Diagnosing, Medicating and Talking About Your ADHD

Diagnosing, Medicating and Talking About Your ADHD

What does it mean when you’re one symptom short of an ADHD diagnosis? Does that mean you don’t have it? Dr. H answers this and other listener questions including the difference between short-acting and long-acting medications, how to explain ADHD to family members, and what to do when your child doesn’t like their doctor. Our producer, Sarah Guertin, joins Ned in this episode to read him your questions!

Reach out to us at [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. This episode was produced by Sarah Guertin and recorded and mixed by Scott Persson. It was originally released in October 2020.

Season 6 is coming in August! 

Check out this episode!

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ADHD Q&A: Symptoms, Stimulants, and Sleep

ADHD Q&A: Symptoms, Stimulants, and Sleep

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

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

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

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

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

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

Check out this episode!

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Don’t Overcomplicate Role of Medication

Don’t Overcomplicate Role of Medication

Dr. Hallowell recently started sharing content on TikTok and his video, “Don’t Overcomplicate Role of Medication” left users wanting to know more. So in this mini ep, Dr. H answers a few of the questions that came up like, “How does a stimulant help a hyperactive brain?” and “Do I have to be on medication for life?”

Check out all of the #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Today I’m going to answer a question that came up through my TikTok platform. I’ve recently started posting 60 second videos on TikTok, and they’re under the label #NedTalks on TikTok. They’re not TedTalks, but NedTalks. It’s about neural developmental experience discussed. NED. Neural developmental experience. Neurodiverse experience discussed. I’m sorry. Neurodiverse, N, Experienced, E-D discussed. NedTalks. Not TedTalks, but Ned talks. Oh, you get me going the bouncing around with words, which is what I love to do. Anyway, one of the NedTalks was about medication in treating ADHD, and the question came up. Can you explain how a stimulant helps someone who’s already stimulated? Namely someone who has ADHD. The explanation is simple, but I should add, it’s why categorizing these medications is so misleading.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The fact that it’s called a stimulant does not mean that it juices you up. They’re given a name… They’re anti-seizure medications that are good mood stabilizers, and so if you’re taking an anti-seizure medication, that doesn’t mean you have a seizure disorder. These meds are given labels, but their application may have nothing to do with the label. Now the fact is, a good way for you to understand why a stimulant helps someone with ADHD, who’s already very stimulated.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Think of my model for ADHD, which is you have a race car brain with bicycle brakes. You’ve got a powerful brain. Powerful, powerful brain. Active imagination, ideas flowing all the time, popping up all over the place, but you have weak brakes. You have bicycle brakes. Brakes that aren’t strong enough to control the awesome power of your brain. Well, stimulant medication like Adderall and Ritalin stimulate the brakes. They stimulate the inhibitory circuits in the brain that allow you to control the power of your brain. That’s how they work. They stimulate the brakes. Now, it happens that they produce the… You end up with more dopamine. We can get into all the neurotransmitters, but the basic sort of model that you can remember is, stimulant medication stimulates your brakes, thereby giving you more control.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Along with that question came the question, how long can these meds be taken? They can be taken for as long as they’re helpful. There’s no limit to how long. You can take them for decades, as long as they don’t cause side effects, and as long as they’re effective. Now, you don’t develop tolerance, so you don’t have to increase the dose over and over. I have people who are on the same dose of Adderall for 10 years. They didn’t change it at all. Once in a while, the meds will cease to be effective. Instead of increasing the dose, what you ought to do is just stop the meds for a few days, and then start them up again at the same dose. Often, they’ll kick back in. Why that works, I don’t know. Maybe it gives you… The neurotransmitter’s a rest. That makes no sense neurologically, but it makes sense intuitively.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Whatever. I’ve just found over my many years, that if you simply stop the stimulants for a few days, and start them up at the same level, they kick back in and are effective. This medication… By the way, these medications are not based on how big you are, or how old you are. Most medications in the world are based on milligrams per kilogram. The dose is based on how big you are. Not so with these. Some little people need a lot, and some big people need only a little. It’s a matter of trial and error, but once you find the right dose, you can stick with that for many, many years. People asked, “How long do I have to take it?” You don’t have to take it at all. ADHD is not a life-threatening condition. It’s not like insulin for a diabetic. You never have to take these meds.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You see, the ADHD is not going to kill you, but it can impair your life significantly, so you may find that you want to take it. Untreated ADHD can… Russell Barkley has shown this over a lifetime, reduce your life expectancy because of all the mishaps that can accompany untreated ADHD, but you don’t ever have to take the medication. Now, if you find a dose of a medication that you like, that helps you, that doesn’t cause side effects, chances are you will want to take it indefinitely for as long as it continues to be effective, and not cause the side effects. It’s really straightforward that way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then, what kind of doctors should you see? Again, I did another mini episode on this, but any doctor who has experience in prescribing. It’s got to be an MD, or a nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant who works with an MD. Anyone who has medical training can prescribe stimulant medication. That means psychologists can’t, social workers can’t, but psychologists and social workers almost always work with someone who has an MD, so they can refer you to their… What’s called medical backup, or whatever term they want to use for it, but someone who works with them, and can prescribe. You need to have somebody who has a medical degree, an MD, overseeing the prescribing of the medication. You’d never want to take these meds without careful supervision.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
While they are very safe and effective, they can be dangerous if you are not… If you don’t know what you’re doing. If you do know what you’re doing, or working with a professional who knows what he or she is doing, then they are indeed among the safest meds we’ve got, as long as they’re used properly. They are controlled substances, so you have to take them again, with respect and with caution.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You never want to give these medicines away, you never want to sell them, you never want to… If somebody says, “Could I borrow one of your Adderall? I have a test.” You have to say, no, you can’t, and please don’t ask me again because it’s illegal. You need to be careful. In any case, medication is a powerful tool in the toolbox. Just work with a doctor who has plenty of experience in prescribing. Well, that’s it for me for this mini episode of Distraction.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thanks to our sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness. Save 20% on your first order at omegabritewellness.com with the promo code Podcast2020. Please reach out to us with your questions, and comments by emailing [email protected] If you’re on TikTok, you can find me there with the username @drhallowell. I’ve posted lots of videos about common ADHD issues, each one only 60 seconds. Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the wonderful Scott Persson, and our producer is the also wonderful Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time when I will still be Dr. Ned Hallowell.

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

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ADHD Questions About Diagnosis, Medications, Doctor Disagreements & Helping Family Understand

ADHD Questions About Diagnosis, Medications, Doctor Disagreements & Helping Family Understand

What does it mean when you’re one symptom short of an ADHD diagnosis? Dr. H answers this and other listener questions including the difference between short-acting and long-acting medications, how to explain ADHD to family members, and what to do when your child doesn’t like their doctor.

Do you have a question for Dr. Hallowell that you’d like him to address in a future episode? Send it to [email protected].

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. I’ll be answering in today’s session your questions and responding to emails we’ve received recently from many of you. Remember, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, please, please, please send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] We love these Q and A sessions. Of course, we can’t have them without your questions. So off we go. Off we go to the races. Let’s get started. My wonderful producer, the inimitable Sarah Guertin is joining me now to read your questions to me, as well as your comments. And so let me ask Sarah, the wonderful, wonderful Sarah, who are we starting with today?

Sarah Guertin:
Hi, Ned. Today, we are starting with an email from a listener named Tim. Tim wrote to us in response to the episode we released about an ADHD diagnosis being good news, and he wrote: Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I haven’t technically received a diagnosis of ADHD, but the process wasn’t good news for me. After struggling and underperforming through grade school, community college, and university finally earning my bachelor’s degree six years after graduating high school, I finally had myself tested for ADHD when I was put on academic probation after my first semester in grad school. I was told that I was one self-reported symptom short of a diagnosis of ADHD. They found that I had a good IQ, but my working memory and processing speed scores were three standard deviations below my other scores. My university was unwilling to allow me any accommodations. And the representative told me that, “No one was going to feel sorry for me if I was able to get a bachelor’s degree.”

Sarah Guertin:
I later worked with a psychiatrist that allowed me to give ADHD medication a try, but they didn’t seem to help me. This was around 2003, and they had unpleasant side effects. A few years later, I tried treating my dysthymia pharmacologically, and that didn’t seem to help either. I’ve worked with a few different therapists over the years and have made only a little progress on that. I currently take dextroamphetamine because of daytime sleepiness associated with insomnia and sleep apnea that is not treated well by APAP/CPAP. The dextroamphetamine sort of helps the attention piece a little, but also makes me more distracted in other ways. Anyways, the point is that the news isn’t always good, but maybe that is just because I didn’t get a clear ADHD (VAST) diagnosis. Take care, Tim.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much, Tim. For people listening VAST is the term that John Ratey and I came up with in our new book for ADHD because ADHD itself is so inaccurate. VAST stands for Variable Attention Stimulus Trait. Tim, yes, what you suffered is not good news. What you’ve suffered is terrible news. It reflects both how difficult it can be to have ADHD or VAST, but also how hard it is to get competent help. I mean, the idea that you were one self-reported symptom short of a diagnosis is ridiculous. It’s like my friend and colleague, John Ratey, kids, “If you’re one symptom short of a diagnosis of depression what does that mean? You’re just miserable.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I mean, these diagnostic criteria are not supposed to be taken that literally so it’s hard and fast if you have five symptoms, you don’t have it. If you have six symptoms, you do. Technically, that’s the definition, but a true evaluation, a good evaluation is based on the totality of your presentation. What are you struggling with? And how long have you been struggling with it? And how intense is it? And these are not amenable to being so concrete that you say, “Well, you have five symptoms. You don’t have it. You have six symptoms. You do have it.” That’s just not right. You were suffering and you were not given any help. The idea that no one was going to feel sorry for me if I was able to get a bachelor’s degree that’s also absurd.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There are plenty of high achievers who have ADHD. I have any number of physicians in my practice. There is a Nobel Prize winner who has ADHD. You can be a CEO, a self-made millionaire, or billionaire, and have this condition. So the fact that you were able to get a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you don’t have ADHD. Again, we’re dealing with misconceptions. It breaks my heart to see how hard you’ve been trying, which is also typical of folks who have ADHD, not getting the right help. In fact, getting wrong help. I don’t know about the medications that you were given, but if my guess is right you weren’t given the full range of possibilities vis-a-vis medication. Now, medication does not always work. It does work about 80% of the time and by work, I mean, you get target symptom improvement, improved efficiency, improved focus, improved performance with no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In my own case, meds don’t work. I’m one of the 20% for whom meds don’t work, but I have found a medication that I like, namely, coffee. So I have my coffee every day, and that’s my version of stimulant medication. I think if you were to work with a psychiatrist who really understood the condition, and if you were given help beyond simply try this medication. If you were given some education, some coaching so you could have a fuller understanding of what your strengths and vulnerabilities are then you could maximize the strengths and minimize the vulnerabilities, but you need to find somebody who really gets this. I refer you to my book Delivered from Distraction. If you read that you’ll know enough to be able to actually teach whoever you go to see and you’ll know what the various meds are, but also what are the non-medication interventions that are available, and there are many of them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We’ve talked on this program before about the Zing program. And if you want to learn about that go to distraction.zingperformance.com, Z-I-N-G performance.com. And it’s just a series of physical exercises that stimulate the cerebellum, which in turn is connected to the frontal part of the brain where the action is in ADHD. My buddy, John Ratey, has written a whole book about how physical exercise, just exercise in general can help with ADHD. And we know also that meditation can help. I’m a big fan of promoting finding some creative outlet, something where you can use your imagination to create, build, or develop something. That’s something that the reason I write so many books. I’m starting my 21st book is not because I’m ambitious to write books it’s because if I don’t have a book going I get depressed. I need a creative outlet to keep me to keep me going.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, long-winded, but yes, this condition undealt with can be horrible, but if you find someone who can guide you to deal with it properly, you can tap into your superpower. You can tap into your unique talents, and your special abilities, which we all have. It can take some doing, some scratching, some probing, some trying, and failing to find what are your special talents and abilities. Tim, don’t give up. It’s not like people with ADD to give up, but I’m sorry you had that negative experience. I’m sorry you’ve had the bad news side of ADHD. Let’s see if you can get some help and get to the good news part of it. Thanks so much for writing in. Sarah, do we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:
We sure do. Actually, it ties into what you were just saying. This one is about changing careers from a listener named Sarah. She asks: Can you do a podcast about ADHD-ers who want to change fields or careers? I have tried to switch a few times with no success. I have never been “happy” in a job. I have an enormous amount of student debt to pay off, which weighs on me every single day of my life. I would like to find something I can be happy doing day in and day out. Like you, Dr. Hallowell, I’m a writer at heart and I am depressed when I don’t have a creative outlet. My husband has even said, “You are so much happier when you write.” With three school-aged kids it’s very hard to find the time for all the things to keep us healthy, exercise, cooking, et cetera, and sane. I’m not a novelist yet. How do you find the time?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Sarah, as one writer to another my heart goes out to you. I mean, you’ve got to make money, and it’s very hard to make money as a writer. So for now I would put the writing under the category of hobby, avocation. It’s probably not going to pay you what you need to make right off the bat. So you want to find a job that is at the intersection of three circles. One circle are things you really like to do. The other circle are things that you’re very good at doing. And the third circle are things that someone will pay you to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So where those three circles overlap, what I call your sweet spot, that’s where you ought to be spending as much of your time as you possibly can. Just sit down at the kitchen table with your husband because we’re not good self-observers. We so often sell ourselves short. Make a list. What do I like to do? And then another list. What am I good at doing? And see where those two lists over overlap. And then the third one. Okay, given these overlaps, which one of them will pay enough to make it worth my while, worth the time I put in? And I know you can find probably a few things in there where you can try to get a job in that overlap in your sweet spot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then for the writing, I would recommend you get it’s a very short book. I can’t remember the author’s name, but it’s This Year You Write Your Novel. It’s a very short book and it’s very practical. It’s written by a man who’s written 20 books so he knows what he’s talking about. I’m just going on my cell phone to see if I can find the actual … Here we go. This Year You Write Your Novel. Okay? The author is Walter Mosley, M-O-S-L-E-Y. It’s in paperback. It sells for $15.99. I can tell you it’s money well-spent for you. This Year You Write Your Novel.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Basically, what he recommends is that you write for an hour a day. Now you may not be able to find an hour a day. I think he’d approve if you put in a half an hour a day, but that’s how you do it. You find the time. You create the time. And then you protect that time religiously. And it gets so you really look forward to it. And even if you spent the half hour staring out the window, you’ve committed to doing it. Since you’re a writer at heart, I love your phrase, I’m a writer at heart and depressed when you don’t write, you got to write. Just don’t think that it’s going to pay your bills right off the bat. Now the day may come when it does pay your bills.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
One of the main reasons I went to medical school is I didn’t want to put all my financial eggs in the basket of becoming a successful writer. And it took me a while before my book started paying me, but now they do, and they’ve helped me put my kids through college. I’ve achieved my dream, but my primary job is being a doctor is helping people. I specialize as you know in this condition, ADHD, terrible name, but that’s what they call it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hope this answer helps. Try to find a job that’s in your sweet spot, the overlap of what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what someone will pay you to do. And then have your writing. Don’t give up on it. Absolutely have it. Commit to it at least a half hour a day, ideally, an hour a day, and get Walter Mosley’s book This Year You Write Your Novel. I want you to come back to me, please. Let me know how you did with this. Congratulations, Sarah. Don’t give up on your dream. Okay. We’re going to pause for a little break right here to hear from one of our sponsors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
OmegaBrite, omegabritewellness.com has been a sponsor of this podcast for I don’t know how long. I invited them to join us because my wife, Sue, and I have taken their Omega-3 supplements for years and years and years. I’ve known Carol Locke, the woman who developed all the products for many years. She’s a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a superb physician, and incredibly careful with the products that her company creates. She has extremely high standards that are uncompromising. She’s also a really nice person. They’re a natural fit for the show because their products help with mood regulation, anxiety, as well as focus and attention, as well as being good for your entire body their powerful anti-inflammatory action. You can find all of their supplements online at omegabrite B-R-I-T-E wellness.com. That’s omegabritewellness.com. And Distraction listeners you can save 20% on your first order by entering the promo code Podcast2020. That’s Podcast2020. All right. Now, back to the show. All right, this next question comes from Kristen. Sarah, you want to read it?

Sarah Guertin:
Sure. She writes: Hi Dr. Hallowell. My son is moderately gifted, IQ approximately 135, so nothing profound. I would think he hits about six to seven check marks for inattentive ADHD. It does definitely affect him at home and at school. He gets pretty stressed about writing, prioritizing, organizing, planning, ignoring distractions, et cetera, but because he is gifted, he seems pretty average to the teachers. Just seems to “need a bit of help to stay on task.” He is going into grade five in Canada, but he does like school so that’s good. He does have some success there, thank goodness. He has accelerated by one grade for math.

Sarah Guertin:
At home, he has a hard time following more than two-step directions, forgets what he was going to do, avoids hard stuff, emotional regulation is difficult and can be quite extreme, et cetera. Basically, I am on the verge of considering medication. I will see how this year goes. I just wonder if these struggles are holding him back from his potential. Kristen notes that her son has had an assessment and that he scored well on all tests, including working memory, but he was in the clinical range for visual attention, and visual-motor processing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good job with that visual-motor pronunciation.

Sarah Guertin:
I looked it up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Visual-motor. Well, okay. Kristin, 135 is more than moderately gifted. “IQ approximately 135, so nothing profound.” That’s profound. 135 is real good and it’s certainly the top one or 2%, so I think he is indeed at least on the basis of IQ a gifted kid. You said in your letter, “Basically, I am on the verge of considering medication.” That makes it sound like it’s some kind of last-ditch intervention. Medication used properly is very safe and very effective. Putting it off it’s like saying, “Why don’t I do a year or two of squinting before I get eyeglasses?” Medication is proven to be effective in 80% of cases. Effective means you get results and you don’t have side effects. 20% it doesn’t work, but 80% is a pretty good batting average.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it makes no sense to defer hoping that the non-medication interventions will take care of it because the non-medication interventions become far more effective if the person is on medication that works. In other words, you can do all the coaching, and organizing, and planning that are part of the non-medication interventions far more effectively if you’re taking a medication that is helping you. So I would absolutely get my doctor to give my son a trial of Ritalin, or Adderall, whichever he or she likes to prescribe. Make the trial involved enough so you don’t just try one dose of one medication. You try various doses of one from the amphetamine category, and one from the methylphenidate category. The holding off on medication is real common. People have a tendency to think of it as an extreme intervention and it isn’t. It’s not surgery. It’s not last-ditch when all else has failed. Unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of people approach it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If they approached it more like, okay, let’s get the proven intervention, namely medication, and then do all the rest you’d get much better results with a lot less heartache and struggle. People talk about the side effects of medication, and all those side effects can be controlled simply by lowering the dose, changing the medication, or discontinuing it altogether, but what they really ought to talk about are the side effects of not taking the medication. Year after year after year of underachievement, of frustration, of knowing you could be doing better if only you could get the mental eyeglasses that medication can provide. I hope you’ll give that some thought. Please do get back to us. We love to get follow-up emails from these calls. Okay, Miss Sarah, do we have another one in our mailbag?

Sarah Guertin:
We certainly do. We have lots of parents this week. You can tell it’s back to school time, but this next email comes from Lisa, who is the mother of a 12-year-old girl in the seventh grade. Her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in the second grade, but didn’t start medication until fifth grade. She writes: Please share more on the psychiatry of ADHD medications, and interaction with the brain. My very specific question is about why a 10 milligram methylphenidate seems to be more effective than the fancy slow-release Concerta. What are the risks of me sending methylphenidate to school for my immature 12-year-old to take at lunch hour? (I heard kids sell them). Thank you again for all you do to help me learn to be the best mom I can for my challenging child. Lisa.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much, Lisa, for writing in. 12-year-girl in the seventh grade. You got the diagnosis in the second grade, but didn’t start medication until the fifth grade. That’s sort of in keeping with the previous call. There’s a tendency to put off starting medication, which again, I don’t think makes much sense. Everyone does it so don’t feel bad. Everyone thinks that medication is this last-ditch intervention, but it really isn’t. It’s a first-ditch intervention. At least I think it ought to be because there’s very little downside. The meds work right away, and if you don’t like what they do you stop it. That’s only common sense. And if you do like what it does, you say hooray, and you continue it. And that whole process can take a week. You can really find out pretty quickly if the meds are going to be helpful or not. Sometimes more than a week, maybe a month, but it is a process of trial and error.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, your specific question, why does 10 milligrams of methylphenidate seem more effective than Concerta, which is a slow-release medication? The short answer is we don’t know, but specifically with Concerta, it may very well be if you’re taking the generic Concerta that the osmotic pump, the generic manufacturer didn’t get it right. Concerta was the first long-acting medication we had. And when it went generic, all of a sudden people were saying, “My Concerta doesn’t work anymore.” And that’s because the osmotic pump, which was developed at MIT, and allowed for the medication to be slow-release, a lot of the generic manufacturers didn’t get it right. They didn’t know how to technologically reproduce the original Concerta so all of a sudden people were getting different generic formulations that suddenly didn’t work so that could be why.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now there are other slow-release forms of methylphenidate. There’s Ritalin LA, for example. LA stands for long-acting. And if you want a long-acting formulation, I would suggest giving that a try, or trying a different generic of Concerta, or trying brand name Concerta because there’s a distinct advantage to not having to bring your medication to school. Most schools will not allow kids to bring it in for one of the reasons being you already cited that some kids sell their medication. Some kids lose it. Some kids pass it around to friends just to see what it does. You know how kids are with experimentation. That’s dangerous. You don’t want to be doing that. So I would not have my son or daughter bring their medication in their pocket to school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What schools do do is you can give it to the school nurse and she can dispense the medication. Now that’s inconvenient. The child has to go to the school nurse at recess, or lunchtime, and a lot of people don’t want to do that. So I think it’s worth it for you to hunt down a long-acting methylphenidate that does work. And don’t forget if you don’t find a methylphenidate, there’s always amphetamine, Adderall, or Vyvanse the long-acting version. Adderall XR, extended-release, or Vyvanse.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What can you do to be the best mom you can be? Learn all you can about ADHD. My most recent book is Delivered from Distraction. There’s a ton of information in there. Superparenting for ADD is another book that is worth it. And there are many others out there by many other authors. This field has become richly written about, which is great. And you might subscribe to the wonderful magazine ADDitude. That’s A-D-D-I-T-U-D-E. Terrific, terrific magazine full of really good articles every month that it comes out. I hope this answers your questions. I’m just looking back and trying to see. I think I addressed it, but the main thing you can do for your daughter is to love her, which you’re already doing. Sorry about that. My cell phone just went off. The producer always tells me to turn off my cell phone and, of course, I forget. And so then I will get my wrist slapped during the break for not turning off my cell phone.

Sarah Guertin:
Everyone knows your ringtone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, I’m sorry for that interruption. There’s methylphenidate and there’s amphetamine. Those are the two molecules that comprise the bulk of the stimulant medications that we use to treat this condition. And it is a matter of trial and error. You can’t predict which one will work best for any given child, but it’s worth trying a few before you give up, different doses, and different formulations. As I said, the best thing you can do for her is love her, and you know that. Provide structure. Provide a routine. Provide what her brain usually doesn’t do so very easily.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And make her feel proud of having it. The more successes she experiences, the more she feels proud of having the imagination I’m pretty sure she’s got. Having the kind of spontaneity, the kind of humor, all her quirkiness make her feel proud of because she should be proud of it. We need this in today’s world. These are the people that make the changes that bring us what we’re hoping for. Anyway, Lisa, thanks so much for writing and please give us follow-up. We love hearing about what happens to the people that our listeners write in about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to tell you about Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It is the best college in the world for students who learn differently, with ADHD, for other learning differences, or autism spectrum disorder. It’s fully accredited not-for-profit offering bachelor’s and associate degrees, bridge programs, online dual-enrollment courses for high school students and summer programs. They use a strength-based model at Landmark, which as you know is the model that I certainly have developed and subscribe to, to give students the skills and strategies they need to achieve their goals in life and really expand upon what they believe they’re capable of doing. It is just a wonderful, wonderful place, and I can’t say enough good about it. I myself have an honorary degree from Landmark College of which I am very proud. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. To learn more, go to lcdistraction.org. That’s lcdistraction.org. Okay, let’s get back to today’s topic. So do we have another email?

Sarah Guertin:
We have a couple more here. This next one comes from Tricia and she writes: I enjoy listening to your podcast to help me learn more about how I can help my 11-year-old son use his ADHD superpowers. I have read your Driven to Distraction book as well. Where we struggle is explaining his brain to the grandparents that don’t see him on a day-to-day basis to know how to deal with, or understand his behaviors. They are used to the other grandkids that are very organized and even keel with their emotions. Do you know of a concise general resource that we could point them to so they can better understand and appreciate his unique brain?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, this is common. Grandparents, and people who didn’t grow up with ADD as part of the lexicon often get grumpy about it and say, “What is this nonsense? All he needs is more discipline.” And that’s simply wrong. It’s understandable because they don’t know what they don’t know, but they need to know what they need to know. Now it’s hard to educate your parents. As people get older and more fixed in their ways, they become less open to hearing the truth. So how do you present to them the truth? Sometimes you can’t do it as their child. So sometimes you rely on a book, and the book I would give them would be not Driven to Distraction, but Delivered from Distraction because it has newer stuff in it. The first chapter is called The Skinny: Read this if you can’t read the whole book, so get them to read the highlights.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, if they’re willing to listen to you, and if you’ve read it, just explain to them. Keep it simple. The analogy that I like best is the one that I use most often. Having this condition is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. It’s not hard to understand that analogy. You’ve got a powerful, powerful brain, a powerful imagination. Your challenge is in controlling it. It’s not easy to control the power of the brain that you’ve got so you need help in strengthening your brakes. That’s a pretty good analogy, and the grandparents should be able to understand that. And the way to strengthen your brakes is not to punish or shame the child. In fact, that’s the worst thing you can do, but to support and give structure.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And when they screw up, say “Your brakes failed you.” You see, because that’s not shaming. There’s no shame in my brakes failed me. It’s a mechanical problem. So I got to work on my brakes. Okay, now how do I do that? Well, I exercise. Maybe I take medication. Maybe I practice more. Maybe I work with a coach, or some teacher. Maybe I get extra help. Maybe I eat right, get enough sleep, not too many video games. These are all ways of strengthening my brakes. And if grandma and grandpa can reinforce that, then that’s so much better than undermining it with grumpy remarks about all he needs, or she needs is more discipline.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Telling someone with ADD to try harder, or get more discipline is about as helpful as telling someone who’s nearsighted to squint harder. It’s antediluvian. It misses the biological science, the point. And even though we live in an age that people are not always receptive to science, we ought to be because science means knowledge, and knowledge is powerful. Lack of knowledge on the other hand is hugely destructive. So try to go with knowledge and science, and try to help your parents help their grandchildren. Grandparents are the greatest blessing next to dogs God ever created. And so let your child’s grandparents live up to the blessing that they have to offer. Thanks so much for writing in.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. We have one more and it, too, is from a mom. Her name is Denise and she wrote: Good afternoon, Dr. Hallowell. I have enjoyed your books and podcasts for many years now as my husband and I are learning how to help our 13-year-old son with ADHD. My son has been under the care of a child/adolescent psychiatrist since he was nine years old when he was started on Concerta. In the recent 12 months, my son is not liking his doctor. My son describes him as confrontational, and he feels like the doctor is trying to make him mad, or put him down.

Sarah Guertin:
I have a professional relationship with the doctor and have subtly brought up the fact that my son does not like coming to see him recently in hopes that things would improve, but they have not. I would very much like my son to have someone he likes to talk to and can connect with, a physician, therapist, or social worker. These teen years are hard, and I know my son is frustrated with his ADHD. I’m writing to see if you know of any child/adolescent psychiatrists, or therapists in the Chicago area. With much gratitude for your work and positivity in the area of ADHD. Warmly, Denise.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Denise, it is very important that your son like his doctor. Everything will go better. The meds will work better. The interventions will work better. Your son will feel better about himself. And if he’s come to a point where it’s time to part ways with this doctor it doesn’t mean the doctor is bad it just means the chemistry. People leave me because they don’t like me. It happens to all of us. It doesn’t mean we’re bad doctors. We can’t be liked and appreciated by every single person who comes to see us. Just like you can’t like every food, or you can’t like every movie you see. There’s an element of chemistry in the doctor-patient relationship that you really need to respect.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The doctor won’t take it personally. If the doctor is being unpleasant to your son your doctor probably doesn’t like seeing him either. So if you leave him, he’ll probably be relieved. He probably knows that their relationship has gone a little bit sour. Again, no bad guy here. It just happens in doctor-patient relationships. It happens in clergy-parishioner relationships. It happens with merchants. You have a merchant that you’ve always liked and suddenly you’re not getting along with the merchant, or the plumber, or the gas station person. You have people that you’re working well with, and then you’re not. And rather than getting mad, and pushing forward move on. Fortunately, there are many doctors in the Chicago area. Plus your son will be relieved that you’re listening to him that you’re understanding what he’s saying and just say, “Well, this doctor helped us for a while. Now we’ll find another doctor who can meet you more on your terms and get along with.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I don’t have a specific referral in Chicago, but I can tell you the best psychiatrist in the world, in my opinion, is the head of child psychiatry at Northwestern. His name is John Walkup, like you walkup to a store. W-A-L-K-U-P. John Walkup. Now he won’t have time to see your son himself, but his office I’m sure could give you a referral either within their department, or somewhere. Just to have John Walkup’s name in your book of names, he is an amazingly wonderful child psychiatrist. He’s both an academic, but also just a wise, knowledgeable, commonsensical, down to earth human being. And since you’re in Chicago, I would try calling his office and seeing if you can get a referral, and explaining to your son, you respect what he’s saying, and you’re going to find him a new person because it’s important, not just for medication, but for understanding this condition as he continues to grow and develop. And, also, that you have an ally in the doctor that you can turn to and trust.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Like I say, I don’t treat disabilities. I help people unwrap their gifts. And in order to have someone unwrap your son’s gift, your son has to like that person, and believe in that person, and enjoy seeing that person, and laugh together, and be silly, or whatever your son’s stock-in-trade is. And they’re out there. A big city like Chicago there are plenty of clinicians. It’s not easy to find. You have to do some legwork, make some phone calls, but I’ve given you a starting point. Good luck in unwrapping your son’s gift.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you for sending in those emails. Please keep sending them in. Send it to [email protected] You can send us an email, or record a voice memo. You can put a message on a carrier pigeon, but it’s got to come to [email protected] And I don’t think the carrier pigeon could get onto the internet. It’s a sad thing that we don’t have carrier pigeons anymore, or smoke signals, or any of those ways of communicating that we used to. I’m just saying that tongue-in-cheek. Of course, it’s a wonderful thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s going to do it for today, unless you want to send me a smoke signal to the contrary. Thank you so much to all of you who wrote to us. Really, we rely on your messages. Please keep them coming. It’s the way we exist is because of you, and without you we wouldn’t exist. Remember to like Distraction on social media. We’re trying to beef that up and be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen so you never miss one of our lovely episodes. And please let us know how we could make them even better. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson, the wonderful Scott Persson. And our producer is the also wonderful, talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

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

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Ned’s Secret Weapon for Managing His ADHD

Ned’s Secret Weapon for Managing His ADHD

Dr. H is one of the minority of people with ADHD for whom medication does not work. Instead he drinks coffee to help manage his symptoms. And since today is International Coffee Day (and the start of ADHD Awareness Month), we thought it was the perfect day for Ned to share the details of how he uses caffeine for his ADHD!

Share your episode ideas and questions with us! Write an email or record a voice memo with your thoughts 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. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. That’s B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. It is the college of choice for students who learn differently, and I have an honorary degree from that college. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Today, October 1st, the first day of the month of October, is International Coffee Day. Isn’t it amazing? Every day has some designation to commemorate one thing or another. Well, today, October 1st, is International Coffee Day, not to be confused with National Coffee Day, which already happened on September 29th. But today, October 1st, we’re expanding the sphere of influence of coffee to include the entire world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We should maybe someday have a galactical coffee day, a universal coffee day, you know? Coffee throughout the universe. Is there coffee on a nearby planet? That’s a question to ask. But what can I say about coffee? Well, first of all, as many of you know, I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a terrible term, but I won’t go off on that riff, but I have that condition, which is poorly named ADHD. It’s a surplus of attention, believe me, not a deficit of attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In any case, the medications that we prescribe, the stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall, don’t work for me. They work for about 80% of people who have this condition, but they don’t work for me. They just give me side effects. But I do have a medication and it is coffee. It is caffeine. And the way I get my caffeine is through coffee, and I get whole bean coffee. I put it in our little … don’t remember the name of the maker, but you put in the coffee beans and it grinds them up and spits out … not spit, that’s the wrong word, it drips out coffee, freshly brewed hot coffee. And that’s how I start my day, every day, with two cups of that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now I put milk in it because I’m one of those people, number one, who doesn’t like my coffee really hot, and number two, doesn’t like the taste of pure black coffee. My wife, on the other hand, likes her coffee very hot and black, so she gets the first cup out of the machine, and then I get the next two. I don’t understand people who say, “I want a piping hot cup of coffee.” It makes no sense to me. Doesn’t it burn your mouth? Doesn’t it burn your tongue? I can’t drink it if it’s piping hot. And there was that person who sued McDonald’s because she spilled a cup of coffee in her lap and burned herself and she said, “They made it too hot.” And she won the lawsuit and McDonald’s had to pay her for making their coffee too hot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I’d like that. I want it to cool off and I drink mine usually lukewarm. Well, that’s … would make my wife vomit. She can’t stand that. In fact, if her coffee gets too cool, she takes it and puts it in the microwave and warms it up, heats it up, makes it piping hot. I still don’t understand how you can drink piping hot coffee. If any of you listeners have an answer to that, please let me know, because when I try and do it, even if I just take a little sip, it burns my tongue. It burns my cheek. That’s not pleasant. I don’t like to be burned to start my day. And I don’t want to walk around with that feeling you get on your tongue after you’ve burned it. Why do people want piping hot coffee? Why? I mean, it’d be like drinking boiling water. Why would you … I don’t get it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So in any case, my medication is caffeine, and the way I get it is in the form of coffee with milk so it’s not too hot and so it tastes better. I don’t put sugar in it. I used to put sugar in it, but I’ve been persuaded that sugar is bad for us so I don’t put sugar in it. It’s an amazing bean, this coffee bean. The entire world is caffeinated now. If you add in tea and Red Bull and Mountain Dew and cola drinks, it’s hard to find a corner of the world where there is not the presence of caffeine in the form of coffee or cola or a so-called energy drink.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, some people claim or have claimed that coffee is bad for you. Well, the fact is anything in excess is bad for you. Too much oxygen can be bad for you. Too much water can be bad for you. Too much sunshine can be bad for you. So, all these things that we associate with goodness, sunshine, water … What was the third one? See, my mind is leaving me. Sunshine, water, and something else, things that we think of as good, if in excess … Oxygen. Sunshine, water, and oxygen in excess become bad for us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, the same is true with caffeine. And yes, if you drink too much coffee, you can get very jittery. Your heart can race. Your blood pressure can go up. You can get terrible kinds of GI complaints and ulcers and craters and bad juices flowing, and you can just be jittery like a cat on a hot tin roof. You can just be all over the place, so you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to develop what’s called caffeinism. And also if you abruptly stop coffee, if you are a regular coffee drinker and you decide one day, I’m going to swear off coffee because I read that it’s bad for me, you’re going to get our wicked headache, a wicked headache. So, don’t abruptly stop coffee. If you want to cut back, do it slowly, taper off the coffee, switch to decaf, something like that. And remember, even decaf has a little bit of caffeine in it, so don’t drink too much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I would say don’t drink too little because I would be lost without my daily coffee. It really does help me focus. And be grateful that we have this wonderful medicinal available element to our diet. I think of caffeine as my medication. Why not? I take it to improve my performance, and so does the rest of the world. Just don’t drink too much of it. Don’t stop it abruptly. And today, give thanks for your favorite coffee.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Our producer, Sarah Guertin, asked me what’s my favorite coffee, and I said, “Any coffee, as long as it’s strong enough.” I don’t like weak coffee, coffee that tastes like dishwater. Not that I’m in the habit of drinking dishwater, but what I imagine dishwater would taste like. So I don’t like really weak coffee, but other than that, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Homebrew, I like them all. And just so long as it’s strong enough, and I like to drink it with someone else, but when I’m writing, I’ll drink it alone. But I don’t think of writing as being alone. I’m with the work. We’re a team. We’re trying to conquer the forces of chaos.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, there you have it for International Coffee Day today, and in memory of the September 29th National Coffee Day, here’s to coffee everywhere, and here’s to all of you who drink it. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell. That’s our show for today.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there a special day you’d like me to acknowledge in a mini podcast? Email your ideas to [email protected] We’d be very glad to acknowledge your special day. Well, I want to, once again, thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve been taking their Omega-3 supplement for years and recently started their CBD supplement as well. OmegaBrite products, I trust them because I know the woman who’s in charge of the company, a Harvard Medical School graduate. She’s very fussy about quality efficacy, and always looking to make sure that the product she has is the best in the business.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And Distraction listeners can save 20% off of their first order with the promo code podcast, 2020, at omegabritewellness.com. And remember to look for Distraction on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and soon Tik-Tok. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our sound engineer is the wonderful Scott Persson with two Ss. He loves his second S. And our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin, and you spell that U-E-R, not like curtain, like Guertin. This is 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. 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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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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Dr. H Answers Your ADHD Questions

Dr. H Answers Your ADHD Questions

Our host responds to listener emails this week about ADHD and…  medication and addiction, anxiety issues, sensory processing disorder symptoms, OCD and the pandemic, and more.

Thank you to all of our listeners who sent in an email! A special shout out goes to awesome Distraction listener, Gray, who shared his thoughts with us in a voice memo!

If you have a question, comment or show idea we want to hear from you! Write an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Dr. Hallowell’s books mentioned in this episode:

Delivered from Distraction

Driven to Distraction

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 can be found 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 and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so very much for joining me. We have a growing audience and we hope it continues to grow. Please tell your friends about us, assuming you like what we’re doing. Today’s show we’ll be doing one of my favorite episodes, responding to your emails and questions. If you listen to these questions and enjoy them, please send us your questions. As we normally do in these episodes, my producer, the inestimably wonderful, Sarah Guertin will read to me your emails so I can respond. Without further ado, let me invite Sarah to read me the first email.

Sarah Guertin:

Hey. Happy to be here. All right. This first email says, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. My son was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in September. He also has sensory processing disorder, but now I’m wondering what he truly has since his symptoms are very similar between SPD and ADHD. Since learning this, I’ve read eight books and changed his school. While he is better, I want to be sure to give him all the support and resources for him to navigate well through life’s journey. I struggled to know how to best help him in what he really needs. He has had three years of occupational therapy, but we’ve hit a wall. What is the best way to get them on a path of treatment that is right for him? He is attending a school for kids with learning differences though I’m not sure I can afford to keep him there as I’m a single self-employed mom. He’s a happy, amazing kid aside from the struggles he faces with the differences, but I don’t want to make things worse. I love your podcast. It has helped me understand and sometimes given me ideas. Any advice for the bumbling parent? LB.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, LB, first of all, you’re anything but bumbling. Any parent who reads eight books and changes the school and paying a tuition she can barely afford, I’d say is anything but bumbling. I would say you’re a candidate for mother of the year. As for your son’s problem, you didn’t mention medication. You said he’s had occupational therapy for the sensory processing disorder, I assume, but I didn’t see any mention of medication. Sensory processing disorder by the way is not the one I would put at the top of the list in terms of ease of helping to improve. You want to make sure you really go after the ADHD. Often the SPD, the sensory processing disorder, will follow. You’ve been doing the OT, the occupational therapy. You’ve kind of nailed that one. You said, “We’ve hit a wall.” I’m not sure what you meant by that.

I can guess he’s stalling out. He’s not doing well. The three hallmarks of the treatment of ADHD are number one, education. You want to know what it is and what it isn’t. I’d recommend my book Delivered from Distraction, which came out in 2005, but the information in it is still current. I’ll have a new book for you in 2021, but as of now Delivered from Distraction. Read that so you really understand what ADHD is and what it isn’t. For example, it is not a deficit of attention. It’s an abundance of attention. Simply need to control it. I don’t see it as a disorder. I see it as a trait. It can become a disorder or it can become a superpower depending upon how you manage it. You begin with education and letting your son know that he’s got a race car for a brain, a Ferrari for a brain, but the problem is he has bicycle brakes. We need to somehow strengthen the brakes.

You want to get him in a good frame of mind so he doesn’t feel like he’s being fixed. So he doesn’t feel like he’s being remediated. So he doesn’t feel like he’s fundamentally defective, which is what the term ADHD implies. Instead, tell him he’s got a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. There are many ways of strengthening those brakes. As I say, you start with education. Then a trial of medication makes a lot of sense, unless it goes against your brain for some reason. Most parents say, I don’t want to use medication, but they don’t really know why they don’t want to use medication. Their reasons are rooted in wrong information or lack of information or both. Talk with your doctor. I would recommend a trial of medication. Remember, a trial of medication is just that. It’s a trial.

If it does anything you don’t like… If he turns purple, you just stopped the meds. He’ll go back to his original color. You don’t want to proceed as if it were a permanent intervention. If it works and by work I mean he gets improved focus, improved control over his engine with no side effects, other than appetite suppression, without unwanted weight loss. If you get that result, which you can achieve 80% of the time, then it makes everything else so much more easy to do. People often say to me, why don’t we do a year or two of non-medication treatment before starting medication? I say fine. I’m happy to do that with you. I’ve written books about that, but it’s sort of like saying, why don’t we do a year or two of squinting before we try eyeglasses?

Why not go to the proven intervention that is safe and effective? Why wait because it makes everything else you do more effective. Then the third element… We have education. We have trial of medication, 80% of the time it will help. The third element is coaching, which includes everything from how to get up in the morning and get dressed, to how to make your bed, to how to plan your homework, to how to listen in class, to how to take notes if you’re old enough to do that, to how to hand in papers on time, to how to stop procrastinating. All that comes under the heading of coaching. That can be done by an ADHD coach. The de facto coach is you, the parent, usually the mother. The problem with that is as the child gets older the coaching comes to feel like nagging.

What a hired coach does or a hired tutor does is what a mom would do minus the nag factor. Those would be my recommendations, but start with the recommendation of getting rid of yourself designation as a bumbling parent. You’re anything but. Educate as to what ADHD is. I recommend my book Delivered from Distraction. Consider your pediatrician for a trial of stimulant medication. Then bring in the coaching, addressing whatever the target areas of need are. Hope that makes sense, LB. Please give us follow up. Love to hear how he’s doing as time marches on.

Sarah Guertin:

This email is from Diana. She wrote in part, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell. First, let me say how much your work has personally and professionally impacted my life. Back in 2015 when I first started learning about how my daughter might have ADHD and that I myself might also have ADHD, it was your book Driven to Distraction that launched and guided me through this world of self discovery. Your book also enabled me to effectively advocate for the accommodations my own children need at home and in school, as well as giving those same tools to the students in my classroom, as a science teacher. In the more recent past and present, however, it has been your Distraction podcast that has opened up the flood gates to the multitude of other resources, which have skyrocketed my growth about ADHD since my diagnosis, and now too the diagnosis of my daughter, testing of my son for ADHD and navigating the most effective treatments for us all.

The reason for this email though, is not entirely to share my appreciation for you, but to ask for advice about, and possibly connections for writing my own book about my experiences with ADHD. Thus far, I have nearly an hour’s worth of voice memos with full pages of the book laid out along with ideas for more content and a broad framework for scope and scale of the book. Unfortunately, this is where I begin to flounder. Since I have no clue how to make connections in the publishing realm, do you happen to have any advice for this or contacts I could pursue in this endeavor to write my book? Your help and advice would be most greatly appreciated and valued. All my best, Diana.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, Diana, what a wonderful email. What a wonderful goal you’ve set for yourself of writing a book. That’s fantastic. One of the best ways to treat ADD is to develop a creative outlet. The reason I write so many books is if I don’t have a book going, I get depressed. I’ve found in working with people with ADD over the years, the ones who do best always have some kind of creative outlet, whether it’s writing or gardening or cooking or investing in the stock market. There’s some kind of creative outlet, an outlet that allows you to be spontaneous and access your unconscious and create. It is something that our brains really need to do. If we don’t do it… It’s like a cow that doesn’t get milked. We just get all stuck up, plugged up. Good for you. Wonderful goal.

Now what you’re going to need is structure. You can do that by hiring a coach. You’re also going to need an agent. It’s very hard to sell a book as an unpublished author if you don’t have an agent. It’s possible, but it’s extremely difficult. You can go online and Google agents and literary agents. The best ones or in New York or Boston, although there were agents all over the place. If you find an agent, you see, they’ll take on the task of helping you get the book written. Then selling it. What you can do once you have an agent is write, what’s called a proposal. The agent can sell the book based on the proposal. It has to be a fairly detailed, for someone who hasn’t been published, a fairly detailed summary of what the book will include.

Once your agent sells that proposal, then you get an advance. That’s a sum of money that you get to support you while you write the book. Now, if the book doesn’t earn back the full amount of the advance, you don’t have to pay it back. It’s called an advance on royalties, but it’s really a gift. You don’t get royalties until the book earns out as it’s called, until it earns back the amount of money of the advance. In the unfortunate case, it doesn’t earn that much money, you’re not on the hook. The publisher takes the risk, which is really quite wonderful. The agent usually takes 15% of the advance, but you don’t have to pay the agent anything if he or she does not sell the proposal. That’s in a nutshell the best way to get published.

You’ve done the hard part, which is gathered up your experience. Now you’ll have to sort through your voice memos and develop an outline, and a table of contents. That’s what usually goes into a proposal. Good for you for doing it. It’s a wonderful thing to do. You’ll feel very gratified and you will help an awful lot of people if the book manages to get published or you could self-publish. Now you can do eBooks on Amazon. There’s a whole way of doing that as well. You don’t have to rely on a New York publisher picking up your book. I hope that answers your question and good luck. You have to be crazy to write a book. It’s no way to make a living. It’s a good way to torture yourself. I’ve been writing them for many years now. I just finished my 21st book. I guess it’s a fine madness, if you will. It’s not a way to feel good, but it is a way to feel very fulfilled and satisfied.

Sarah Guertin:

“Hi, there. I listen to your podcast on Spotify to help with my ADHD, OCD, and insomnia, which is an ongoing issue. I think I have other underlying problems, but that’s another story. I’m constantly learning about it. I’m doing online courses to understand my brain and others and how it all works, but I’m stuck. As a result of COVID became isolated with all my usual helpers and I’m scared. I’m 24, female in Melbourne, Australia. I live out of home at the moment in a share house on a noisy street and can’t concentrate. I’ve decided to move back home because it seems to be my only option for a healthy and financially stable lifestyle. I am currently having a meltdown. My parents both obviously have undiagnosed ADHD along with my younger sister, but she has been diagnosed. The house is full of clutter. I’m slowly trying to organize my old room, which is full of the classic hoarding of old clothes from all people from my family.” She has another sister, too.

“I suffer from OCD and like things to always have a place. I love self-learning and love how my brain works most of the time. I think I’m a genius to be honest. I just cannot seem to understand what is a good decision. Do I move home where the clutter is never ending and don’t think it will ever be perfect? Will I be overwhelmed with a house full of ADHD? I can’t think. I’m trying to be positive. I help people often. I’m kind and actually enjoy organizing, but this is so much that I’m currently living out of my car because I’m stuck in between the two houses. I’m stuck. I’m anxious. I need help. What actions do I take? What advice do I listen to? Where do I look for help? Thank you for your help so far. Your podcasts make me feel safe wherever I’m sleeping at night.” She put in parentheses a different bed every night. “I hope you are well. I appreciate the work you do. Hailey.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, Hailey, what a wonderful email. What an amazing young woman you are. Gosh. I can’t remember the last email where someone said, “I actually think I’m a genius.” I love that you think you’re a genius because you are. Genius just means extraordinarily talented in some domain or another. I can tell just by reading your email, you are. What you need is what most of us with ADHD need, namely, some structure. You need to take all these wonderful ideas and images and thoughts and feelings that are ping-ponging around in your brain all day and most of the night and shape them, direct them, organize them. Like I say, ADD, you’ve got a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. Your Ferrari is zinging all over the place. You can’t decide on where to land. I think you need somebody to work with you, whether that could be a friend, if you can’t afford a professional help or a coach, probably it cost something, or an actual medical professional to take you on and help you construct a game plan so to speak.

It’s very hard to do it on your own. I would not. As for moving home, I assume the price is good. That’s an advantage. If you could create a space of the house that’s yours and if you could have it neat and tidy, then the chaos going on around you wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. If you all love each other, even if you’re a little chaotic, that’s fine. We can deal with chaos as long as there’s good feeling. You want to have good feeling. That force of connection is very formative as long as it’s positive connection. You say you suffer from OCD. It sounds like that can help you actually if you use that to get organized and have things in place. I think you really do need someone to sound off your ideas with and make some plans and set some goals. We really do well when we have goals.

Then someone to hold you accountable. That also helps if you could be held accountable. You have enormous potential, believe me for a 24 year old woman. I can just tell from your email, how much you’ve got going on inside that really zinging and zagging and zigging and zagging mind of yours. If you got some help and then I would certainly consider a trial of medication. You didn’t mention that in there, but you’ll need an MD to help you with that. When the meds work, they’re amazing. They really work wonders. If they don’t work, you just don’t take them.

The stimulant meds are in and out of your system very quickly. You can find out pretty fast if the meds will be helpful to you. If they are helpful to you and they help about 80% of people, then it makes all the rest of the interventions that you need so much easier. When you can focus, it’s like when you have eyeglasses. You can learn and do everything more felicitously. How’s that for a word, felicitously. Thank you so much for writing to us, Hailey. Please keep us posted on your progress. Let us know if we can help you in any other way. You are a genius. Don’t forget that.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Before we get to the next question, I’d like to take a moment and talk with you about our wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. As many of you listeners know I’ve been taking OmegaBrite CBD supplement for the past few months. It’s the newest supplement from OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one, Omega 3 supplements for the past 20 years, which my wife and I have taken for quite some time now. We really swear by them. OmegaBrite’s founder, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School, and her team set the standards for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of Omega 3s and have now brought that same commitment to excellence with their CBD supplement. I love the CBD because in my own case, it’s helped me with my reactivity, my natural impatience. I can be very impatient, reactive, peremptory. Since I’ve started the CBD, that’s sort of been blunted. I’m not like that. It hasn’t taken away any of my mental fastball at all. I encourage you to give it a try. You can find OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com.

As a special for Distraction listeners, the OmegaBrite folks have given you a 20% discount off your first order, but you have to use the promo code, podcast 2020. That’s pretty simple. Podcast 2020. Go to omegabritewellness.com. Order up some OmegaBrite CBD and some fish oil. While you’re there, you can also pick up some vitamin D. They also make that. Put in podcast 2020 and you’ll get 20% off.

[SPONSOR BREAK END]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

All right. Sarah, what does the next email have to offer us?

Sarah Guertin:

“Hey, Dr. Ned. I don’t have a question. I just wanted to give my thanks to you. I’m a 28 year old from Australia who is only just diagnosed with ADHD late last year. I failed out of university when I was 21 and went through a lot of self hatred and depression, not understanding why I couldn’t cope. I decided to come back to university and subsequently found out about the ADHD and my whole life suddenly made sense. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I spent some time feeling really down about it. Earlier this year, I discovered both you and Peter Shankman. Both of your perspectives on ADHD have completely changed my mindset and life. It’s allowed me to really appreciate my strengths. I’m now managing my weaknesses properly. I wouldn’t give my ADHD away if I could. I’m also getting nearly exclusively A’s on all my assignments as well and have regained a fire in my belly that had all but died out.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. I was writing to you just to tell you that when I’m having a bad day or I’m feeling lost, I often go to your podcast and listen to an episode. I really like your short episodes where you give your thoughts on a topic. There’s something about the way you talk about your experiences that calms me down and makes me feel like everything is and will be okay. Thank you for doing what you do. I really appreciate it. Regards, TCM.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh my goodness. What a wonderful email. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m really glad that I’m able to help you calm down and think that everything will be okay. I think what you’re finding is the truth of my little aphorism, never worry alone. I was taught that by my teacher way back when I was a resident. Dr. Thomas Gutheil. He used to say to us, it’s okay to worry. In fact, it’s a good thing to worry. Just don’t worry alone. I think you must find in listening to the podcasts, a companionship, an affiliation that always makes us feel better. When we’re alone, we globalize. We catastrophize. We lose hope. When we’re in connection, it doesn’t have to be in person like the podcast isn’t in person, we feel the energy. We feel the whatever it is that has not yet been discovered, that happens when a person connects, even just by listening because you’re inputting even though you’re listening. You’re also adding to my words with images, associations, thoughts, feelings.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

If I started to describe the lake where my kids and I used to go growing up, you’ll think of a lake that you go to. That in and of itself will be calming and pleasant for you. You’re clearly on your way to doing wonderful things. I’m so glad you discovered Peter Shankman. I’m so glad you discovered me. Both Peter and I think of ADHD as something that if you manage properly can really enhance your life in a unique and wonderful way. I’m glad you’re discovering that. I’m glad you’re discovering the pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow because it’ll be with you for the rest of your life. Thank you for writing in. I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement of me, which I need just like anybody else. Thank you again, TCM, from all the way from Australia where so many wonderful people live. Sarah, we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:

This next email is from Steven. He wrote in part “Dr. Hallowell, I’m 42 years old and was diagnosed with ADD at 39 by both a neurologist and psychologist. Before the diagnosis. I did well in college, earning three degrees, including a doctorate. I’ve been successful enough in the work world. Though, in retrospect, I see how strengths associated with ADD helps me and hindered me through the formal education process and how an earlier diagnosis would have been helpful. As I age my increasing difficulties with ADD correlate 100% with attempts to balance parenthood, my wife and I have three young children, career and related responsibilities. I’m convinced that I successfully self-medicated prior to marriage and children with long hikes distance running, long bike rides and time outdoors. That’s a bit harder to come by now. I need additional help. I’ve been taking generic Adderall for just over two years, either 10 milligrams XR, or single, or double dose of five milligram tabs as needed.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the medications impact. I tried generic Ritalin prior with a slightly lesser result. I find that when I skip a day of medication, I’m 100% okay, especially, if I’m not at my desk job. Self-medicating with exercise works better anyway, sometimes, but on the second day of not medicating, I become noticeably irritable, starting in the morning, far sadder than circumstances warrant and I’m generally a less agreeable husband and father.

One solution is to medicate daily, without exception.” Then he put this in bold. “But I’m hoping that my experience isn’t a sign of addiction. If it is what actions should I take? Finally, I’m otherwise healthy and fit. I rarely drink alcohol. I use no other drugs, recreational or prescription. I’m not prone to addictive behaviors. I take Omega 3 supplements per your suggestion. I do find that if I take an XR pill in the morning, I feel a drop-off late afternoon. I usually work through such or take a five milligram tab at onset of drop-off, especially if I plan to work or have meetings that evening, but taking medications too late in the day does affect my sleep.” It kind of goes on from there, but that’s the general question that he’s asking.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Steven, you’re obviously an incredibly talented person as so many people with ADD are. I’m really glad you got diagnosed and you got on medication. The fact that you feel funny after two days does not mean you’re addicted at all. It just means you’re suffering from some residual side effects, but you’re not addicted. If you were addicted, you would go into withdrawal. You’d have cravings. You’d become irritable. I do think it means you need to tweak the medications. What I would suggest is switching from Adderall XR to Vyvanse. Amphetamine is the active ingredient in both, but with Vyvanse the drop-off is smoother. I’ve found with most of my patients when they switch from Adderall XR to Vyvanse, they don’t have that crashing, as it’s called, period when the medication is wearing off. You’re managing it properly, by the way, to use the five milligram immediate release Adderall to temper that. I’m glad that’s working well for you.

Of course, exercise is the best of all in terms of self-medicating. Continue with the exercise. You might add in some meditation, which you can do five or 10 minutes once or twice a day. Don’t forget the vitamin C, vitamin connect. Stay connected with the people you care about. That all will help with these raggedy feelings that you can get. Push exercise. Push meditation. Push human connection. I would tweak the medication in the way I just suggested to switch from the Adderall XR to Vyvanse. Keep the immediate release Adderall toward the end of the day, but don’t take it too late or you will get insomnia as you’ve experienced. Thank you, Steven. Please stay in touch with us. Let us know what progress you make. Sarah, do we have any more?

Sarah Guertin:

This last one is a voice memo that we received from a listener named Grey. Grey reached out to us several months ago, Ned, when you did your meatloaf episode. He wrote to us and told us that he is a fan of meatloaf as well. Here’s what he recorded.

Grey:

“Hello, Dr. Hallowell. Greetings to you again. This is Grey, your meatloaf pal. I have a four year old daughter. We are working our way through classic kid appropriate music. We’ve been listening to The Sound of Music recently. After listening to Maria and I Have Confidence a few times, it dawned on me. Have you ever heard a better or more musical description of ADHD? Someone who has trouble following rules, but is a joyously good person and is determined to succeed despite repeated negative feedback. Perhaps you can name a future book, chapter, holding a moonbeam. I would love to hear your comments. Thanks.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, thank you, Grey. Thank you for continuing our meatloaf association. I hope you are experimenting. There are as many recipes for meatloaf as there are cures for hiccups. Sometimes meatloaf will give you the hiccups. One of my favorite meals. I love to pair meatloaf with a baked potato. I don’t know about you. Then a nice salad or peas, but I don’t often get to have the peas because no one in my family likes them. I love them. I don’t know how you feel about peas. They go well with meatloaf and a baked potato. Anyway. Yes. Holding a moonbeam. Yes. That’s wonderful. I’m so glad you’re introducing your daughter to the world of ADD in such a positive way, which is indeed how it is. I think that’s terrific.

I love the image. Wanting to do well and do right, but not really inclined to be a conformist and paint within the lines. She’ll be carving out her own painting as the years go by. With a wonderful father like you and I’m sure a mother as well, it will all be coming up roses and moonbeams for you all. Thank you. Thank you so much, Grey. Please keep me posted both about your daughter and about your experiences in the world of meatloaf.

All right. If you have a question you’d like me to address in a future episode and it can be about anything including meatloaf or moonbeams or kangaroos in Australia, write an email or record a voice memo on your phone just as Gray did. Send it to us at [email protected].

If you’re on Facebook, be sure to like the Distraction podcast page. We post links to episodes, relevant articles and the occasional cute dog video, which I’ve got to make another one of those soon. It’s a good way to stay connected with the show and other Distraction listeners. We’re on Instagram and Twitter. Please give us a like and a follow on there as well. Now, if I knew how to do any of those things, I’d do it myself, but someone else does it for me. I’m too old this dog to learn those new tricks, but you are young and Instagram and Twitter savvy. Please do that. Like, follow, embroider and add to. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our wonderful recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson. Our producer is the estimable, irreplaceable and always effervescent, Sarah Guertin. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

The episode you’ve 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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Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

Based on the emails we’ve received, lots of our listeners are struggling with their ADHD right now. Dr. H addresses several questions in this episode including getting diagnosed while in quarantine, educational accommodations, impulsive versus compulsive, and the upside of being forced to slow down. And on a lighter note, Ned learns he’s not alone in his ADHD cooking misadventures!

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Episode image by Daniel Xavier from Pexels.

Listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. And I want to thank all of you who’ve been reaching out to us with your comments and questions. We love them. We love them. We love them. We really, really do. So today we are going to prove it by devoting the entire episode to responding to your emails and questions that we’ve received over the past few weeks.

My producer, the incredibly talented Sarah Guertin joins me now, virtually of course, and she will read to me your emails so I can respond. I have not seen these before. So what I will be offering is an off the top of my head off, the cuff, shoot from the hip immediate response, which I hope will have some sense to it. So Sarah, welcome and would you like to read me the first email?

Sarah Guertin:

Certainly. Thank you. It sounds like you might’ve just gotten another one too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. This first email is from a listener named Maria. She wrote, “My eight-year-old son has been recently diagnosed with ADHD. His struggles were the same as me when I was growing up. As a 35-year-old woman and now professional accountant, I can see ADHD traits encroaching my everyday work life. Examples of this are having difficulty focusing on reading a long technical document and regularly interrupting coworkers. I’m fun to be around, but as I continue to move into more lucrative positions, I’m afraid my ADHD like symptoms will hinder my ability to learn more complex technical issues and to be taken seriously. With COVID-19 rampant, would an online ADHD specialist be able to give a proper diagnosis that can be used to start behavioral therapy and possibly if needed be prescribed medication? Thank you for your help. I love your podcasts. Stay safe.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The answer is yes, an emphatic yes. And that’s something I’ve been learning during this pandemic. Pretty much every day I do just what you asked. I’ll make a diagnosis over Zoom on a new patient. Someone that I’ve never met in-person. The same principles apply. You take a history and you reach a diagnosis. So yes indeed and I would urge you to do that because if you do have ADHD and it sounds like you do, getting treatment for it can make an enormous difference.

And the treatment is not just medication. It begins with education and learning about it, what it is, what it isn’t, learning how it plays out in your life, in your relationships, and a number of different ways of dealing with it, which may or may not include stimulant medication. But the answer to your question, yes indeed. You can call my office in Sudbury or my office in New York, set up a Zoom session and I will get on the line and tell you whether you have this mysteriously fascinating condition or not and then take it from there.

If you want to know how to reach my office, just go to my website drhallowell.com.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. Next up is an email from Jessica. She has actually reached out to us in the past, but this time she writes, “I love listening to your podcast and I truly appreciate all the different advice and suggestions you give all of us. You previously recommended me to find a job that best fits my personality and a place that I am happy. After juggling my finances and balancing my life, I took an opportunity and relocated from Southern California to Northern California and became a teacher.”

Sarah Guertin:

“I work with students that are in grade six to nine, with moderate to severe special education. I can honestly tell you that. I love my job. I am passionate about working with them. I learned something new every day. They love me and accept me with all of my disabilities. My struggle is standardized tests. I need to successfully complete my CBEST and CSET.”

Sarah Guertin:

And I looked those up. Those are California educator exams, but she says “I have failed the test and I have always struggled with all standardized tests. When I was in high school I almost didn’t graduate because of the same reason. I am constantly studying, but nothing seems to help me. What advice can you recommend?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, if you have ADHD, which could very well be if you’re having trouble on standardized tests, medication could make all the difference in the world. So I would suggest you go get an evaluation. And again, as I just said, you can do that online during the pandemic and find out if you fit the profile.

Then if you do, you’re entitled both to extra time on the test, on the standardized test as well as if medication is helpful, medication to help you pass it. I had a patient this year, a wonderful doctor who had taken the board exam, which is sort of the equivalent of what you’re trying to pass four times and failed every time. And when we diagnosed her ADD and got her on medication and got her extra time on the test. This time, the fifth try, she passed with flying colors. And that’s not an uncommon story.

So we ADDers often have tremendous trouble with standardized tests, but the combination of extra time and perhaps medication could really make a huge difference for you. So I would get an evaluation and see if this would do the trick for you. Because this is a good chance that it would. Just go to drhallowell.com and we can set something up.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. This email is from Chuck in Georgia. He wrote, “the instant pot story has me laughing and feeling better about my ADD cooking. I’m 55 now, and I’ve become a good cook and baker over the years, despite some failures.” So obviously he’s referring to that episode you released about your instant pot story.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sarah Guertin:

But he says, “In college, I was making Kraft macaroni and cheese. I boiled the water and put the pasta in the water to boil the pasta according to the recipe. After boiling the noodles for the time stated on the package, I opened the cheese packet, added the cheese and stirred. I waited a few minutes and the macaroni just wasn’t coming together like it was supposed to do.”

“What I hadn’t done was pour the water and pasta into a colander before returning the cooked pasta into the pot, and then adding the cheese. I had poured the cheese into the boiling water and was waiting for the cheese and pasta to, I don’t know, cook down.”

He says, “If you enjoy this story, feel free to ask about my chicken curry and the wok or my bean burgers. Thanks for your ADD tips, advice and encouragement. They helped me. Thanks even more for Landmark College. My step son is a student there and really developing academically and as a man.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, that’s wonderful. I could see, in fact, I have made Kraft macaroni and cheese, and I almost did just what you did. I almost forgot that you got to drain the pasta before you put it in the cheese. So I could totally identify this. You’d pour in the cheese and then you’re watching it, hoping that it’ll turn into something that looks like macaroni and cheese, but all you’re getting is macaroni and cheese soup. That’s very, very funny.

I just did a little video I was talking about the downside of ADD, and I told the story on myself where I always have grapefruit juice and coffee for breakfast. And I take milk in my coffee. So I had the coffee cup there and I had the glass for the grapefruit juice and I had the grapefruit juice container and the half gallon of milk.

What did I do? I poured the grapefruit juice into the coffee and it’s just why would I do that? Well, I just wasn’t thinking as they say. But then I said the solution is structured. So from now on, I’m going to have the coffee cup and the glass for the grapefruit juice far enough apart, so that I’d actually have to think before I realized what I was pouring.

And now that won’t be foolproof, but it’ll be a step in the right direction other than my point was, don’t try to change yourself, change your system. It’s a lot easier to change your system than it is to change yourself. But thank you for your lovely story. I can just see the Kraft macaroni and cheese and turning into soup. Okay and thank you for your kind words about Landmark. What a great place that is. So do we have another one coming, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We sure do. This next one is a little bit longer and I had to shorten it a little bit, but it’s from a woman named Rosemary. She wrote, “I grew up with a mother who was a hoarder and subsequently with the public attention to the problem of hoarding over the last 10 or more years, I came to understand that my grandfather was also a hoarder.”

“My sister and I grew up in conditions where the houses we lived in were always full of garbage, cockroaches, cat, feces, and mice when we lived in places where cats weren’t allowed.” Yeah, she says, “We moved to frequently due to evictions. Hoarding is treated as symptomatic of an anxiety disorder. I suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for several years following my husband’s death and cognitive behavioral therapy helped me a great deal.”

“More recently over the last two or so years, I’ve basically diagnosed myself as falling under the umbrella of what’s called ADHD. I haven’t been formally diagnosed. I am hyper-focused when it relates to my research or other things I find interesting, but I get years behind on taxes and paperwork is a nightmare for me.”

“I’ve always been very impulsive and extroverted, although I think I’m mellowing with age, currently I’m 49. In some, has anyone thought about a connection between hoarding and ADHD? I know that people with ADHD could also have other co-morbid problems. Maybe in my family, ADHD and anxiety have combined in certain ways that led to hoarding or problems that on the surface look a lot like hoarding, any thoughts?”

And then she followed it up with just another quick question. She’s also wondering about the difference between impulsivity and compulsivity saying she doesn’t quite understand the difference because when she gets an impulse, she often feels compelled to act on it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hmm, that’s interesting. Let’s start with the last question. Impulsive is simply acting without thinking. So you see an apple on the teacher’s desk and you snatch it without a plan, as opposed to someone who has a conduct disorder, they plan to take the apple when the teacher isn’t looking. So it’s a question of volition and that’s contrasting impulsive behavior versus a conduct disorder, low conscience, that kind of thing.

Now compulsive, compulsive is sort of akin to an addiction and you are compelled. You feel compelled to not step on the crack or avoid the number 13,, or not open an umbrella inside as in obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, the compulsions or these irrational feelings that you have to do something. They’re not impulsive. They’re not spontaneous out of nowhere. They just rise up and they’re usually irrational, superstitious like stepping on cracks or not stepping on cracks.

So you’re quite right. You, you do feel compelled and it’s against reason. You’ve you feel compelled not to step on a crack, even though “that stepping on a crack is no problem.” People step on cracks all the time, but in your mind, your imagination plays a trick on you. And you conclude that it’s extremely dangerous to step on a crack. And so you’re compelled not to.

Impulsive, you suddenly do something without thinking. Compulsive, you are forced to do something out of irrational needs. Now you can also not have it be OCD-like. You can have compulsions like compulsive gambling, which is close to an addiction, sort of cousin to an addiction. Compulsive gambling, compulsive drinking compulsive use of the internet, compulsive shopping.

If you’re on your way to developing what could be called an addiction. So a compulsion in that sense is like a bad habit. It’s hard for you to stop gambling. You’d like to, but it’s hard for you to stop, or it’s hard for you to stop drinking. You’d like to, you’re a compulsive drinker. Or you’re a compulsive user of the internet, which applies to an awful lot of people these days.

You would like to do it less, but you can’t seem to willpower your way to doing it less. And so you are compulsive in that sense. So there are different meanings of compulsive. Now, as for your possible ADD, yes, ADD and hoarding are often found together. And the good news is if you get your ADD treated, you might find it a lot easier to get past the generalized anxiety disorder.

And while the CBT, the cognitive behavioral therapy helped you after the death of your husband, which is very sad, by the way, it sounds like he was pretty young if you were only 49. I’m sorry to hear that. That must’ve been pretty tough for you. But if you are the cousin to hoarding, generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes it goes away when you treat the ADD. Because one of the reasons for anxiety is feeling out of control and people with add often feel out of control.

They don’t know how they’re going to screw up next. They’re waiting for the next mistake to be made or the next reprimand to come their way. And so it creates a very anxious state to live in. And oftentimes when you get the ADD treated, you feel more in control, which immediately reduces your anxiety. Same thing, by the way, a lot of people are diagnosed with depression don’t really have depression. They’re just bummed out because they’re not doing as well as they know they could do.

And when they get their ADD treated, their performance improves markedly. And so what had looked like depression goes away because it wasn’t really depression. It was simply a feeling of bummed out because I’m not where I ought to be. You do that for a while and it can look for all the world like you’re depressed, but you’re not really.

Because once you get your ADD treated and your performance improves both the anxiety and the depression go away. This leads to one of the common mistakes that gets made is that someone goes to see a doctor who’s not familiar with ADHD and gets diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and gets put on a SSRI like Prozac or Zoloft. And that is not what they need.

It’ll help them a little bit, but what they really need as far as medication goes is a stimulant medication, which will help them focus, which will reduce their anxiety and reduce what had looked like depression. But wasn’t really depression.

Again, it comes back to how important it is to get the full and complete diagnosis and not treat symptomatically the anxiety and the perhaps depression.

So yes, go get yourself diagnosed and I hope the explanation of compulsive versus impulsive made sense to you as well. Thank you so much, Rosemary. Please keep writing to us. Do we have another one, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We do. This one comes from a listener named Cynthia. She wrote, “My nine-year-old son and I are both ADHD experiencers. I have found your podcast to be excellent and wanted to respond about vitamin connection during quarantine. My hope is that society will appreciate the value of real flesh and blood interactions after this time. I am a musician and piano teacher and I’m hopeful people will appreciate music and making it with others more after this.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, I think there’s no way in the world that we won’t. I think we’re all missing human contact. I think we’re all missing what you get face-to-face that you can’t get. I’m doing my whole practice now via Zoom and thank God for it because I couldn’t do it at all were it not for that. But it’s not the same thing as being in-person with someone.

The depth of contact as one of my colleagues said to me the other day, the depth of contact is so much greater in-person than it can be virtually. Still, the virtual connection is good enough to get the work done, but it isn’t the same. And I think you’re right, this a shelter at home and quarantine is teaching us the value of what I call the human moment, as opposed to the electronic moment.

The human moment is just so much richer and fuller. The electronic moment will suffice, but it’s not as full and rich as the human moment. We have another one, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We sure do. Got a couple more for ya. This is from Lauren, who also happens to be an ADHD coach. She wrote, “Hi there. I just listened to your short podcast about how not being around people is tiring.” What we were just talking about. “My ADHD 16-year-old son was telling me this last week. He doesn’t have many close friends in high school so I trying to understand what he was missing.”

“He said, it’s just being around people, seeing them and interacting at any level. He has been more tired, yet not able to sleep very well. It is interesting and makes sense. The funny part is he also says his morale is better at home without the social stresses of fitting in, in school and whatnot. Such funny contradictions, yet they make sense at the same time. Thanks for your insight and encouragement of your podcasts.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, thank you. Thank you, Lauren. Yeah, it’s tiring. Not being around people is tiring. My wife said to me the other day, “Why am I so tired?” And it’s because we’re not getting vitamin connect. We’re not getting the human connection. She has me and I have her, but it’s just the two of us in the house. We connect. She’s a therapist also, we connect with our patients or clients over Zoom or telephone, but it is tiring.

I think it is because we don’t appreciate how important vitamin connect is. We don’t appreciate how important those human moments are. And it’s also interesting you said your son’s morale is better at home because the social stresses at school can also be a bummer. So you give with one hand and take away with the other. But when we come out of this, when we can get back to whatever we get back to I think one of the things that we’ll be celebrating and rejoicing, what a great thing it will be to be together.

I mean, an important part of my life and my wife’s life is the church. We attend Episcopal church in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Christ Church. We’ve been going there ever since we got married 32 years ago and it’s a big deal. I love going. People often talk about going to church is a burden.

No, for me, it’s a real replenishment. I loved the music. I loved the liturgy. I loved the stories from the Bible. I love the sermons and I love most of all the community. We don’t have that anymore. We have a virtual church, but I can’t on Sunday morning, go sit in that beautiful space and hear that beautiful music sung by living heart beating humans.

And my wife and I, we both really miss it, even though the church is continuing in its own way. We miss that community. And I’m also a big sports fan, season ticket holder to the Patriots. And we just lost our great Tom Brady, but I don’t know what it’ll be like if we have to play games with no one in the stadium.

When it’s taken away, you really notice how much you appreciate something when you can’t have it. And I think the human connection with other people in a crowd, be it a congregation or a football game or a shopping mall for that matter, all of those were essential parts of my life. I’m a pretty simple guy. Those are my pleasures and I can’t do them. You just go down that list.

Can’t go to a football game, can’t go to church. Can’t go to a movie. Can’t go to a restaurant. Can’t go to a shopping mall. It’s like, “golly” and nothing against my wife and she has nothing against me, but it’s pretty thin gruel, when that’s all you’ve got. And she would say, “What do you mean I’m thin gruel?”

Well, I’m thin gruel put it like that. We need more, we need more sustenance. Then we can get just hanging out, the two of us. It’s hard. We go for walks, we do and we wave at other people walking, but can’t get too close and it’s not easy. And your point is a very good one. When we can get back to it, it’ll be pretty wonderful.

In the meantime, we’re making the best of it and I hope this podcast is providing you with some form of connection. That’s certainly our aim in doing it is to connect with you all because you are our reason for doing it. So Sarah, you have another, I think.

Sarah Guertin:

Yes, I have one more. We love all of the emails, but this one I thought was especially touching. So it says, “Hi, I’ve been listening to your recent podcasts in the current COVID world and how it has impacted our lives. I wanted to share my personal experience. I have a 21-year-old son who has been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety, social phobias, addiction, lying, et cetera.”

“You could use them as an example, in every chapter of a textbook on ADHD. We have been deep in the trenches for many years. A year ago, he returned home from an unsuccessful college experience and his mental health was very fragile. We doubled down on the therapy and other resources, but I didn’t see much improvement.”

“Then COVID-19 became our new normal, the world stopped. He lost his job and has been home for six weeks now. I’ve been so impressed with how much he has improved. To me, it seems like the world has slowed down to his speed and he can now function productively. He has been great. He keeps a somewhat normal daily routine takes his medication daily, does a little work around the house, has maintained his personal space, does his own laundry and exercises.”

“All of his therapy has moved to virtual sessions, including a weekly group therapy. We have been given the luxury of time to figure out that this is all he can handle right now. We will build on this, but this slow world has been a miracle for him. He was obviously overwhelmed before.”

“I’m a little wary of putting too much weight on his success right now, but it sure is a bright spot for me in a world that really could use some good news. Thanks for all of your words of wisdom. I really enjoy your podcast. Sarah.” Not me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Not you. What a lovely, lovely story. That’s so wonderful that given a chance to slow down, all those problems could sort of leave him, drift away, move into the rear view mirror. He needed chance to slow down, have some structure, have some vitamin connect from you. He’s getting what he needs in terms of structure, love, attention, and a pace that he can handle.

And I think success does breed success. So now he’s learning some adaptive life habits that will continue and will strengthen and become durable and will serve him. It’s a great thing seeing how a change in environment, a change in pace, a change in demands. What a difference that can make. That’s a wonderful, wonderful story.

And those of you who are listening, that’s quite a list of problems. He had ADHD, depression, anxiety, social phobia, addiction, lying. That’s why I don’t like the labels because you bury someone under all those labels and the real health can often get lost because you tend not to identify, diagnose health.

We tend not to list strengths or potential strengths, but those are the very factors that have been able to emerge and carry him now that he’s been allowed to have some pressure off and live at a pace that he can handle.

Thanks so much for your email, Sarah. It’s a wonderful story and a very hopeful story as well. Thank you, all of our listeners and sending questions and comments. Please, please, please keep sending them. If we didn’t get to your question today, we will get to it in the next podcast we do on listener comments and questions.

And if you have a question or comment, please, please send it to us at [email protected]. We really live off of your suggestions, comments, and questions. And as you see today, we do take them seriously and answer them to the best of my ability.

In any case, thank you for listening. Thank you for joining our community. Please tell your friends about us as we really want to grow and reach more and more people.

Distraction is a project of Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the amazingly talented Sarah Guertin and our audio engineer and editor is the also amazingly talented Pat Keogh. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you for listening.

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BREAKTHROUGH Non-Medication Treatment for ADHD and Dyslexia

BREAKTHROUGH Non-Medication Treatment for ADHD and Dyslexia

New research has shown that the key to treating ADHD and dyslexia lies in the cerebellum, the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance, with exercise playing an integral part. And a new treatment program created by a father who wanted to help his struggling daughter has shown remarkable success in the more than 50,000 people that have tried it, including our host’s own son. This breakthrough is so new that most doctors don’t even realize the important role the cerebellum plays in unlocking a person’s potential. Listen to hear how Wynford Dore’s program is literally changing lives.

Learn more about Zing Performance and how their non-medication treatment works by clicking HERE.

Please reach out to us with your questions and show ideas: [email protected]. Our producer is Sarah Guertin @sarahguertin, and our editor/recording engineer is Pat Keogh.

To learn more about how our sponsor, Landmark College, helps students with ADHD succeed click HERE.

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