Mini 34: 5 Tips for Clearing Out Your Mind

Our minds can easily be overrun these days with interruptions, obligations and general clutter. In this mini, Dr. Hallowell offers five quick tips for weeding out your mind and quieting all that noise. 

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Mini 30: Tips to Avoid Feeling Fearful, Frustrated & Frenetic

Modern life is crazy busy. It’s enough to make many of us feel like we have ADHD! In this episode, Dr. Hallowell talks about how our daily distractions can leave us feeling frantic, forgetful and frustrated and suggests simple things everyone can do to get back to a cool, calm and collected self.

This episode’s sponsor is OmegaBrite. The premier natural advanced omega-3 formula for mind, heart, and joint health.
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Ep 30: This Special “Sleep” Yoga Helps You Find Focus

Dr. Hallowell celebrates ADHD Awareness Month with one of the best ways to quiet and relax the mind – yoga! Join the Distraction Podcast team in the yoga studio and learn about the benefits of Yoga Nidra, a guided sleep and relaxation practice that combats stress, tension, and over-stimulation. Whether you have ADD/ADHD or just want to train your mind and maintain focus, grab your yoga mat for this episode.

This episode’s sponsor is OmegaBrite. The premier natural advanced omega-3 formula for mind, heart, and joint health.
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Mini #24: Ned’s Favorite Headband

Meditation has numerous health benefits yet many of us don’t do it. In this mini, Dr. Hallowell talks about the simple headband he uses to help meditate that connects wirelessly to your smartphone and tracks your brain activity in real time. Ariel Garten, co-founder and CEO of the Muse headband chats with Ned about the new technology that helps you decrease stress and anxiety, and find your Zen in as little as 3 minutes a day.

Have a question for Dr. Hallowell? Write it down or record it on a smartphone and send it to [email protected].


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Ep 18: Tackling ADHD Questions Head-On – Part 2

Dr. Hallowell and his longtime co-author, Dr. John Ratey, pick-up where they left off in our last episode by answering more listener questions. Anxiety, slow processing speeds, helping someone you love with ADHD and other issues are all covered in this show.  

Join the conversation and be a part of the show! Call 844-55-Connect with your questions and comments, or email [email protected].

Check out Dr. Hallowell’s and Dr. Ratey’s bestselling book, Driven to Distraction:

For another great source of information on ADHD, please visit ADDitude magazine at

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Ep 17: Tackling ADHD Questions Head-On

It’s the ADHD call-in show! Dr. Hallowell is joined by his longtime co-author Dr. John Ratey, and together they talk to listeners. Nothing is off limits, including medication, alternative treatments, coping with day-to-day challenges and more.

If you’d like to be part of future conversations, call the show at 844-55-Connect or email [email protected].

Check out Dr. Hallowell’s and Dr. Ratey’s bestselling book, Driven to Distraction:

For another great source of information on ADHD, please visit ADDitude magazine at



This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, your survival guide to our crazy-busy, ever-connected modern world hosted by Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert. Dr. Hallowell and John Ratey answer listener’s ADHD Questions.

Episode 17: Tackling ADHD Questions Head-On

DR. HALLOWELL: Hello, and welcome to Distraction, I’m your host Dr. Ned Hallowell. We have a real treat for you today, my dear friend and colleague John Ratey is joining us live on the program.

John: I’m delighted to be here with you Ned, it sounds like it’s going to be fun.

DR. HALLOWELL: It will be. We’re devoting today’s show to ADHD; the diagnosis, the treatment, the good parts, the bad parts, while talking about it all and answering questions from our listeners.

John and I co-authored 3 books, Driven to Distraction, Answers to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction. In addition to being an author, John is associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. Really this is great treat to have you join our podcast today. John, welcome.

John: I’m really glad to be with you Ed, we’re such old friends and this is such an important area to educate people and get people on board with the right thinking.

ADHD Questions Answered

DR. HALLOWELL: Okay, let’s welcome our first listener question. Hello Mercedes, do you have a question for us?

Mercedes: Yes, I do. I’m an actuary, so I take exams on top of working. For example the one that I’m taking now requires 400 hours of studying. You get some time at work to study, about 115 hours, but still there’s 285 hours to get in outside of work and I work 9-5.

DR. HALLOWELL: Well, you’re obviously extremely smart.

Mercedes: Yes, it’s very difficult and then they have about a 30% pass rate, so I’ve definitely failed them a lot before I passed. My question, I take Adderall, I’ve been taking it for 9 years now and I have a lot of trouble managing it while I’m studying, because if I take it in the morning, it will run out by the end of the work day and then I have to study after work, and a lot of times I will take more and then I won’t sleep and I’ll just get in this really terrible cycle of taking more the next day and getting less and less sleep.

Long Acting Stimulant Combined with a Homework Pill

DR. HALLOWELL: Mercedes, this is a common problem that we see with children all the time and the way I solve it with my patients and I’m sure John does the same, is you want to take a long acting stimulant in the morning, right after breakfast.

Mercedes: Right after breakfast?

DR. HALLOWELL: Yeah, and then a second pill, what I call the homework pill of a short acting stimulant around 4:00pm in the afternoon and then you want to time it so it doesn’t interfere with sleep. A typical regimen would be let’s say Vyvanse is your long acting pill, take 30 or 40 milligrams of that in the morning and then say use 10 milligrams of Adderall around 3:30pm in the afternoon for your homework pill, for your evening pill.

Mercedes: Okay, Vyvanse apparently.

John: I prefer using Focalin, actually you can take it a little later, for the homework, for the nighttime. It’s not as long lasting as short acting Adderall.

Mercedes: Is that prescription, or is that over the counter?

John: No, that is definitely a prescription pill, it’s a form of Ritalin, but that’s what I usually do. It just gives a little more control over when you’re going to be focused and also make you drop off easier.

DR. HALLOWELL: 10 milligrams, John?

John: Yeah, I would, that’s what I would do if she were my patient.

Mercedes: What is it again?

John: Focalin, it’s a form of methylphenidate, so you know, they are all in the same class. I mean, they are all amphetamines basically.

Mercedes: Still take Adderall in the morning?

John: Oh, yeah.

DR. HALLOWELL: The long acting, Mercedes, either Vyvanse or Adderall XR, right? I prefer Vyvanse, I think it works better, but either one of those. Adderall XR or Vyvanse for your morning dose.

Mercedes: Actually, I have 30 milligram extended release Adderall and then the 10 milligram not extended release.

Vyvanse Versus Adderall

Vyvanse Versus Adderall

DR. HALLOWELL: You might ask your doctor to just try Vyvanse, because it usually works better than Adderall. Insurance won’t pay for it until you try Adderall first, but then it will pay for it and for most people Vyvanse works better.

John: I find that as well, it lasts a bit longer and you can titrate it, you can adjust it a little better than you can with Adderall. You can increase or decrease. It’s something you should learn about. You go on Google and you learn about Vyvanse, because I think you can dissolve it and take a little bit here and a little bit there.

Mercedes: Great, this is wonderful, easier solution than I expected.

DR. HALLOWELL: Well, a lot of people, a lot of doctors don’t think about this homework pill idea, the notion that it wears off and so you’re left for the late afternoon and evening with no coverage.

Mercedes: It’s really tough then, getting to sleep is a struggle.

DR. HALLOWELL: Yeah, so let’s hope this regimen carries you through to pass the rest of these devilishly difficult exams. Congratulations Mercedes, you deserve a lot of credit. It’s one of the toughest professions to enter, an actuary.

Mercedes: I don’t want to give it up. I want to be a good example.

DR. HALLOWELL: No, don’t give it up, just get the most mileage you can out of medication. Thanks a lot for your call.

Mercedes: Thank you so much, have a great day, bye bye.

How Do You Know if You Have ADD?

ADHD questions

DR. HALLOWELL: Let’s hear our second question. Hi Scott, you’re on with Ned Hallowell and John Ratey.

Scott: Hello sir, thank you very much, nice to meet you.

DR. HALLOWELL: Tell us about yourself, Scott.

Scott: I love that question, but I was told we only had a short time. In specific context, I’m soon to be 56 and last year came right up close to, I don’t think I can use the word diagnosis, but an awareness certainly of ADD and for the last year I’ve been what I think to be successfully on and with Adderall to help with those traits and I learned of calling it traits. Now, my question that I bring to you today, is what is necessary for me or one officially to be considered now as having ADD and that’s me right now this morning. What it takes for someone to be officially considered as having ADD.

DR. HALLOWELL: John, why don’t you take that.

John: Yeah, officially it means what? When you’re younger we might recommend that you get a neuropsychological battery to see if there are other learning issues that you might address, but if you’re 56 you’ve already had a diagnosis, or they wouldn’t be putting you on Adderall, so that’s pretty official.

DR. HALLOWELL: Did you say you were taking Adderall?

Scott: Yeah.

John: He said he was taking Adderall and it helped his traits.

Looking at ADD at a Deeper Level

Scott: Yes, a small part of the back story is after years, I could say safely a decade of really looking at taking medication for something like Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity was really a bad thing. All of the kids and families that I dealt with looked at it as bad, broken, dysfunctional, that cannot be me, so no, I was a hater in that sense. When I learned of the condition and the traits at a deeper level, for me it was a big thing to turn and say, hey, this could be me and medication might help.

To make that shift was a big turn and I went and spoke with a counselor and then with my doctor with a long history of what I think to be quite accurate. They said, hey, let’s try this and we did and within I cannot say minutes, but that day I knew that there was a night and day difference of how I was responding to distractions and now. Then finding if you want to go further, here’s a $1,400 assessment that we would do. I said, I don’t have $1,400 dollars for an out of pocket test for you to tell me what I am or am not. I have spoken with these professionals and that’s just a little more of the back story and a little bit more of me.

Your History is the Test

John: Again, I think if the doctor who prescribed it felt that your symptoms were enough to being interfering with your life, then that is the diagnosis. There’s a lot of ways to get a diagnosis. You could do anything from neuropsychological testing to other kind of measures, but if you have the symptoms and you obviously listed them quite well enough to convince one MD, then you had the diagnosis and you had the medicine and wallah, you’ve confirmed it. I don’t know why you cannot say you’re not officially diagnosed.

DR. HALLOWELL: He wouldn’t have prescribed the medication for you unless he diagnosed you, but really Scott, the diagnosis of this condition, like most conditions in psychiatry is done by your history. I’m glad you didn’t spend the $1,400 dollars because you don’t need it, your history is where the diagnosis lies or doesn’t lie and the doctor who prescribed for you, you said he took a careful history, that’s the gold standard. That’s the closest thing we have to a definitive test, is your history.

John: Right and if you’ve listed it out for 50 some years, then it’s pretty certain that you have it.

DR. HALLOWELL: What you should do to really embrace it is spend instead of $1,400, spend $14.00 dollars and buy our book Delivered from Distraction to read and learn about it. You don’t have to read the book all the way through, pick and choose the chapters that interest you and seem to apply to you. As you see yourself and learn about yourself, you can really embrace it, as you spend most of your life fearing it, now you can embrace it and make friends with it and then you can manage it must more successfully.

Scott: Thank you, both of you and your team for your work.

DR. HALLOWELL: Thank you, thanks for calling in. Okay, welcome to our next caller. Jim you’re on the air with Ned Hallowell and John Ratey, welcome.

Alternative Treatments to Medication

Jim: Thank you, I’m very happy to be on the line with you. My name is Jim from Chicago, Illinois and I’ve done a few different alternative therapies introducing to medication and I heard a bit about the transcranial magnetic stimulation. I don’t know how deep that research is, but I just wanted to throw out that question if that is something that you guys have been involved in as far as the research and what your thoughts are on that?

John: I have not been involved in it, nor am I up on the latest and aware there’s been any studies on TMS and ADHD. Ned, do you know?

DR. HALLOWELL: No, not for ADHD, it’s mostly for other conditions, so Jim I don’t think you want to bark up that tree. You’d also like John and me to talk about alternative treatments in general, is that correct?

Jim: That would be great, yeah, if you could talk about that and whatever the latest is with the effectiveness of new things that are happening.

DR. HALLOWELL: I know Johns favorite non-treatment medication is, so take it away, John.

Alternative Treatment – Exercise


John: Okay, my favorite is exercise daily. The best kind of exercise is the one that keeps you coming back to it. The biggest problem for people is that they stop. You want to get involved in something that you’ll continue on your own or continue with the group. That is probably the best to get your heart rate up, your brain activated and moving and maintain your focus.

That is acutely for that day, but then over time you get better. Your focus gets better, even if you’re on medicine, you expand your working memory, which is a big part of what the problem with ADD is. You improve your executive function, both that day and if you’re getting fitter, then that gets better over time on its own. Then if you’re challenged by certain periods of time like a test or getting a report in, then to have a what I call a bolus of exercise, like a bolus of medicine, before you tackle it, because that can help you do that much better on whatever tasks before that has been difficult or befuddling. That’s one of the things that we certainly recommend.

DR. HALLOWELL: You know, the door program itself, which is now defunct, none the less continues to have narrative. It is a specialized form of exercise that stimulates the cerebellum. Someone who wants to do this at home, can try standing on one leg with your eyes closed, juggling, or sitting on an exercise ball. Anything that challenges balance and coordination will stimulate the cerebellum and it turns out because of connections between the cerebellum and the frontal lobes, that this is good for both reading problems, dyslexia, as well as ADD.

Alternative Treatment – Connection

My favorite non-medication treatment and John is well aware of this, Johns favorite is exercise, my favorite is human connection. My plea and trumpet call is go connect. Make time for a friend, and for the people in your life that you love. Forgive that sibling that you’ve been feuding with. Go back to the club you dropped out of. Rejoin the religion you grew up in. Just take mega doses of connection. Again, it doesn’t have to be connection to a person. It can be a connection to a pet, to nature, to beauty, to a favorite place, to a favorite piece of music. Everybody, but particularly people with ADD thrive when they are living in a matrix of connection and they wither and wilt when they’re living in a matrix of disconnection.

Jim: Thank you guys, it certainly has been a pleasure being on the line with you.

DR. HALLOWELL: Thanks so much, good luck to you.

Jim: Okay, take care.

Closing Statements

DR. HALLOWELL: We’ll be back next week with the second part of our 2-part series on ADHD. If you have an issue, question, or suggestion, call us toll free at 844-55-connect or email at [email protected], or go to our website at To hear more mini and full length episodes, subscribe to Distraction on iTunes and thanks so much for listening. Distraction is produced by Collisions, the podcast division of CRN International. Collisions, podcasts for curious people.

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, “Tackling ADHD Questions Head On” Distraction is available on iTunes.




Ep 14: Stop Reducing Life to Sound Bites

Dr. Hallowell shares his thoughts on a recent New York Times article by Teddy Wayne called, “The End of Reflection.” Ned sounds a warning bell that if we are not careful, we’ll give up our inner lives and capacity to think.

Link to article:


DR. HALLOWELL: Hi this is Dr. Ned Hallowell. Welcome to my podcast. Every once in a while, something will come up, where I want to talk directly to you with no guest, no other kinds of supports, and this is one of those times. We’ll do this now and then, where a topic strikes me with such an impact, that I want to simply talk directly to you.

The provocation for this particular episode, just between you and me, was an article in the New York Times on June 11th, an article called The End of Reflection. A fabulous article written by Teddy Wayne. It really struck a nerve in me. Truly the article is all about what the podcast is all about, trying to sound a warning bell that if you’re not careful, you’ll basically give up your inner life, you’ll basically give up without intending too, the capacity to think. You ask someone where do you do your best thinking, rarely do they say at work. The most common answer is in the shower. It’s the one place where you’re not going to be interrupted. It’s the one place and as soon as they have a waterproof iPhone, I’m sure that will be gone too.

We make jokes about it, the speed at which we’re living, and the number of data points that we’re asking our brains to process every day, but it’s not funny. What we’re doing again, without intending to, is we’re giving away our most uniquely human capacity, namely to think, to imagine, to develop an idea, to develop a relationship, to go deep. You see when you’re going fast, you can’t go deep.

Superficial Conversations and Elevator Pitches

What we’ve seen is this sort of superficialization of life, superficial conversations, superficial ideas, half-baked ideas, punch lines, sound bites, elevator pitches. You know I’ll come out with a new book, and someone will say to me, give me the elevator pitch. It drives me crazy. I want to say, if I could do an elevator pitch and cover the whole book, I wouldn’t have written the book. I didn’t just take an elevator pitch and pad it, and turn it into a book, I made it into a book because that’s how long it would take me to properly express the idea.

Yet we’re reducing so much of life to these sound bites, these stereotypes, these pigeon holes, red state/blue state, liberal/conservative. Instant judgments of people based on very little information. You call it profiling or call it stereotyping, whatever it is, it has a terrible dumbing down effect on human existence, and really making bland what ought to be a rich, complex, nuanced, subtle, soup called life and turning it into just one flavor, turning it into a blur, if you will, going so fast. People are in a hurry to get where? Nowhere, and yet they’re demanding speed, hurrying through life, not savoring moments.

The good news about this is that we can control it. It’s not like global warming or terrorism where we have to wait for governmental policies to change. This is something we can control in our own lives. It helps if the people around you join in.

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