Adult ADD: What is It and Where Can I Find Help for Diagnosing and Treating It?

Health & Wellness on 01.31.13
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Entrepreneurial, kind, empathetic, intuitive, visionary, creative, brilliant, and incredibly funny are just some of the traits used to describe the gifts and personalities of those with Attention Deficit Disorder or, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD). Both terms are used interchangeably, but in essence refer to the same diagnosis, with or without the hyperactivity component.

Unfortunately, the disorder is often misunderstood, leaving the majority of the adult population who suffer with ADD's more frustrating symptoms, undiagnosed. Many feel depressed, isolated, and largely misunderstood by family members, friends, and colleagues. Many adults with ADD feel a sense of shame that they can never seem to "get out of their own way."

In my opinion, ADHD is a terrible term. As I see it, ADHD is neither a disorder, nor is there a deficit of attention. I see ADHD as a trait, not a disability. When it is managed properly, it can become a huge asset in one’s life. As I like to describe it, having ADHD is like having a powerful race car for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. Treating ADHD is like strengthening your brakes–so you start to win races in your life. - Dr. Edward Hallowell

The most prevalent symptoms of ADD are distractibility, impulsiveness, and restlessness, and yet these words do not begin to really describe the many ways that these symptoms can manifest in everyday life.  Often times grown adults who have coped with the disorder their whole lives feel a sense of resignation as times passes due to the fact that no matter how hard they try to get "better" at being more attentive, organized, and successful, nothing seems to work.

Last week, I wrote about my own experience with my recent diagnosis, and the outpouring of requests for more information on where to go and get an evaluation made me want to post more information. If you suspect you may have ADD or are looking to learn more, the following list offers some wonderful resources on the subject and I have found them to be extremely helpful throughout my own research and diagnosis:

  1. The Hallowell Center-- Founded by Dr. Edward Hallowell, this site has a vast amount of information on the subject of ADD and other spectrum disorders. I am particularly fond of the doctor's position on ADD as a gift and not a curse, and have very much enjoyed this more in depth perspective in his best-selling books. Dr. Hallowell also shares the diagnosis and so he speaks from a first hand experience on the subject matter.  He has worked with countless children, adults, and even entire families, all of whom have ADD. 
  2. ADDitude Magazine-- This online resource is dedicated to sharing relevant information on the subject shared by all professionals in the field and also shares posts from ordinary people who have ADD and are coping with it.  In addition to message boards and forums, they also highlight the latest discoveries and treatments on the topic of ADD and it is chock full of helpful resources for all ages. 
  3. The Amen Clinics--Dr. Amen is another well-known pioneer in the study and treatment of ADD through brain imaging. His perspective on the disorder is based on the "six types" of ADD that he has detailed and documented in his best-selling books on the subject. His clinics have aided thousands in the diagnosis and treatment of ADD and his work also incorporates all brain injury or imbalance, including him as the lead researcher on the world’s largest brain imaging and rehabilitation study on professional football players.
  4. You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: Written by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo this is one of the best books I have read on the subject of ADD/ADHD. I found that they thoroughly covered material in the book that gives both the ADD and the non- ADD reader a sense of validation, as well as an in-depth understanding of what it's really like to have the disorder. It's also laugh out loud funny in some chapters which can make for a really fun read, and I think it's a great resource book to have on the shelves of every ADDer. 
  5. Luminosity: Learn more about your brain, and perform mental exercises that can help strengthen your brain. Created by scientists who have engineered dozens of engaging games, studies have confirmed that Luminosity training can improve memory, attention, and other cognitive areas.

More and more professional centers have been established in cities throughout the U.S. for the diagnosis and treatment of ADD. The best action to take is to educate yourself and then inquire around your own area for a local medical college and a professional who specializes in the diagnosis. Once thought to be a disorder only diagnosed in children, it has become one of the most commonly missed disorders that afflict adults all over the world.  The good news is that it's also one of the easiest neurological disorders to treat, so if you suspect that any of your loved ones may be needlessly suffering, help them seek treatment and offer these resources to them. You may be passing along the most important information of their lives. 

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