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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for October, 2016

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016


A common, recurring theme of the  “DISTRACTION”  weekly podcasts that Dr. Hallowell hosts, is the belief that “screen-sucking,” our obsession with smartphones and computer screens, is draining the life out of us and making it harder to experience the joys of true relationships and connections. Last month, New York Magazine ran a cover story entitled “I Used to be a Human Being,” in which the author explains how the internet broke him and led him down a path of chronic distraction. Here are some of Dr. Hallowell’s thoughts after reading the article.

Andrew Sullivan’s Sept. 16 New York Magazine article, “I Used to be a Human Being,” blasts a social warning as urgent as the environmental warning of climate change. The latter could cost us our planet; the former our souls.

As a psychiatrist who specializes in attention deficit disorder (and has A.D.D. himself), I’ve seen a dramatic change over the past decade. We’ve ushered in what I call The Age of Distraction, a world in which just about everyone acts and feels as if they have true ADD when, in fact, only a small fraction actually do.

When a new patient comes to see me suspecting he or she might have ADD, the most common differential diagnosis I entertain is between actual ADD and what I call “a severe case of modern life.” Modern life is ADD-o-genic. If you wake up without ADD, you feel as if you’ve come down with a fulminant case of it by the time you go to bed.

What began as a joke, the “CrackBerry” and the like, has mushroomed into anything but a joke. Electronic devices have triggered our newest addiction, as potentially destructive as all addictions can be.

The issue is complicated by the fact that the standard remedy for an addiction–abstinence–does not apply here. For most people, electronic devices are necessary in everyday life. The most apt comparison is to food. No one can abstain from food. Each of us must struggle to learn the skill of moderation around food and now around electronic devices.

Unlike global warming, solving this problem does not depend upon sweeping governmental policies. But it does depend upon sweeping personal policies and policies in families, businesses, and all other organizations.

T.I.O. Turn it off. Learn moderation before you lose the qualities that elevate life beyond mere data-processing, before you lose your soul and your ability to notice what you’ve lost.

Go to DISTRACTION.com to learn more tips about managing modern life.

Dr. Hallowell’s book, “CrazyBusy” offers strategies for handling your fast-paced life.

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Changing the Shame and Fear Associated with ADHD


The greatest learning disorder of all is fear. Getting rid of shame and fear are key!!  Kids, and this includes kids with ADHD, Dyslexia or any Learning Disorder, need to feel emotionally safe in the classroom and at home.  My own childhood experience with difficulty reading shows how a supportive environment can illuminate a child’s life. As a first-grader, I had a great deal of trouble learning to read. I simply couldn’t decode words on a page. At that time, before we knew much about ADHD and dyslexia (I have both), poor readers got a simple diagnosis: They were “stupid.” The treatment plan was to “try harder.”

Fortunately, my first-grade teacher was a wise woman. Mrs. Eldredge didn’t know why I could not read, but she did know what to do about it. At each reading period, she would come over and wrap her arm around me. That simple sign of encouragement was tremendously reassuring. With her beside me, I knew none of my classmates would dare make fun of me. It’s incredible that a seven-year-old would sit there, day in and day out, and demonstrate his incompetence. But I did. Such was the power of Mrs. Eldredge’s arm.

By the end of the year, I wasn’t much better at reading. But, I was the most enthusiastic reader in the class.

So how do we help our children get rid of the shame and fear of ADHD?

First, there is no substitute for a parent understanding the child’s mind and conveying that over and over again to teachers! A child needs an advocate after a diagnosis of ADHD and too often testing results get “filed away”.

Spend time talking with your child about his or her classroom and social experiences to learn what is going on in the classroom and at school. Family dinners are a great time of the day to discuss what’s going on at school and how your child feels.

Become a partner with your child’s teacher. Don’t go in with a set of things you “want” from the teacher. Go in with the goal of creating a relationship that will support your child. Consider helping out in class. Treat your child’s teacher as the professional he or she is.

Consider talking with your teacher about having a home to school notebook for quick comments on daily basis and easy communications.

Finally, remember that you are not alone! There is a tremendous community to support and help you. A few places to look, depending on your needs:

The Hallowell Centers in Boston MetroWest, NYC, SF and Seattle.

Understood.org check out this week’s free video chats for recommendations on improving reading comprehension, talking to your child about ADHD and Dyslexia, homework strategies and more. Understood. org provides expert advice available for all parents of children with learning and attention issues – an incredible resource that is entirely free of cost.

Calm and Connected: Parenting Kids with ADHD, 7-Session Parent Coaching Workshop Series led by ADHD Parent Coach, Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M, ACAC.

Dr. Hallowell’s 20 Tips for Helping Kids with ADHD.

Dr. Hallowell’s Keys to Unlocking Your Child’s ADHD. Dr. Hallowell’s followers save 20 % on this One Hour VIDEO

CHADD Webinar: What Everyone Should Know About ADHD

Learn more about managing ADHD and other forms of distraction, by listening to my weekly podcast series, DISTRACTION!

More ADHD Resources here.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

October is ADHD Month

ADHD can lead a person to either great success or terrible disappointment.  Indeed, a person can lurch from triumph to disaster and back to triumph again.

People with ADHD rarely give up, which is one of the many reason I love them so much.

It wasn’t so long ago that people laughed at ADHD as if it were a moral failing, not a legitimate medical condition, much as people used to trivialize depression or anxiety.

Now, thanks to major advances in neuroscience, epidemiology, cognitive psychology, and various related fields we have a sophisticated understanding of ADHD.  But the public, and much of the medical profession, does not understand ADHD.

Many of us experts in the ADHD field are working tirelessly to eliminate the stigma and ignorance shrouding this condition. Stigma is one of the greatest obstacles to people getting the help they need.  No one wants to be called disabled or disordered.

I see all my patients as champions in the making. Hope leads to far better outcomes than despair.

I am thrilled to join with CHADD, ADDA, ADDClasses and more to educate and instill hope, hope rooted in science and true-life experience, that will lead to the best outcomes possible for a brave and resilient group of people subsumed by the cumbersome and confusing term, ADHD.

The key to maximizing the chances of the best outcomes is to get skilled treatment. 

Working together, we can help everyone become the best they can be, whatever obstacles they may face, whatever conditions they contend with. Our greatest power as people lies in connection, in working together.

Working together, we will progress, we will prevail.  And we will feel joy in doing so.

Warm wishes,

Edward Hallowell, M.D.


Child and adult psychiatrist, NY Times bestselling author, international speaker, leading authority in the field of ADHD and the founder of The Hallowell Centers.


Here are some additional resources from the NRC and a PDF download from Dr. Hallowell:

Finally, for information on other topics visit our website www.drhallowell.com and www.chadd.org/nrc  and if you you have any questions our health information specialists would be happy to assist. 

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Mindfulness Meditation for ADHD


People with ADHD often struggle with sitting still and focusing on given tasks. While the use of stimulant medication has been proven to be an effective way of counteracting many of the symptoms of ADHD, it is not the only treatment option available. Mindfulness meditation is an effective alternative (or supplement) to medication treatment, and can be practiced to help individuals struggling with ADHD to improve their ability to control their attention.

The practice of mindfulness meditation involves increased awareness of one’s moment-to-moment thoughts. Often it is practiced seated in a comfortable position with one’s eyes closed and deliberate breathing, but can be done in many different forms including walking, showering, or eating. The main priority is your focused attention on your thoughts and feelings. It can be done for as long or short as you’d like, however it is best to start small in increase the amount of time as you go.

The ability to maintain focused attention is a skill to be acquired with time. You cannot expect to be good at it immediately, however by continually practicing mindfulness meditation one’s ability to do so will improve. The key to successful practice is becoming aware of the moments your mind is wandering, and noticing where your mind goes. By observing what happens when your mind wanders, effort can be made to reduce the amount of instances where it happens.

Current research on the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in aiding in the treatment of ADHD has revealed promising results. Dr. Lidia Zylowska of UCLA conducted a feasibility study on the effectiveness of an eight-week mindfulness intervention on ADHD symptoms. Participants attended an evening session once a week for 2.5 hours and completed daily home meditation practices that increased from 5 minutes to 15 minutes over the eight weeks. At the end of the study, participants reported a significant decrease in ADHD symptoms of attention and cognitive inhibition, and satisfaction with the program. Patients struggling with ADHD symptoms and the implications of which in their lives would benefit from daily mindfulness meditation practice.

Recently, Dr. Hallowell tried a meditative form of Yoga called Yoga Nidra that carries great health benefits and helps anyone who has challenges staying focused, such as people with ADHD.  Click here to listen to Distraction, Ep. 30 and and participate in Dr. Hallowell’s session.

The Hallowell Center NYC offers group mindfulness techniques/meditation practice classes. You can also schedule a private one-on-one session to work on mindfulness with our expert practitioner. For more information about mindfulness and meditation, or to schedule an individual session, please call (212) 799-7777 or email info@hallowellcenter.org.

Check out our mindfulness/meditation facilitator at the Hallowell Center NYC: Cheryl Jacobs

The Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest offers complementary and alternative treatment programs. Learn more here.


Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

ADHD: Tips on Diagnosis and Treatment

hallowell-adhd-awareness-oct-verticalClick here to learn about Evaluative and ongoing services offered at The Hallowell Centers.

Once you get a feel for ADHD, you might start to think almost everybody has it. Because it’s symptoms abound in modern life,  it is easy to imagine you have ADHD when you do not. Therefore, it is essential that you not diagnose yourself.

So if you think you might have ADHD, make sure you consult with a well-trained specialist to get a diagnosis. The doctors who have the most training in ADHD are child psychiatrists. If you are an adult, be aware that all child psychiatrists also are trained in adult psychiatry. Ask the person you see if he or she has extensive experience in working with patients in your age group. It is imperative that you consult with a professional who has extensive experience. If you can’t find such a person, start by calling the department of psychiatry at the medical school nearest to you.

The diagnosis rests upon a careful history taken from the identified patient as well as at least one other person, such as parent, spouse, sibling, or close friend, as well as, if possible, teacher comments.

You should develop a comfortably connected relationship with the person diagnosing and treating you so that you can turn to him or her with trust whenever the need arises.

The history may be supplemented by neuropsychological testing. This is paper-and-pencil testing that includes puzzles and games. It’s actually often fun to take these tests. They are not diagnostic of ADHD, but they add valuable information.

Treatment begins with education. The patient and concerned others need to learn what ADHD is, and what it is not. A diagnosis of the mind, like ADHD, must be fully understood if it is to be mastered and made good use of. At its best, ADHD can become an asset, rather than a liability, in a person’s life. But, for this to happen, the person has to develop a deep appreciation for how ADHD works within him or her. To understand ADHD, a person could begin with one of my books, like:

 Delivered From Distraction, or with some other book on the topic. Just be sure you read a book by a highly qualified expert who writes clearly and well.

Treatment proceeds with a re-structuring of one’s life. Usually, disorganization is a leading problem in the life of the person who has ADHD. Often an organizational coach can help enormously in developing new habits of organization and time management.

Dr. Hallowell provides 7 ways to Manage Adult ADHD is his Distraction mini-podcast #29.

Treatment should also include physical exercise, at least 4 times per week. Dr. John Ratey’s work and his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, notes that physical exercise is one of the best treatments we have for ADHD.

Proper nutrition plays an important role in the treatment of ADHD in all ages. The key simply is to eat well, avoid junk food and sugar, eat whole foods, and don’t self-medicate with carbs, as many people with ADHD are tempted to do.

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

ADHD and Relationships: Living With and Loving Someone who has ADHD

On a recent afternoon at The Hallowell Center in NYC, Dr. Hallowell sat down with his wife Sue for a heartwarming conversation about his own ADHD and their marriage.

In this week’s DISTRACTION podcast, Ep 29, Dr. Hallowell’s Wife Gets Real About His ADHD. Sue doesn’t hold back and gives listeners a clear picture of what it’s like to be the only one in their house without ADHD. (Their 3 kids also have ADHD!) She shares her insights and tips for living with and loving someone who has ADHD.  LISTEN HERE!

Dr. Hallowell and his wife Sue offer the following 20 TIPS on Living With and Loving Someone who has ADHD: 

1.    Remember what you like about the other person.  Keep it in the back of your mind for those moments when you’re angry.

2.    Think not just about what the other person can do to make things better, but what you can do to make things better.

3.    Couples are too busy these days.  You’ve got to make protected time for each other, time just for the two of you, and you need to do this at least a half hour a week, preferably more.  Many couples spend more time exercising than being with each other.  One way around that is to exercise together!

4.    Respect.  Respect.  Respect.  Try always to treat your partner with respect.  Repeated put-downs can become a habit and mark the beginning of the end of a relationship.

5.    Play.  Let yourselves set aside your inhibitions and be silly.  Do foolish things together. Have a pillow fight.  Play tag.  Tickle each other.  Tell jokes.  Play pranks on each other.  Never take yourselves too seriously.  As long as you can laugh, you’ll be ok.

6.    Celebrate.  Studies show that it is more important to be there for your spouse to celebrate good times than it is to be supportive in bad times.  Of course, support in bad times matter, but it is even more predictive of success in a relationship if you can celebrate good times together.

7.    Present a united front to your kids.  Otherwise you will undermine each other.  This is not good for you and it is not good for the kids.

8.    Say something nice, something you like about your spouse at least once a day.

9.    Feel free to make fun of tips on marriage—like these—but don’t make fun of taking seriously the idea of each day doing what you can to make your relationship better.

10.  Give your spouse permission to have a life of his or her own outside the marriage, be it friends, groups, career, hobbies, or other activities.

11.  When you see an argument or fight getting started, try to catch yourself and say to yourself, “Let me try to do this a little differently this time.”  If you usually yell, fall silent.  If you usually get quiet, speak up.   Just try to vary your usual way of responding.

12. Pay compliments.  You can never pay too many compliments.  Even if they are mocked or rebuffed, they will be appreciated.

13.  Pay attention to the family of origin of your spouse.  When you get married, you not only marry your spouse, you marry your spouse’s family.  The old cliché of the terrible in-laws is a destructive one.  Make friends with your in-laws and try to have fun with them.  Remember, also, they are your children’s grandparents.

14.  Try never to use money as a tool of power.  This builds huge resentments over time.

15.  Try to keep up an active sex life.  If sex tails off, this may indicate conflict.  Try to get at the heart of the conflict.  Usually, sexual activity will pick back up.

16.  Avoid the pattern of The Big Struggle.  Attack and defend, defend and attack.   This can become a habit, a very demoralizing and destructive one.

17.  Get to know about your spouse’s childhood enough that you can understand current patterns in terms of what happened growing up.  No one hit adulthood without having had a childhood first.  And the child is the father or mother of the man or woman.

18.   Have fun together.  Do it however you want to do it, but make time to have fun.  Sounds obvious, but many couples don’t do this.

19.  T.I.O.  Turn It Off.  When you are together, turn off your electronic devices, at least for some of the time.

20.  Remember, no marriage is constantly happy, perfect, and blissful.  When times are tough, hang in there with each other.  Get some alone time, but don’t go into hiding.  You need each other.  It is easy to be there for each other in good times, but in hard times, this is when you really need one another.  This is when you just plain do it—whatever it is—for the sake of the person you married and for your own sake as well.  Don’t give up.  There is always, always hope.

The ADHD and Marriage Blog provides more information on learning to thrive in your ADHD relationship. Register for ADHD Effect Live Couples’ Course here.

Adapted from: Married to Distraction, Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption by Edward M. Hallowell, MD and Sue George Hallowell, LICSW with Melissa Orlov Ballentine, March 2010


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