Don’t “Should” on Yourself

On September 25th, 2014, Margarita Tartakovsky posted another great article at PsychCentral on Adult ADHD. For it she interviewed both me and Dr. Ari Tuckman. Here are the first few parapgraphs:

Adults with ADHD often hold all kinds of “shoulds.” These include everything from I should be able to remember that to I shouldn’t need a pill to do what I’m supposed to do to I shouldn’t need all these reminders or alarms, according to Ari Tuckman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in ADHD.

Other common beliefs include: I should be able to do this by myself and I should be able to do it that way, said Sarah D. Wright, a life coach who specializes in working with people who have attention disorders.

“These statements aren’t helpful because they put a value judgment onto a factual matter,” said Tuckman. That is, they assume that you should be able to do something you can’t do.

You can read the rest of this great article here:
Adults with ADHD – Shrinking Shoulds

A Brief History of ADHD (& ADHD Awareness Week)

During ADHD Awareness Week in October 2012, I was guest expert at ImpactADHD.

ImpactADHD® is a community of parents with similar circumstances who come together to support each other and learn how to take a coach-approach to raising your kids. Being part of a community that includes compassionate coaches helps us all stay the course, set limits, try new things, find acceptance, change our habits, laugh instead of cry, understand instead of yell. Thrive instead of just survive.

Read my article about the history of ADHD and ADHD Awareness Week here. You might just learn something you didn’t know!

Joining the Celebration!

I am, like so many, celebrating Michael Phelps and his extraordinary accomplishments at the Olympics. Even Google is in on the act!

Michael is being rightfully celebrated for his stunning personal and athletic accomplishments. He is also being celebrated by our ADD/ADHD community as an outstanding ambassador for what life with ADHD can be like when we are supported and encouraged to develop what we are good at (rather than fix what we’re not). He stands now at the pinnacle of the sporting world. He is also a world class champion when he and his mom stand up and let the world know he is ADHD and proud of it!

In 2007 ADDitude magazine published this article on How to Raise an ADHD Superstar. Michael’s mother, Debbie Phelps was interviewed for this article, along with Dr. Yvonne Pennington (mother of Ty Pennington, star of the hit TV series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), and Karen Fisher (mother of Danielle Fisher, the youngest person to scale all seven of the world’s tallest mountains).

You can also watch the wonderful interview with Bob Costas. The first half of the interview is with Michael and his coaches. The interview with his mother starts at the 14:58 mark. Their mutual love, respect, admiration, and support are a joy to watch. They also talk about his ADHD and how swimming plus ADHD became such a winning combination.

Go Michael!

SPARK – a New Reason to Get off your Butt

Being a restless type myself, I’m a big fan of movement and exercise as a means of self-regulation. If you’ve read my book, Fidget to Focus, you’ll know many of the techniques I use in my own life to stay focused.

Being an evangelist for the Body/Brain connection (how what we do with our bodies affects our brains), I was really excited to learn last year that Dr. John Ratey of Driven to Distraction fame was writing a new book entitled Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

Well, it has just come out and everyone should read this book! And I do mean everyone: you, your spouse, your parents, your kids, their teachers, your doctors. EVERYONE!

I originally put off opening it as I was afraid it would be dry and technical, but it’s not at all. I found it so compelling and easy to read I could hardly put it down. So go read it. And then come tell me how it’s changed your life!

Recorded Radio Show on Adult ADHD

Here’s a great radio broadcast from KQED in San Francisco on ADHD, focusing on the disorder in adults. It was broadcast this morning (August 27, 2007).

Four great experts (a couple of whom I’m pleased to call friends!) joining host Michael Krasny, talking about what we now know about ADHD. It’s well worth your time. It’s also a great resource to share with your family and friends who may need to hear this information about adult ADHD from experts.

So, go give it a listen from the KQED website, or use this direct link to have it stream right onto your computer.

Alternative Therapies

A friend just directed me to this MedScape article on Lifestyle and Complementary Therapies for ADHD.

The articles points out that more than 50% of American families who receive care for ADHD in specialty clinics also use complementary or alternative medical therapies such as modifying their diet or other aspects of their lifestyle. This article reviews the common alternative therapies and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) the effectiveness of those therapies. The article is worth checking out.

Medscape is a online medical journal for healthcare professionals with the mission to provide timely, comprehensive, and relevant clinical information to improve patient care. You do have to create an account to view the articles, but once you do, you can access the content at no charge.

What is The DSM-IV and Why Should You Care?

The DSM-IV is the fourth edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, which is the book physicians rely on for diagnosis and treatment of brain-based problems. It’s where what counts as ADHD is defined (i.e., it is the official source of the current diagnostic criteria). I found the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD online here. The page includes the following disclaimer with the criteria:

The year 2000 Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) provides criteria for diagnosing ADHD. The criteria are presented here in modified form in order to make them more accessible to the general public. They are listed here for information purposes and should be used only by trained health care providers to diagnose or treat ADHD.

Continue reading “What is The DSM-IV and Why Should You Care?”

Prevalence of ADHD

If you read up on ADHD, you’ll find all sorts of often conflicting information. That’s why I like Russell Barkley. He’s one of the best known researchers on ADHD. He has published 15 books, more than 200 scientific articles, and 7 videos on ADHD and related topics. The 3rd edition of his Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment just came out. It’s a handbook for clinicians, those people who diagnose and treat ADHD. Since I like science, and like knowing what I’m talking about, I got myself a copy. Leafing through it, I was only mildly astonished to read that there have been literally thousands of studies on ADHD. Barkley estimates the current number to be on the order of 6,000! And I swear, he and his contributors cite a large percentage of them in this 770-page reference book.

Prevalence was the first thing I wanted to get the latest information on. Just how prevalent is ADHD? In kids? In adults? Turns out, some of the difference in numbers we see bandied about can be attributed to using different definitions for what constitutes ADHD. The current definition of ADHD is what’s in the DSM-IV. By that definition, Barkley cites 7.4% of kids in this country ages 5-19 have ADHD. Another study by the CDC that came out in 2005 reveals that 7.8% of kids in this country ages 7-17 are diagnosed with ADHD (you can see a summary of that study’s results here).

For adults, a recent NIMH-funded survey tracking the prevalence of ADHD symptoms found that an estimated 4.4% of adults ages 18-44 in the United States experience symptoms and some disability. The survey is known as the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) and is part of a series of tracking surveys supported by NIMH and conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School to assess the state of mental health of the nation. The rest of the summary of this study’s results is available here.

So, using current definitions and the most recent research, I have an answer regarding prevalence: 7.4%-7.8% of kids and 4.4% of adults in this country have ADHD.

(BTW, It’s useful to remember that these are a nation-wide averages. Your local results might vary!)

What's In a Name?

Our concept of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) continues to evolve. The first known reference to it is in a book by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman. The book is actually a series of children’s stories and poems. It was first published in 1844 in German. The poem about ADHD is called Fidgety Phil. Although that poem was penned over 150 years ago, the cluster of symptoms remains essentially the same. In contrast, our understanding of the underlying causes of the behavior has evolved tremendously.

To give you a quick run down on this evolution, here are some of the “highlights”.

  • 1902: the British medical journal Lancet characterized similar symptoms in children as Morbid Defects of Moral Control.
  • 1940s: the symptoms of distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity were defined to be Minimal Brain Damage Syndrome.
  • 1962: when scientists were unable to associate anatomical brain damage with the symptoms in other children, they renamed it Minimal Brain Dysfunction.
  • 1968: the DSM-II defined this same cluster of symptoms as Hyperkinetic Syndrome of Childhood.
  • 1980: the DSM-III defined it based on behavioral and descriptive characteristics. Here’s where we first get Attention Deficit Disorder (with and without Hyperactivity).
  • 1987: the revised DSM-II changed the name again. The syndrome became known simply as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  • 1994: the latest revision of the diagnostic manual, DSM-IV, was published with the definitions currently in use. The syndrome is now called Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and includes three subtypes: Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, Predominantly Inattentive Type, and Combined Type.

So currently, you’ll read in the literature or hear people refer to this syndrome as ADD, ADHD, or AD/HD. These are all ways to talk about the same thing, although some people will use ADD to refer to the inattentive type and ADHD to refer to both the hyperactive-impulsive type and the combined type.

Hope this has cleared up some of your confusion over terms!