, a friend, a relative, a music teacher, a gym teacher, a drill instructor in the army if he decides to enlist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You don’t know who it’s going to be, but that’s the project, and approach it with a creative mind. Try not to fall into the trap of getting frustrated and fatalistic and just kind of giving up on him, not that you’d ever do that, but just feeling in your heart that it’s never going to work out because chances are, it will work out. Chances are, if you keep at it, if you keep coming toward him with different offers of different projects, different treasures, different goodies, one of these days, he’s going to get in a mood where he’ll snatch, he’ll reach out, his eyes will widen and his heart will beat. He will come out of hiding long enough to taste some kind of success, some kind of approval of others, some kind of engagement on his own in a way that it’s more valuable to chase that feeling than to hide and avoid feelings altogether.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I promise you if you keep at it with a team of people, not you alone, with a team of people, and they can be a ragtag bunch of, doesn’t have to be professionals or experts of any kind, just people who are interested in him, care about him, know something about something to get him hooked on life, to find a game he loves to play, and then you’re off to the races. Then you’ve got it made. Then he’s doing this thing we call life until he can’t do it anymore. You’re in a tough place right now, but a place that is fraught with possibility, as long as you keep at it. Good luck and do me a favor, come back to us in a few months and tell me what’s going on. I’d love to follow you along, Mary, in your journey with your son. Thanks so much for writing to us.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. This next one is about hormones in girls and ADHD. It starts, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell, I am a divorced parent of one daughter who is about to turn 13. She started middle school last year. She was diagnosed with ADHD several years ago due to struggling in the classroom. She had no issues with peers or coaches though. After trials of a handful of medications that were either ineffective or had negative side effects, she responded well to guaifenesin and she has been taking it ever since.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Guanfacine, that probably is.

Sarah Guertin:
Sorry, guanfacine. Okay. “However, her reactivity, anger and impatience, at home only mind you, are at an all-time high and have been for a year or two. As she enters adolescence and is experiencing hormonal changes, I am wondering whether that has an effect on how medications for ADHD work. Do you recommend a medication re-evaluation? Of note, she presents much more like a boy with ADHD than how girls typically present. Thank you for any thoughts that you have, Chloe”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. By all means I recommend a re-evaluation of medication. Guanfacine worked for a while, but it’s not working so much at home because of her reactivity, anger and impatience. Do hormones play a role? Yes, indeed they do. They very much do. You want to revisit medications. 80% of people with ADD can get an excellent response to medication. By that, I mean, target symptom improvement with no side effects. No, no, no, no side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But remember, there’s more to this than just medication. We have many more tools in the toolbox than just medication. You might want to consider one of my favorites. It’s a real breakthrough, the Zing method. We’ve had podcasts about this in the past. It’s a specialized form of exercise that you do for 10 minutes twice a day, that bolsters the cerebellum part of your brain at the back. It turns out the cerebellum is very involved in executive function and mood and cognitive issues. If you do these for 10 minutes twice a day, three to six months, 85% of people get really excellent results.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
To learn more just go to a website, distraction.zingperformance. That’s Z-I-N-G performance.com. That’s distraction.zingperformance.com. You don’t use medication at all. You may take medication while you’re doing Zing, it’s not contra-indicated, but this is a completely non-medication treatment for ADHD. It’s based on breakthrough science from Jeremy Schmahmann at Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Schmahmann’s not part of the Zing group at all, but the Zing people took advantage of Schmahmann’s research in developing their program, which I think is very, very promising. I recommend that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the other standards of non-medication treatment, physical exercise of all kinds. My friend, John Ratey, in his book, Spark, showed what an incredibly powerful tool exercise is for sharpening up your mental faculties. Getting enough sleep, meditating, eating right, in other words, avoiding junk food, avoiding sugar, trying to eat whole foods and not use drugs and alcohol to help you get by. Then coaching is another standard in helping with ADD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re talking about good news in that she’s symptomatic only at home, which means she can hold it together away from home, which is a good sign, but we want to help her at home, as well. Her race car brain is running away with her, and she’s having trouble putting on the brakes. That’s ADD, race car brain with bicycle brakes. You want to strengthen those brakes in whatever ways you can. I would suggest revisit medication, see if stimulants might work this time, but in meanwhile, investigate the Zing program. Go to distraction.zingperformance.com, and then look at physical exercise, meditation, sleep, eating right and coaching.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Also, don’t forget my favorite element in the list, which is positive human connection, the other vitamin C as I call it. A lot of people aren’t getting enough vitamin C these days because of the pandemic, but we need to connect with each other one way or another, so make sure your daughter is doing that, as well. Thank you so much for writing in and please give us follow-up. Love to hear how she’s making out.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In this anxious back-to-school time, everyone is looking for ways to reduce the edge of anxiety. One good way to try is by taking OmegaBrite supplement, Omega CBD, OmegaBrite CBD, as well as the OmegaBrite fish oil product. Both are good for emotional reactivity and can take the edge off of that. They’re fully natural, very healthy, really developed by a top-notch company. OmegaBritewellness.com, and you can get 20% off your first order by using the code podcast2020. Enter that, get 20% off. OmegaBritewellness.com. Okay, now let’s get back to the show.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. Since we’re on the subject of medication, we have another question from a listener about medication. Jean wrote, “Thank you. Please talk more about Ritalin and other best medications for ADD. I have side effects, and it takes months to get my medication changed.” I was thinking maybe you could just give listeners a quick overview.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is that what you were thinking, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:
It’s my job to produce, so this is me producing you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I will do as I’m told. In fact, I would love to do your bidding and this writer’s, this listener’s bidding. It says it takes months to get my medication changed. That should not happen. These medications, stimulant medications, can be changed daily if need be. It certainly shouldn’t take months. There’s something wrong with that picture. Maybe have a sit-down with your doctor or nurse practitioner or whoever you’re working with and try to set up a system where you can make changes more quickly, because to wait months for a stimulant medication change is just insane. There’s no need for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now the stimulant medications, of which Ritalin is one, are basically divided into two categories. Those that are methylphenidate-based, Ritalin, Focalin, Daytrana patch, Concerta, Ritalin LA, those are all based on the molecule methylphenidate, which came into use in the early 1950s. Ritalin is the best known among those. By the way, do you know where Ritalin got its name? The man who developed it, developed it to help his wife with her tennis game, so she could focus better. Her name was Rita. Hence, Rita-line is where the name came from.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the other group of stimulants are based on the molecule amphetamine. Now amphetamine was used for the first time to treat what we now call ADHD in, guess what year? 1937. Most people think it’s some new development in the past couple of decades. Not so at all, it’s been around for what is that, like 80 years. That’s good, because nothing lasts that long unless it is safe and effective. Now the best-known amphetamine-based medications are Adderall, Adderall XR stands for extended release, Vyvanse, which is another extended-release and Mydayis, which is the longest-acting of the amphetamine-based medications.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Those two groups, the methylphenidate-based and the amphetamine-based, make up the bulk of stimulant medication that we prescribe for ADHD. They still remain, in my opinion, the gold standard. Those are the best, when they work, they’re the best. They’re not definitive treatment, but they are symptomatic treatment. They’re like eyeglasses, and eyeglasses are pretty darn good if you’re near-sighted, and stimulant medication is pretty darn good if you have trouble focusing, if you have ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The major side effect of both groups, and the side effects are the same, the major side effect is it cuts your appetite. You have to be careful not to lose weight that you don’t want to lose. Other side effects are much less common, but they include insomnia if you take it too close to bedtime, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure. Some people get jittery as if they’ve had too much coffee. Some people the opposite, oddly enough, become somnolent. Some people just don’t like the way it makes them feel. They feel like they lose a bit of their personality. They lose their spontaneity, their sense of humor.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Any of those that happen, you just stop the medication. You can stop it on a dime. You don’t have to taper it. If it does anything you don’t like, if you turn purple, stop it, and you’ll go back to your original color. One of the great conveniences of these medications is that they’re in and out of your system in a matter of hours. That’s why I say you certainly don’t have to wait months to make a change. If one doesn’t work, another might. If Ritalin doesn’t work, Adderall might. The fact that one medication doesn’t help you, doesn’t mean that the other grouping won’t. How do you know in advance which one to try? It’s trial and error. That’s where we are. You try one. You try the other. As I said, you can go through a number of these in a matter of days. You don’t have to spend months doing the trial and error. About 80% of people who have ADD will find benefit without side effects from one or another of the medications.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then there are the non-stimulant medications, which don’t have the stellar track record of stimulants, but they’re great if they work. At the top of the list in that group, in my opinion, is Wellbutrin bupropion, which also has effectiveness as an anti-depressant and as an anti-addiction medication. It’s marketed as Zyban to help people quit smoking.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There’s a quick, quick overview about stimulant medication and medication in general. Work with a doctor who knows what he or she is doing. That’s the key to it all. Work with a doctor who has lots of experience in treating adults and children who have ADHD. If you do, you can really exhaust the possibilities, certainly in a matter of a couple of months at most. You may be one of those people like me for whom medication does not work. My medication is caffeine, coffee. That’s the world’s medication, but I don’t leave home without it. It’s something that I find very beneficial. Well, thank you so much for writing in and asking about that. Sarah, do we have another question?

Sarah Guertin:
We sure do. Do you remember the mini episode you did a few weeks ago… it was a little bit more than a few weeks ago… where you asked listeners whether you should stick to only talking about ADHD?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes, yes, yes, yes. Whether I should stick?

Sarah Guertin:
Yes. Yes. We had said in a recent episode that we got a lot of listener feedback where they all said, “No, you should talk about whatever you want.” I wanted to let you know that that has continued. We are still getting emails where people are telling you, “Yeah,. Speak your mind.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, it’s funny, because I thought about that. Whoever wrote that to me, telling me to shut up and dribble, he was, or she was trying to help me. I appreciate that. He or she was saying, “You’re going to hurt yourself if you go outside your behavioral perimeter, if you go outside your designated area of expertise.” I took it to heart enough that I wanted to ask people about it. I also am grateful to the man or woman who sent me that, because they were trying to help me, and maybe he or she is right. Maybe there are people when I go off to other topics that think, “Oh, shut up and dribble.”

Sarah Guertin:
Well, they’re not emailing us if that’s the case.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good, good, good, good.

Sarah Guertin:
But I wanted to share one with you. It’s a little bit long, but I thought it was particularly powerful, so I wanted to read it to you. It says, “Hi, Dr. H, I was catching up with the podcast when I heard the episode where a listener suggested that you should stick to what you know and leave more provocative topics alone. I’ve never sent an email to your show before, but I absolutely had to this time. I’m a Black woman with ADHD. I also have two sons with ADHD, and I’ve appreciated your work for many years now. I’ve often felt invisible as a woman of color with ADHD. Although there are plenty of us out here, we often get overlooked for one reason or another.

Sarah Guertin:
I’ve been absolutely floored and thrilled to witness more conversation happening about race in this country. I’ve been especially happy to witness it coming specifically from some of my favorite ADHD experts. I’m beginning to feel seen in a way I never have before. We are living in unprecedented times where the people at the very top are willfully and intentionally corrupt, bigoted, illogical and hateful, and it is costing lives every single day. Now is not the time for anyone to be silent or to simply stick to polite topics that won’t ruffle feathers. I want to know what kind of people the experts I’m supporting (with my time when I’m listening to their podcasts and my money, when I buy their books and go to conferences). I want to know who they are. I don’t think you can call yourself a decent person and not speak about the things that are happening in our country.

Sarah Guertin:
The same way more ADHD experts are talking about how race affects diagnosis and treatment, I hope to hear more speaking out on how poverty and lack of access to mental health resources also affects diagnosis and treatment. It’s especially vital that people with a platform use their reach for good, which is exactly what I’ve witnessed you doing for years now. The person who sent you that email does not speak for me, and I suspect they don’t speak for a significant portion of your listeners. Please keep speaking about the things that matter, especially when they’re messy and have potential to ruffle feathers. Respectfully, Candy”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, Candy, what a wonderful email. I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement, and also for what you’re seeing happen in your own life. I mean, you’re twice invisible. You’re a woman with ADHD, the biggest underdiagnosed group, and you’re of color with ADHD, also an overlooked group. You have two forces that lead you to fade into the background. I’m so glad you’re standing out and standing forth and standing up and saying, “Hey, here I am finding your voice, finding your identity, laying claim to your truth, your story, your place in this world, your place at the table.” Gosh, it’s wonderful, because, I mean, I’ve been trying to bring people with ADHD to the forefront for my whole career. I’m now 70 years old, and it’s wonderful to see it happening in the two groups you represent, women and color. Both groups are hugely overlooked in our society in general, but in the ADHD diagnosis in particular.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
People of color who have ADHD, women of color who have ADHD are so at risk not to fulfill their destiny, not to fulfill their potential, not to find the encouragement, the guts, the platform, whatever the propulsion, to stand up and be counted, and then help others stand up, because that’s the next step which you’re doing in writing in and helping others stand up. I mean, because this diagnosis, unlike so many diagnoses in medicine, this is good news. Things can only get better when you find out you have ADHD. They can only get better. Often your life changes dramatically for the better. You’re really on the precipice of making good on all your potential. You’re on the precipice of finding the superpower hidden within ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t get me wrong, it can be a terrible curse, as well. That’s why it’s so important to diagnose it, because undiagnosed ADHD can all but ruin your life. Sometimes indeed ruin your life, whether it’s through incarceration, or addiction, or job loss, what have you. But when you learn to get the right help, you can begin to tap into the superpower that’s often there, the Ferrari engine, when it gets its brakes, can start winning races. That’s what you’re doing. No pun on race, because you’ve also got that going. People of color are finally being recognized more accurately, and we old white men like me are understanding better what it’s like to go every day and if you see a police officer, wonder is he going to pull you over, and if he does, what are you going to do?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I really, in all my naivete, and I grew up in the ’60s when we were fighting for civil rights, but in all my naivete, I sort of thought that had been taken care of. Then my gosh, even just the past months, learning how wrong I was, that it’s anything but taken care of, and that we old white men like me need to start learning that we haven’t solved this problem, to the point where many of us, including me, were unaware of the details of what it’s like subjectively to live as a person of color in this country. Then if you throw in poverty, which is another way of being unnoticed, invisible, discounted, rejected, unheard, then you have a third factor folded into the mess, as you say, the messiness of life. If you’re a person who has little money, you’re of color, and you have ADHD and you don’t know it, boy, oh boy, is the deck stacked against you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But if you start listening to people like you, Candy, and if you hear your stirring example, and if you say, “Okay, let me go find someone to get my ADHD taken care of,” now that in and of itself is a problem. How do you gain access? How do you gain access to care? Experts in ADHD are not easy to find. For one reason or another, they’re is rare as hen’s teeth. I live in the Boston area, so there were plenty of experts around here. But if you go outside of the academic centers, they’re hard to find, particularly ones who take my approach, which is a strength-based approach saying, “This is a trait, not a disorder. It can be a terrible disorder, but it can also become a superpower if you manage it right.” We’re very hard to find.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The most economical way of gaining access to me is by one of my books, which are cheap on Amazon. That’s like $10 for Delivered from Distraction. Now for some people, $10 is not cheap. It’s a big reach. There are also libraries. There are places where you can read books for no charge. This podcast is free of charge, as well. My website has a lot of information on it, drhallowell.com. That’s also free of charge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It is the truth that shall set you free in this case. It really is. Once you understand the basic symptoms, which creativity, originality, entrepreneurial-ism, powerful brain going all the time, a desire to be free, desire to not necessarily play by the rules, but make it up as you go, all of those positives that you can’t buy and you can’t teach, immense curiosity, coupled with the negatives, which is trouble getting organized, trouble being on time, trouble showing up where and when you’re supposed to, trouble following through, and trouble focusing when you’re not interested. When you’re interested, you can hyper-focus, but when you’re not interested, your mind wanders, goes elsewhere. What that all sums up to is trouble achieving and a tendency to underachieve and then get fired, lose jobs, lose relationships, and so on and so forth.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But if you can identify that, if you can see yourself in that list of symptoms, and then go to an MD who has some experience with this, and you don’t have to go to an expensive specialist, go to some MD, you could bring my book with you, could say, “I’ve gone through this. These are the symptoms I’ve got. Could you give me a trial of stimulant medication?” As long as they’re comfortable with it and comfortable with the diagnosis, they’ll do that. That’s sort of the first step, getting a trial of medication and then learning about the condition, learning about what it is, owning it, metabolizing it, learning about it well enough that you can teach someone else about it. This is life-changing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Chances are, once you do get it, your earning power will increase because you’ll be able to marshal your God-given talents and resources and start leading others of your group, of your race, of your ethnic grouping, whoever you are, lead and help them free, I say, break the manacles that that can be holding you back. When you start leading others to do that, helping others to do that, it’s a great feeling. St. Francis said, “In giving, we receive.” It is so true. When you can help someone else, and when you can see their life change, and when they say, “Gosh, thank you. Man, that feels good.” You have it in your power to do that, Candy. You have it in your power to lead a whole bunch of people, because you’re representative of a group that is underserved, for sure, people of color, women of color who have ADD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much for writing in. I’m glad you are encouraging me to speak my mind. I am someone who values telling the truth, certainly in doing that with my work with ADHD. I hope and pray whoever leads this country in the coming years, what we need is coming together. What we need is forces of unification. Often that’s done best at local levels. I like to think that everyone knows how much we need each other now. Everyone knows that what we need to do is come together. I kind of believe that we’ll find a way to make that happen. Candy, thank you so much for writing in. I can’t thank you enough.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s going to do it for today. If you have a question you’d like me to address in a future episode just like the ones I answered today, please write an email or record a voice memo, and send it to us at [email protected] That’s the word, [email protected] We love getting these questions. We really love them and make them commentary, not just questions. Put in your opinions, your thoughts, your speculations. It’s a great way for our audience to get to know each other.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so much for joining me. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the meticulously brilliant Scott Persson, never misses the sound. Our producer is the very imaginative, but also very careful to detail, Sarah Guertin.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBritewellness.com.

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Exercise and ADHD Are a Winning Pair

Exercise and ADHD Are a Winning Pair

Dr. John Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, bestselling author, and Ned’s writing partner of many years, joins our host to talk about all the positive effects exercise has on your brain, including helping you focus.

Learn more in Dr. Ratey’s book, SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, or on his website, JohnRatey.com.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our 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 of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And by Landmark college offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. John Ratey:
Everything that you can think of in terms of exercise has been looked to show a positive effect on attention measures. Okay? Yoga, dance is very good. Certainly racket sports and soccer, basketball, anything you can think of improves the attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a very special episode. Not that they’re not all special, but this one is especially special. And it’s because I have my dear friend and former teacher, writing partner, squash partner, mentor, and just all-around delight in my life, Dr. John Ratey, coming to us all the way from Los Angeles.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
A little background on John. John is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and he’s the author of a number of books. He really has paved the way first in the treatment of aggression and then in the development of exercise as a really powerful treatment modality in psychiatry. In 2016, he was honored as the outstanding psychiatrist of the year for advancing the field by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. He’s an all-around wonderful man and truly an imaginative out-of-the-box thinker who also has very stellar academic credentials. So it’s an honor, a delight and a true pleasure to welcome my dear, dear friend, Dr. John Ratey.

Dr. John Ratey:
It’s great to be with you all and great to be with you Ned. About calling in from sunny Los Angeles and missing you and missing both family and our getting together in your backyard and all that, but I’m delighted to be talking about attention deficit disorder and all the stuff that we’ve known over the years and have written about and talked about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, let’s just jump right into an area of where you are a world authority, namely exercise. John wrote a book called Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and really brought to the general public the fact that physical exercise is not just good for your heart and your bones and your blood, but it’s actually really good for your brain. Do you want to enlarge on that, John? Because I don’t think most people are aware of just how it helps your brain.

Dr. John Ratey:
Sure. Right, most people don’t realize it, but when you exercise, you are using more of your brain. When we move physically, we are using more of our brain than in any other human activity. And the way we think about the brain today is that the brain is like a muscle. The more we use it, the better it gets. And exercise challenges, moves, makes the brain really work. And this is especially relevant for people with attention deficit disorder.

Dr. John Ratey:
One of the things that was in all of our findings, from Driven to Distraction onward, is we always talked about the benefits of exercise. We could see it, patients could see it, parents could see it. I just had, I did a course… [Mary Jane Beach 00:04:32], who you may remember, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes.

Dr. John Ratey:
She was in the course.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh wow, wonderful.

Dr. John Ratey:
Recalling, really, our first talks down at the Cape with her parents’ group, where we picked up a lot of information, including how beneficial exercise was.

Dr. John Ratey:
But now we know, we can unpack it. What happens? Well, when we fire our nerve cells so much, we release a lot of neurotransmitters and especially we release dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin a lot. And it sort of acts like exercise, acts like a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin so that when we move, we release these neuro-transmitters, which then has an effect on our attention system throughout the brain. So it stands to reason that exercise is a very good treatment or co-treatment for attention deficit disorder.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
As well as depression and anxiety, right?

Dr. John Ratey:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Spark was written all about the psychiatric benefits of exercise, including very much so depression and anxiety, addictions, certainly attention. And a big boat of benefit is its effect on aging. It’s really the number one anti-aging tactic that one can have along with, by the way, connecting. Those two together are at the top of any wellness pyramid or list that you can find. That’s because exercise really does so much in our brain.

Dr. John Ratey:
One of the things that it causes, when we use our brain, we release a substance called BDNF, Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor. Well, we know a lot about this, basically a neuro-hormone, a growth factor, in the brain because it acts in the brain like fertilizer. Meaning it keeps our brain cells young and perky as well as it makes them do what they’re supposed to do, and that is to grow and grow in our information. So when we’re-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So exercise makes you grow new nerve cells, new brain cells.

Dr. John Ratey:
But that’s the second part of the neuroplasticity. The big big effect of neuro-plasticity is making our hundred billion nerve cells more growth worthy, more growth oriented.

Dr. John Ratey:
Another part that we learned in 1999 is that we humans are making new brain cells every day. And the number one effect on promoting new growth of new brain cells is exercise. And this is study after study we’ve had. And in Spark, I talked about a thousand different articles on exercise and its effect on the brain and made it palatable for people, hopefully, and how it works because it works magnificently.

Dr. John Ratey:
The best way to make a person ready to learn, that is ready to take in information, sort it and log it in is a bout of exercise because it makes our brain cells really ready to log in the information to grow.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The cover of Harvard Magazine, which I receive every month as a Harvard grad, arrived today. And it had an elderly gentlemen on the lawn in a pushup position with a little toddler sitting on his shoulders. And the caption was, “Why exercise keeps you young.” It was very fitting for today’s conversation.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the next question is: what kind and how much? So people listening, I’m sure nobody would disagree with anything you’ve said, how could they? But then they say, “Okay, how do I get in the habit of exercising? Is it enough just to walk around everyday?” How much and what kind and how do I keep doing it consistently?

Dr. John Ratey:
Those are all very important questions. How much is, if you look at what Health and Human Services tell us, and that’s a combination of looking at all kinds of evidence, they say 150 minutes a week of exercise. What does that mean? That’s about 30 minutes every day or so. And what they say is that we should get our heart rates up to about 60 or 70% of our maximum, which means if it’s walking, it’s fast walking, it’s walking, pushing yourself a little bit, though. There’s no denying that walking itself is great. Walking will get you more focused and more ready to pay attention. Lots of studies showing that, that just walking on a treadmill and not really sweating but pushing yourself a little bit, getting a little bit breathless that your test scores go up about 20, 30%. A big part of that is the attention system is locked in and we have all kinds of evidence from all over the world, really, about exercise making people attend better and stay with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just wanted to confirm, you said 150 minutes a week?

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes. That’s the recommendation. Now, for boosting your attention system, you can do even very little. You could do five minutes of something like jumping rope or squats or pushups. Any of those will get your heart rate up and you’ll do a little bit, more than just moderate, if you do it for five minutes straight, and that will give you a burst of attention. The deal is the longer you do it, the better your attention will be. But you have to program yourself to do it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In this anxious back-to-school time, everyone is looking for ways to reduce the edge of anxiety. And one good way to try is by taking OmegaBrite supplement, Omega CBD. OmegaBrite CBD as well as the OmegaBrite fish oil product. Both are good for emotional reactivity and can take the edge off of that. They’re fully natural, very healthy, really developed by a top-notch company. OmegaBriteWellness.com. And you can get 20% off your first order by using the code Podcast 2020. Enter that, get 20% off OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, now let’s get back to the show.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I recommend to people there’s an app called the Seven Minute Workout.

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Most people can afford seven minutes, but it’s a pretty vigorous workout for seven minutes.

Dr. John Ratey:
Oh, it is. It is. It’s 30 seconds on a bunch of different exercises with a short rest period in between. So it gets you moving and takes you through jumping jacks to squats, to push-ups, to lunges, to crunches, to planks, all the usual suspects for aerobic kinds of exercise.

Dr. John Ratey:
Most of the studies had been on measuring aerobic exercise, that is running, walking, swimming, biking, climbing, whatever, to get your heart rate up to see the change in the attention measures that they do with tests. However, more recently in the past 15 years, we’ve done a lot of work on looking at weight training, strength training with exercise. Strength training more than weight training. Just by moving your muscles and challenging them, you have this great effect on your brain. Almost as much as you do with aerobic training.

Dr. John Ratey:
That leads to what kind of exercise to do. Well, something that you’ll come back to, something that you’ll do again and again and again. The all-time best prescription for exercise is something that you like to do, that you do outside and you do with somebody or some group because that connection has so many other positives to it, but it also keeps you honest. It also keeps you coming back and doing it.

Dr. John Ratey:
Now this can be anything. It can be Zumba, it can be biking, it can be walking. Because this all challenges your brain, it makes your brain work best.

Dr. John Ratey:
Now, how to be motivated and how to stay motivated once you start? In January every year, people join gyms and the [inaudible 00:15:06] and go for a month and then stop. What happens? Well, what you need to do is remember how you feel the day that you exercise. So right after you exercise, that day you note to yourself, like, “Note to self. I feel better today. I’m more productive today. I’m happier today. I’m more altruistic, I’m less angry, I’m less hopeless today.” Because that is the only way to sort of get you to continue.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I don’t think it’s the only way at all. I’ve been exercising for 40 years by playing squash with the same guy on Tuesday afternoon. And, and for me, reminding myself how great I feel, that doesn’t do it. I’m too much of a hard sell. But showing up for a friend, I can’t let him down. I have to be there. So to me, the key in making it sustainable is combining it with a human connection, with a friendship. And you and I, we used to play squash on Sunday mornings for a number of years until that place closed down. I think this thing of solitary exercise, I know I don’t like it. I know a lot of people do it, but to me, to make it sustainable, I think the best way is to combine it; a group who likes to play tennis or a group who likes to run together, or a group who likes to swim together or in my case, play squash.

Dr. John Ratey:
Right. No, there’s no question that that human connection makes it so worthy and bringing you back to it. And that’s why the reason why something like CrossFit has been so popular, because it’s a group. You get into a group or the running group, the walking group or playing squash, yes. I remember that very well. And then I ruined my arm after 25 years. But nonetheless, I loved it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That brings up another question that as we get older, and you and I are both in our seventies, as we get older various injuries crop up. But that still should be no reason to give up exercise. There are still ways for just about anybody to get exercise if they’re resourceful.

Dr. John Ratey:
Exactly. When you talk about ADD, and people all over the world have been watching after this and trying to understand what kind of exercise, how long. So everything that you can think of in terms of exercise has been looked to show a positive effect on attention measures. Yoga, dance is very good. Certainly racket sports and soccer, basketball, anything you can think of improves the attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just another idea to throw out there in terms of connection is working with a trainer. And as you know, John, I worked with this wonderfully grumpy, brilliant Russian trainer named Simon for some 15 years. You did it for a little while with him, yourself. And that’s another way of getting you to do it. If you’re you’re paying someone, you have to show up. So again, it’s a human connection. You hire someone but it’s another way of getting you to do the exercise. I think part of your message is it doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, as long as you do it.

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes. And if you’re constantly… Or not constantly, but if you’re pushing yourself to do more or do better, like for instance even playing squash, it’s competitive so we wanted to do better each time. We’d push ourselves a little bit to beat one another, or you mainly beat me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But you’d start every game by saying, “I’m going to beat you today.”

Dr. John Ratey:
We had fun, though. It was over and we were laughing and we were talking. We didn’t hold it against one another.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, not at all. It was wonderful. It was wonderful. It was wonderful.

Dr. John Ratey:
I do exercises all the time now. You can do it with COVID, you can do it in your house. There’s plenty of different YouTube to follow or just do it with your mates. But it doesn’t do the same as a squash. Are you playing squash now, Ned, with COVID?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, the courts aren’t open, but my wife Sue, her gym closed, much to her distress, but she has this group and this trainer named Derek and they do it on Zoom. She’s in the living room this morning, doing these burpees and squats and pushups and weights. She’s a half an hour in her gym clothes on Zoom, and Derek is marching them through their paces and you hear the voices of all the other members. In spite of COVID and the gym closing, she’s still got her group and she does it four times a week and loves it. She wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Dr. John Ratey:
Because it does so much for the way we feel and the way we can attend and reducing stress and anxiety, which we know happens. It also boosts our mood because it changes our brain chemistry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, yes.

Dr. John Ratey:
The chemicals that I mentioned, but also on the endorphins in the endocannabinoids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t forget oxygen. I mean, that’s another brain enhancer and you get a lot of oxygen when you exercise.

Dr. John Ratey:
You sure do. You also produce more oxytocin.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Dr. John Ratey:
Which is the love and bonding hormone. We produce more of it when we exercise. So when you’re finished exercising, you will feel more likely to be more altruistic, to be kinder, to be more interested in bonding from a biologic perspective. There’s a lot that happens in the brain, all for the good.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, my wonderful, brilliant friend, John Ratey. Thank you so much for gracing us with your really expert top-of-the-line knowledge on exercise. The take-home points, find something that you want to do over and over again. And however you find it, with a squash mate or a trainer or self-motivation remembering how good you feel when you do it, but just find a way to get yourself to do it because it’s one of those things that everyone praises but not enough people do. You could say the same for meditation, by the way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In any case, thank you. Thank you, thank you for joining us today. For more information on John, go to his website, JohnRatey.com. That’s J-O-H-N-R-A-T-E-Y.com. Johnratey.com. You can read about his books on the brain, on exercise, on attention deficit disorder, on diet and nutrition. He has a wonderful book called Go Wild about the paleo approach. He’s creating all the time and he has ADD and that’s what ADD people do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And please reach out to us with your questions, comments and show ideas. We really depend upon them. We need your input and we’re looking for it all the time. Send us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to us at [email protected] That’s the word “connect,” [email protected] We really love to hear from you and your questions. We often put a show together based entirely on your questions, which I try to answer. sometimes they stump me, but I usually can find some answer or find someone who does know the answer.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You can also follow the Distraction Podcast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Give us a like and a follow to stay connected with the show. We truly appreciate it as we’re trying to in the social media world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant and always on time Scott Persson and our producer is the inevitably perfect, depressingly so, perfect. The sweet and lovely, brilliant, talented Sarah Guertin. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for this time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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Science Shows Omega-3s Improve Executive Function with OmegaBrite Wellness

Science Shows Omega-3s Improve Executive Function with OmegaBrite Wellness

This special episode is sponsored by OmegaBrite Wellness.

This back-to-school season is especially stressful, so we know parents and kids are looking for ways to cope! Dr. Carol Locke, founder of OmegaBrite Wellness, shares some of the proven benefits of Omega-3s and how they can help adults and children. Dr. Locke cites recent studies out of Ohio State using OmegaBrite Omega-3s, which showed a reduction in anxiety and inflammation, and improved executive functioning in participants.

To view the studies cited in this episode, go HERE.

Shop OmegaBrite Wellness online. 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. Reach out to us at [email protected].

LISTEN to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Those of you familiar with the podcast will know my guest today, and she’s one of my favorites. She’s joined me on the podcast many times over the years, and especially over the past few months, Dr. Carol Locke, Harvard Medical School trained and all together entrepreneur, innovator extraordinaire, the founder of OmegaBrite Wellness, a sponsor we’re lucky to be able to say of this podcast, joins me today to talk about how parents and kids can alleviate some of the anxiety they are feeling as they embark on this new school year, a particularly difficult time because of the pandemic and the tremendous uncertainty that surrounds it.

What you might be feeling, whether it be political, medical, nutritional, spiritual, what have you, Dr. Locke is here to help us with one kind of intervention that you probably haven’t thought of, namely Omega-3’s and fish oil. So Dr. Locke, could you please begin the discussion by telling us why Omega-3’s are so important?

Dr. Carol Locke:

Omega-3’s are so important because, number one, we cannot make them. Our body cannot make them. We must take them in our diet and they’re very low or deficient in them in our diet right now. They have tremendous health benefits all across the board from cardiac, brain health, to our joints, as well as to managing stress. And that makes them very essential all of the time, and even more important now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I start every day by taking five of your little gel capsules. So what good am I doing for myself when I take them and swallow them?

Dr. Carol Locke:

Well, what you’re taking is OmegaBrite. That’s OmegaBrite 70-10MD, which is our high EPA Omega formula product. And what you’re doing in taking those capsules is you’re giving your body a way to not only provide for the health benefits of Omega-3, but have the unique ability to increase your ability to manage stress, decrease your anxiety, increase your executive function, and improve your mood as well as pain. So those are very big benefits that would help people in their toolbox as a parent, or as a child, in facing this pandemic, COVID return to school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Huge. I mean, the advantages you just ticked off. And all I have to do is, I keep them in the freezer, reach in there and, and take five capsules out of the bottle and swallow them, and I’ve done myself a huge favor. Now there are many different, many different products, brands of 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 on line. 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 it’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:

Oh, that’s really good to know. As you know, I have total faith in it, take it myself. So does my wife. 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:

Yeah. 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. And what it found was a 20% reduction in anxiety, and a 14% reduction in the inflammatory cytokine IL-6. So you had a very powerful benefit from the OmegaBrite shown in this study, and that’s something that people could use right now in their life, reducing their anxiety, and stress, and inflammation.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So I think with that in mind, I mean, honestly, my profession, psychiatry, and medical in general, we ought to be, we ought to be prescribing this, certainly before we prescribe drugs like Prozac or Zoloft.

Dr. Carol Locke:

I think it’s a very powerful foundation to give to yourself and to your patients. It’s has all-health benefits on top of these benefits. So I agree. I think it’s something that we can powerfully prescribe and use in our lives and in our patients’ lives to reduce anxiety, inflammation, stress, and help with mood.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents?

Dr. Carol Locke:

It’s a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent without negative effects. So typically if you take a prescription anti-inflammatory, you can have problems with COX-2 inhibition. You can have various problems in your immune system with suppression. When you’re providing high EPA Omega-3 like OmegaBrite, you’re giving your body back the ability to balance inflammation in its own system. Omega-3 EPA competes with arachidonic acid, and so when you provide a high dose of Omega-3 in your diet, you gain ability to balance and modulate your own inflammation in your body, as it wants to naturally.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And most people, most lay people, think of inflammation as what happens when you get a cut or you get a bruise, and you turn red and it’s hot. But in fact inflammation drives stuff that people don’t associate with inflammation, like obesity, like depression, like high blood pressure, like immune dysfunction, which is associated with cancer. So by suppressing inflammation, you’re suppressing one of the major provocateurs of the conditions that we fear the most.

Dr. Carol Locke:

Exactly. It’s a huge thing. And we want inflammation, like you said, if we get a cut, we break our leg. We want to know about it. But we don’t want that fighting against our body all the time, like you said, causing those disease states. One of the things, Ned, that people, as you know, are facing overload right now, and the kids are facing, is stress. And stress affects inflammation as well. We think that stress causes a neuroinflammation and it looks like the Omega-3’s can decrease that neuroinflammation. And one of the effects of stress is impaired executive function.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Carol Locke:

And we have a study I wanted to share with you, in 2019, just came out also from Ohio State, in youth and kids showing OmegaBrite improved executive function. This was in 95 kids over 12 weeks. So that’s a pretty big gain I think could go in and kids and adults toolbox right now with the pandemic to increase our ability to have executive function.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh my gosh, absolutely. What ages were these kids?

Dr. Carol Locke:

These kids were ages seven to 17, boys and girls recruited from the community. This study was done over 12 weeks in 95 children with the diagnosis of mood disorder, including bipolar disorder, not otherwise specified major depression, or cyclothymia. An important point, Ned, was many of these kids had co-diagnoses as well, 75 with anxiety and 58 with ADHD. There was improvement across the board for executive function in all diagnoses. And the ADHD population had a slightly higher level of improvement.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Is the dose different for kids?

Dr. Carol Locke:

The dose in this study was four capsules a day, four OmegaBrite capsules a day. And what we think when dosing is it looks like we can use weight rather than age in children. OmegaBrite, six capsules a day have been used in kids with bipolar disorder, a MGH study. Again, very healthy with only health benefits, positive health side effects.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. Wow.

Dr. Carol Locke:

So the executive function study, I think, is really powerful because problems with executive function happen in ADHD. They happen in every mood disorder, and they happen across the general population in stress. And if we can help with that-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. I mean they happen just in modern life, and now modern life with a pandemic thrown in, everybody’s executive function is going.

Dr. Carol Locke:

Yeah, is affected.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, no boy. And it’s such a simple thing to just take these capsules. Like I said, I take five of them. Is five enough, should I take six?

Dr. Carol Locke:

A lot of people take six, and there have been studies in mood disorders where less than six was not as effective as six capsules a day. A lot of people take four or five. This study on executive function was four capsules a day. In the anxiety study it was six capsules a day. So I think you can use your own body and experience to tell you, is four good? Is five good? Is six good? You’ll know.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, I’ve certainly found them to be mood stabilizing. My mood is all over the place. I don’t know what diagnosis I have other than ADHD, but my mood is very labile, up, down, in-between, and quick to change. And I found that the Omega-3’s really helped me with that. Not only with my musculoskeletal issues, but the mood issues as well. It is a wonder drug, you know, what can I say?

Dr. Carol Locke:

Thank you. We hear that a lot from people, particularly in the pandemic we’re hearing from customers that they’re finding it essential with their mood. They’re also finding the OmegaBrite Omega-3 essential in their relationships. Keeping their mood stable, positive, and feeling less anxiety helps them with their family relationships. And I think anything we can do to help kids, parents, and teachers right now, because of this added stress of do they go back to the classroom, at a changed classroom with partitions and masks and social distancing, or are they at home with their parents who are stressed, is such a powerful situation. I think we want to help give people tools to put in their toolbox to succeed and to feel like they are thriving and able to learn during the stress.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. And this is such a simple tool. I mean some tools, you have to work out, or you have to stretch. I mean, those are all good too, but this is a simple tool. There’s no taste to it. There’s no aftertaste to it. What could be easier than swallowing a few capsules? I mean, it’s such a wonderful product. And there are fish oil products that you got to watch out for, because if they’re not pharmaceutical grade the way yours is, you can get mercury contamination. It can be dangerous. So it’s worth taking OmegaBrite to get the quality assurance that comes with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Any last words, Carol? It’s always great to hear you. You always have such good news.

Dr. Carol Locke:

I am glad to be here. I think this is a particularly powerful message of this executive function study, showing both the safety in kids, but also the effect, helping kids with their ability to get along. The parents in that study said that their kids had less distractibility, more ability to plan for and problem solve stressful situations, as well as less dysphoric mood irritability and improved self-esteem. So I think that’s the message I’d like to give, is we have something to help. OmegaBrite can help kids, is safe, and will add to their ability to manage stress. And the parents too. And teachers.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Carol. And listen, to learn more, go to OmegaBriteWellness.com.

And Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order by using the promo code Podcast2020. That’s Podcast2020. So go to OmegaBriteWellness.com. Enter the promo code Podcast2020, save 20% and most important, be on your way to promoting health, mental health, physical health, all-together wellness for you and your children, and your family and your friends for that matter.

It’s such a treat to have you as a sponsor because it’s spreading good news and powerful, powerful resources. Tools in the toolbox as you like to say.

Okay. Remember to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We thrive on them. We love them. We use them. We metabolize them. We turn them into new shows all of their very own. Our email address is [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant always on top of everything Scott Persson. That’s person with two S’s. And our producer is the wonderful, brilliant, many-ideas Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you a healthy and productive day, week, year, and life. Goodbye for now.

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What Happens When ADHD Is Left Untreated

What Happens When ADHD Is Left Untreated

If you don’t deal with your ADHD then you could be setting yourself up for a lifetime of negative consequences.

Learn about ADHD myths vs. facts in this Distraction episode from Season 2.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write and email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our 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 October 2019 with the title, “The Downsides of  ADHD.”

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega three supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn [email protected], Landmark College. The college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. By the way, please be in touch with us, let us know what direction you want us to take, what topics you want us to address, what guests you’d like us to reach out to. We follow your lead, we depend on your input, please, please, please be in touch with us. So I want to talk a little bit about ADHD, a term, by the way, that I’m in the process of changing, the new book John Ratey and I are writing, we are introducing our new term, vast variable attention stimulus trait, instead of the cumbersome misleading term, ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It’s not a disorder, it’s a trait. It can be a disorder, but it can also be an asset, and it’s not a deficit of attention. It’s an abundance of attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So the term itself is misleading and really inaccurate, but it’s called ADHD. So for now, we’ll call it what it’s called in the official diagnostic manual. What are the worst parts of having it? And it can be a terrible thing to have, that Russell Barkley’s latest numbers show that the average person who has ADHD loses 15 to 16 years of life due to not taking care of themselves. Not going for medical care, accidents due to failure to pay attention, addictions, substance abuse, drug abuse, unemployment, all the comorbid problems that go with ADHD. That’s the bad part of having it. If you don’t take care of it, if you don’t get diagnosed, if you don’t take it seriously, if you’re one of those people who “Doesn’t believe in it,” well, it will believe in you. Namely it’ll hurt you and it’ll hurt you real bad, this condition, if you have it, and if you don’t deal with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Addiction is five to 10 times more common than people who have it, and as you know, addiction can end your life or certainly shorten your life, and most definitely curtail the quality of your life in a major, major way. I hope you all are not affected by it, but most people know people who are, and it’s a terribly sad thing to watch, the gradual decline in quality of life. What makes it even sadder is most of these people, most people who struggle with addiction also have extraordinary talent. So the bad side of having ADHD is what happens when you don’t get help for it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Depression is much more common, anxiety disorders, much more common. Addiction, much more common, accidents, traffic accidents, eight times more common. Injuries, accidents, suicide, more common. Divorce, more common, unemployment, more common, living on the margins of life, feeling marginalized, feeling left out, underachievement in school, on the job. You name it. ADHD, untreated, unrecognized, untreated, tends to have a negative impact. It can truly ruin your life, or at least hold you back from becoming all that you could otherwise become. It can be a terrible, terrible condition to have, and this is coming from me who is known for helping people turn it into an asset, which it can indeed be. In my life, ADHD is an asset. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and in the lives of the millions of entrepreneurs who have it, it’s an asset.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel prize in chemistry has it, and it’s an asset for him. David Neeleman, who founded Jet Blue Airlines and several other airlines, it’s an asset for him. So it can be an asset if you manage it properly. But if you don’t, as Russell Barkley has proven with his very careful statistical analysis of the condition, it can absolutely, absolutely ruin your life. So it’s very important to take it seriously and not blow it off and say, “Oh, it’s a made up condition.” It’s anything but made up. It’s very real and very can be very devastating. But the good news is, if you do take it seriously, if you do get help, then you can turn it all around. Then you can turn it into a very positive force in your life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
As I say to kids, it’s like you’ve got a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. Well, a Ferrari engine with no brakes is very dangerous. You can crash, burn, die. But a Ferrari with brakes wins races. You’re a champion in the making and that’s the deal, that’s the deal. So for goodness sake, go see a brake specialist, go get your ADHD treated. So you can go from being a disaster in the making to becoming a champion in the making. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Before I sign off, I do have to thank our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. I’ve been taking it for the past three months and highly recommend it. OmegaBrite CBD is safe, third-party tested and it works. Go to omegabritewellness.com, and remember Brite is spelled B-R-I-T-E. Go to omegabritewellness.com and use the promo code podcast2020 to save 20% off your first order. That’s podcast2020. Okay. Remember, please reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We love them. We depend upon them. We just can’t get enough of them. Our email address is [email protected] That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great media. Our producer is the multi talented Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the genius of Scott Persson. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, and thanks so much for listening.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Minimize ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationships

Minimize ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationships

How do you work through issues that arise when you and/or your significant other have ADHD? Sue Hallowell (a couple’s therapist and Ned’s wife of 31 years) sat down with Ned in the kitchen of their Massachusetts home to talk about the realities of being married to someone with ADHD. Sue’s insights shed light on how to navigate the frustrations of being the “non-ADHD” half of the couple, and what predicts whether a relationship will succeed. You’ll hear the love as Ned and Sue talk shame, blame, excuses and more in this heartwarming episode.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Email [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.

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners 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.

This episode was originally released in August 2019.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Sue Hallowell:
Even though the person with ADHD, their intention may not be to ignore, to not pay attention, to forget, they have to understand that that behavior still has an impact on their partner.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to the opening episode of Distraction. Fittingly enough, the first episode in August of 2019 is graced by my lovely and wonderful wife, Sue, always the favorite guest. I don’t think I need to introduce her, but for those of you who have not heard her before, Sue and I have been married for 31 years. I would say wonderful years, but she doesn’t like me to say that because she doesn’t like me to brag. She would prefer I say 31 strenuous, difficult, horrible, years. But anyway, we’ve been married for 31 years and that’s a fact and, and we have three wonderful children, now aged 30, 27 and 24, Lucy, Jack and Tucker. Sue is an incredible therapist, a social worker, the best therapist I know, and she also runs our office in New York City and runs our lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She’s an amazing woman, an amazing woman, the kindest person I’ve ever met, and truly the cornerstone of our lives. We’re grateful to her every, every single, single day. I really love having her on the podcast. And her specialty naturally enough is working with couples where one or both members have the wonderfully interesting condition so misleadingly called ADHD, which I’m renaming, John Rady and I are renaming in our next book, VAST, variable attention stimulus trait. So without further ado, let me introduce Sue. Look how I made that little rhyme, ado, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Ado, Sue. That’s my Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Welcome, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you, sweetie.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So we can talk about so many different things. I said I was going to ask you, what are the elements that you think predict a marriage that will go well versus a marriage that won’t go well, particularly when one member of the couple has this thing called, that I now called VAST, but most people call ADHD?

Sue Hallowell:
Well, I can certainly tell you what predicts in couples therapy what’s going to make things go best. It’s whether both people are really willing to look at themselves and what they bring to the relationship, the challenges they bring to the relationship. I always like to say that whoever comes in my door, actually whether they have ADHD or not, but every couple that graces my door, whether they will cop to it or not, their primary thing that they think needs to happen is their partner needs to be fixed. That if only my partner wasn’t the way they are, if only my partner did this better, then the relationship would be better. And that is just not true. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re still trying to fix me.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m not trying to fix you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, you are.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m trying to understand you as you’re trying to understand me. And I know that I bring a lot to the table. That’s why I tell this story over and over about the kitchen counter, because we talk about the kitchen counter and how what a mess it was for years. I don’t know if everybody knows, but not only do I have a husband with ADHD, I have three children with ADHD, and in our kitchen we have a counter that is constantly covered with everything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In fact, we’re doing this interview right next to that kitchen counter.

Sue Hallowell:
Which is …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Covered.

Sue Hallowell:
… covered with things. I used to get so mad about this. I used to say, “How can you guys be so …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Inconsiderate.

Sue Hallowell:
… inconsiderate? You don’t care. It’s not so hard to …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Selfish.

Sue Hallowell:
… put things over there.” I would get so angry about it. But one of the things that I’ve really learned to do for myself as well as encourage other people, is I began to think, why does this bother me so much? Why does this make me so angry? I began to think it’s almost like it’s imperative that the counter be clean, that that is a moral issue, that that is the way a counter is supposed to be. But when I really stopped to think about it, what I understood about myself is I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and when the counter is covered, it makes me feel chaotic. I’m someone who likes things structured and like space more organized.

Sue Hallowell:
And when that counter, it has a lot on it, I end up feeling chaotic. Now, that’s my problem. It’s really not everybody else’s problem. And once I was able to be aware of that, then I was able to develop strategies. So we developed this plan where every day I straighten out the counter and then after two days, I’ve let everybody know anything of theirs will be removed from the counter. I don’t do it with anger anymore. I don’t yell at people. I don’t get upset with people. You guys don’t like it when I move things, but you’ve been given lots of notice.

Sue Hallowell:
But what I’ve been able to do is look at myself and not just blame you or the family for doing something. I figured out where the issue is. People in a couple begin to think that there are defined ways that the world should be. And we have to understand, not just about our partner and why they do things the way they do them, but we also have to understand why we want things the way that we do them. And couples, when each individual is really able to look at themselves and stop just wanting to fix their partner, that’s when a couple can really make progress.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And how, when you do your couples therapy, how do you help them do that? That’s our dog barking in the background, by the way. Our dog is Max.

Sue Hallowell:
The first thing I really have to do is develop a relationship with both people, because no one wants to hear that they’re the locus of the issue. It often takes a lot of work. Learn how to ask questions and be curious about both themselves and curious about the other person rather than make assumptions. One of the things that I try to work with people first to try to understand is we all are smart enough to know that we all view things from our own lens. But it’s really funny, in those that are close to us, even though we know that the other person has a different way of thinking, feeling, processing the world, we make the assumption that they’re doing it in the same way that we are. So we determine their intentions, we determine everything based on how we see the world.

Sue Hallowell:
So early on I try to begin to help each person separate that out a little bit so that they can begin to question and have some curiosity that maybe the other person’s reasons or ways of doing things isn’t what they assume it is. Once you’re able to do that, then you’re be able to begin to think about it differently. I talk a lot about intention and impact with people. One of the mistakes I made when I first started doing this work is everybody was talking about how the person with ADHD, how their brain is different and how it’s not their intention to forget things all the time. It’s not their intention to not pay attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? But that would get you a little ways, but then I found the couples therapy still falling apart, the person without ADHD is continuing to be angry. And then it went more into the, oh, that’s just an excuse. What I found out that I had to pay more attention to was impact, that even though the person with ADHD, their intention may not be to ignore, to not pay attention, to forget, they have to understand that that behavior still has an impact on their partner.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So when you’re able to begin to make sure that both people are being heard, then they’re able to begin to take more responsibility for themselves.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Let’s say the ADD guy says, “I didn’t mean to forget your birthday. My intention was to remember your birthday. I just forgot your birthday.” So then you say what?

Sue Hallowell:
Then I say, “So it was your intention, but how do you imagine that makes …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Her feel.

Sue Hallowell:
… her feel? And are you able to open up your yourself a little bit to imagine and to listen to how that makes her feel?” And I say, “That’s really going to be hard for you,” because people have ADHD, they often have so much shame and so many years of being told that they do things wrong.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So I say that to them and I say, “So that makes it really hard for you to hear the impact on her because you feel so bad. There’s part of you deep down that feels so bad about what you’re doing, you can’t tolerate.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what does he do with that? He feels bad and ashamed, so he says-

Sue Hallowell:
I think shame is the greatest disability there is, honestly. I know you talk about fear, but I honestly think that shame is. I think that what shame and its counterpart, externalization, and for those of you don’t know, shame is when you take whatever is happening in you internalize it and blame yourself and you go-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you feel bad about-

Sue Hallowell:
You feel bad about yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, let’s be concrete. You feel bad that you forgot the birthday.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, you feel like you’re just not a good person or you’re never good enough and you never do something.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you generalize and you say …

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I’m just a bad person who forgets birthdays.

Sue Hallowell:
Exactly. Exactly. Or you externalize because you can’t tolerate that feeling of feeling bad and feeling shame.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re just a bad person who always blames me for-

Sue Hallowell:
Or I wouldn’t have forgotten your birthday, but you-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re so mean to me.

Sue Hallowell:
You’re so mean to me, I forgot it or I forgot it because of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, something outside of yourself. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
What both of those are, are really ways to keep the feelings away, even though you’re feeling-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How is shame a way of keeping the feelings away?

Sue Hallowell:
Because it’s rather than taking responsibility for just the fact that you’re someone who is forgetful, one of the symptoms of your ADD may be that you become very distracted with a lot of different things and you forget things. That in and of itself is not … If you can separate out the shame from it, if you can see it as a symptom, if you can see it as just something about how you are in terms of behaviors as opposed to part of who you are, it becomes easier to not let it be such a big deal. It makes it so that you don’t have to feel bad about yourself. And when you don’t feel bad about yourself, then you can develop strategies to help yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ve been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD. As I’ve mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. They’ve been making the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Well, Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of omega-3s, and they’ve brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself. It helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It just puts a smoother edge. It’s in no way is it a buzz or a high, anything like that. It’s way more subtle.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But it’s a very noticeable subtle effect and one that I’ve come to really appreciate as I take it every day. So, all right. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com. And now Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code podcast2020. That’s podcast2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did, just as I am. Now, how does the other person, the person whose birthday was forgotten, how does she deal with that?

Sue Hallowell:
Well, I can tell you that there’s a true two-pronged approach for them too, right?

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

Sue Hallowell:
First of all, if someone really feels like their partner understands the impact, really takes responsibility for how it makes them feel, you see, when somebody says, “I’m just a bad person,” that’s really about them. It takes the focus away from the person whose birthday was forgotten, right?

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

Sue Hallowell:
Which is the feeling that people often have. If someone can really say, “Look, you’re right, I really have trouble. I get distracted and I forget things, and I really understand that hurts your feelings and made you feel unloved, and I am really sorry about that,” if someone hears that, they still may not like it, but at least they feel connected. At least they feel loved, and that’s a really different experience. That’s what a lot of these couples can never get to.

Sue Hallowell:
Now, of course, the person with ADHD, they also really have to buy in and understand that so if they forgot somebody’s birthday because they’re not distracted, or if they didn’t pay attention, that would mean probably something more dynamic or would mean that they were angry or it would mean that they don’t care. Right?

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

Sue Hallowell:
So they have to be willing to understand that there is a different lens and they really have to buy into the fact that their partner with ADHD really does get distracted and when they forget something, it doesn’t have the same meaning for them. So they have to really be able to buy into the idea of intent and see that it really is a different thing, which they are more likely to be able to do if the person with ADHD really feels the impact. Does that make sense what I’m saying?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah. And then there’s the old problem where the spouse doesn’t want to have ADD be used as an excuse.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I always say to people, “No, it’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation.”

Sue Hallowell:
But where it becomes an excuse, where that comes from is exactly what I’m talking about. When people go to externalization of shame rather than taking responsibility.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, but it’s an explanation to help you take responsibility more effectively.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s exactly right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s not an excuse to get out of taking responsibility.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right. But you know what’s amazing to me is people, even people who proudly wear the banner of ADHD sometimes, they say, “I have ADHD and I’m proud of it,” they fight the symptoms that make up the ADHD and that’s where the problem come.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do they fight them?

Sue Hallowell:
So they may say, “I have ADHD,” but say there’s someone who’s always late because that’s an easy. They won’t really take responsibility that they really have trouble being on time. They make it about, “Oh, I just can’t help that,” or, “I’m a bad person because of that.” Or, “If you love me, you just accept me”, instead of just really understanding yes, timeliness, because of the way that I think in the world, being on time is hard for me. And if you can really see that as a problem that you want to solve, then you can develop strategies that aren’t going to work all the time, but you can certainly do better.

Sue Hallowell:
But people with ADHD, they’ll often say, “Oh, I don’t want to get help with that.” Or, “I don’t really need to put strategies in place. I’m just going to be better next time. I’m just not going to do that anymore.” Or they get mad at the other person for getting upset with them. So even though they say they have ADHD, they don’t want to accept that they really have trouble with time management, or they don’t really want to accept that they have trouble with different things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But on the other hand, just to take the other point of view, I don’t think someone should spend a lifetime trying to get good at what they’re bad at. At some point you want to say, “Look, I’m just not going to get better at this now. So I probably always will be late.” And you don’t offer that as an excuse. You offer it as a part of who I am. In my own personal case, as you know, I don’t remember names. I just simply can’t remember names and I no longer feel ashamed or guilty about that. It’s just a fact of who I am. If someone doesn’t like that about me, that’s their problem. I no longer think that’s a failing on my part because it’s a quirk of my brain. It’s like the fact that I’m also left-handed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It doesn’t hurt anybody, and if someone does take offense at that, that’s their problem. I’m fully ready to explain to them I have this neurological problem. My brain doesn’t remember names. Unless I walked around with a notebook writing down, okay, describe the person, took a picture of them, it would be ridiculous the lengths that I’d have to go to. And for some people, the lengths they have to go to to be on time would be equally ridiculous.

Sue Hallowell:
I do. One of the things that I really do work with people is realistic expectations of what is possible to change and what isn’t possible to change. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
One of the famous ones use for people is you would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t about how many people come in and one of the major issues is whether people close the cabinet doors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes, yes.

Sue Hallowell:
Or whether they turn off the lights before they go to bed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I wrote, you know my satirical piece in Super Parenting For ADD where the guy says, “When I take something out of the cabinet and I don’t even notice if it’s open or not.”

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right. That’s right. That’s the kind of thing that I absolutely agree with you, that there are not really strategies one can put into place. I don’t spy so much the timeliness issue so much. I do agree that you will never be perfect at it and I really work with people around, again, what are realistic expectations. But I do think that there are strategies that you can put into place that can help you with that. You just have to understand what it is that gets in your way and be willing to do that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But once you’ve put all the strategies into place …

Sue Hallowell:
Then you’ve done the best you can do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I’ve done all I can do about names. Well, not all I could do. Like I said, but I’m not going to go to the length of writing notebooks and putting posters up and hiring an assistant to follow me around.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, of course.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I suppose if I were a politician maybe I’d have to do that. But since I’m not, I’ll just live with people wondering why I can’t remember their name. But yeah, you don’t want to blow off being late because it can cost you your job and it can cost you …

Sue Hallowell:
Lots of things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… lots of things.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s really important.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
And I do try to make the differentiation, but yes, they’re never going to be perfect on it. But I do think that that is the kind of thing that there are more practical things that you can put into place rather than your brain just escaping you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So I really try to work with people around what is realistic and what isn’t realistic and what needs to be done. And sometimes I try to get people to think out of the box. Like this isn’t about timeliness, but I worked with a family and I think a couple of the kids had ADHD too and mornings were just very disorganized. And even if dad, it would take him a while once he took his medication and it would just be a mess. The family was just very distressed about this. What we ended up deciding was he would either have to stay in bed until everybody left or get up before everybody got up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a good example of thinking outside the box. Well, talking about escaping us, the time has escaped us. As always when we have you on the time just disappears. Would you come back again soon?

Sue Hallowell:
I surly would.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We really should have you on more often. It’s wonderful. I know our listeners love it as much as I do. We just begin talking and we just keep talking, which is not surprising.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, after 31 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
31 miserable years. Correct? Is that what you want me to say?

Sue Hallowell:
Now, now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
31 impossibly difficult years full of [sturm and drang 00:00:23:59]? Right?

Sue Hallowell:
You know that’s not what I mean. You know that what I hate is when “experts” make it sound like they have all the answers. You know that it’s something I can’t stand.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We certainly do not have all the answers. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, who does not have all the answers.

Sue Hallowell:
And his wife, Sue …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… who does not have all the answers, thanking you for joining us on this first episode of Distraction. Please come back and join us again. We look forward to building this community as this year develops. Thank you so much. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time for Distraction.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegbritewellness.com.

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An ADHD Diagnosis Really Is Good News

An ADHD Diagnosis Really Is Good News

Pediatric neurologist, Dr. Sarah Cheyette, is an expert at working with kids and young adults with ADHD. She believes that while the condition has its challenges, an ADHD diagnosis actually allows people to become much stronger versions of themselves. 

Check out Dr. Sarah Cheyette’s website at: SarahCheyette.com.

To purchase one of her books (which are available in audio versions read by Dr. Cheyette) go HERE.

In this episode you’ll also hear from Dr. Carol Locke, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Reach out to us! Share your thoughts and questions by sending an email or voice memo to [email protected].

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 April 2020.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That is exactly why I love treating ADHD, is because you can be so successful as a treatment provider because treatments work really well and you really hand people their lives. And it’s really nice. People think, “Oh, ADHD is fluffy. It’s not whatever,” but my goodness, I can make a huge difference in people’s lives from childhood to adult. And gosh, that’s a wonderful thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today we have a very special guest from the other side of the country, from California. A pediatric neurologist, a Princeton graduate, a UCLA Medical School graduate and a fan of and expert on ADHD. It’s not common to find a pediatric neurologist who specializes in this and not only specializes but has written a couple of books about it. ADHD & The Focused Mind and Winning with ADHD. This wonderful woman’s name is Dr. Sarah Cheyette. She is a brilliant woman and a wonderful woman to have on Distraction. Hello, Dr. Cheyette.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Thank you so much for that wonderful introduction Ned. And thanks for having me on the show. I’m delighted to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s terrific to have you. Just mentioned your website is sarahcheyette.com, S-A-R-A-H-C-H-E-Y-E-T-T-E.com. I have to prove to our listeners that I can actually read without reversing letters. So how did you get into this field, Dr. Cheyette?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That’s an interesting question, because as you said, there’s not that many pediatric neurologists who like to treat ADHD, but as I was taking histories on my patients with headaches, I would find that they might have the headaches because of difficulty concentrating or anxieties. I would find they would have anxiety because of difficulty concentrating. ADHD affects so many things that it’s not hard to find it when you’re dealing with neurology.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And did you learn about it during your fellowship? When did you learn about it?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Well, actually not much during my fellowship because as you know, with medical training, a lot of that is inpatient. So a lot of the outpatient stuff became something that I learned in private practice and also from mentors such as yourself and from books and from conferences and all the ways we learn things all our lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And do you have a personal interest? Do you have it yourself or any of your children have it?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
No. I don’t have any children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, although certainly many of their teachers might’ve had an argument with me here and there about that, for two of them. But I have four kids and I certainly know how a distracted child looks, but nobody has had a diagnosis of ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what would you like to tell our listeners about ADHD?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Well, I think the important thing about ADHD is that it’s not [inaudible 00:00:04:06]. It doesn’t always have to be a negative. It’s certainly a negative in some certain situations, but we all have our positives and negatives and ADHD is a wonderful thing at times but it can be difficult at times. That’s nothing that your listeners don’t already know but it certainly bears repeating.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. And what’s the upside of it?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
The upside of it. When you learn how to deal with ADHD and meet your challenges there, you can become much stronger there. If you learn how to deal with hard situations, you usually get very good at hard situations. When people come in and get a diagnosis of ADHD, sometimes it’s very liberating for them because they say, That explains a lot,” and it’s not me being bad or my child being bad but they are sometimes surprised to hear about all the things that they can do. One of my pet peeves is when I hear them say, I can’t do X, Y, and Z because of my ADHD. And you know, that’s not a kind of mindset that I like to hear.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What do you think is the biggest undiagnosed group who have ADHD? I’ll tell you what I think it is. It’s adult women. Then you specialize in that, right?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Oh, I definitely deal with a lot of adult women. And some of these are the parents of patients. Their kids had come in to see me and then they decided that they need to come in and see me too. When you have ADHD as a mom, it takes an already very distracting situation and it magnifies that. When you have kids getting up and going to the bathroom for two minutes by yourself without getting interrupted, it’s a notable event. I’m worried, the more that people get interrupted, the more their ADHD gets exacerbated. But especially with women, women feel like they have to do everything for all people all the time. That’s obviously a broad generalization but true of a lot of moms that I know. And so they have a hard time prioritizing one thing over the other. Mom is getting constantly pulled in different directions because it’s harder for her to say, “Nope, I’ll be with you in a minute.”

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
So practicing those words are often pretty helpful. The value of completing something before you move on is absolutely something that needs to be rehearsed with a lot of people. Plus the anxiety piece, I think, is quieter in moms. The wind up, usually by the time their moms, if they have ADHD, then they feel behind a lot. And even if they don’t have kids, even with their jobs and mates and so on, pulling them in different directions, they can develop a lot of anxiety. And the anxiety is this quiet piece of it that is kind of co-morbid with the ADHD. Sometimes the anxiety piece gets recognized but the ADHD piece doesn’t get recognized. And so like the canary in the coal mine, whenever I talk and the woman feels anxious, we do talk about whether there could be a history of ADHD because that really can contribute to anxiety.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Really cause the anxiety.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. And then when you have anxious thinking, it’s harder to focus and then the outcome is worse and then it makes you more anxious.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then it makes you depressed because you’re not doing as well as you should.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What happens most of the time is the unknowing doctor diagnosis anxiety and depression and puts them on an SSRI, which is not at all what they need.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That’s exactly right. And it can take a long time to figure that out. Weeks, months, or years. And what these women need is to control the ADHD first. And then the anxiety gets better. But one problem that some, I think primary care doctors have and also some patients after they read the side effects, they come back and they say, “Hey doc, don’t you know that this medicine can cause anxiety.” And we talk about the fact that yes, it can make some people anxious but the idea would be to try it, see if it makes you less anxious and then hope it does,.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. No, exactly. And it’s in and out of your system in a matter of hours. So if it should happen to make more anxious, you only have to put up with it for a matter of hours. In my experience, it’s at least nine out of 10 people feel better with it. Not more anxious.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I agree. That’s my experience too. And you know, if you read the side effects to coffee, it will also say it can cause anxiety but people leap ahead for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Sure. I mean, the whole world is caffeinated. Coffee is my medication because the prescription stimulants don’t work for me. I have ADHD as well as dyslexia.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
There you go. And sometimes there’s comorbid sleep apnea where the coffee helps with that. Or as you know, the ADHD medications are also used to manage the side effects, the problems with feeling sleepy during the day if you have sleep apnea.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, we’re going to pause right here for just a moment. Joining me now is Dr. Carol Luck, the creator and founder of OmegaBrite Wellness. She’s extremely fussy about purity and pharmaceutical grade and all the kinds of things you want someone to be fussy about. She’s here today for a follow-up conversation about the health benefits of CBD and omega-3. As you know, Carol joined me a few weeks ago in the episode we released called Tools to Help You Stay Calm. Carol, it’s great to have you back.

Dr. Carol Luck:
It’s great to be here, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So let’s just get right to it. Why is taking omega-3 supplements good for us?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Omega-3s are vital for our bodies. They’re vital for our brain, for our eye as well as for our cardiac health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And in these days of the pandemic and COVID-19 do omega-3s take on added value and importance?

Dr. Carol Luck:
They do, Ned. During this time as people are stressed every day, both from the COVID pandemic as well as from being hunkered down, that level of stress becomes chronic. And that creates inflammation in the body. Omega-3s can help lower and create a positive inflammatory balance in the body. So they are very important from that point of view as well as for cardiac protection and in protecting our mood during this time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So they’re even good for mood?

Dr. Carol Luck:
They’re very good for mood and the research over the years has proven out that omega-3s do promote positive mood. They help prevent and treat depression and reduce anxiety.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, how can the average intelligence skeptic, like many of our listeners, be sure that it’s worth the money to get a more expensive brand like OmegaBrite versus the least expensive brand out there?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Good question. You want, when you buy a supplement, to have it be proven in science and proven in science in human beings. And so OmegaBrite has been proven in clinical studies at major academic centers.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what dose and what ratios matter here?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Well, the ratio that OmegaBrite… that we developed was a high EPA ratio. The dose in this study that has been shown to be effective is three capsules of OmegaBrite a day, up to six capsules a day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now EPA doesn’t mean environmental protection agency. What does EPA mean?

Dr. Carol Luck:
EPA is eicosapentaenoic acid.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Switching gears slightly. What are CBDs?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Well, CBD is a cannabinoid. So CBD is the best known one and the best studied.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And who should take them and why?

Dr. Carol Luck:
We all have an endocannabinoid system in our body, which is a cell signaling system that helps maintain our mood, helps maintain homeostasis, it’s involved in learning and in memory and in inflammation as well as many other areas. And so many people benefit, Ned, from taking them for pain. Sleep is another big one. People are having a really good benefit, reducing anxiety, which right now is particularly important during this time of stress, as well as positive mood and people are using them as well for depression.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I can tell you personally, and I’m saying this, not just because you sponsor our podcast, but because it’s the truth, I love your CBD product. I’ve been taking it for about six weeks now. I’m just less reactive, less impatient, less apt to spout off. And it’s noticeable. It really is. And I love it. I don’t like it. If I forget to take it, it doesn’t tranquilize me at all. So it doesn’t take anything away in terms of energy or alertness. It just takes the edge off my impatience and reactive ADD nature.

Dr. Carol Luck:
That’s fantastic. I think that is a benefit. I think that people report feeling more themselves and less pressure. Your description is really apt. Ned, did you feel it happen right away? How long did it take for that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It happened right away.

Dr. Carol Luck:
How do you feel as far as on your ability to focus on tasks or accomplish what you want?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, I’ve mastered that one. My medication is caffeine. So caffeine is my focus drug and now CBD and OmegaBrite fatty acids, omega-3s are my mood medication. One more product that I want to ask you about that you also make, you have a vitamin D supplement that you produce, why should we all take that?

Dr. Carol Luck:
We have discovered and research shows that it’s important for fighting respiratory infections. So it’s recommended right now to help people ward off any respiratory infections and hopefully that would include any viruses. And it’s also helpful for your immune health overall, as well as your bone health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much. We have omega-3 supplements from an OmegaBrite. We have CBD and we have vitamin D. And if you want to get more or learn more, go to omegabritewellness.com and that’s intentionally misspelled O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E. wellness.com. Thank you so much for joining us, Carol. And thank you for sponsoring distraction.

Dr. Carol Luck:
Thanks so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right Dr. Sarah, Cheyette, tell our listeners how a successful diagnosis and treatment can change, let’s say, an adult woman’s life for the better?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I love it when people get treated and the treatment works because they feel like they have a new lease on life. They’ll go back and say, “Oh, if I only had this during high school or college or whatever,” but it’s not very fruitful to go do that. And you can point out that you are who you are today because of all your experiences. When it works, it takes somebody who feels terrible about themselves, a lot of times, to making them feel good and normal and like they are respectable. And I just love that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, that’s why I love my job too, where people don’t realize what a good news diagnosis this is. Once you get the diagnosis, things are only going to improve.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Exactly because you can treat the right problems and address the right things. And that is exactly why I love treating ADHD, it’s because you can be so successful as a treatment provider because treatments work really well and you really hand people their lives. And it’s really nice. People think, Oh, ADHD is fluffy. It’s not whatever, but my goodness, I can make a huge difference in people’s lives from childhood to adult. And gosh, that’s a wonderful thing. I was really, really surprised how few medical doctors were there at the last ADHD convention in Philadelphia. I mean, I love that there were coaches and psychologists and so on but this is something that people also go to their medical doctors for all the time. And I don’t know if it’s because in recent years we’ve had an array of new medications, although they’re not that new and they mainly have different names and slightly different releases, but I don’t know if people are feeling un-confident about prescribing.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Also, as you mentioned or as we talked about earlier, it’s not something people learn about in their training very much. It’s something that is an outpatient thing that they may or may not feel comfortable learning on their own.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. No, exactly. But meanwhile, there are doctors like you out there and it’s too bad someone has to sort of luck in to seeing you because as we’ve said, an awful lot of doctors would diagnose depression and anxiety in this hypothetical female patient instead of the underlying ADHD. And then she would never get the treatment that could really change her life.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That’s absolutely true.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. We’ll get right back to the conversation in just a moment on the phone with me now is Denise Jaffe, the director of online learning that Landmark College, our wonderful sponsor and the college of choice for students who learn differently. Denise is here to tell us about Landmark College’s Dual Enrollment Program which offers college level courses to rising high school juniors, seniors, and gap year students who struggle with learning primarily due to a learning disability, such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and executive function challenges. Thank you so much for joining me, Denise.

Denise Jeffe:
Hello, Dr. Hallowell. Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to talk about our Dual Enrollment Program. We offer a 100% online program for rising high school juniors and seniors. And what I mean by rising is that they are college bound and interested in taking a college course to see if college is the goal that they want to have. Our courses run everything from introduction to business and communications, computer applications, psychology, sociology, creative writing, personal finance and math. And we focus on college preparedness and transitions. For example, we want to ensure that they have the academic skills and the executive function skills to go to college. So our courses are set up to provide students who learn differently with more guidance, more hand rails in order for them to feel and be successful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful. So you give them the support they need and you teach them the skills they need?

Denise Jeffe:
We do. Our courses are highly personalized and supportive, enabling our students to develop and hone those critical academic skills while they’re exploring their interests and earning college credit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well. So they get college credit and they’re getting skills that they’ll need when they get to college regardless of the subject they’re taking?

Denise Jeffe:
Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a terrific service. If they want to learn more, where should they go?

Denise Jeffe:
They should go to the Landmark website at landmark.edu/duel. We’ll take them directly to the Dual Enrollment Program with more information and our applications.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful. And what’s the fee for the program?

Denise Jeffe:
The fee is $1,000. It’s a 14 week, semester. Three college credits. There’s a second hand rail support called the course advisor that is specifically for executive function support and then our department, because all three, in addition to the family or the school that they’re coming from, support that student towards success.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Boy, it’s a bargain. That’s a great thing. What a terrific, terrific program. Thank you so much. If you’d like to learn more about online learning at Landmark College, go to lcdistraction.org, elsiedistraction.org or the website that Denise already gave you. Denise Jaffe. Thank you so much for giving us this really valuable information. And again, congratulations for the wonderful work you all do at Landmark College.

Denise Jeffe:
Thank you so much.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I have a hope that in time, it will catch up to ADHD treatment. You may be able to speak to this but you know, maybe… Well it’s only recently, we’ve really been talking a lot about ADHD, [crosstalk 00:22:05] adult diagnosis. And probably there was a time when primary care doctors did not treat women very much or men for anxiety or depression. Maybe they referred them onwards and maybe the ADHD diagnosis just has to catch up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, well, let’s hope it catches up fast. I’m doing my best and you’re doing your best. Doctor Sarah Cheyette, her books, ADHD & The Focused Mind that she wrote with her husband, Ben and Winning with ADHD that she wrote with a younger colleague by the name of Grace Friedman. Wonderful resource. And then Mommy, My Head Hurts: A Doctor’s Guide to Your Child’s Headache. So she doesn’t just do ADHD. She does a full service neurology. Doing a great service to the Bay area and her four children and her many patients. It’s a real pleasure to meet you. And I feel like we’re fellow travelers in a wonderful crusade to bring this good news to as many people as we can.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I feel the same way. Absolutely. I should mention also my ADHD & the Focused Mind had one other co-author, Peter Johnson. And do you know who he was, Ned?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
He is my kid’s karate teacher.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, great. Wonderful.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
So it’s really the only book in the entire world that’s written by a pediatric neurologist, a psychiatrist and a karate master.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s just terrific. That is really terrific.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Where that came from is that I was watching Pete teach kids, teach inattentive kids and teach kids with ADHD. And he was so good at coaching them. Every time a kid got their black belt or Brown belt, he would have them write an essay and they all wrote almost all to a person wrote, what I learned in the dojo helped me in the rest of my life. So it got me thinking about how the lessons of the athletic mindset and what Pete was trying to teach them in karate applied to help them be more focused in their regular life. And so that’s what that book was about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful. Well, thank you again.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
All right. Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s our show for today. If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Cheyette or purchase one of her books, which I urge you to do, go to sarahcheyette.com. That’s Sarah, S-A-R-A-H. Cheyette, C-H-E-Y-E-T-T-E.com. You can find it all there. Of course, Amazon would have her books as well. Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and show ideas. We thrive on your participation. We are a community. We are a connected group. Remember the best antidote to distraction is connection. We will be releasing another listener question and answer episode soon. So please write to us now and get your question on that show, email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected] that’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Again, our tremendous thanks to pediatric neurologist, Dr. Sara Cheyette. And I will close by telling you that Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the estimable and imaginative Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the delightful and clever Patrick Keogh. The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E wellness.com.

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Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Families

Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Families

Mental illness is so prevalent in the U.S. that we now have a reduced life expectancy as a result of 2 specific causes, and the pandemic is only making things worse. Dr. Ken Duckworth, the chief medical officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), joins Dr. H to talk about how his organization helps those with bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia, depression, thoughts of suicide, and other conditions.

Looking for help? Learn about NAMI by clicking HERE.

Is there a topic you’d like Dr. Hallowell to explore in a podcast? Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. 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 of Distruction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If anybody here is listening to Ned’s podcast and lives with schizophrenia, or loves someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe post-traumatic distress, has had a suicide attempt, NAMI is a great group. It is a great group, and one thing you’ll know is that people will listen to you. They won’t dismiss you, they know how hard this is, they know how much pain there is in this, and they will embrace you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello and welcome to Distruction, I am your host Dr. Ned Hallowell. I am really excited about our show today. As you know, I have some very special people in my life and one of those is Dr. Ken Duckworth. I’ve known him since he was a resident back at Mass Mental Health Center, and I used to call him one of the living saints of this world. He’s an amazing man, he’s a Harvard professor, a psychiatrist and the Chief Medical Officer for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Ken and I share a personal history in that both of us had bipolar fathers, and that’s what brought us into the field. We exchange stories about that often. Ken is also double board certified in adult and child psychiatry, and he’s completed a forensic psychiatry fellowship, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about. He’s also an incredibly devoted dad to his three wonderful, brilliant daughters and has made them his top priority throughout his life. Another thing we share with me and my three kids and him with his three kids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We over the years have grown up together and even though I’m a little bit older than he is, he is one of the most special people I know. Without further ado, let me welcome my friend the…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’ve got to meet this guy if any of that’s true.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well he is.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
[crosstalk 00:02:35].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s you Ken, just look in the mirror.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
[inaudible 00:02:37] all right, so I want to start with a story if I may.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Please.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
This is about Ned, and in 1986 I took the radical path which was extremely unfashionable, to write about my dad’s bipolar disorder as the reason I wanted to become a psychiatrist. This essay was very personal and intense and real, my father was a very good man with a very bad illness. I spent a lot of time at state hospitals, police coming to the house and then on alternate summers or falls or winters, my friends and relatives saying, “How come you got the nice dad?”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m like, “Yes, I did get the nice dad,” but there was an asterisk there which is that, his bipolar disorder was quite severe and it made a big mark on me. This is 1986, this is NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness had just gotten started. I thought, “I’m just going to write the truth because for God’s sake I’m going into psychiatry. Surely someone will understand what this is like and have been through a personal experience.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Little did I know how naïve that was and I went to 15 of the best programs in America. 14 of those people ignored my essay, literally talking to me about my major in Political Science or my passion for college football, which is ongoing. I went to the University of Michigan and no, I don’t want to talk about Ohio State.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
One person that I interviewed with the day before I saw Ned in Boston, at our world’s famous Harvard Institution, said to me, he’s the only person besides Ned who I met the next day who took a look at my essay. He said, “So, you want to help your father, that’s a terrible reason to become a psychiatrist.” I say that with an accent because he had an accent.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He apparently was a very famous person because I was a 26-year-old scared kid out of medical school, I didn’t know what that whole thing was that he was a world famous psychoanalyst. I said, “Well, I have been traumatized by this experience, but I loved him very much. I thought it might be good if I could see if I could make a difference because I know a little bit about what it’s like to love someone with a severe illness and see them for their strengths.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He further ridiculed me and before I left and I walked out to my car, burst into tears and didn’t even finish the interview with that world famous program, I asked him, “One last question,” and again I sound like I have confidence but I don’t at the time. I’m a kid, I know no one. I said, “What would be a good reason to become a psychiatrist?” He paused for a minute, I think nobody had ever asked him that hard of a question. Paused for a really long time and he said, “Well, if your father is a psychiatrist, that would be a good reason.” I said, “Don’t we have something of a workforce shortage in the field?” Like I did say it, I got in one punch but then I left and I even skipped the free lunch, which is very unlike me if you knew me at all. I walked in my car, burst into tears and the next day I met Ned Hallowell.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Now, I’m going to finish this story about this world famous hospital flash forward 14 years and I’m the commissioner of mental health and this hospital does something very bad to a patient. When I called them into my office I wanted to remind them that I had the power to shut their facility because I was over licensing and control. What I did is, I didn’t do that of course. Maybe wonder what kind of person I was because I did have the power to actually harm them back, but I said, “I’d like to tell you a story.” I told them this story about how they had treated me when I was a nobody, but now I was the commissioner of mental health with power over their facility. I don’t know if they listened to my story, but it was very therapeutic to tell it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That next day I got up and I thought, “Maybe psychiatry isn’t for me.” I liked cardiology and I noticed they drove nicer cars than the psychiatry. I thought maybe I could just switch my whole orientation and just go into cardiology. I like talking to people about their hearts, it seemed very concrete and I really thought that morning that it wasn’t for me.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
After 14 programs had ignored me, one program had humiliated me, the last interview I did was with Ned Hallowell at the Massachusetts Health Center. The other three people I interviewed with at Mass Mental Health Center were very nice, but they also ignored my essay. It was just too much to take on, I mean you want to deal with this guy’s problems and his issues and how does that fit into who he is?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Ned read my essay and I’m going to say 45 or 50 people I interviewed across America, he was the only person who read the essay, looked at me and said, “What a great thing. You know what this is like. Do you know what a difference you can make in people’s lives?” When Ned said that to me, I made a decision to move to Boston from Philadelphia. I’m still affiliated with the same Massachusetts Mental Health Center three decades later.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It matters how you talk to people and it matters how you talk to them about their vulnerabilities. Ned was encouraging and supportive. You also encouraged me to pursue my actual interest, which was the first person and family experience of living with a condition and try to master it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Then of course I found the National Alliance on Mental Illness or they found me, and I’ve been their National Medical Director now Chief Medical Officer for 15 years. I found this community of people who live their first experience and the family experience and Ned’s encouragement, pursue what you want to do. You might actually have some knowledge or advantage through your traumatic experiences that will help you be a better doctor.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s a long story about Ned, but it’s the crucial story of my becoming a psychiatrist because for that one day after I was humiliated at the world famous Harvard Institution down the street, I thought seriously about becoming a cardiologist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well I’m glad you didn’t do that Ken.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do drive a Mazda, it should be noted I could be driving a Bima, but psychiatry is my calling. I just needed one person to respond to my essay with an affirmation or at least an inquiry of, why was that important? Ned you made a big difference in my career and I shall never forget that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much and you in turn have made a huge difference in the lives of thousands if not millions of people around the country. With various kinds of mental illness, do you want to just talk a little bit about, what are some of the misconceptions in the general public that you could disabuse people of?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well I’d start with the idea that these aren’t real illnesses. Back in the day before this thing called mental health parody, I testified before Congress in multiple state houses that my dad had bipolar disorder which easily could have killed him if he didn’t receive medical care, and his medical care was the bare minimum. I had the misfortune of having cancer as a psychiatric resident and I could have been dead of course through an illness that would have killed me if I had not attended to it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I said and somehow in our society, this is in the 1990s, cancer is considered legitimate, [inaudible 00:10:11] casseroles they call you a hero. They offer to cover for you, they send you flowers. My father after his manic episodes was isolated, alone, people wouldn’t talk to us at church. Church is supposed to be theoretically nice people, who would all move away from us after a manic episode. I thought, this was a big part of my life in my 40s which was to fight for this idea of mental health parody.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
These conditions are real conditions. Is it true that there’s things that we don’t know about the brain that’s absolutely true? Is it true that I can’t tell you how lithium works to save people’s lives? It’s true. Might have something to do with membrane stabilization, but is it true that we don’t really know how the antipsychotics impact voices? The answer is, it’s really humbling because there’s a lot we don’t know. The fact that we don’t know a lot about the brain has nothing to do with the fact that these are real conditions.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If you need to any further proof, I mean look at the evidence on suicide which has gone up steadily over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2018, we’ve had essentially a straight line of increase in suicide. At the same time we’ve had an increase in overdoes deaths too to opioids. These two illnesses together are conditions, are outcomes together are for the first time in 100 years caused a reduction in the American life expectancy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Really? Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The deaths by suicide and the deaths by overdose, the French continue to smoke their brains out, drink coffee up to the max and their life span keeps expanding. This is an American problem, and it has something to do with health disparity, it has something to do with the complexity of the uninsured but it has a lot to do with the fact that mental illnesses are not fully treated. Because of our problem with opioids, we’ve seen a lot of premature death.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When you say mental health parody, Ken, what does that mean, mental health parody?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Mental health parody means your insurance company can’t give you unlimited visits to see your oncologist, which of course as a cancer patient when I was a young man, I was allowed to do anything I wanted to. I think my treatment probably cost half a million dollars, while final copay was 50 bucks. Cancer was legitimate, my illness was legitimate. Was I grateful? I’m incredibly grateful. Medical science saved my life but the insurance company at the same time would have $500 as your outpatient psychotherapy maximum.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That meant I could go see an oncologist twice a week if I wanted to, but I can only see a mental health practitioner perhaps five times if they charge $100 an hour. If they had the courage to charge 250 an hour, I only had two sessions that were covered. This is the inequity that was structured into the mental health system and into health insurance.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Mental health parody was a big cause celeb of mine personally and largely National Alliance on Mental Illness made this happen. The first version was 1998, Domenici and Wellstone. Domenici was a Senator from New Mexico, Wellstone a Democrat from Minnesota and they together had family members with serious mental illness. They got it, and they did version kind of 1.0 and then later on Patrick Kennedy with the affordable Care Act and all the activity after the housing collapsed 2008.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
This amendment was tied to it, and to make the long story short, mental health access has improved. I think a lot of people still feel that we’re not at true parody yet. That means treating them exactly the same, but I do think we’re going in the right direction.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What percentage of families in the country have at least one member who does have a serious mental illness?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The answer Ned is one in five Americans would endorse, one in five families have a person who would endorse an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder. Another mood disorder like bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, these are kind of the major categories. For serious mental illness the number is smaller, that’s about one in 17 people has a condition that is severely impacting their functioning. That is brain based and it involves emotion, behavior, cognition that is severely impacting their functioning. Frequently with work, relationships and their health and self-care.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. What percentage of people who could benefit from help from a mental health professional actually consult the mental health professional?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s a good question. We think less than half of people with most mental health conditions actually get help.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well the good news is since we’ve done this whole mental health parody thing, the number of people who are seeking help is increasing. We saw this in the pandemic. NAMI has a helpline 1-800-950-NAMI which is staffed by individuals with first person experience or family experience. Our calls went up very substantially.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The other thing which was surprising in the pandemic is the American mental health field not known for sprinting, pivoted in three days to become a teleservice. The experience of the therapists and the patients has been very positive, although not universally positive, but I think it’s a new way of delivering care that’s here to stay.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The therapists were surprised that the people always show up, that the cancellation rate is low. That they don’t have that first five minutes of accession where they can read CNN online because the patient show up on time as they do for their professional meetings or other Zoom calls during the course of the day. The patients notice that it’s convenient, they get heard and they don’t have to pay for parking or fight traffic.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think that for people who don’t have a lot of privacy, it’s important to have a phone service covered so people can go into their car. If you live in a studio apartment with another person and part of your experience is to talk about that person, privacy can be a challenge. I do think there are people who are a little bit paranoid of technology. There are people for whom this isn’t an ideal setup. I think if you talk to people they’d rather see somebody like you Ned in person, but given the fact that we’re in the middle of our first pandemic in our lifetime, the rules have changed. I think the mental health field has responded.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
They’ve changed by using Zoom or some other platform, that’s one.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Any platform that they’ve been using has made a difference, and it’s interesting the other fields of medicine have really struggled. How do I do ophthalmology care? How do I take care of people’s knee problems? Well, those things are very hard to do virtually but because our skillset is listening, judgment, empathy, compassion, and thoughtful reflection and potentially recommendations, that’s a skillset that’s ongoing.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We can’t touch the patients. We’re not supposed to take their blood pressure. We have to be thoughtful about what we’re trying to do here in the field of medicine and it turns out mental health is an incredibly easy thing to apply to the tele space. I think that’s been a great gift.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you think that will continue after the pandemic is over?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do think people will want to see their therapist in person. I think they’ll want to, but now that they’ve been thrown into the deep end of the teletherapy pool, and realized they can swim pretty well, I think a lot of people are going to say, “You know, it’s an hour to drive to Sudbury,” you probably don’t charge people for parking Ned at your office.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Sudbury’s not next to my house, so if I want to come see you as a professional, be an hour commitment going out, an hour commitment coming back, I’d had to pick up some apples in Concord on the way. It’s four hours round trip, so it’s a big commitment. If I could see you by pushing a button, then go back to work or engage in child care or do any other tasks that might be relevant like cooking dinner for the family, I think I might choose to do that some of the time. Some other time I just break down and make the trip.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I have been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD. Listeners know that Brite is spelled, B-R-I-T-E, so it’s Omega B-R-I-T-E CBD. As I had mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. They have been making the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of omega-3s and they’ve brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself, it helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It kind of just puts a smoother edge. It’s in no way is it a buzz or a high or anything like that. It’s way more subtle, but it’s a very noticeable subtle effect and one that I have come to really appreciate as I take it every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com and now Distruction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code podcast 2020. That’s podcast 2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did just as I am.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What about the person who’s listening now and is saying, “This living at home and this keeping social distance is starting to drive me crazy.” That’s not a mental illness but what should that person do?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well first of all I don’t think anybody likes it. Although I have one friend who’s a psychiatrist who’s a severe introvert, who seems happier. He works out of his basement, has lunch with his wife every day. I go over to his backyard every other week, we stay at 20 feet away from each other and chat. I think his quality of life has improved. Now, this speaks to how individual this all this.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
True.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I of course I’m an extrovert.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes you are.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I struggle to not see my friends. I don’t like not going down to my coffee shop at the end of my street and hanging out, and talking to the owners. The owners are hiding in their masks, it’s not a convivial environment. In fact, all the tables have been removed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh gosh.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You can have a standing chat for two minutes, nobody checks in about my daughter who used to work there, but there’s something lost there. I guess what I would say is isolation is hard on all of us. If you have an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, it’s a challenge. You have to figure out, how do you stay connected with people?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Connection is crucial for mental wellbeing and it doesn’t solve all problems, but through your faith group, through AA, through anomie connection, through some other vehicle. I have a Monday night meeting with four friends, we used to go out to dinner once a month and now we meet once a week. It’s fun.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I actually look forward to it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have a friend deficit disorder during the variation on the thing you study. It’s hard to be isolated.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It is.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It is weary. I will say that, I do think it’s going to be a very long haul, like I don’t think the vaccine’s going to turn up and everything’s going to be okay. I think we’re up for a pro crafted experience, so figuring out what your inventory of coping skills is. Mine happens to be connecting with friends online, family reunions of sorts online. We’re doing a memorial service for a beloved member of the family this week in New Jersey. I didn’t really want to do it but somebody really wanted to get us together.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh good for you.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m driving to New Jersey and I’m going to see the family and it’s not the way I wanted to see them. I wanted to have a party and hang out and toast the family member, but what we’re going to do is have lunch under this tree where our little grave sites in Cape May, New Jersey and we’re going to have lunch. Elbow bump, and go back to our respective corners, extremely suboptimal.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have come around from opposing this idea to believing it’s probably better to make it a choice to be connected.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You mentioned that your family’s in North Carolina, see and they’re cousins right? There’s some risk there, but there’s a lot of benefit in the connection.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. There sure is, I mean it’s essential. I mean we’ve learned social isolation is as dangerous as cigarette smoking.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Yeah, it’s really not a good thing and so I really think we miss the boat when we called it social distancing. We should have called it physical distancing from the get-go. I think you’ve seen in this entire pandemic that we’ve missed several big boats. Telling people not to wear masks because we were trying to secure them from medical providers I think has confused a lot of people. Giving the impression that young people can’t really get the virus so they can feel free to party on at the beach. Again, just some young people duly noted.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think we haven’t done a very good job and by calling it social distancing, I think we missed it. The idea is we have to stay away from each other because the virus is transmitted physically. Socially you got to stay connected to your people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You really have to because that’s an antidepressant and an antianxiety treatment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I call it the other vitamin C, vitamin connect.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
There we go, vitamin connect. It’s also good for people who have addiction vulnerabilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Connection is really important. I have a friend who’s a physician who’s in AA, and on his birthday, I checked in on him on his birthday and he said, “I had a great birthday.” I said, “What made it great?” He said, “Well, I’m here in my apartment and I have been to two AA meetings and I got a lot of love in both of them. It was new and I called them in the middle of the day.” I thought, “This man has figured something out.” He said, “I’d be at meetings anyway and it turns out the AA platform is very well suited, and it might even be better because when on a Zoom call, somebody’s speaking, you get to see their face. You’re not spacing out in the room like you might be the rest of the time.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He found something that meant something to him and this is the art of self-care. You have to find out, what is it that will help you get through this because this might be a long haul? It’s not good for people to lose their jobs, it’s not good for people to live with the anxiety of losing their jobs and coping with the anxiety of someone you love getting ill or dying. There’s a lot to cope with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We’re almost overtime, just coming back to irrational things and what to do to combat them, what can we do to dismantle the terrible stigma that still surrounds mental health issues?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I prefer the words prejudice discrimination to the word stigma, because the word stigma itself is complication of how you think about things. What is the prejudice that you have for yourself if you were to say, “Can I join this club?” Every time a famous person comes out and says, “I have such and such a condition,”… Selena Gomez two weeks ago did a talk with NAMI’s CEO. I’ve had several chat with famous celebrities on NAMI’s Instagram page. People want to talk about their mental health conditions and so this idea I have prejudice against somebody gets broken down when you see Selena Gomez, one of the most amazing humans on the planet has said, “I think it’s okay to talk about the fact that I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder, that’s very helpful.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The related thing about the attitudes is the discrimination. This gets back to our early discussion about mental health parody. The idea that you just structure and rules that jam people who don’t have illnesses that are considered quote legitimate end quote. This is why mental health parody’s an ongoing struggle, we continue to have lawsuits and interpretations and attorney generals review it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
What are the conditions under which the race is actually fair for a person with mental health condition? Can you allow yourself to seek help? Still, a challenge for many men. There was a pretty good study a little while ago, showed that the more hypertoxic, masculinity men endorsed, the more likely they were to have very bad outcomes including suicide. The idea somehow being threatened by mental health is such an unfortunate piece of our culture and I think this ordinary human experiences… My dad’s bipolar disorder, hearing voices and believing that he was Jesus wasn’t great. It is 2.7% of the population plus or minus has this condition. It’s rooted in biology. It’s treatable for the most part. It requires a lot of self-knowledge and self-care.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Was it difficult? It was very difficult. Was it worse before there were things like NAMI and Selena Gomez to use two examples? Yes, it was worse. There’s a NAMI chapter in every major American city that’s doing connection groups and programming, educational work. Advocacy if you feel the service system is mistreating you or somebody you love. Well let’s fight to make it better. Mental health parody, that fight is not over. We’ve won some battles but that war is not over.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I feel like there’s a place to go now if you’re struggling with this, and you will be welcomed by people who are loving and creative. A community of people who probably didn’t start their lives thinking, “I want to be identified with a condition that it does not have a high status.” Like mental health problems, mental health conditions, turns out it’s an amazing group of people and I consider it my second family. NAMI is in my will.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I feel like NAMI helped to save my life by giving me a sense of purpose around these wounds I had. I feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon it, and if anybody here is listening to Ned’s podcast and lives with schizophrenia or loves someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe post-traumatic distress, has had a suicide attempt, NAMI is a great group. It is a great group and one thing you’ll know is that people will listen to you, they won’t dismiss you. They know how hard this is, they know how much pain there is in this, and they will embrace you.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think the question about prejudice discrimination is, can you take the first step? I might be talking to your primary care doctor about the fact that you can’t sleep, you’ve lost 30 pounds, you’ve lost interest in everything. You’re thinking about giving away your possessions. That’s a classic depression, you could reach out to your primary care doctor. They prescribe most of the antidepressants in America, they help people, they might be able to refer you to somebody who does therapy. Or if you don’t want to go that route, you could start with NAMI and find a local NAMI chapter and say, “What are the resources that are out there? How can I find a path to be supported and connected while living with this particular challenge that I have?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You go to nami.org, is that the website?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Nami.org is where it’s at. We get millions of hits and we’ve become the dominant source of information for people in the last year. It’s been interesting to me to see that because I have tremendous respect for the other communities, NIMH, the American Psychiatric Association. More people seem to be seeking media inputs and lessons from our website, so people have come to trust NAMI and I’m grateful for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well that has a lot to do with you Ken I mean because you’re the face of it and the spokesman for it. There’s no one I know who’s more convincing, believable. You’ve done such a great job.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well thank you Ned and if it wasn’t for you, I’d be practicing cardiology today, driving a BMW.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think also the image problem would be helped if more people talked about, it’s hard to find a very creative person who doesn’t have either an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder, addiction, or ADHD. It’s common among those countries or common among the highly creative people amongst us.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Yeah, if you want to do a treatise on this, Kay Jamison’s, Touched By Fire is the artistic temperament and mood disorders. It’s unbelievable-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… how many of the artists that we would hold out as our greatest artists were clearly quote touched by fire. Maybe not with formal diagnostic schemes but she goes through their-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, they were crazy as hell, I mean you know.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… diaries, their writings, their observations and you’re absolutely right Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, it’s…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
For many people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, so it’s not to be ashamed at all. By the time I die I want people to wish they had ADHD because if you manage it right, it’s such an asset. It can ruin your life as well, but if listening to Ken if you’re listening and you know someone, don’t think of it as a marker of shame. Think of it as a marker of talent. I tell people overtime I don’t…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Or of resilience.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We all have to cope with something and the faiths conspired through genetics and environment and epigenetics to have you have a recurrent condition. You’re not alone with that, in fact there are millions of people who are living with these kind of things and together you can get a lot out of it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do want to say one thing that I still quote you about whenever I’m confronted with somebody who says, “I have a young child and he was just told he had ADHD.” I said, “Ned Hallowell would say you have a BMW brain and a Chevy hand.” They said, “How did you know he can’t write?” I’m like, “Well, it’s the Chevy hand, it’s right there. All the great ideas, he’s having trouble translating it.” A few things that you’ve said Ned have really stuck with me including one you said to one of my daughters who was diagnosed with ADHD, you said, “So you have the gift?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, exactly.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It was a great moment, it was a great moment in her life because thinking about these things which have the potential to identify you as different or less than through a different lens, that there’s a possibility, there’s a potentiality inside of us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. No, I don’t treat disabilities, I help people unwrap their gifts.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think that you do the same thing. What you’re doing it’s such spectacular work. I mean it really is, it’s a wonderful thing. I’m glad that NAMI is now the leading source of information. As I said that’s thanks to Dr. Ken Duckworth.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well it’s a whole team of people, but I do think-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I know, I know.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… people trust a consumer family experience and we also made a decision about three years ago, every research study we cite is listed on the website. If you don’t believe what we say, click on the research study and you can see that it’s only 400 people but it’s the best study there is on this topic.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We make everything as transparent as possible, goes back to the antiscience discussion we’ve had, I believe in science, I believe in education. I believe that people have the capacity to learn and make decisions for themself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If you want to see what the literature is on a specific treatment or an intervention, or on the risks or traumas that attend to certain things, it’s on the NAMI website and it’s all transparent.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup, nami.org, N-A-M-I.org, not .com .org. N-A-M-I.org. Well you know Ken, I could talk to you for so long, this is wonderful. You’ve brought so much and you do so much. If people listening want to learn more and want to connect, feel a part of a growing community of people who have different brains and learn how to understand them better-

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… join a group [crosstalk 00:36:51].

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The other thing you might want to check out and dish to our groups is, I run a session called Ask the Expert, once a month. Where I get the leading thinkers in American mental health to talk about different topics and people who join in.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We run about 1,000 people per session.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful, wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Can ask questions and we cover everything from transcranial magnetic stimulation to minority disparities in mental health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow! What’s the latest on transcranial magnetic stimulation?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well I think it’s pretty well covered by private insurance.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, but does it work is my question?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It does have an acute indication, so if you fail on several meds, because nobody would start with an engine problem by doing a major overhaul of your engine. You would probably add oil first, check the timing of the engine. TMS does appear more invasive, but I took a three-day course at the Beth Israel Hospital in transcranial magnetic stimulation. I was impressed mostly by not the fact that when they zapped my brain it felt like a bee sting to the skull. Like I’m like, “How did they do a generic sham zap? How would you know the difference between that zap?” I was very interested in that.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I talked to the techs instead of listening to only the professionals and I [inaudible 00:38:18] about five of the techs. I said to them, “What do people say when they say our show rate is 95%?” I thought, “Okay, that’s telling me something, people feel they’re getting a benefit.” My understanding of literature Ned, is the maintenance use of TMS has not really been well established. I don’t think there’s really a research base for that and I don’t think it’s well established for bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That would just be an example of a discussion, that if you have depression and the other interventions haven’t worked, there is some evidence there that this could be helpful to you. The side effects are apparently quite mild in terms of a headache or something like that. People show up at very high levels and it makes a different for people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. You are a living saint and can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your amazingly busy schedule to join us. Listeners go to nami.org, N-A-M-I.org or go to Ken’s Ask the Expert, happens once a month. Join a chapter, get involved, suddenly you will feel so much less alone and so much more accepted. You’ll learn, you’ll gain knowledge which is power in and of itself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you all for joining us, so much thank you especially Ken. As I say, learn more go to nami.org and don’t forget, please reach out to us with your questions, comments and show ideas. We need them, we live off of them, we use them, and we produce them. Send an email or a voicemail to [email protected], that’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distruction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the estimable Scott Persson and our producer is the always vivacious and brilliant Sarah Guertin. I am your host Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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This Teen Is Harnessing His ADHD Superpowers

This Teen Is Harnessing His ADHD Superpowers

Akira is a 15-year-old ADHDer from Japan who just started his own YouTube channel in the hopes of becoming an “influencer.”  Akira shares how he’s harnessing his ADHD superpowers of creativity and hyperfocus to bring his dream to life.

Akira’s website: LilBitALife.com

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. 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 of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega three supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online @omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today, I have a very special guest, indeed, a very, very special guest indeed. He is 15 years old. He comes from Japan, but he’s visiting the United States right now. He has the wonderful condition that I have as well called ADHD, terrible name because it’s not a deficit, it’s not a disorder. It’s a superpower, and believe me, this young man has super powers, plural. His name is Akira, and he’s kind enough to join us. We’ve become friends because of work he’s done on his own and I’ll let him tell you why and what he’s done, but it’s pretty amazing. Typical of people who have the super creativity that people with ADHD tend to have, but I don’t want to tell you, I want a Akira to tell you, but I can just say this is one extremely impressive young man, and he’s bursting onto the scene, but Akira, welcome to Distraction.

Akira M.:
Thank you for having me, Dr. Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So tell the listeners what you’ve done because it’s pretty cool.

Akira M.:
Basically, I had a dream from when I was about 12, 10, maybe even younger, to be able to share and explore with other people this kind of a influencer type of a lifestyle. While I was born in Japan, and I was raised up by a pretty wealthy family, which allowed me to have multiple-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Opportunities.

Akira M.:
Sorry?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Multiple opportunities or multiple interests.

Akira M.:
Multiple opportunities, indeed, to basically explore, and it’s very simple. It’s like putting a camera right in front of your face while you’re just living your daily life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now you use the term influencer, you’d like to be an influencer. Can you tell us what that means?

Akira M.:
It’s like showing people your daily life, but also being able to influence, share a path to other people where they can follow you,

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Show them what you’re doing with the idea that they will go and do likewise.

Akira M.:
Yes, likewise, and also be able to learn from my experiences.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
By the way, that noise you’re hearing is a rain shower that’s coming down on the skylight. So don’t think we’re suddenly having an avalanche here. It’s just a little rain, little rain drops fallen on our heads. The idea that you’ll share your personal life up close and personal with others in the idea of influencing them.

Akira M.:
Yes. I think of what I’m doing as not as a job or anything that takes hard… It does take… I’ve put a lot of effort into editing my videos, shooting content, and listening to what the viewers want, and trying to communicate with the viewers. But I think this to me is more like something I want to do, and I don’t feel like it is a job or it’s something that I should do or I want to become famous out of it. I want to make something out of it, but not to become famous or to share my lifestyle in a boasting way, but to be able to share my experiences as I said.

Akira M.:
It’s very complicated and interesting. It’s a very weird feeling when I’m sharing my content in a very different way. Since I have ADHD, I can really shout at the camera, and a lot of people tell me for what I do… A lot of people can’t talk the same way to the camera. They’re shy or that I want to express myself, and that’s what I feel what is important for me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Having watched some of these, you really do come across with tremendous energy and vigor and vitality, and it’s so genuine. You’re clearly not trying to put on a performance so much as just be sort of a heightened version of who you already are.

Akira M.:
Yes, of course. I always want to get that energy out in the ADHD world. It’s hyperactive energy-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Hyper energy is a good term. Hyper energy.

Akira M.:
I always have a lot of energy and being able to share that energy with other people and transforming it into a different way, it’s absolutely incredible.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. You’re channeling it, which is always the goal in ADHD. We have a lot of energy, but now you’re channeling it into this creation that you’ve made. How many of them now, how many YouTube…?

Akira M.:
More than 10, probably, I think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And the point is you’ve just started, you only started this a few weeks ago, right?

Akira M.:
Yeah. I started it about three, four weeks ago. I shot my first video for my new channel. I’ve done a couple of other things before, including being on other people’s channel. I think when I saw that video, when I was on this person named Karen Foo’s, who is an influencer in Singapore, channel, I saw that I had a lot of energy and then I realized that I can really share that energy with other people which made me have more of a reachable, realistic dream and get a bit more of a bigger idea of what I want to do personally.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So she inspired you when you saw yourself, you saw this part of you coming out, you didn’t realize you had such presence, huh?

Akira M.:
I don’t think she inspired me. I think I inspired myself to become more of myself, basically to express myself. I was maybe I can really express myself in this way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. So seeing yourself inspired yourself. That’s pretty cool. I’m sure listeners are wondering, how do we get to see Akira in action? Let me just give you the website is lilbitalife.com. I’ll spell that for you. L-I-L-B-I-T-A-L-I-F-E.com. Lilbitalife.com. On the website, you can be redirected to the YouTube channel, as well as Instagram. I love the way you described it. You said you saw yourself and you saw this energy that you had inside of you, and you wanted to find a medium where you could share that and you’re doing it, and you’ve only been doing it for three or four weeks.

Akira M.:
It’s really hard to explain this energy. Of course, I think you’re one of the people who know this energy most in this big world, or it might be small world. It depends on how you see the world, but I think you have the best idea of this energy, and for me, it was kind of a click to be in my passion type of thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s so wonderful. One of the analogies I use is, think of Niagara Falls and that’s ADD, but until you build a hydroelectric plant, it’s just a lot of noise and mist. But when you build a hydroelectric plant, then you can light up the state of New York, and I think this has been, for you, your hydroelectric plant. You can take the incredible Niagara Falls energy that you’ve got and turn it into beauty, turn it into art, turn it into a form that will influence someday millions and millions of people because you’ve done this in only a few weeks, and at age 15, and you have this tremendous power that you’re unleashing so wonderfully well, and it’s just going to grow and grow and grow. I’m so thrilled for you. I’m just going to say the website again, because I really hope listeners will go and see what I’m talking about. Lilbitalife.com. L-I-L-B-I-T-A-L-I-F-E.com, not case sensitive, lilbitalife.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. For the past three months I’ve been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD, and listeners know that brite is spelled B-R-I-T-E. So it’s Omega B-R-I- T-E CBD. As I’ve mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School, and her company OmegaBrite Wellness. They’ve been making the number one Omega three supplements for the past 20 years. Well, Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of Omega threes, and they brought that same commitment to excellence, to their new CBD supplement.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I take it myself. It helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It kind of just puts a smoother edge. In no way is it a buzz or a high, anything like that, it’s way more subtle, but it’s a very noticeable, subtle effect, and one that I’ve come to really appreciate as I take it every day. So, all right. Get OmegaBrite CBD online @omegabrightwellness.com and now Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code PODCAST 2020. That’s PODCAST 2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did. Just as I am.

Akira M.:
What else would you like to say to the listeners, Akira?

Akira M.:
One thing I’m really grateful, with ADHD, is that it allowed me to have these incredible ideas that were just life changing for me and helped me to grow in certain ways that a lot of people can’t grow in.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Say more about that.

Akira M.:
For the first part, I think ADHD really helps me because I can really be creative and think of video content, if we’re talking in the influencing world, video content. Even just in the moment, that when we’re recording, it’s just a spark that comes to me and I know what to talk about. It also helps me to hyper-focus, and when I like sit down and edit my videos, I need to send this out online by tonight, and it just helps me to hyper-focus and I just sit down and get to work, and it takes me a couple hours, but it would have taken me a couple of days if I don’t have that ADHD power within me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And the deadline.

Akira M.:
Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, and the deadline helps.

Akira M.:
Yes. The deadline really does help because it allows me to know when to do it, and so I can know what time, the timing for me to hyper-focus and really get into it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I love the way you said, there’s the spark and then, and your voice changed, you said, I know what to say. That’s the magic, you know what to say. It just comes to you and that’s what’s so wonderful about this condition when you learn how to manage it, and you’re a great example of someone who’s learning how to manage it so very, very well.

Akira M.:
I love how you said manage it. I’ve seen a lot of people with ADHD who can’t focus and you can’t sit in a classroom, and say I learned this and this today because they were so dis focused that they couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying. One kid who was sitting down, playing with his hands and couldn’t focus to what my teacher was saying. But I think why this content helps is because it’s a passion, as I said, and when I get to focus onto my passion, as I said, it’s a spark.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then it becomes a roaring fire.

Akira M.:
A big roaring fire, for sure.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, I hope the listeners are smiling as broadly as I am, because it’s like seeing the beginning of a life of genius, and you are going to bring us all along with you, Akira.

Akira M.:
I think that this is definitely just the start for me and for me, what I believe in, my ideas are just out of the box, extraordinary, and very creative. This is not me coming. It’s not me who’s telling me all this stuff to myself. It’s other people who have told me that these ideas are creative and I have to give a shout out and a thanks to our team. I think that really helped me to focus on what I need to do, and for me because sometimes people with ADHD can’t understand certain things. I think that’s when my team really comes to help. And it’s just unlimited ideas all around, and this wasn’t just YouTube, and influencing is not just one of my biggest ideas. I’ve had a couple other big ideas, inside my mind, of course.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you want to mention them or not?

Akira M.:
Sure. This is one thing, I think it was a great idea is that back in Singapore, I started a car washing business and I think this helped me to create my content with YouTube, because this helped me learn how to advertise, promote, marketing, and also, well mainly those, but how to hyper-focus and get that work ethic going. I just washed cars, but I knew how to advertise. I knew how to market and I knew what to do, which helped me raise about $6,000 in the week and a half, two weeks. It was absolutely incredible.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you’re like 12 years old doing this?

Akira M.:
Oh no, It was just a while back in this year when I was 14.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. 14. But you hadn’t gone to business school obviously. So you just figured out how to-

Akira M.:
I haven’t gone to business school, but I feel like I was always in a business school, especially because my dad was an investor and I learned a lot from him, especially investing business and how to… He wasn’t that much of a marketer, but my brother was, and he also did really help me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So your brother and your dad helped you?

Akira M.:
Yeah. To get that business work ethic and all this other stuff, that led to many different platforms and ideas.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re a born entrepreneur, as most people with ADHD are, and you’ll be having ideas for the rest of your life. You mentioned at the beginning, your family was wealthy, but you also had a fair number of hardships that we don’t have to get into, but I want listeners to know you didn’t have it easy. There was money, but there wasn’t other things that kids need and you have continued to grow and develop, and you’re very resilient. You’re a brave young man, and you keep the ideas coming and now you’ve got this new thing going, it’s wonderful to see, but I respect you so much for having persevered and maintained your optimism.

Akira M.:
I just have to say, I’ve watched a couple of episodes from Distraction, and I think the listeners have to listen to what he’s saying, because ADHD is not, as he said, a curse. It’s like a super power, something else. I think a lot of people think of it as a curse, and that’s when they are misled to ideas that are not helpful, and I think they should fight for their passion which can lead them to so many great things. Because a lot of people with ADHD, I think have great logic and I just love how wonderful ways it can go. Wonderful, different ways life can take you with ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s so wonderful. The way you put it, and so glad to hear you know that at your age, 15, and help people to not buy into the deficit disorder model. Yes, it presents challenges, but it also comes with extraordinary superpowers, and like we said, once you learn to manage it as Akira is doing, then you can light up the world, be an influencer par excellence. Akira we’ve come to the end of our time. I can’t thank you enough for joining us and your team that helped you join us. I wish you could see me smiling right now. It’s a huge smile and I’m sure our listeners are smiling, too. Just to remind you to go to Akira’s website, lilbitalife.com, L-I-L-B-I-T-A-L-I-F-E.com. You can get directed there to the YouTube channel as well as to the Instagram. My friend Akira, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining me on Distraction.

Akira M.:
Thank you for having me on. It’s been a pleasure of mine and fight for ADHD because it’s really worth it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It sure is. Thank you so much. Remember listeners to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We need them. We thrive on them. We love them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Email us please, @connectatdistractionpodcast.com. That’s [email protected] Our wonderful guest today, Akira, my friend, 15 years old, but boy oh boy, he is going to set the world on fire, developing the passion that his superpower, otherwise called ADHD, has given him. He’s just at the start and he’s already so far ahead. It’s a great gift you’ve shared with us. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the brilliantly talented Scott Person. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now from Distraction.

The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega three supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online @omegabritewellness.com.

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Our Pets Get Stressed Out Too

Our Pets Get Stressed Out Too

Humans aren’t the only ones feeling anxiety and stress as a result of the pandemic. Our pets are too! And if you’ve been working from home for the past few months, it’s possible that your dog or other animal could develop separation anxiety when you return to work.

Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Silcox joins Ned for a conversation about the promising benefits CBD is showing in animals for conditions like anxiety, chronic pain and epilepsy. Dr. Silcox also reminds you to check with your pets’ vet before giving them anything!

Share your thoughts with us at [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. 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 of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction. Today, I am welcoming a guest, and you could guess all day long, and you would not guess what she does, a really unique niche in the helping profession. She’s in my favorite helping profession, namely, she’s a veterinarian. But she has a very special niche in the world of veterinarians aside from being a general veterinarian and treating dogs and cats and whatnot. She is the president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine. Isn’t that something? I asked her, how many members does it have? Expecting her to say about four, 350 Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine.

And in addition, she’s the owner of Greenwood Veterinary House Call Services, which sounds like angels of mercy. They make housecall for hospice and palliative care to these little dogs and cats, and I suppose birds, I don’t know. But in any case, the idea of going in and delivering palliative care, being a dog lover myself, I know how much that must mean to the patients or clients, whatever she calls them. In any case, but I won’t keep talking. I want to welcome, I think, the most unique guest we’ve ever had on Distraction, Dr. Sarah Silcox, who comes to us from just East of Toronto in Canada. Dr. Silcox, welcome to Distraction.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Thank you so, so much. I’m speechless after that introduction. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, I’m speechless to have met you. Really, you could have knocked me over with a feather. How long have you been doing this cannabinoid medicine for pets?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

So the association was founded… We just celebrated our third anniversary. So we founded in June of 2017, which was just more than a year before Canadian legalized cannabis for not only medical use, which had been legalized for some time, but also for non-medical or recreational use.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And why would someone give their pet CBD?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I think, much like on the human side of things, CBD has been touted as a bit of a cure all. And I think that’s one of the things that we work to really clarify is that it’s not snake oil, there’s a solid basis to how it works from a medical perspective.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s for sure.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

But on the same token, it’s also not a cure all, it’s a very specific medicine that’s going to work for different conditions, and in different patients it works a little bit differently. But the most common things that pet families are telling us that they’re choosing to use it for include things like chronic pain, anxieties, behavioral disorders, general inflammation, skin conditions, trouble sleeping. So there’s really a broad range. And that’s understandable once we start to understand how CBD and other cannabinoids work in the body, that it’s able to treat a whole range of different problems potentially. We’re still waiting on some of those published studies to come out.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Interestingly enough, our sponsor, OmegaBrite, makes a CBD product specifically for dogs. Have you heard of OmegaBrite? It’s a wonderful American company. They started off with fish oil and Omega-3 fatty acids supplements, and then they just came out with their CBD supplement for humans and they also have one for dogs.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Humans, and then they’ve expanded that into the pet world as well. And I think we’re seeing a lot more of that in the US compared to Canada. Because in Canada, our regulations are a little bit different. So even though it’s technically legal, it’s only legally available through certain regulated channels. And as of yet that hasn’t included a market specifically for pets. In Canada, people are either purchasing a product sold outside that legal pathway that are pet specific, or they’re purchasing legal products intended for human consumption and then giving them to their animals.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, since most of our listeners are in the United States, although they actually are around the world, but for our listeners, if they wanted to get CBD for their dog or other pet, they could just go to omegaBritewellness.com, and there it would be. So why would they do that? You mentioned anxiety. How can you tell if your dog or cat is anxious?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Well, I think there’s a wide range of things that can cause anxiety. We have situational anxiety. So sometimes it’s just a short term thing like thunderstorm, or a trip to the vets or the groomers. And other times we’re dealing with more generalized anxiety, and behavioral disorders, and separation anxiety, which funny enough is getting a lot of attention as in certain areas, maybe not in some of the states, but certainly here in Ontario, we’re starting to get some opening up of the economy and opening up of the restrictions that have been in place for the last several months. Our pets have gotten very used to us being around. And so, one of the concerns is, is that when we all start going back to work and resuming our more normal routines, how are our pets going to be affected? And for some pets, they may struggle with some separation anxiety.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What a great point. I hadn’t thought of that. What a great… And of course they would. Of course, they would, they feel abandoned and anxious.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

The cats on the other hand will probably be celebrating, “Thank goodness the humans are gone.” But our dogs, I think, a lot of them have really come to enjoy us being around a lot more.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, I’m a dog person, not a cat person, but I do appreciate the feline independence, but I’m drawn to the canine affection. But that’s such a good point, Sarah, that when we’ve been with them all the time and then we leave them, and of course they’ll be sad. I can see your dog standing at the door waiting for us to get home.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you said pain is, so if they have arthritic hips or something like that CBD might help?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yeah. Chronic pain is probably the number one reason that people have looked to cannabis-based therapies, both for themselves as well as their pets. But it’s also one of the ones that’s been looked at most commonly in our published studies. So we now have a few published studies that have looked specifically at using high CBD cannabis products for the treatment of arthritic pain in dogs. We also have a published study that’s looked at the use of CBD for treating epilepsy in dogs as well.

And so, all of those studies have been very positive, certainly more work still needs to be done. It’s not cut and dry, there’s always lots of confounding factors. And it’s certainly not something that I would recommend people do without consultation with your veterinarian. It is still a medicine, even though you can order it online, you don’t need to go to your veterinarian to get it, but we do want to make sure that it’s a suitable product that will maybe not missing something else, and also make sure that there’s no possible drug interactions. And that’s something a lot of people don’t consider.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

They don’t consider drug interactions?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

That’s right. So if your pet’s on other medications for chronic health problem, and you decide to add in a high CBD product, there’s the potential, and again, we’re still learning, this area is so new to us from a medical perspective, but it certainly appears that there can be the potential for some drug interactions because CBD can affect the way our body metabolizes drugs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And also, I’m very intrigued by your Greenwood House Call Services. What are the kinds of conditions like a dog who’s dying of cancer or something?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I mean, really it encompasses a range going anywhere from those senior patients who are just struggling a little bit more, the focus has shifted away from finding a diagnosis and finding a cure to really trying to keep that patient as comfortable as possible, up to patients who’ve been diagnosed with life limiting diseases like cancer or those who have reached end of life, and the family wants to have that end of lifetime be at home where the pet is most comfortable, and where they’re probably more comfortable as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sure. And that’s the one downside of having a pet, that they die usually before you do.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

And I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “Never again. I’m not going to do this, it’s too hard.” But fortunately, I think, given enough time, our hearts are able to see how much joy they brought. And in most cases, I think, families end up opening their heart to another pet.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

We’ve done it five times now. And every time it’s so hard, but-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

It’s a testimony to how much joy they bring us when we’re willing to go through that thing all over again.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. For the past three months I’ve been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD, and listeners, know that brite is spelled B-R-I-T-E. So it’s OmegaBrite CBD. As I’ve mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School. And her company, OmegaBrite Wellness, they’ve been making the number one, Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

Well, Carol and her team decided to break new ground, having set the standard for purity, safety, and efficacy in the world of Omega-3s. And they brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself. It helps me with my reactivity, my impatience, it just puts a smoother edge. In no way, is it a buzz or a high, anything like that, it’s way more subtle. But it’s a very noticeable, subtle effect, and one that I’ve come to really appreciate as I take it every day.

So, all right. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com. And now, Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code podcast 2020, that’s podcast 2020. Go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did just as I am.

[SPONSOR BREAK END]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What do you have yourself?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I have one cat named Marvin and I have a, let’s see, he’ll be 13 in the fall, a little Miniature Pinscher, and then a great big Argentinian Mastiff.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What are their names?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

His name is Wallace, and the little one is Blackberry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wallace and Blackberry, that’s so adorable. Wallace, what a great name for a big dog, and Blackberry, what a great name for a little dog. And then Marvin, of course.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

And Wallace is actually on cannabis-based therapy as well. So he gets a high CBD product every morning and every evening.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. Do you have kids?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I do not, just my furry ones.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But a husband.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Is he a vet as well, or is he-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

No, he’s in corporate training. So completely different type of business. But thank goodness, he’s also an animal lover. He actually came into the relationship with Blackberry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, that’s wonderful, that’s wonderful, that’s really wonderful. And did you growing up wanting to be a vet?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yeah. I think when I look back through the little school day treasury books, it first hit the radar in grade two. Veterinarian was on the list of things I’d like to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So many little girls say they want to be a vet, but you actually did it.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

I actually did it. Well, I had an interesting background. My dad was very much an animal and nature guy, and my mum was a nurse. And so, I think I had both sides of things. So veterinary medicine seemed to be a pretty darn good fit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what’s the process in Canada? How do you become a vet?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

In Canada, so way back when I went through, you had to have a minimum of one year of general science, and then applied into the veterinary program, if accepted, there was then a pre-vet year and then a four year veterinary program. They’ve changed it up a little bit since then. So now it’s a two years and you write your MCATs and go through the application process, and then a four year program.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You take the medical college admission test?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

They do now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Just as if you were applying to medical school?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. So you have to have a college degree and then take the MCAT, and then four, five-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

So it’s a minimum of two years of science or equivalent, I believe, now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

To get in? And then that school is four years just like medical school?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. And then do you specialize-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

We’ve got a lot more species to cover.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, you sure do. So do you get trained in all the species?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

We do. I believe that there are some veterinary schools now that are starting to stream a little bit, but generally speaking, most veterinarians have received training in both large and small animal. And then as they progress through the course and get into that final year, their elective courses can focus more heavily on the area that they feel like they’re going to pursue. And so certainly all of my electives were small animals.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But nonetheless, you were exposed to how do you deliver a horse, or how do you take care of the pregnant cow. Do you get trained on how to take care of a snake?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Briefly, yes. And birds and fish. I was actually going through the garage last week and found a whole bunch of boxes with my old notes in there, and I’m like, wow, we had a lot of lectures on fish that I don’t remember.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Fish, really? Wow.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what about birds?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

So we do the full gamut. And circling back to today’s topic, it’s really interesting to see some of the science that’s coming out as we start to look at how CBD and other cannabinoids influence other species as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Really. Have you taken care of parents?

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Parents or parrots?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Both. Obviously, parents, but-

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Parents, not so much-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Not so much.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

… But aging parents, yes. And both my parents, I also push to have them on medical cannabis therapy as they approached senior years and end of life, my mom still gets hers regularly. She has both dementia and arthritis and it helps to level out both of those, I think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. Well, you sound like a dream come true of a veterinarian. I wish I lived near you and you could take care of our animals. You obviously found your calling. It’s wonderful. And you’re a pioneer, you’re breaking new ground, you’re staying young, that’s also impressive.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Dr. Sarah Silcox, founding director and current president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, and owner of Greenwood Veterinary House Call Services. What an angel of animals you are for sure. I can’t thank you enough for joining us.

Dr. Sarah Silcox:

Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you so much for having me on and introducing your audience to some of the potential uses for those CBD products in pets.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Thank you indeed. What a unique and wonderful guest you’ve been. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Now, I just have to read some credits. Please, listeners, reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas, and we really do love getting them, by sending an email to mailto:[email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media, our recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson, and our producer is Sarah Guertin. I’m DR. Ned Hallowell, your host, saying goodbye, until next time.

The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one, Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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