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What’s The Difference Between Inattentive ADD & Overfocused ADD?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In continuation of a series on defining the 7 types of ADD, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss the symptoms and characteristics of Inattentive ADD and Overfocused ADD. Knowing exactly which type of ADD is crucial to help you determine the appropriate treatment and interventions to make. The Amens help you to evaluate whether you or your child has these types of ADD, and if so, what to do about it.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit brainmdhealth.com.
Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are having an ADD podcast. We're talking about ADD types at work, at home, and at school. We've talked about type one, but we didn't talk about how to fix it or how to treat it. We will in just a second.
This is from huletthouse. "Wow, what a wealth of complimentary information, motivation, and encouragement to live your best life. Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen generously share an abundance of resources to both point you in the right direction and keep you on the path."
Tana Amen: Thank you.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's exactly-
Tana Amen: Like it.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... what we do. And for so many people who have ADD, we hope they find this fun and empowering. I love the story of you and your sister, that when she was acting up, what you did, besides scare the heck out of [inaudible 00:02:01], was immediately place boundaries on what was acceptable and what wasn't. And the consequences of it were painful in that she loved you and wanted to spend time with you and realized if she was going to do that, you would only tolerate good behavior. And by increasing her anxiety, you actually helped her behave better.
Tana Amen: So her parents yelling at her stimulated her but didn't increase your anxiety in an effective way-
Dr Daniel Amen: Correct.
Tana Amen: ... is what you're saying.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right?
Tana Amen: Okay.
Dr Daniel Amen: That they were-
Tana Amen: Because he's used to that.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... ineffective at doing that, and screaming is an ineffective way of stimulating people who have ADD. In fact, I teach all of my patients don't yell because if you yell, they're going to make you yell again. They actually get addicted to the conflict. So one, it's bad for the parents who are yelling because they end up feeling guilty and because they feel guilty, they go into a cycle of guilt, which is, "I yelled, I feel bad, therefore, I let them do bad behavior or I don't deal with it because I feel bad that I had exploded," and then they do more bad behavior, and you don't deal with it, and then they do more bad behavior, and then you scream or you beat them. And the idea is stop screaming, but consequences-
Tana Amen: Have to be big.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, they just need to be significant-
Tana Amen: Right. That's what I mean. Significant's a better word.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... depending on the age. Depending on the age. And it fits perfectly with what we talked about with Jim Fay on Parenting With Love and Logic, that I don't do things for people who aren't nice to me. And you modeled that perfectly with your sister. She's acting up, and it's-
Tana Amen: Yeah, I maybe could've done it a little more maturely if I had been older and had some practice.
Dr Daniel Amen: But you were 21.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: And you reacted in the moment.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: People who have classic ADD, they have sleepy frontal lobes. And stimulating those, either with a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet, with stimulating supplements like Rhodiola, L-tyrosine, ginseng, or using stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse, Concerta, I'm actually a huge fan of those for the right brain. You're going to see in a little bit it's clearly not right for everybody. And people just do so much better when you balance their brain. But they also do better in jobs they love, so they do better as emergency room doctors. I've actually not met one classic ADD dermatologist.
Tana Amen: Yeah, to me the idea-
Dr Daniel Amen: There's no stimulation in rashes or pimples.
Tana Amen: Well, and here's the thing. The idea of sitting in a cubicle like ... Oh, my gosh. Which is interesting. I became a writer later, but I think it's because I loved the idea of being a mom so much. So I learned how to channel that energy and do other things like martial arts to stimulate myself instead of ... But sitting for long periods of time doesn't typically-
Dr Daniel Amen: What do you say? Your therapy is hitting things.
Tana Amen: Right. Oh, it's the best. It's just the best.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right, so that's classic ADD. In boys, diagnosed early. In school, they're often troublemakers. They're pushing against authority, although people would say I have that.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I was going to say.
Dr Daniel Amen: And at work, they have trouble sitting still. They often make great salespeople because they go from thing to thing.
Tana Amen: Oh, my gosh, my mother, you could say no to her 25 times. It's like she has Teflon on. She doesn't even hear you. Doesn't hear you. She's going to get that sale.
Dr Daniel Amen: But doing their paperwork, the IRS loves these people because they pay fines, which is why if you have classic-
Tana Amen: And they end up in more lawsuits.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... ADD at work ... They do, because of the impulsivity. If you have have classic ADD, it's really great to have, and you run a business is great. Hire an executive secretary-
Tana Amen: Who's a little more anxious.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... that does not have ADD, has a little OCD-
Tana Amen: They don't good follow through.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... that will follow through for you. And then, and this has been described a long time, it wasn't me, inattentive ADD, so short attention span, distractibility, disorganized, but they tend ... Where classic ADDers tend to be more extroverted, inattentive ADD tend to be more introverted. They have excessive daydreaming. They're not hyperactive. Instead, they may be a little hypoactive and sometimes described as sort of a slug with little motivation. And it impacts girls more than boys. They still have this low activity in their brain, but they get diagnosed way less-
Tana Amen: Because they're not noticed.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... because they are not troublemakers, although the classic ADD in girls, this is how you diagnose it. They're teenagers, and they fall in love, so they get the dopamine from falling in love. And that wears off after two weeks, and then they start fighting with the person they're attached to because they're getting dopamine from fighting, and the other person gets tired of that, so they break up, and then there's all this drama around breaking up. And then two weeks later they find another guy or another girl, and there's the stimulation from falling in love. And then they fight, and then they break up. And if this is happening three, four, 10 times a year, that really is one of the indications of ADD. It's like anybody who's just like, "Next," they should be screened for ADD.
Tana Amen: Yeah, that's actually a pretty unhealthy cycle you want to start paying attention to.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right. And you've seen that among a number of your friends.
Tana Amen: I've seen that among a number of Chloe's friends already. Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: Alright. Inattentive ADD, we treat it the same way. We use stimulants or stimulating supplements, so higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet. One of the best ways to treat ADD is intense exercise, and often ... I remember I treated this attorney who had ADD, and his office was just a mess, and his assistant had ADD, too, so it was not a good combination. But he had to exercise every day for a couple of hours and-
Tana Amen: So? So what is the point?
Dr Daniel Amen: There is actually a brand new study, you don't know this, I just read it. Brand new study. The perfect amount of exercise is about 60 minutes a day. For women who exercise more than that, there's not a longevity benefit. It actually goes the other way because it's too much stress.
Tana Amen: Yeah, now I do an hour. Now I do an hour, but I used to do two.
Dr Daniel Amen: Because it's too much stress, but a lot of people use exercise to either treat their depression or-
Tana Amen: Or both.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... treat their ADD. So when they get hurt, their life just falls apart-
Tana Amen: Oh, yes.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... because they're not medicating with the serotonin and dopamine and the endorphins that you get from exercise.
Tana Amen: I completely panicked when I got thyroid cancer and I had surgery. I panicked. That's how I knew there was something going on.
Dr Daniel Amen: So the inattentive ADD people at work, they're not getting stuff done, or it's still at the last minute, and it really can negatively affect them, and it can negatively affect their team.
Type three is what we call overfocused ADD. It's we have too much activity in a part of the frontal lobes called the anterior cingulate gyrus. It's the brain's gear shifter. And then low frontal lobes in another part. And so they have traits of being impulsive and distracted and compulsive. So these are the people who have the ADD symptoms, plus they're worried, rigid, inflexible. If things don't go their way, they tend to get upset. They're argumentative. They hold grudges. They often get diagnosed as having oppositional defiant disorder. So I always joke with [Caitlin 00:11:05], her first word was "no", her first short phrase was "no way", and her first long sentence was, "You can't make me do it." So it's classic.
We see overfocused ADD in children and grandchildren of alcoholics, so if there's a significant alcohol or drug history in your family history, they often medicate themselves with alcohol to calm down that busy frontal lobe.
Tana Amen: But doesn't exercise also ... don't these people also gravitate-
Dr Daniel Amen: They do, and it's perfect for them because exercise boosts serotonin and-
Tana Amen: And dopamine.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... dopamine. But they also can struggle with obesity because sugar boosts ...
Tana Amen: Serotonin.
Dr Daniel Amen: Serotonin. Right?
Tana Amen: And comfort foods are common for-
Dr Daniel Amen: Yes. And at work, these are the people that no matter what it is you say to them, they argue with you, and the sort of dog with a bone thing, and they won't let it go, even though it's in their best interest to let it go. So we want you to be persistent and assertive but also in a way that takes into consideration the feelings of other people.
And so this type does well ... Actually, one of my first books I wrote, 1994, it's called Healing the Chaos Within. It's about children and grandchildren of alcoholics and how interventions to raise both serotonin and dopamine transform their lives in a good way. So it used to be Prozac and Ritalin was just miraculous for some of them, and then, since I went to more natural treatments, we'll use 5-HTP and saffron to boost serotonin and Rhodiola and ginseng to help boost dopamine.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: And exercise is amazingly helpful. Now, they do better with a balanced diet. Type one and type two do better with a paleo diet or Atkins diet, a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet. This type, you actually make them mean if you-
Tana Amen: So interesting. Chloe, she does not have ADD. If anything, she's kind of the opposite of ADD. She's a little more on the anxious side.
Dr Daniel Amen: And overfocused.
Tana Amen: But at one point she wanted to do the ketogenic diet. She thought it would help her focus with school. Her anxiety just ... Oh, my gosh. It was so hard to turn it off, so hard to get her to just settle down with anything.
Dr Daniel Amen: And her rigidity.
Tana Amen: Oh, dear lord. So we figured out she needs more carbs. Healthy carbs.
Dr Daniel Amen: Healthy carbs.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right. Stay with us. We're going to talk about four, five, six, and seven coming up.
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