Can a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Give You ADD?

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

Signs of ADD usually first occur at a very young age, but what if you start showing these signs later in life? Could ADD actually be caused by a physical incident such at a brain injury? In this episode, Dr. Daniel and Tana discuss a new study which reveals some surprising data.


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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

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit

Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, and stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation, as well as any of our supplements at

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Thank you so much for the reviews for the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.

"Great information to help unlock the anxiety my daughter has struggled with for years. Clear, concise, and very helpful, if not a little insane. Thank you."

Tana Amen: Did she actually say that?

Dr Daniel Amen: No. I added that.

Tana Amen: Oh.

Dr Daniel Amen: This is from [bonnet001 00:01:24], rather than 007, this is 001-

Tana Amen: That's funny.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... from Canada. We love our friends from Canada.

"Thank you for the mental health check-in. Really enjoyed this broadcast."

Well, bless you so much. All right. There's a new study out today on Can Traumatic Brain Injury Give You ADHD? The answer was absolutely, yes. I know we've talked a lot about ADD in the podcasts. We've also talked a lot about traumatic brain injury. This study was so clear that kids who experienced a traumatic brain injury, even without a loss of consciousness, years later, were more likely to be diagnosed with ADD.

Tana Amen: So even if they didn't have ADD as kids, they could experience ADD later.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right. In fact, it's one of the questions I often ask, if I get an adult that comes to see me and they clearly have ADD of one form or another, like, "How'd you do in school?" "Great." "What did teacher say about you?" "I was awesome. They love me. Consistent." "How long did a half-hour of homework take you to get done?" "Half an hour, maybe 20 minutes. My focus was really good, and now it's not."

When now it's not, when it was good, the things to think about: traumatic brain injury. Were you in a car accident? Have your hormones changed, because that can do it. Are you depressed, because that can actually make you look like you have ADD when it's not ADD. Have you had ... One of my patients just this week got bit by a big tick. Have you gotten an infection, like Lyme? There are all sorts of reasons why. Do you have mold exposure in your house? One of the big lessons I've learned from looking at, now, we're over 140,000 scans, is did you hit your head? I remember when I asked you that and you told me, "No."

Tana Amen: They know this already. You just love to point out that I said "no", repeatedly, so yes, I do.

Dr Daniel Amen: You also said, "No," when I wanted you to be my sweetheart. We ended up fixing that problem, didn't we?

Tana Amen: You just pride yourself on that. The thought comes to me, though, with this, and that is, how frustrating it's gotta be for people who ... I mean, now we're having a paradigm shift. We have people, you know, there's some enlightenment. But for people who have suffered for so long. First of all, there's so many people who absolutely didn't believe in ADD at all. Then there are those people who if they did believe in ADD, definitely did not believe that ADD could exist in adults. Those people suffered for a long time. I wouldn't say unnecessarily so, but it's-

Dr Daniel Amen: Unnecessarily so.

Tana Amen: Yeah, okay, so unnecessarily so.

Dr Daniel Amen: If you could have fixed that problem-

Tana Amen: Yeah, and that's kind of sad.

Dr Daniel Amen: Oh, super sad.

Tana Amen: It's very sad.

Dr Daniel Amen: In fact, I actually published a study many years ago on ADD in the elderly that when they have symptoms, their symptoms are worse. If you take low activity in your frontal lobes, usually associated with ADD, and then you add aging on top of that, it makes things worse. The beautiful thing is, it can be treated. One of my favorite stories is of a 94-year old woman who came to see me. I'm like, "Why are you here?" She said, "Well, you helped my great-grandson and you helped my granddaughter and you helped my son, and I realize they all got it from me," and she said, "I want to finish the paper. I've never been able to finish the paper." We scanned her. She clearly had ADD, and I treated her. A month later, she came back and she's beaming, because she told me she's read her first book.

Tana Amen: That's so cute.

Dr Daniel Amen: You know, if it doesn't go away by the time you're 20, it's probably never going away.

Tana Amen: Right, but what we're talking about here is that maybe even if you didn't have it when you were young. The person we've been working with lately, we've mentioned this person a few times, but I want to point this out because this is really important. She was a really good student, and an awesome writer, was given a column in the local newspaper when she was 15 because of her writing ability. Really amazing, and then went off the tracks, okay? Yes, started doing drugs, but also had multiple car accidents. There were some issues there.

Dr Daniel Amen: Because she had something called the Irlen Syndrome. We should actually do a podcast on that.

Tana Amen: Right, but follow me here. We had multiple reasons why-

Dr Daniel Amen: This is ADD. I can't follow you.

Tana Amen: The point being ... Had just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy happen, really difficult throughout life. Was either bored or couldn't maintain jobs for whatever reason, and then just recently, when you treated her ADD, it was literally like someone put glasses on her. It was crazy.

Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:06:37]

Tana Amen: I've never even seen something that extreme.

Dr Daniel Amen: That was miraculous.

Tana Amen: She literally was doing backflips. The next day, she called me. She's like, "My brain has ... I just realized, has never worked. For the past 30 years, my brain has not worked, and it just .... It suddenly works." It's like since then, now she's got two jobs. She doesn't have one job, she has two jobs, which she's excelling at.

Dr Daniel Amen: Both of them.

Tana Amen: It's just this ... I was thinking to myself how painful that must have been, to feel like a failure for all those years.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and if you think about it, she actually had 19 car accidents, so think of the force associated. One of them, she rolled the car two and a half times. You were in it. But the drug abuse was also a brain injury. People don't really understand that, the drug abuse damages the brain. The exciting news is you can repair it, if you put the brain in a healing environment.

Tana Amen: Yeah, and it makes my heart break, because when I think about how much pain there must have been. But now there's hope. The excitement is so exciting.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well think about how much judgment this woman faced from her-

Tana Amen: Oh, from me. Let's just call it like it is. When you grow up in a house with drug addicts, like I did, and the effects of drugs. Yeah, I wasn't kind about it. It was ... Because I'm the one helping this person now. Yes, I'm helping her, so there is that. I mean, I'm the person trying to really help her, but at the same time, I'm like constantly kicking her in the rear, because it's frustrating to me. As somebody-

Dr Daniel Amen: I'm trying to think of what you are a combination of. There's a little bit of Mother Teresa there. That is true. With Rambo, maybe?

Tana Amen: Maybe. Yeah, or like Liam Neeson.

Dr Daniel Amen: In Taken, right? I'm just-

Tana Amen: There is a weird ... It's like ... That's what it feels like when you're helping someone like that. It's like you're hugging them, you're encouraging them, and then the next thing you know, you're kicking them in the butt. Then you're hugging them, and you're encouraging them, and then you're kicking them in the butt. Anybody listening to this knows what I'm talking about. It's just a fact.

Dr Daniel Amen: All right. The take home lessons is if you had ADD as a child, head injuries will make that worse. Get treated and stop doing stupid things with your head. If you didn't have it as a child, but you notice short attention span, distractibility, restlessness, organization, procrastination, poor impulse control, it could be the result of a traumatic brain injury that can be healed. For our books, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, chapter 19, is how we rehabilitate our NFL players. Or, read Memory Rescue. That's the whole rehabilitation program that we do here at Amen Clinics. Oh, by the way, so many people from the podcasts have been calling the call center-

Tana Amen: Oh, about the code.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... and using the special code. Listen at the end of the podcast. We'll tell it to you ... And have actually come to see us because of the podcast.

Tana Amen: We want you to share it, but we would really like for you to share the code with your family and friends by sharing the podcast. The way people get better is not just by getting a scan, it's by changing their lives. Great, get the scan, but listen. Change your life. Get your community strong. That's going to really help.

Dr Daniel Amen: We produce these to provide you with ongoing support, entertainment as well, but ongoing information and support, so that you can have a better brain and a better life. Stay with us.