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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for October, 2015

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Dr. Hallowell Comments as ADHD Month Winds Down

The month of October is ADHD Awareness Month.  It also marks the 21th anniversary of the publication of Driven to Distraction.

How far we’ve come since 1994 in our nation’s collective awareness of ADHD.

But how far we have yet to go!

I think it’s deserved for us all to pat ourselves on the back a bit for joining together to educate the public about ADHD.  But the timing is also propitious to sound the alert as to how much more there is to be done.

Stigma still retards progress.  Factions still prevent the unified efforts that would bring greatest success.  Children still suffer in schools unnecessarily, and millions of adults who have ADHD still don’t know they have it.  New non-medication treatments are emerging, but we need more research to validate them and develop new ones.

Still, we have come a long way since that book came out.  Back then, when I went on talk shows, the first question I was asked was, “How do you know ADHD is real?  Isn’t it just a fancy excuse to get out of doing work?”

I am never asked that question today.  True, some uninformed people still wonder about it, but the science is so solid that no informed person has any doubt but that ADHD is real.

Now the great task is to educate this country–and the world–as to how best to identify ADHD and how best to deal with it.

With your help, we will do this work, and we will do it sooner than later.  We must, because millions of lives will suffer without it, while millions will thrive once they get the right kind of help.

It is a time to feel grateful, but also to rededicate out efforts.  I intend to keep working hard on behalf of this cause.  I hope you all do, as well.

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

ADHD: Celebrating 34 Years of Progress

Note from Ned

Since October is National ADHD Month, I thought this would be a good time to celebrate the progress we’ve seen regarding ADHD in the past 34 years.

I chose 34 years because I learned about ADHD, or what was then called ADD, in 1981, 34 years ago. In one of the great “A-HA!” moments of my life, I heard a lecture given by Dr. Elsie Freeman as part of my training in child psychiatry about a condition I’d never heard of: attention deficit disorder. Until that moment, I would have thought the term referred to a chid who suffered from not receiving enough attention!

But Dr. Freeman opened my eyes to a condition I’d been living with my whole life (I have ADHD as well as dyslexia) and now have been treating in people of all ages for lo those 34 years.

When I first learned about ADD, the best known book for the general public on the condition was Paul Wender’s book. Russell Barkley was doing his seminal research out in Worcester, at the University of Massachusetts. CHADD had not yet come into existence, and the general public had close to zero awareness of the condition. The few people who had heard of it assumed that either it was a bogus excuse to help kids get out of doing work, or it denoted some form of retardation. Ignorance and stigma ruled.

How far we’ve come! Dr. Barkley worked tirelessly to establish ADD as a bona-fide condition, while the basic science that poured in during the 1990’s including Alan Zametkin’s seminal 1990 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, established the roots of ADD in biology. Genetics, anatomy, and neurochemistry all varied in children and adults who had this fascinating condition.

Today there is still widespread misunderstanding regarding what’s now called ADHD, but we are on far, far more solid ground than ever before, thanks to the efforts of many researchers, authors, parents, professionals, and other individuals and organizations who joined the effort to help people of all ages who live with ADHD.

While Dr. Barkley and many others have proven how crippling and devastating ADHD can be if it is not dealt with properly, in my work I’ve tried to highlight how successful people can become if they address their ADHD and learn how to tap into their talents, while minimizing the damage done by the negative symptoms associated with the condition.

I’ve used the analogy of a race car. I tell people that having ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. As long as you consult with a brake specialist, a doctor trained in how to help people deal with ADHD, then you can win races and live a hugely successful life. But, if you do not, then the consequences can be dire.

My message has always been, and remains today, one of hope rooted in knowledge. We have the knowledge now to help people of all ages live great lives with ADHD. While the condition can be vexing and troublesome in the extreme, there is always help, always hope. I’ve seen many, many lives turn around with the right kind of treatment, which usually includes medication, coaching, and various other interventions tailored to the individual person.

More groups and organizations are joining the efforts of the national organizations like CHADD and ADDA to help educate the public. I’ve worked with one, in particular, a non-profit organization that I highly recommend. It is called Understood, and you can mine its vast treasures of practical, authoritative, and interactive information on its website, Understood.org. Aimed at parents, the website is chock-full of everything you need to raise a child who has ADHD.

More and more doctors outside of mental health are learning about ADHD. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Peter Jensen and his organization called REACH, pediatricians are getting advanced training the in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. This is especially needed as child psychiatrists are in such short supply.

Everywhere you turn, you see positive developments, as awareness spreads like the great good news that it is. Now, in this National ADHD Awareness Month, let’s celebrate together on how far we’ve come. There is more, always more work to do, but we’ve come a long ways.

Let’s continue the effort by each of us reaching out to one person who does not understand ADHD and educating that person, tactfully and accurately, so we can continue to shine the light of knowledge into the darkness of ignorance and stigma.

We can proceed now with confidence and joy, standing on the shoulders of the giants in the field, men and women like Paul Wender, Leopold Bellak, Hans Hussey, Russell Barkley, Virginia Douglas, Peter Jensen, Alan Zametkin, and many, many others, who brought this condition from the realm of humbug to scientific fact, helping millions of people of all ages to change their lives dramatically for the better.

In a world aching for good news, the story of ADHD is beyond good, it is spectacular.

Let us all rejoice, give thanks, and sure, why not, sing!


Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Dr. Hallowell to Boy with ADHD: You Have a Ferrari Brain!

Watch this video to hear how Dr. Hallowell helps people with a recent ADHD diagnosis learn to unwrap and embrace the gifts of ADHD.  No more shame!!


Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Dr. Hallowell’s Musings for ADHD Awareness Month

There is always, always hope.

As Emily Dickinson put it, “Hope is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all”

When you find yourself without hope, when the tune without the words becomes inaudible, let another person tell you about the hope that they feel. Hope is contagious, which is a blessed fact indeed.


Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Entrepreneurs: Strengthen Your Focus in Business and Beyond

Dr. Hallowell’s Featured article in September 2015 Octane Magazine.

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
500 Montgomery Street, Suite 700
Alexandria, VA 22314-1437 USA


The ability to stay focused is a primary factor when it comes to achieving success. No one understands the role focus plays in one’s personal and professional life more than
Ned Hallowell, a child and adult psychiatrist, celebrated author and EO speaker. In this interview, Ned highlights how to strengthen one’s focus in business and beyond.

How would you categorize the state of focus for entrepreneurs?

NH/ “Focus, for an entrepreneur, is the same as focus for anyone else; it’s just usually more difficult to achieve. This is because the mind of the entrepreneur runs wild and free. Indeed, freedom and independence may be the entrepreneur’s greatest treasures. The entrepreneur hates to submit, be hemmed in, conform and be still. Yet focus—mental focus—requires some measure of stillness and submission to a task. It is impossible to focus fully on two or more demanding tasks or ideas simultaneously, so the entrepreneur must learn to master the free-wheeling mind with which he or

she is gifted. Failure to do this, to control the immense power of the entrepreneurial mind, is a leading reason why entrepreneurs underachieve and fall short of their magnificent goals.”

How can a lack of focus be detrimental to entrepreneurs?

NH/ “Most entrepreneurs are gifted with a fertile imagination. They come up with new ideas as often and as easily as most people blink. Their problem is not in coming up with ideas, but
in choosing which ideas, projects and ventures to focus on and develop. This task of prioritizing—of choosing what to focus on and pass over—can be agonizing. There are so many sparkling gems! Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to focus on too many targets at once, so they never develop any one as fully as possible. Here’s a tip: Make a list of all the ideas and projects you have that really grab you, then force yourself to number them from most pressing to back burner.”

What are some signs that you’re shifting in and out of focus?

NH/ “Signs that you are losing focus include: boredom, tending to too many tasks at once, frustration at having more to do than time to do it all, confusion, dissatisfaction with work products and spending more time on trivial tasks than on tasks that require sustained attention. Signs that you are in focus include: a merging with the task, such that you lose your awareness of the passage of time, hunger, thirst, external happenings or noise; sticking with a task even when it becomes frustrating or difficult; and a feeling of satisfaction with what you’ve produced. Here’s an action step: Try to work within your ‘sweet spot,’ the overlap of what you really like to do and what you’re really good at doing.”

Is there a marked difference between focus and discipline?

NH/ “Achieving focus requires discipline, but discipline is not focus. To hone focus, you must first discipline yourself not to go
off on tangents the minute you get bored or irritated. But you must also give yourself the freedom to work on something that captures your interest at the given moment. Where interest goes, focus follows. With no interest, focus is all but impossible. One reason why people procrastinate is, unwittingly, to scare themselves into focus. Fear focuses the mind. So, if you put off something until the last minute, and you face consequences for not getting it done, you can create enough fear inside of you to focus even on the most boring of tasks. Of course, this is not the best way to achieve focus. The best way is to work on a task that is challenging, matters to you and is within your skill set and interest.”

Edward “Ned” Hallowell, M.D., is a renowned psychiatrist who specializes in helping people achieve focus. He last spoke at an EO Vancouver event and has authored 20 books, including most recently, “Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive.” Learn more by contacting Ned at hallowellevents@yahoo.com, or by visiting www.drhallowell.com.

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