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Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health

A resource about ADD, ADHD, and mental health




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Monday, April 24th, 2017

ADHD and S.P.I.N. Cycle


     I often compare the ADHD mind to Niagara Falls, both wonders of gargantuan movement and energy.  The trick to making use of the energy in Niagara Falls, and to doing well in life with ADhD, is building a hydroelectric plant.  You need to hook the energy up to some contraption that can turn it into a useful product.

     Whoever makes your diagnosis could say to you what might have been said to someone who lived next to Niagara Falls all her life but never understood how to deal best with a waterfall.  “This waterfall is an insurmountable obstacle if your goal is to paddle.  But, if you will change your plan, I can show you how you can turn this waterfall into something wonderful.  This waterfall can generate enough energy to light up millions of homes.  People will pay you for all that electricity.  You just need to throw away your paddle and build a hydroelectric plant.”

When treatment begins, you are on your way to building that plant.  Treating ADHD may seem as difficult as building a hydroelectric plant—but it can be just as successful.  You need to know some of the major pitfalls.

After an initial burst of improvement at the beginning of treatment of ADHD, there is usually a leveling off.  This may be followed by long, frustrating periods during which the person with ADHD—or the entire family—feels stuck, as if they are simply spinning their wheels instead of making the kind of progress they should be making.  Such spinning happens in people of all ages, but it is especially a problem in older adolescents and adults.  With children, the natural forces of development, coupled with the influence of parents and school, usually prevail and the child progresses.

However, when the diagnosis is not made until late adolescence or adulthood, prolonged periods of going nowhere can stultify treatment.  As one woman wrote to me, “I know you know this already, but there are some people who stubbornly resist help, who are caught in patterns too deeply rooted in the subconscious to be freed from.  Sometimes I wonder if I am one of those.  So don’t bet your money on this horse.  Remember, you can’t save everyone, kid.”

I call these periods of being stuck “spinning,” based on an acronym, S.P.I.N.  The term sums up the usual causes of getting stuck:

  • “S” stands for Shame.
  • “P” stands for Pessimism and Negativity.
  • “I” stands for Isolation.
  • “N” stands for No Creative, Productive Outlet.

Getting un-stuck often depends on reversing the influence of some or all of the components of SPIN.  You can do this with a therapist, a coach, a spouse, a support group, a friend, a pastor, a relative, or all of the above.

Check back tomorrow’s for suggestions on how to handle the SHAME associated with ADHD.


Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

The Key to the Best Outcome

People often ask me, “What’s the key to getting the best outcome in working with ADD?”

There is no one key.  Watch out for simplistic solutions and the people who offer them.  There is no one best remedy, there is no one best system, there is no one best medication or nutritional supplement.  And what works for one person will not necessarily work for you or your child.

However, having treated ADD in children and adults for over 25 years now, and having ADD as well as dyslexia myself, I can say with absolute certainty that while there is no one key, we do have a marvelous assortment of keys that open many of the doors untreated ADD can seem to close.  The doors to success, personal fulfillment, joy, health, and lifelong satisfaction.

“The key” is to find the various keys that work for you. The best way to do this is to work with a doctor who knows that vast array of available keys.  Sadly, such doctors can be hard to find.  If that’s the case for you, start with my books.  Start with Delivered from Distraction and SuperParenting for ADD.  Those books will show you many keys that might work for you or your child.  As you read, you will start to smile and fill up with knowledge and knowledge’s sibling, hope.

I can tell you for sure that there is always a realistic chance for major improvement.  So don’t settle for mediocre results.  People with ADD are champions in the making.  I want you to know this just as surely as I know it.  You, or your child, are champions in the making.  Let me help you get there, either through my books, or through a personal conversation.  I have started offering telephone appointments for people who can’t come to see me in person.  If you are interested in booking such an appointment, just contact my assistant, Dianne, at info@theguildagency.com

The great mistake people make as they work with their ADD or their child’s is settling for less than the best outcome.  Please don’t make that mistake yourself.

Friday, July 24th, 2009

ADD Sayings

Hi, Ned Hallowell here.  I have been thinking for years of writing a book of 365 sayings regarding ADD, one for each day.  This is my start.  I’d love your feedback.  Should I go on?

  1. Always remember this: you really, truly are a much better person than you think you are.
  2. Scheduling is vital, even in matters where it seems unimportant.  For example, one of THE BEST ways to improve your sex life, if you have ADD, it to schedule love-making into your week.  It is both romantic—because anticipation is arousing—and effective, because you actually will make love instead of just thinking about it!
  3. I will not listen to people who burst my bubble because they are always negative.  But I will listen to people who I know have my best interests at heart even if they burst my bubble.
  4. Every day, EYES:  Exercise, Yoga or meditation, Eat right, and Sleep enough.  How much sleep is enough?  Enough so that you wake up without an alarm clock.
  5. Your greatest asset is also your worst enemy.  It’s your imagination.  Think about that and you’ll understand.  Then, try bringing your imagination under control.
  6. Before you double the recipe, count the guests.
  7. Never worry alone.
  8. Don’t worry about being perfectly organized.  Leave that for the people who have attention surplus disorder.  Make it your purpose to get well enough organized that disorganization doesn’t keep your from reaching your goals.
  9. Get a pet.  You need frequent doses of positive contact.
  10. Try to do one thing at a time.  Multi-tasking is a dangerous myth.  On the other hand, you don’t mow a lawn one blade of grass at a time.  Learn how to leverage your time and energy.
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

5 Simple Concentration Building Techniques

To read this article go to: http://empoweringparents.com/Five-Simple-Brain-Exercise-Activities-for-Your-ADHD-Child.php

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Thoughts on Addiction and ADD

A recent cover story in Time Magazine, “How We Get Addicted” from their July 16, 2007 publication, got me thinking about addictions again.  Specifically, those with ADHD and addictions.  Addictions are common in adults who have ADD, and near-addictions and intermittent substance abuse are more the rule than the exception.  This may be because of an inborn physiological problem that makes finding pleasure in ordinary ways much more difficult for the person who has ADD than for the person who doesn’t have it.

It is interesting that brains scans of addicts suggest that they have reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex.  People with ADHD also show reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex. 


Monday, June 4th, 2007

Thoughts on a Rainy Day

       Hi there, y’all!  I’m still trying to learn how to use this Blog.  Thanks for your posts.  And please give me feedback.  You can email me directly at ehallowell@aol.com

         It’s raining here today in Arlington, Mass., where I live.  Here are some random thoughts on ADD and life in general from me to you:

  • Who of you has the best new name for ADD?  I’d love to hear from you if you do. 
  • I am glad the positive parts of ADD are fianlly being recognized by more people.  It is rare to find a person with ADD who is not particularly creative, spontaneous, energetic, and sensitive
  • The diagnostic language tends to emphasize only what’s wrong.  "Impulsive," for example, is used as a pejorative.  But what is creativity, but a kind of impusivity?  No one plans to have a creative thought.  They just pop—impulsively
  • Rainy days can make anyone sad.  That’s why we all need each other.
  • Is it me, or are people actually getting friendlier?  I know, I know, that’s a ridiculous observation.  But I have noticed it.  Must be the beginning of my dementia.
  • My daughter graduates from high school June 9.  I can’t believe it.  She was born only yesterday.
  • Thank God for kids.  My three have kept me young, honest, happy, and broke!  But raising them has been by far the best thing I have ever done in my life.  And thank God for my wife, Sue.
  • Blogs are fun!  Now, if only I could learn all the cool stuff I don’t know about how to use them…
  • The Red Sox will win the Workd Series this year.  And don’t tell me I just jinxed them.  It’s fun to be bold.  Especially for a Red Sox fan.
  • The best sports blog out there is Curt Schilling’s
  • What’s the best mental health blog?  Anyone know? 
  • I think fish oil is the best supplement you can take for ADD.  And it is good for health in general.  But my primary care doctor told me he was worried that we will start to deplete the oceans of fish. 
  • I was on the Laura Ingraham radio show the other day.  I don’t care what your politics are, you have to agree she is one smart, dynamic lady.
  • My friend John Ratey is working on a book about exercise and how it helps the brain.  Dynamite book by a dynamite guy.  His top advice?  Keep moving!!!
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