Pay Attention!  5 Things You Need to Know (but don’t) About ADD/ADHD

Dr. Craig Liden | The Being Well Center

Based on my observations and studies treating ADD for the past 30 years, it’s fair to say that ADD touches upward of 20% of our population.  More than ever, we need to understand this often misunderstood, misaligned disorder.

People who are treating their ADD are living and thriving.  Let’s make the path to accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plans clear for all.

5 Things Everyone Should Know About ADD/ADHD:

1.    Attention Deficit Disorder is very common in adults. It is suspected that 1 in 25 adults has ADD.  However, only half have been properly diagnosed and less than a quarter are being properly treated.

2.    Untreated adult ADD can result in many chronic issues: obesity, chronic bowel problems, addiction disorders, depression/anxiety, and college failure, not to mention failed relationships, accidents, or poor job performance.  Properly diagnosing and treating ADD could have a huge impact on our society and health care system.

3.    Proper treatment of ADD with medication and counseling always starts with a comprehensive, diagnostic evaluation that includes objective testing, feedback from various members of the patient’s life, and a look at the whole person.

4.    Risks associated with correct medication use are minimal compared to the risks of untreated ADD.  Medication is often necessary but never sufficient and should always be paired with supportive counseling.  Stimulant medications used to treat ADD are generally very safe and are not addictive.

5.    The preferred name for ADD/ADHD is ADD since “Hyperactivity” is only one of many symptoms of ADD patients and shows up in less than 10% of those diagnosed.

Dr. Craig Liden is the Founder and Medical Director of The Being Well Center, an ADD/ADHD diagnostic and treatment center in Pittsburgh, PA that has helped more than 10,000 people worldwide living with ADD.

TRANShealth Inc. is sponsoring a free download of Dr. Liden’s book, ADD/ADHD Basics 101, in which Dr. Liden gives 10 steps to securing a diagnosis and treatment plan you can trust. 

 

Early Diagnosis of ADD/ADHD

add in school children | the being well center

Can ADD be diagnosed before a child enters school?

Yes, but it is often difficult. The reason is that some of the behaviors that are red flags or indicators of ADD can be normal in the preschool-age child. This means that interpretation of behavior and test results is complicated. Interestingly enough, however, experienced preschool teachers can be amazingly accurate in identifying the child with ADD. They have the advantages of making observations over time and being in a position to compare a given child’s behavior to that of his peer group. This makes it possible to identify the child with ADD whose behavior is consistently more extreme.

add in school children | the being well centerEarly identification of ADD should be a goal for parents and teachers. This makes it possible to begin treatment before the child enters a destructive cycle of failure that can interfere with successful growth and development. Sometimes parents and teachers hesitate to identify and investigate an extreme behavior for fear of creating a problem where there really is not one. While this is an understandable concern, over the years I have learned that parents know their kids better than anyone (and teachers aren’t far behind).  Their difficulty, more commonly, is being honest about what they see and holding back, as opposed to inaccurately observing and jumping the gun.

Therefore, my advice to parents and teachers is: “If you think there is a problem, then there is.”

It may not necessarily be ADD, but something is out of sync. All developmental, learning, and behavioral concerns in children deserve some type of comprehensive assessment. The “worst thing” that can happen by taking the step to investigate a concern is that parents and teachers can be reassured that they are handling things in the right way!

And even more importantly, when we evaluate a problem, identify the factors–including ADD–that are contributing to the problem, and implement a specific treatment plan, we are likely to prevent the development of more significant problem.


How can you be sure your ADD/ADHD diagnosis is accurate?  One sure-fire way is to book a Discovery Session with Dr. Liden at The Being Well Center!  Another great way is to download Dr. Liden’s book, ADD Basics 101, currently offered as a free ebook.


Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Should we use medication to diagnose ADD?

medication add diagnosis

Can response to medication be used to confirm the ADD diagnosis?

No, an individual’s response to medication should never be used to confirm the ADD diagnosis. In fact, relying on medication response for diagnostic information is a set up for trouble.

medication add diagnosisUse of medication is complicated and an individual’s response to medication is impacted upon by many variables. The severity of the individual’s attention weakness as well as the particular medication and dose selected interact to determine a patient’s responsiveness. Many, many, times patients come to my office after having been told that because they did not respond to the medication, they do not have ADD. When we conduct a systematic, comprehensive evaluation, however, the patient clearly meets all of the diagnostic criteria for ADD. As a consequence of using medication responsiveness as a diagnostic tool, I find that these patients have unnecessarily experienced more failure, more stress, and oftentimes, feelings of hopelessness about the future.

Sometimes, use of medications to treat ADD can be problematic for individuals who don’t actually have ADD but another disorder that shares some of its characteristics. Use of these medications in an individual who has bipolar disorder, for example, has the potential for setting off a manic episode. So by using medication as a diagnostic tool, rather than systematically evaluating the individual, we run the risk of creating a significant problem for him.

Finally, as we all fall somewhere along the continuum from strong to weak attention, it is possible for each of us to experience an improvement in attention after taking a medication for ADD. So clearly, concluding that, “because I feel more focused on this medication, I must have ADD” is unwise. This thinking, however, is inherent in using medication as a diagnostic tool to confirm the ADD and likely to result in inaccurately applying the label to people who do not have ADD.


How can you be sure your ADD/ADHD diagnosis is accurate?  One sure-fire way is to book a Discovery Session with Dr. Liden at The Being Well Center!  Another great way is to download Dr. Liden’s book, ADD Basics 101, currently offered as a free ebook.


Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

ADD and Chronic Health Problems

ADD ADHD health problemsWhat types of health problems are associated with ADD?

There is a wide range of health problems associated with ADD. In some circumstances, the underlying neurological differences that accompany ADD may predispose patients to other related health problems. In other circumstances, ADD seems to be genetically linked to certain other medical problems.

In addition, longitudinal studies in the medical literature along with clinical experience support the fact that failure to properly identify, diagnose, and treat this physically based problem at the earliest possible age, places patients with ADD at a significantly greater risk for other serious health problems.

Some of these health problems are a consequence of unhealthy living patterns and behaviors that can result from ADD, some are related to the chronic stress frequently associated with ADD and unhealthy attempts to cope with it, and some are related to the consequences of the chronic failure associated with ADD.

Health problems, which seem to be associated with ADD through one or more of these mechanisms, include the following:

  • Alcoholism
  • Drug Addiction
  • Eating Disorders – Compulsive Over-Eating/Obesity
  • Anorexia/Bulemia Nervosa
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Enuresis
  • Chronic Constipation
  • Irritable Colon and Related Bowel Problems
  • Hypertension
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Recurrent Otitis Media
  • Recurrent Infections
  • Allergies/Immunological Disorders
  • Accidents – Ingestions/Automobile, etc.
  • Suicide
  • Child/Spousal Abuse
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Unplanned Pregnancy
  • Recurrent Headaches
  • Recurrent Abdominal Pain
  • Chronic Back Pain
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Poor Treatment Compliance

At the time of initial presentation, ADD may not clearly seem to be a health problem. However, the relatively minor behavior or learning problems, which may be the first sign of ADD in childhood, may actually be the “red flag” that signals a problem (i.e., ADD) which could ultimately contribute to a variety of serious health problems in children or adults with ADD.


Want to stop the chronic stress, failure, and health concerns associated with undiagnosed or mistreated ADD/ADHD?  Get on a healthier track today!  If you’re ready now, contact Dr. Liden at The Being Well Center.  Or keep learning more about being a good consumer of ADD/ADHD resources.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Drugs, Alcohol and ADD

Drugs, Alcohol and ADD | ADD treatment | Dr. Craig LidenHow Does ADD Impact Drug and Alcohol Recovery?

Drug and alcohol recovery often begins with involvement in some type of rehabilitation program. Success in these programs is predicated upon an ability to listen attentively and to participate in group discussions. It is also necessary to read and comprehend various educational materials. Obviously, these tasks can represent a huge challenge for the unrecognized and untreated ADD individual who is simultaneously struggling with withdrawal symptoms and possible long-term impact of the abused substance on his nervous system.

If the ADD individual makes it through detoxification and initial rehabilitation, he must take on the difficult challenge of maintaining sobriety every day. In my experience, this is most likely to happen through participation in a 12-step program. Unfortunately, this can represent another challenge for the ADD individual. One of the mantras of 12-step recovery programs is “90 meetings in 90days.” And what does it take to meet this expectation? Organization, planning, sustained commitment to name a few — all things that are hard for the untreated ADD individual to do even in the best of times.

Furthermore, establishing and maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle is the foundation of a successful recovery. To maintain sobriety, an individual must find a way to avoid hunger and fatigue through healthy eating and sleeping patterns, to manage stress through exercise and mind-centering activities, and to balance work, family and personal responsibilities – all overwhelming tasks for the untreated ADD individual.

In my experience, if the addicted ADD individual is not receiving proper treatment for his ADD, his ability to effectively participate in recovery and sustain sobriety is doubtful at best. It is no wonder that less than 20% of addicted individuals achieve and sustain long-term sobriety. 

As we come to understand of the nature of ADD and its serious consequences, we can appreciate the serious need for its appropriate diagnosis and treatment.


We’re talking tricky topics this week on the Being Well Center blog.  Check back Friday for our next discussion about ADD and chronic health problems.


Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

ADD and Sex

How does ADD impact sexual behavior and functioning?

Over the years, behind the closed door of my office, I have heard hundreds of unusual stories regarding my patients’ sexual activities. I have come to appreciate, that while the topic is often emotionally loaded, the behaviors are generally completely understandable when put into the context of ADD.

ertterdownloadsA certain amount of body exploration and sexual experimentation is normal for all children; in young children with ADD, this exploration and experimentation can seem extreme because we see it. Young ADD children often lack that inner voice that says, “Keep your hands out of your pants when others are around” or “Do not touch other kids’ private body parts” or “Don’t draw that in school”; while other children may have the same impulses, they usually have enough self-control and social monitoring to think first and, in this way, stay out of trouble with their sexual thoughts and feelings.

As children get older it is normal for them to be sexually curious. Oftentimes, older children and adolescents with ADD impulsively act on their curiosity. Then, as a consequence of their poor monitoring and decision-making, they get caught doing something that seems bizarre or perverted to others. The number of older children and adolescents in our practice who have been caught looking at, taking, or even wearing mom’s lingerie, exploring pornographic websites on the computer, using (and running up huge bills) on phone sex hotlines, or sending pornographic photos of themselves to someone they met on the Internet is astonishing. In my experience, upon taking the time to debrief the events with my patients, clearly, these behaviors are not signs of perversion or serious mental health problems but rather normal sexual interest in the absence of good self-control.

We all know that in adolescence, sexual exploration continues and that its consequences can be very serious. Premature experimentation or early sexual involvement can lead to unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and serious legal trouble. Adolescents with ADD who are struggling with a low self-esteem and lack of acceptance by peers can too easily become involved in sexual relationships to feel good and be accepted never thinking about the potential consequences. In my experience, impulsive kids who struggle in reading the social signals often finds themselves caught up in the heat of the moment and have no idea how to get out.   Many of my ADD adults share with me their scary versions of this story still feeling the regret and guilt.

Dr. Craig Liden | ADD and SexI have found that adults with ADD often struggle with relationships and sexual activities as much as the adolescents do. Impulsivity frequently leads the adult with ADD to jump into relationships and sexual intimacy too quickly. At first, this intimacy feel good; it blots out the pain of loneliness that often accompanies adult ADD. But this quick, feel-good approach to sexuality commonly contributes to promiscuity, addictive involvement in pornography, and risky sexual behavior in the ADD population. In fact, individuals with ADD have been found to have a four times greater risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease than the general population.

ADD can also have a significant impact on sexual functioning in “normal” adult relationships as well. It is easy to imagine how the ADD adult with low arousal who finds himself particularly exhausted at the end of the day often has no interest or energy for sex. Many of my patients who have experienced chronic stress as a result managing their weak attention day in and day struggle with a the spectrum of sexual dysfunctions that occur in people who are depressed and anxious — decreased libido, difficulty with arousal, and an inability to reach an orgasm.

Apart from these sexual difficulties, it is not uncommon for the ADD individual’s his poor communication and listening skills to interfere with intimacy and, in turn interfere with the quality of his sexual relationships. In my discussions with spouses of ADD individuals, complaints about self-centeredness in the bedroom are the norm.


We’re talking tricky topics this week on the Being Well Center blog.  Check in for discussions about ADD and drug abuse and ADD and chronic health problems.


Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

first photo credit: Patricia Mellin via photopin cc

second photo credit:.Andi. via photopin cc

The ADD Adult

lifespan_adultWhat specific behaviors indicate that an adult might have ADD?

Efficient attention is required for success in all areas of life. As an ever-present filter between the individual’s external and internal worlds, it screens all incoming and outgoing information to and from the brain. In this way, attention has a profound influence on how an individual experiences events and behaves in all life spheres: school, job, home, and neighborhood. It interacts with other skills and abilities to shape the quality of social interactions, school/job performance, and independent functioning. Therefore, behaviors that suggest attentional difficulty can appear in any area of a person’s life. The following behaviors identify some of the more common red flags that might signal ADD in adults ages 18 and over.

Adults with ADD

  • Being irresponsible; exhibiting poor follow through
  • Changing jobs frequently
  • Having trouble with money management, characterized by excessive spending and poor budgeting
  • Making repeated careless mistakes on the job
  • Exhibiting poor communication skills that result in repeated misunderstandings
  • Being late
  • Reacting before thinking
  • Lacking a healthy daily routine
  • Having difficulty managing children
  • Being overly dependent on spouse, boss, or co-worker for supervision
  • Abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Experiencing eating disorders
  • Lacking the ability to solve problems effectively
  • Lacking the ability to prioritize things
  • Taking on projects without thinking about what is involved
  • Experiencing depression and/or anxiety

ADD Basics 101 | Dr. Craig LidenIf you just recognized someone you know (maybe yourself?) in this list, go to ADDBasics.org and download Dr. Liden’s free guide, ADD Basics 101. In 10 clear steps, Dr. Liden will guide you to an accurate, trustworthy diagnosis and outline what you should look for in an effective treatment plan.


Check back next week when Dr. Liden discusses how ADD impacts sexual behaviors…

Catch up on previous posts in the Pay Attention series.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

The ADD Adolescent

ADD diagnosis teenagerWhat specific behaviors indicate that an adolescent might have ADD?

Efficient attention is required for success in all areas of life. As an ever-present filter between the individual’s external and internal worlds, it screens all incoming and outgoing information to and from the brain. In this way, attention has a profound influence on how an individual experiences events and behaves in all life spheres: school, job, home, and neighborhood. It interacts with other skills and abilities to shape the quality of social interactions, school/job performance, and independent functioning. Therefore, behaviors that suggest attentional difficulty can appear in any area of a person’s life. The following behaviors identify some of the more common red flags that might signal ADD in adolescent children ages 12 to 18 years old.

Adolescent (Twelve to Eighteen)

  • Not being able to organize free time
  • Failing to plan long-term assignments (e.g., reports, projects, and tests)
  • Failing to keep track of assignments
  • Writing disorganized compositions and reports
  • Demonstrating poor reading comprehension of higher level materials
  • Failing to pay attention to personal hygiene
  • Needing constant reminding/nagging to be responsible
  • Skipping school
  • Getting into trouble with the law; committing delinquent acts
  • Getting caught!
  • Getting off the topic in conversations
  • Interrupting and failing to take turns when talking
  • Flying off the handle and doing impulsive things
  • Behaving inappropriately in social situations without realizing it
  • Going beyond simple experimentation with drugs and/or alcohol

ADD Basics 101 | Dr. Craig LidenIf you just recognized someone you know in this list, go to ADDBasics.org and download Dr. Liden’s free guide, ADD Basics 101. In 10 clear steps, Dr. Liden will guide you to an accurate, trustworthy diagnosis and outline what you should look for in an effective treatment plan.


 

AFScovers2Maybe you already have a child identified with ADD/ADHD who is struggling in school.  Dr. Liden’s book, Accommodations for Success, is an amazing resource to help you understand your child better and get her the individualized help she needs to soar at school.

 


Check back tomorrow for red flags in adults’ behavior…

Catch up on previous posts in the Pay Attention series.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.