ADD & Loving It?! answers all your questions: What’s the difference between ADHD and ADD? Is ADHD a real diagnosis? Can adults be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? What are the symptoms of ADHD? Do I have ADHD? Is there an ADHD test I can take? Do I have to take medication for ADHD?
ADD & Loving It?! is widely considered the best program about ADHD and ADD ever made. A ground-breaking blend of humor, hope, and hard science that busts the myths and controversy disorder around Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, this video has won accolades and gratitude from millions of viewers, transforming lives around the world.
Join comedian Patrick McKenna (The Red Green Show, Traders) as he seeks a diagnosis for adult ADHD and discovers the facts from an impressive array of ADHD experts, some of whom have ADHD themselves.
Along the way, Patrick reveals how his life as a husband and father are affected by ADHD, sharing candid stories as he and his wife Janis pursue his diagnosis.
Co-starring and directed by fellow comedian Rick Green, (Bill on The Red Green Show) this program has liberated millions of people from shame, guilt, fear, and frustration. As one fan wrote, “Everything I thought I knew about ADHD was wrong! Thank you!”
Funny, moving, and transformative, this fascinating documentary will hold you spellbound. Yes, even if you have ADHD! If you watch only one video about ADHD, this is the one!
Want more? Support Rick Green via Patreon as he continues to make more videos. You get access to exclusive previews, ad-free content, webinars, and chat rooms with an amazing community of like-minded folks.
ADD & Loving It?! – Transcript
Janis McKenna – As a child in school,I was overall a good
student and fast.
Patrick McKenna – [ LAUGHING ] No.
Janis McKenna – I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I lose track of everything else.
Patrick McKenna – Do you want to circle that one for me? I saw you laughing. I saw that. It’s true.
Janis McKenna – I generally don’t like people who have different ideas from me.
Patrick McKenna – [ LAUGHING ] True. No sense lying, you’re right here. You’ll just — you’ll squeal on me.
Janis McKenna – I usually do things my own way rather than giving in to the wishes of other people.
Patrick McKenna – Circle true. Go ahead. Are you happy?
Janis McKenna – I am.
Patrick McKenna – It’s on TV now. It’s fun for you, isn’t it?
Janis McKenna – I didn’t know it would be this much fun. Okay.
Patrick McKenna – Attention Deficit Disorder.
Dr. Hallowell – It can be devastating.
Patrick McKenna – Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.
Dr. Hallowell – Without a proper diagnosis, ADD can ruin your life.
Dr. Jain – We know for sure this Is a disorder that will hurt you if you don’t look after it.
Dr. Hallowell – Okay, having said that, the tremendous good news is if you get the diagnosis and you get proper treatment, not only can you avoid all those disasters, you can achieve spectacular success.
DR. JAIN: We also know for sure that this disorder, when looked after, can make someone very functional.
DR. HALLOWELL: I mean, you can be at the absolute pinnacle, not only in terms of success, but happiness, fulfillment, a rich and wonderful life.
Patrick McKenna – This is a documentary that dares to suggest that ADD is not necessarily a total disaster.
Dr. Margaret D. Weiss – Many of the children that I see not only grow into successful adults, they grow into people
that I admire tremendously, that are kind, that raise families and contribute something very significant to society.
Patrick McKenna – I mean, recognized, acknowledged and accepted, ADD can become an ally.
Dr. Hallowell – The key to it all is education, what you’re doing right now.
Patrick McKenna – I know, I know, the majority of people who are ADD are not loving it, especially if it’s running their life.
Dr. Steven Kurtz – Moderate or severe ADHD that goes untreated, leaves you really at a loss in life.
Dr. Annick Vincent – This is why as a clinician we think it’s really important to detect ADHD early and treat ADHD early.
Patrick McKenna – There’s millions of parents and children who are suffering. As a former child and current adult and parent of ADD trust me, I know.
A lot of it was scolding of
“don’t do that”,
“stop banging your head”,
“stop rolling your head”,
you know, “settle down”,
“sit on your hands”,
“don’t be a fool”,
you know, “don’t act foolish all the time”,
“why can’t you read faster”.
Those are the formative years.
What I’m discovering that everything I thought I knew about ADD is wrong. So whether you’ve heard that ADD submits you to a life of crime and suffering and possible cannibalism, maybe of you have heard the complete opposite, that it’s all bull roar made up by the drug companies.
Whatever you heard, be prepared to be surprised. If you can pay attention long enough.
Dr. Hallowell – There are many myths about ADD and I think maybe that’s the scariest, is that there are so many.
Patrick McKenna – The amount of misinformation is incredible. The experts aren’t sure of a lot of things and some widely-accepted theories have been shot down.
Dr. Steven Kurtz – We no longer believe that ADHD is an expression of unresolved conflicts but a frank expression of some hardwiring differences.
Kate Kelly – What we no longer believe that people outgrow it. It continues on into adulthood.
Dr. Steven Kurtz – What I learned to do in graduate school to treat ADHD, I would now consider malpractice, which I know is a very strong statement, but it’s one that I do make and I make confidently.
Patrick McKenna – Over the next hour I’m going to shoot holes in what you know about Attention Deficit Disorder and I’m going to take aim at Adult ADD.
Oh, I’m Patrick McKenna, your host.
And this is “ADD And Loving It?!” I didn’t say the title.
It’s a bull crap cop out.
Smarten up, pull your boot straps up and get on with life.
If only you tried harder, you’d be able to pay attention.
Dr. Annick Vincent – What makes me really sad is when I read in the newspaper, when I open the TV and I hear someone saying that ADHD is not a real disorder.
We have so much data, so much research behind it to know that ADHD is a neurological disorder and, furthermore, it is a treatable disorder.
Janis McKenna – When Patrick agreed to do this, I felt as if we were about to reveal the little man in the Wizard of Oz and pull the curtain back.
So to come out together and speak about something that is so intimate and something that we’ve spent all these years trying to hide so nobody knew there was anything wrong.
This is a very brave thing to stand up and say I have this and these are the demons that I fight with and this is sometimes how difficult it is for me to get through a day.
Dr. Hallowell – Now have I had to learn strategies to deal with the downside? Sure. But those are learnable. Whereas the upside is not buyable or teachable or procurable in any way.
Patrick McKenna – Dr. Lynn Wiess, ground breaking pioneer, who has worked with ADD patients for over 30 years, has created a list of 29 positive attributes that she’s seen again and again.
Attributes like: Sensitive, Fun, Inventive.
You got a problem, we’ll tell you about it.
We’re energetic and we’re down to earth.
You’re looking for an ADD person, look on earth.
We don’t harbour resentment.
You can offend us and we’ll forget.
Rick Green – Stand up comics? She actually said “stand up?”
Patrick McKenna – Do you do stand up?
Off camera – Guys!
Rick Green -Oh right. Okay. We’ll cut this part out. You know what we should do, we’ve got so many questions, why don’t we put it in Post-its and then we can be organized?
Patrick McKenna – I love Post-its. Post-its. I got Post-its everywhere. Have you ever put a Post-it on your forehead when you’re driving? People are trying to read it when you’re driving.
Rick Green – Sure. There you go.
Patrick McKenna – Can we get bigger Post-its, because this is sort of a post, but I need a Post-it.
Rick Green – Yeah, I can get one letter here. We need bigger.
Dr. Hallowell – Big heartedness, generosity, all of those
kind of qualities, charisma – that are so commonly associated with children and adults with ADD, those can’t be bought or taught.
Rick Green – Last question.
Patrick McKenna – All right. Now we’re organized. All right. Let’s get to the questions starting with um… we could start with um…. this one.
Exactly what is ADD?
Attention Deficit Disorder.
What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
Three core symptoms:
- Impulse control
- Motor hyperactivity
What is the ratio of boys to girls with ADD?
If you look at the hyperactive, then it’s mostly
boys versus girls. But if you look at the inattentive symptoms, then it’s almost the same ratio of boys to girls.
What other names did ADHD go by?
Early on it was called Minimal Brain Dysfunction.
Dr. Steven Kurtz – There was a category of FLK — are you
familiar with that? Funny Looking Kids.
Who discovered ADHD and when?
Symptoms of ADHD have been around for over a century. Fidgety Phil was first described back in the 1800s.
Don’t kids grow out of ADD?
The adult will be able to better control it, so when you look at it as an outsider, you say, “it’s not there anymore,” but it is still there, but the way it is presenting itself is different.
Why Did it Take So Long to Recognize ADD?
When you get to be about 13 or 14 years old, you get
self-conscious. You start looking at yourself and you do something to try to cover up or hide the fact that you’re different.
Why is There so Much Confusion About ADD?
This is a disorder that’s been going around for hundreds
of years. We’ve just not be able to peg it easily because the names keep changing or we don’t describe it very well.
Dr. Steven Kurtz – And we’re probably in our toddler-hood with our understand of this. I think we’re maybe past our infancy but we’re not mature with our understanding of this.
Is There Resistance to the Idea of Adult ADHD?
The people closest to you have watched this behaviour over many years and they have made up stories about what it is. They’ve made up stories about what it is, you know, you’re ornery, you know, or you’re just not trying hard enough.
Does ADHD Run in Families?
Dr. Muggli – Yes.
Man on Street – Myself I think I grew up with it and I know that one of my sons was… diagnosed with Attention Deficit.
Is ADHD Genetic?
Dr. Annick Vincent – Yes.
Dr. Steven Kurtz – A greater percentage than even diabetes.
The first gene that was described was called DRD4.7
Well, since that time, back in the late 1990s, lots of genes have been described, typically of the dopamine-type.
Patrick McKenna – What do you think is the percentage of people that might have ADD in Canada?
Man on Street – Seven out of ten?
I would guess maybe 35 percent.
What Percentage of The Population is ADD?
Dr. Steven Kurtz – If you look at a bunch of studies where some are in the five to ten percent range, ten percent is probably an overestimate.
One in 25 adults have ADHD.
How Prevalent is ADD?
It’s everywhere. This is a worldwide phenomenon.
Do People With ADHD Have a Lot of Learning Disorders?
Dr – Laura Muggli – Yes.
“Problems with spelling?”
Do They Suffer From Dyslexia?
Janis McKenna – “I was or had trouble
Patrick McKenna – Yes. Okay. Yes. That’s very much.
Is ADD Real?
Dr. Steven Kurtz – It’s take it to the bank real.
Does ADD Affect Self-Esteem?
Dr. Margaret D. Weiss – Yes.
Are ADD people crazy, lazy, doomed?!
No. People with ADD are working their hearts out just to get through the day.
Dr. Kurtz – It’s not a virus and it’s not contagious.
Is ADD caused by allergies?
Is ADHD a sign of weak morals?
It’s not a sign of weak morals.
Is ADHD a sign of bad parenting?
No. We’ve got to stop telling parents they’ve done
Is ADD Recognized by the Canadian Medical Association?
Dr. Annick Vincent – Yes.
Is ADD Recognized by the American Medical Association?
Dr. Steven Kurtz – Oh yes. And the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Academy of Paediatrics.
Is There One Clear Definitive ADD Symptom?
Dr. Kurtz – One of the problems we have in child psychology and psychiatry is that no one symptom is the sole pervue of ADHD.
If there was only one gene, all these kids would be the same. It’s not.
But there are things that they have in common.
One of the greatest things I ever heard was, “You’ve seen one kid with ADHD, you’ve seen one kid with ADHD,” as opposed to, “you’ve seen them all.”
Can ADHD Be Cured?
You’re built this way. Your genes drive this.
Why the Explosion in the Number of Cases?
It overlaps a lot of different disorders in different ways.
Where Were all these People With ADD Before?
We probably are misdiagnosing it as things like anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, people who have difficulties with bipolar or even high functioning Asperger Syndrome.
Why is the ADD Diagnosis so Important?
So you know you have it.
And also to make sure you can eliminate what you don’t
Right. Sorry? What?
Well, you know, it could be your thyroid. It could be any number of things.
Okay, say you have a sore toe.
I don’t though.
No, but say you did have a sore toe.
I don’t have one.
[Stomps On Foot]
So now you could have a sore toe because someone stomped on your foot or your shoes are too tight, you stepped on a nail, you got an ingrown toenail. Heck, you could have toe
I got toe cancer?!
Maybe there’s something wrong with your vision.
Maybe your hearing is problematic.
It could be a mood disorder.
Maybe it’s an anxiety disorder.
It could be a thyroid issue.
Because mom changed the fabric softener and all of a sudden the kid was squirming in his seat and somebody said that kid must have ADHD.
My gosh, you know, not everything walking in the door with motor restlessness is ADHD. Maybe the kid’s underwear is too tight. How do you know?
Have I got “toelio?”
Importance of ADHD Assessment
Dr. Annick Vincent – So it’s really important when you get assessed for ADHD that you see a clinician that knows what is ADHD and what it is not.
Patrick McKenna – See, you can’t even manage or play to the
strengths of your ADD if you don’t know that you are ADD.
Thom Hartmann – All of a sudden a bunch of stuff fell into place for me. The main one was why I had not been able to do everything on the one hand and could do other things that other people couldn’t do on the other.
It’s like they tailored this whole entire survey and this whole entire questions and all the tests that they made me do to me.
What Tests do Doctors Use For ADHD?
Dr. Margeret Weiss – We don’t have a blood test. We don’t have a brain test.
What tests do doctors use?
There’s the CAARS self-report long version, the CADDRA
assessment form, the Brown ADD scales.
This is the Wender- Utah rating scale. Because in Utah they
do things differently.
What Do Doctors Look For With ADHD?
A pattern of difficulties and the three difficulties
that are of concern are:
- Problems With Attention
Patrick McKenna – Cannot complete tasks in an allotted time Needs extra time to finish satisfactorily. This is as an adult.
Janis McKenna – As an adult. Home projects or…?
Oh, I see, you’re going to go there are you? Okay, then we say “almost daily.” Okay.
“Doesn’t seem to be listening and gets complaints from
others about it.”
I would say almost daily, you think?
That’d be fair to say?
I think that’d be fair.
“I have too little time to look for long-term solutions to my problems.”
True In conversation, I’m a much better listener than I am a talker.
You’re an excellent talker, my darling. You’re really
good at it.
She believes in me.
“Frustrated and obsessively impatient.”
Yeah, I’d say almost daily.
I lose my temper more quickly than most people.
Let me finish!
“As a child, acting without thinking and impulsive.”
You mean like riding a trike up to WoolCo and stealing a gun?
That’s another “duh…”
“I like to think about things a long time before making
You know, there’s impulsivity that says that’s false but big purchases… No, it’s still false!
I was gonna say, you want an example?
I looked you in the eye and couldn’t get through it.
The way medicine understands problems is that we look
It has two components.
One with the inattention cluster of symptoms and one with the hyperactivity/impulsivity cluster of symptoms.
If you have both, you’re called the combined subtype of ADHD, but you only need to have six out of nine here and six out of nine here.
You have to have it:
- For at least 6 months
- In more than one setting
- Symptoms have to be impairing
We know that once you get over six over nine, it’s quite likely that you’re going to have a hard time.
Can The Negatives Be Turned Into Positives?
Once you get a handle on it, all the negatives can be turned around and you can become phenomenally successful so don’t be afraid of getting the diagnosis. The only time to be afraid is when you don’t know what’s going on.
What Are Common Traits of Adults With ADHD?
Dr. Hallowell – The most common reason an adult comes to see me is, is that they are underachieving. Flashes of brilliance but then periods of completely blowing it, and they don’t understand it.
For the life of them, they keep trying and trying but they get these inconsistent results not only in work but in relationships.
Janis McKenna – I will say remember the time we were with Steve and Jenny and we met their puppy. And, no, I wasn’t there, I just wasn’t there. And then you pull out a photograph of Patrick, Steve and Jenny and the puppy on the night of and it’s like… it’s almost like magic to him.
Organizational Skill Problems:
- Time-management difficulties
- Missed appointments
- Frequently late
- Unfinished projects
Yes, take a look at your desk, take a look at your basement. If I had a garage, I could fill that with more too.
Dr. Vincent – When you deal with adults, usually they don’t
lose things anymore. They lose time looking for their things.
Money management problems.
If I had money, well, I did at some point, I’m sure.
Well, 50% of it is gone anyway.
I think there’s people that we hire that take better care of our money.
I think a bank robber would take better care of my money.
“Frustrated and obsessively impatient…”
Yeah, I’d say almost daily. Almost daily.
I have the idea, I do it. I don’t have the time to reflect on it.
When I’m driving for instance, I’ll go 25 minutes out of my way just to keep moving. I’m not going to get into a lineup for anything.
Or, if he’s stuck in traffic and this is not a lie he gets so impatient and so distracted He was struck in traffic coming home from Toronto one time the only place he could get off was this cutoff where there was this car dealership and he bought a car.
Inability to linger over things.
The adult who’s expending more energy than others to do the same amount of work.
In some areas, that’s true but in other things I’m faster
than a lot of people.
But it certainly would be a flag though if somebody said
I’m going to mow the lawn but first I just have to go to
Canadian Tire to pick up some gas and then I got to stop
here and do that.
It took Michelangelo five years to paint the Cisteen
Chapel? It could have been done in a weekend.
Sure, with a roller. They must have had rollers.
He’s always fidgeting, he’s always squirming
We’ve moved 15 times in our marriage.
Dr. Kurtz – They tend to be overactive, even in their sleep by the way.
Patrick McKenna – We moved three apartments in the same building. Just got tired of the apartment. There’s one up on the eighth floor, let’s grab that.
Being over-talkative, interrupt frequently or inappropriately.
Well, one second.
What do you mean by interrupt?
[ BOTH TALKING TOGETHER ]
You kind of have pressure to talk.
A lifelong history of difficulty with attention.
When you grow up with ADHD, you find ways to look like you
are attentive but you may not.
“Inattentive and daydreamy.”
Anger control problems?
Patrick McKenna – I had an appointment at nine o’clock in the morning because I had to be somewhere at 9:30 and I was going to buy a car in half-an-hour.
I get there at nine o’clock and the salesman wasn’t there
because he was in a meeting, and I was waiting in the office and at about ten after nine I was losing patience and I started freaking out and suddenly this guy comes in and I tore a strip off him about being late to the point where they had to call the police ’cause I was just
an irate customer.
And it built, built, built, built, built to where I just
couldn’t contain — because the anxiety that I was going to be late for work
I added all this on to this moment that I blamed this guy who was 15 minutes late and I knew he was gonna be late because they told me he was in a meeting.
Rick Green – It’s hard to remember what you’re like at 12 or 15. I was saying to my brother that I had a fairly common childhood He said, “are you kidding?!” “All you ever talked about was that “there was going to be a nuclear war.” Oh yeah, well… I thought there was. There was anxiety there I wasn’t even aware of.
Janis McKenna – “Usually I’m more worried than most people that something might go wrong in the future.”
Patrick McKenna – True. Don’t circle it before I’ve finished.
Rick Green – “Sexual avoidance or addiction?” Boy, there’s choices.
Patrick McKenna – Avoiding the addiction or I’m addicted to avoiding.
Rick Green – I’ve stopped avoiding that addiction.
Dr. Weiss – Addictions to video games, computer addictions, spending hours on attention- relieving tasks like chat groups. It also includes overwork being so busy that you never have to stop and do tasks that are quieting or soothing.
Rick Green – All those who are workaholics raise their hands.
Lenard Adler, MD: Rates of pathological gambling in untreated adults with ADHD are higher.
Rick Green – Overeating? God no, we’re skinny as…
Yeah, the camera adds 40 pounds.
And this is like a five-camera shoot, so there’s 200 pounds there. So right there.
Dr. Muggli – Everything is sort of chaotic and, you know, possibly, you know, they’ve been married more than once.
Rick Green – “Marital problems.” Well, I’m on my second marriage so that counts.
Patrick McKenna – I’m on my first, it’s 25 years so I give my grace to her, not me.
And you had a couple of good years in there, didn’t you?
The third one was a smoker!
Thom Hartmann – When I was in my teens and early 20s, I built two very successful businesses and then managed to kill them.
Problems with driving
Okay, I’ve had five car accidents in my life and none of them have been going faster than five miles an hour.
Dr. Hallowell – It’s sort of like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but there is one problem, you have Model-T brakes.
Patrick McKenna – I forgot to mention that time I took off to the mall by myself when I was three.
Yes. Over a mile.
Oh, easily over a mile.
On your tricycle. Crossed a four-lane street. Went into —
Stole a gun.
Stole a gun. And got back on your tricycle and rode home.
And who was waiting for you?
Yes, that’s right.
But I finished the task.
How Can Adults Find Out If They Have ADD?
Dr. Weiss – I think when somebody walks into the office, they don’t know what to expect and the single biggest complaint for many of the patients that I see is that someone has had them fill out a checklist, the checklist showed that they had these symptoms or those symptoms and they received a diagnosis of ADHD.
What is a Good ADHD Assessment?
A good assessment for ADHD includes finding out why the patient is there, the history of how they came to be there, the family psychiatric history, the medical history.
Most important, the developmental history because ADHD, when it’s present, puts a stamp on each stage of development
So you may see colic in infancy, you may see a pre-schooler who was expelled from pre-school or you may see a child who
couldn’t do homework in grade three or was kicked off the football team for misbehaviour.
Dr. Kurtz – You must include a sense of a narrative over time that makes sense to you.
Dr. Jain – The bottom line really is, the person that goes through this process with you is your doctor. Your doctor needs to be able to understand those clinical symptoms, find the settings where it’s impairing, get information that tells the physician there’s something wrong.
I might be looking at your parents to get information from, I may be looking at the school, I may be looking at
circumstances in life so you tell me what’s going on with you.
But the most important thing really is that it takes time to gather all this information and it’s not easy. People have to be trained and it’s better, in fact, if a family is part of the partnership.
Did anybody ever make a comment about how you handled the
birth of your siblings?
Patrick McKenna – The questions they asked are pointed that it brought out specifics in my past. So it was enlightening to me to see the patterns being presented to me.
The Process OF ADD Assessment
DR. WIESS: So the process of assessment pulls all that
Dr. Jain – And typically, I need to talk to somebody from your past. Now, the ideal person is your mom. Now all moms by now whitewash everything from childhood. “He’s a good boy, what’s the problem? Everything was fine .”
But just like I went through with you, part of the intent is to get those stories from childhood. If those stories match your stories… well, that’s significant. There may be other stories back there that may even be more relevant.
If I didn’t have your mom or she wasn’t accessible then I’d be asking from your spouse who usually talks to moms or anyone else that I could necessarily get a story of your childhood from your elder brother for example… there might be a story.
So getting information from somebody else, learning more about you and those questionnaires become the three
parts to this diagnosis.
Patrick McKenna – I view people who are non-ADD, I envy them to a degree. I envy the fact that there’s a calm in their life that I don’t know.
Now you may be thinking, I lose my keys, I must be ADD. Hey, wait, wait. Not necessarily. You know, as we travelled
around North America interviewing all these experts, every one of our crew members ultimately thought, hey, I think I’m ADD.
Dr. Vincent – A lot of people who don’t have ADHD look like they have ADHD because they want to do so much in so many short period of time.
Patrick McKenna – It’s no wonder the skeptics dismiss it. I mean, that’s why self-diagnosis is so dangerous, because being ADD is not about being occasionally overwhelmed or occasionally confused, this is ongoing.
Dr. Vincent – It shouldn’t be “attention deficit”, it’s “attention modulation deficit.” So someone who has ADHD can focus, but not always at the right time or for enough time or on the right task.
Four Aspects of Focusing
As authors Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo point out, there’s four aspects to focusing.
What to Focus One
I go to answer an e-mail and then I realize, well, I better just enter these receipts before I forget, so I’ll enter the receipts and do that.
And then it’s like, you know what, I just need to anti-stress here for a minute, I’m just going to play a quick game of solitaire and I’ll do that, okay, one round of that and then it’s like, oh my goodness, the guitar is sitting there, I just want to play a song before this thing happens because I want to remember those chords, I got a show
in a month, I might want to remember that. Put that aside
for a while. Then it’s like, oh, photos are sliding off. And then I’ll come out to Janis and I’ll go, I didn’t even answer the email.
The second aspect of focusing is focus itself, staying on task.
Okay, so this is the screening replacement kit, right, to replace the screen,
We have to replace the screens all the time because the dog keeps running through it.
So it’s a spline. You get a spline, which is included.
[ TALKING OVER EACH OTHER ]
I have a utility knife. It’s more of a blade than a knife.
[ TALKING OVER EACH OTHER ]
And the third element of focusing is monitoring focusing.
So you’re not focusing on any one object too long or what they call hyper-focusing, because that’s… [ VOICE ON TV ] detrimental when you…
Dr. Muggli – I took my licensing exam for psychology. I think we had four and a half hours to take it, I took one break. My friend took it, she took four or five breaks.
DR. JAIN: So if you watch a television set, which is very stimulating, and my brain gets all the stimulation it needs, my filter does this and I can focus.
Thom Hartmann -If I really care about something I can focus on it in ways that nobody I know can.
DR. HALLOWELL: And it’s just not under their voluntary control.
RICK: Pat, everybody is waiting, they’re starting to close the store. Pat?
The fourth aspect of focus is shifting focus.
People with ADD have trouble with the aspect of shifting focus. For ADD people it can be really painful to go from one thing to another. [ FOCUSING ON TV ] Not always.
KATE KELLY: You don’t want to get off whatever it is you’re
doing. You feel that, God, it’s so much effort to get here, please don’t make me do that again.
What’s it Like Having ADD?
Kate Kelly – There’s a feeling when you have unmedicated ADD that I don’t feel good, I don’t feel enough, there’s something out there.
Patrick McKenna – When you’re raising children, when you’re thinking of I’ll do that tomorrow or next week I’ll make sure that I spend more time with him and do things like that, but you pass over that moment because you’re thinking beyond that moment of work now and what next, so you miss a lot of opportunities in life.
You’re stuck on channel surfing mode and you don’t have the remote control.
Dr. Vincent – Someone else is zapping the channels.
The person who mentored me in coaching, said just once I’d like to drive my brain instead of the other way around.
Dr. Muggli – You know the cartoon, “The Road Runner”?
He’s just zipping all the time and then he stops but not for very long and he’s just zipping and zipping so I feel like that’s the ADD brain so it’s always on to the next thing.
Kate Kelly – You can’t distinguish foreground and background in terms of sound so a crowded restaurant could drive you crazy. It’s like fingernails on a a blackboard.
Why Do People With ADHD Like Chaos?
It wakes up your brain. If I just juice things up here and create a little drama, I feel wide awake.
DR. JAIN: In a world that’s 911 and it’s all collapsing around you, YOU are the calmest person around, but in a world of calmness, you’re in crisis. I wouldn’t even get you to balance my chequebook for God’s sake.
Are People With ADHD Risk Takers?
Lenard Adler, MD: It goes along with some of the impulsive symptoms and the difficulty delaying an impulse. And some of that relates to the areas of the brain that are specifically affected by those two neurochemicals, neuroepinephrine and dopamine.
DR. HALLOWELL: You’re essentially self-medicating with adrenaline in a panic. And adrenaline is very similar, by the way, to stimulant medication.
Patrick McKenna – I think that’s the thrill that I get of being on stage and being in front of a camera and doing plays and theatre and stuff is that all senses are alive.
DR. HALLOWELL: Self-medicate often with drugs or alcohol or with activities like gambling and sex and shopping and spending.
Dr. Jain – ADHD individuals haven’t got a clue where the end of the cliff is. If they don’t know where the edge of that cliff is, they fall off regularly.
That’s called “impairment.” From where you stand at the edge, you see things that nobody else sees then people call you… successful All of a sudden, what you see makes a difference.
I mean, let’s be clear. Mediocrity does not change the world. People who live their life far from the edge of the cliff, who don’t take chances, don’t do things that change the world. People who change the world are people who take chances.
Dr. Hallowell -Remember, embedded in impulsivity is a positive – it’s creativity. You can’t be creative if you’re not a little bit disinhibited, if you’re not a little bit impulsive.
Dr. Muggli – So they’re always thinking two steps ahead or some other way of doing it or some new innovation.
PAT: Risk taking goes in all forms, not just jumping off a roof. It’s risk taking in the sense of pushing your boundaries out in life.
Janis McKenna – We’re running late, we have to get in the car and then I turn around and he’s stopped in the office to-burn a DVD of something or a CD or whatever, and you’re going why now.
Dr. Vincent – ADHD is surely not a choice. You don’t have the choice to have ADHD or not. That’s not intentional.
That’s not somebody who’s thinking, well, I’m just going to, I’m really going to make her angry by being late.
This is somebody who’s having a real struggle getting from A to B.
Patrick McKenna – You know, a lot of people think that ADD is some sort of death sentence, while other people think it’s nothing at all, it’s completely made up, not an issue. Yeah…
DR. KURTZ: Your behaviour isn’t that much different from mine and if I control my behaviour, why can’t you control your behaviour. As opposed to, for example, diabetes, an example I compare to a lot, where clearly my pancreas is broken, that’s why I take insulin shots and your pancreas works fine, you don’t have to, so it’s sort of a clear biological difference.
Is Adult ADD Hard to Spot?
DR. WIESS: There is also a group of adults who have never
been diagnosed who suddenly have that “a-ha” experience.
Man on Street – I remember sitting around a table and they were discussing the problems that he was having and he was frustrated and having all kinds of problems with his academics and just keeping his mind on things and somebody popped up and said has anybody tested him for Attention Deficit?
And I went, what’s that, you know, and then they described it to me and I went, “isn’t that normal?”
DR. WIESS: They’ve wondered why they had to read for four hours to get a half an hour of reading comprehension or why they couldn’t rest or there are difficulties with relationships.
DR. JAIN: When my doctor asked me the question when did you
last feel well and you say I’ve never felt well, I’ve never really felt happy, that I’ve compared myself to other people and I’ve never really felt the same.
Dr. Muggli – I always felt bad about myself, like, you know, I wasn’t doing enough or it wasn’t good enough or why couldn’t I do it better or like the other kids did.
Everyone is better than me.
Oh, definitely. Definitely. But yet I’m an attorney, I’m a doctor, I’m a teacher.
Patrick McKenna – Well, I’m a reasonably successful adult,
I must be able to return a phone call on my own, I don’t need that reminder all the time, but now it’s ten after three and I missed the phone call.
Dr. Jain – How could I have got this far having this particular difficulty? Well, the fact that I’m on my third wife and the fact that I drink to excess, that I’m bankrupt. The fact that I live in misery and pain all the time.
Patrick McKenna – I was the guy who was failing at everything, getting low marks and, you know, you couldn’t play on sports because you didn’t have any foundation of how to play sports or what that was.
Well, sure, lots of people live life like that, don’t they? No, they don’t. This is different. You’re different.
Dr. Kurtz – Come see the kids I work with who know the right thing to do and just struggle to do it and come see the kids I work with who fail at being kids.
See the kids who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves and who, when they go to the grocery store, the other kids say, “That’s the kid who got in trouble.”
It’s no fun and nobody would want this. Nobody in their right mind would want this if they didn’t have to have it.
Dr. Weiss – In those individuals, integrating this new intervention and new understanding into their self-concept means rewriting their whole life history and that’s a very large task and it’s an ongoing task which when you start in middle age is difficult.
Thom Hartmann – The single most consistent predictor of future of adult success among children is self-esteem. It’s not intelligence. It’s not any particular type of neurology. It is self-esteem.
“As a child I was or have been suspended or expelled.”
I would say quite a bit. Yeah.
Do people with ADD have lower self-esteem?
Dr. Vincent – For sure it increases the risk of having low self-esteem.
“I lack confidence with people I do not know .”
You circled it already.
Why would ADD affect self-esteem?
DR. MUGGLI: If you are sort of unruly or hyperactive and you get, you know, abused or beaten or you’re told that you’re stupid or lazy or you can’t do it or why don’t
you just pay attention more, you know, when you really can’t pay attention, then you lose contact with friends, you become more isolated.
Patrick McKenna – I spent a lot of time alone from about 6 to 12 or 13, before high school. I’d usually be alone. That’s where the all this stuff came in where I would just go and put an album on in my room and stay in the room. That was your escape.
You failed, you passed, you failed, and then they would reach me at the back of the class and say you failed and you failed because you didn’t pay attention, you failed because you didn’t settle down. I told you to settle down
and you didn’t do it. It’s your fault you failed.
Did everybody hear that? Patrick failed.
Dr. Jain – When you live a life of people yelling at you all day, by the time you get to adolescence and into adulthood, it may look like somebody who has anxiety and depression.
Janis McKenna – “I always think it will turn out well.”
This whole test is going to blow up in my face.
You think so.
Dr. Jain – When you have people who have difficulties of self-esteem, loss of potential, anxiety, depression, one of the first things you got to say is when did this start and let’s go back to your childhood.
Dr. Hallowell – By far the most common reaction when someone gets this diagnosis is relief, then a feeling of anger, why didn’t someone tell me sooner, a feeling of sadness, all these opportunities I’ve missed.
It can overwhelm you thinking, well, I thought I would be here by now, I thought this would happen by now or this is where I wanted to be but yet I’m over here.
Dr. Vincent – And it’s not a good idea to reflect back and say what if – what if I knew when I was a kid.
Patrick McKenna – And I think that happened a few years ago to me particularly, I started to get overwhelmed. And when I look back at it now, I realize that a lot of it was probably more ADD-driven than depression-driven or anxiety-driven.
When you drive, you look forward. You have that mirror
Dr. Vincent – You have to look there sometimes to be sure, but you really have to look forward.
Patrick McKenna – Janis would often, you know, grab hold of me and take stock saying, “look where you are.”
Dr. Hallowell -You let out the anger, you let out the sadness and then you jump on this wave of enthusiasm and excitement.
PAT: Actually, I have exactly what I’ve always dreamed of, right down to the tee of the description of the house we live in. You know, and the fact that your son in his 20s would still hug you every morning. Yes.
That you were great friends with your spouse. That you loved your work and your work enjoyed you.
Dr. Vincent – And what’s the treatment for low self-esteem? Success. So when you treat ADHD, you have to aim for success.
Dr. Jain – I have clients who are the best athletes in the world, the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.
PAT: That’s right, some people with ADD are leading very good lives.
What Tips for ADHD?
Dr. Hallowell – I really think it’s important to embrace a strength-based approach that does not in any way deny there is a downside, but that emphasizes the positive as a way of developing a positive.
DR. JAIN: We spend a lot of effort making sure that people
are educated. This is by far the most important intervention.
Dr. Vincent – So you need to know what you’re dealing with.
DR. JAIN: Once you’re educated, this is an individual who can start making decisions.
Know what you do well and do as much of it as you can and know what you don’t do well and figure out a way to hire it out or get somebody else to do it.
Dr. Weiss – This is a disorder in which if you change the environment to be ADHD-friendly impairment can drop drastically.
DR. JAIN: I often have my patients dream of the ideal day. If I could wake up at the ideal time, if I could have the right breakfast, if I could do the right things and then go to sleep looking back at the day and going, wow, that was a great day.
So in many ways, first identifying a lifestyle that will make you happy and then saying what do I need to do to get there.
The Right ADHD Career
Patrick McKenna – When I was in grade 10 my English teacher took me and another fellow to see Second City. And I knew that these were adults on stage having an incredible time and the infectious laughter that it created in the room.
I was possessed – possessed from that moment on that this is what I was going to do. So I snuck in one Saturday afternoon and by the end of the audition process that afternoon, I was hired to be in the touring company.
So I had to phone Janis and say, “I’m an actor at Second City and we’re getting married in a month, are you okay with that? And she went, “Yeah, that’s what you should be doing.”
DR. MUGGLI: A lot of people become entrepreneurs who have
ADHD, they start small businesses.
DR. JAIN: About 15 percent of the patients that I treat
work in the film/television industry. They should take
that Hollywood sign down and make it ADHD City.
DR. MUGGLI: I mean, even for me being a psychologist in a
private practice, it’s great because I can come in when I see my patients. I can leave. I can teach. I do neuropsychological testing.
DR. JAIN: Fifteen percent of my patients work in sales, stockbrokers, real estate agents.
Dr. Hallowell – People with ADD focus in a crisis. They’re calm, cool and collected in a crisis. Paramedics, firefighters, emergency room physicians. A brain surgeon, an airline pilot, don’t worry, they pay attention when they’re flying, they just have trouble with the paperwork after they’ve landed.
ADHD & Marriage
Marry the right person and find the right job. And adults with ADD often make the same mistake in both domains, they marry and work for a caricature of a bad fifth grade schoolteacher.
They marry and work for someone who is controlling, demeaning, picking and someone who doesn’t really like them all that much because they got the idea around about fifth grade that that’s what they needed, that they were a hopeless case so they had to be ridden hard on, they had to be controlled, they had to be demeaned and put down and so on and so forth. So don’t do that!
Janis McKenna – Everything’s a negotiation. Everything’s a negotiation. There’s not one person in the relationship who really says this is the way it is and that’s the way it has to be and this is the be-all, end-all. Yes dear. It just doesn’t work that way.
Dr. Jain – Sometimes people have to walk a little further away from the cliff if they’re under a lot of stress or risk. Having a supportive system around you makes a big difference.
Janis McKenna – I don’t get as excitable as he is. He’ll go from 0 to 60 immediately. And I just stay calm because I know that the wallet is going to be found, that the girls at Mastercard are going to say, “Hey Patrick, how’s it going? “Cancelling the cards again… no problem.”
Marry someone who loves you.
Dr. Hallowell – Marry someone who loves your upside and is willing to help you with your downside.
Why does she stay with you?
Patrick McKenna – I’m funny. I won’t say I’m a great lover but I’m funny. Funny in love?
Janis McKenna – I love his sense of humour. I love his spontaneity. I love the fact that he’s never boring. I love the fact that he’s kind and generous and he’s really thoughtful and he keeps me laughing all the time.
I can’t disagree with her.
Dr. Vincent – Well, you have to have a very good sense of humour if you want to cope with your ADHD. And those who love you really have to have a good sense of humour also.
As soon as it’s over, let it go and bring as much humour
into it as possible. Laugh about it as much as you can.
Taking Care of Yourself
Many people with ADD get to be super achievers, which is not bad, unless it’s at your expense, unless you’re not taking care of your basic self-care.
For short distances, you go very fast but you’re not taking a Ferrari on a long distance around Canada tour. They have great value, they have great potential but they’re high maintenance.
Strategies for ADD
Clear strategies are better sleep, better food.
Exercise, Omega 3’s. Anything that makes blood go to your brain and nurtures your brain is going to make your
brain work better.
Lenard Adler, MD: Any form of relaxation. The ability to be
more aware of your body and its relationship to the environment. If you can do that, it can be quite helpful.
What if I Can’t Sit Still Long Enough to Meditate?
Kate Kelly – All you need to do is get out and walk and your focus, instead of being a mantra or a breath or something like that, is the feeling of your feet on the floor.
Dr. Kurtz – We get asked about hypnosis. Hypnosis has proven value for some other conditions, but not for ADHD.
We get asked about biofeedback, but it’s not there for ADHD treatment.
Patrick McKenna – I think when our son came along and you started recognizing you had to have a schedule for children that the schedule actually fit me better than it did the child.
Post-its, but a big caution with Post-its is you don’t want to have too many reminders, because pretty soon you have an entire wall full of Post-its and you stop seeing it.
Dr. Jain – We know good habits when they’re there makes the brain work like it’s on autopilot.
Would a cluttered house or office stimulate the brain?
If you live in a world of clutter, your brain is cluttered.
Simplicity is very important.
And then there are what you might call “hey partners.”
Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking
about life coaches.
Thom Hartmann – I think probably the most effective treatment for ADHD that I’ve seen, both in kids and adults, is coaching.
Dr. Jain – I’m not terribly interested in making you normal. I’m not terribly interested in making you the middle. I’m interested in maximizing your potential and giving you knowledge. If you know where the edge of the cliff is, you’ve got to make a decision, how can I stay here and be functional.
What Strategies Can I Use?
Dr. Weiss – Experiment and find out the tricks that make a difference. If I hang my keys up everyday over here, I don’t lose them. If I have two sets of books, I can always get my homework done. If I have an organizer that rings an alarm every time I need to move to the next activity, I actually get there.
What Structures Work Best?
Have a planner and be religious about it. Be almost compulsive about checking that planner.
The family calendar was one of the introductions by
yourself. You said, “Here’s a calendar, when you have something, write it in here.” And it took a little while to get used to the calendar was the bible in the house of: Write it down, write it down, write it down.
Dr. Muggli – Now I actually have a Blackberry which is much more helpful ’cause I will forget to do silly mundane things like pick up my dry cleaning.
Isn’t This Advice Just Common Sense?
Dr. Muggli – Yes.
Dr. Kurtz – Oh yes.
Dr. Hallowell – Get up off the couch. Don’t look for the quick fix, the quick slogan, okay, I’ll do that tomorrow. Read the book. Do the homework. The stakes are high. We’re talking about your child’s health and your health in the case of adults.
Janis McKenna – Patrick would make a doctor’s appointment and then he’d come home all upset and say I got to the doctor and they had no record of my appointment.
I couldn’t believe it and I told them my time – I don’t have time to come back and do this again and insisted and so the eye doctor took him in, and said, “I’m really sorry Mr. McKenna”and everything else and wrong doctor. Wrong day, wrong doctor. Not even the doctor he made the appointment with. Now that in itself is pretty funny.
Now see, the charm got me the appointment. Don’t underestimate the charm.
He didn’t do that just once… he’s done it three times. He’s done it with dentists, eye doctors and doctors
I’m as bad as Elvis, I’ll go anywhere.
But every-time, they see him. He’s not even their patient and they see him.
We did that one.
We did them all.
I guess we’ve answered all your questions about ADD. You know, it’s been a personal journey for me.
This is all about Ritalin and drugs, which is a whole other special really. You know, it’s probably like five other specials. Well, let’s just say this, when it comes to medication, there’s so much fear out there.
Thoughts On ADD Medication
Dr. Hallowell – What’s unfortunate about the medications that we use to treat ADD is people don’t realize how safe they are. It’s a real failure of public education.
Dr. Jain – If you walk into my office and the first thing you say to me is don’t even talk to me about the medication, you will hurt your kid. You are working on ignorance.
Dr. Hallowell – The fact is stimulant medication has been in use to treat what we now call ADD since 1937. Nothing lasts that long in the realm of pharmacology unless it is both safe and effective.
Dr. Kurtz – So 80 percent of kids through many studies, not just the ones that we’ve done here, get a great treatment response, meaning that the benefits way outweigh the disadvantages.
Dr. Vincent – Aspirin would be more dangerous than Ritalin.
Dr. Hallowell – Stimulant medication when used properly is safer than Aspirin. Every year Aspirin kills tens of thousands of people due to G.I. bleeds and strokes. Hundreds of people commit suicide with Aspirin. None of that happens with stimulants.
Dr. Jain – So if you ask me the question, “How will this kid be 20 years from now?” after he takes the medication, if he has to take it for 20 years, I can tell you. I actually have data looking at the long-term treatment of this individual and it’s okay.
There’s nothing that’s going to happen that’s going to be
a risk to this person.
Kate Kelly – My experience is it opened up a whole new world. It was like a spiritual wake up call for me to take medication.
Dr. Weiss – I remember an experience when I was a young physician of giving a mother who had had many children, her first tablet of Ritalin for her nine year old son and she called me when she got home – in the taxi she’d given him the pill right away — and said “that was the child I always knew was there ”but it was the first time I’d got him still enough “that I could actually give him a hug “and the first time that we could actually talk with each other.”
So that experience where you live for the first
time symptom-free can be dramatic.
Do the medications affect your creativity?
Dr. Jain – No, they don’t. They affect your ability to plan them.
Dr. Weiss – And it also can be enlightening because it helps the patient to distinguish who they are from the
symptoms that they carry.
Dr. Kurtz – Twenty percent of kids don’t get a great response, meaning either they get no response or the negatives outweigh the positives.
Dr. Weiss – They feel too quiet or they feel zombied or they feel listless or a child will say to me it takes the sparkle out of me.
Dr. Kurtz – If that happens, it’s clear that that’s the wrong dose of the wrong medicine.
Dr. Hallowell – The side effects are immediately reversible by discontinuing the medication.
Dr. Jain – They’re not the cure, but by gosh sometimes, you know, the medications when they work, they make the kid’s life successful and they stop the suffering.
Lenard Adler, MD – If you were having difficulty seeing the blackboard in school you might be able to sit in thefront row of the classroom and squint.
You probably wouldn’t see the blackboard very well and you’d probably come home with a headache at the end of the day and it wouldn’t be very effective and you might choose
to wear glasses. For ADHD, getting treatment is like wearing those glasses. It will help relieve the symptoms and really improve functionality.
Is medication something you still use?
And if you have children eventually would you mind them going on medication at all?
No. Definitely. I think it would help them out.
Kate Kelly – I feel like I was half-dead before the medication and I think I told you I’m no longer on medication but my brain is awake. I’ve used other methods to do that.
DR. JAIN: You’ll learn the skills you need with the
medication’s help. When you don’t take the medications, those skills will still be there.
Dr. Kurtz – From the minute I meet a kid, I’m thinking of that ultimate goal – that you’re going to be an independent, functioning adult some day and whatever structures and supports I build in, I need to be prepared to ultimately remove them.
Kind of like training wheels. You put training wheels on with the notion that eventually you’re going to take them off. Now some people, it’s true, need training wheels forever. There are some people that can’t walk. And that’s okay, we just need to identify those.
Kate Kelly – I don’t think I could have accessed the other methods that I use now without medication.
Patrick McKenna – I’ve considered medication in the past, but not knowing what the side effects were and not having the information, I live by a lot of the myths that were told to me by people who had no idea either but not knowing that.
And I think a lot of the times – I don’t know if that’s
an ADD or me moment – where I often give authority to other people when I ask something if they tell me, oh, I heard this and now that we’ve done all these interviews with people you run into more people that say, “well, I’ve heard this …” you hear the myths more than you hear the fact.
This journey’s been wonderful for me to confirm that I have no fears whatsoever of going on medication. I’m looking forward to going on the medication just to see what the other side of the coin is like.
Whether I stay on it that may be what the future will tell me. Really, now that the facts are laid out, it’s so obvious.
Dr. Hallowell – The real side effects people ought to be worried about are the side effects of not getting proper treatment.
Years of under achievement, years of frustration, years of failure, years into adulthood of lost jobs and failed relationships. Those are pretty severe side effects.
So the good news is these medications used properly are safe and effective. The bad news is most people don’t know that and so they fear them.
Dr. Weiss – So we have learned that ADHD is a very real brain-based disorder that is responsive to treatment, is chronic, impairing and common and most important treatable.
So this is a tremendous public health opportunity because we have a lot of people in our society who could be receiving treatment who are not receiving treatment, and if they were, their quality of life and the quality of life of those around them would be much improved.
Okay. “I do not think it’s smart to help weak people who cannot help themselves.”
PAT: When we started out on this journey, I thought my ADD
was a gift, even the key to my success. But the more I learned the more I realized I was lucky.
I saw how much it had cost me to get where I am and what it had cost my family in unnecessary suffering.
So now if you ask me can you really love having ADD, I would say no, but you can have ADD and love life.
JANIS: I just accept his behaviour as that’s who he is.
Girlfriends will think, well, how do you lay down with a
migraine and wake up and the house is painted a different
colour or the dining room’s been redecorated or he’s taken out a wall and put in French doors?
You went shopping for groceries and you came back and there’s a wall gone? Those things in life really they’re not that big of a deal.
So what the dining room is purple.
So what, you know, we don’t have the door there anymore.
Those aren’t the big things in life, you know.
As long as we can get out of the house. Why sweat
the small stuff? So he took a wall out.