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Coping With ADHD and Trying to Notice What You Like More Than Dislike

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

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give advice on helping maintain focus and happiness in individuals with ADHD.


Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome back. We are in our happiness challenge, and we’re talking about secret number six, which is notice what you like about others, more than what you don’t like within acceptable boundaries. And the question is, am I reinforcing behaviors I like or behaviors I don’t like?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

But before we get started, I have a review I want to read. This is from Gaiman and fun penguin, super energetic podcast, and awesome info. Just found your podcast and learning from all the info you share. Love Tana’s passion. And thank you for sharing what you say to your daughter. Life is not fair. It’s what we do to be healthy. I enjoy how calm Dr. Amen is. Can you get into more parenting tips also? Looking forward to more great shows. Thank you. That’s fun.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, there’s another one I wanted to read as well. Overcoming ADD. I love Tana Amen’s, no nonsense approach to nutrition. And listening to the podcast has taught me many valuable lessons to help my brain, my life, especially when it comes to dealing with my ADD. We should probably spend more time talking about ADD. It’s just such a common issue for a lot of people who listen to the podcast. So let’s transition in to that. People have ADD, notice what they don’t like more than what they like. And I learned about [crosstalk [00:02:34].

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Well, and hold on, because we talked about ACE scores. Did you know if you have chronic childhood trauma, it affects your frontal lobes, makes them sleepier.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Means more likely to be diagnosed with ADD. And if you have children who have ADD, you have adult trauma. Oh, when I had Kaitlin,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Kaitlin’s awesome.

Daniel Amen, MD:

She is awesome. But as a child, hyperactive, restless, impulsive. I’m like where are you going?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s so funny. And now she’s got a couple of kids like that.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Always trying to get away. And you know, with her kids, the old one, the younger one, you got to keep your eyes on them all the time.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh, they terrify me. Terrify me.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So that’s what makes your limbic brain hyperactive. So when I had Kaitlin and she was my third, there was never a time I could have her out of my eyesight.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And just relax. Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I remember one day she was in the back seat. I was in the front seat. She was strapped in. And when I parked, she’d got out of her car seat, open the door and ran across the parking lot. Right as I got… And I’m like… Just think about what that does to your nervous system. If you like your child.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

[inaudible [00:04:06]. If you don’t them it’s a different story. But I liked her. I knew I would be in deep trouble if she died. And so I had so many episodes raising a hyperactive child where as an adult, my trauma brain was just on fire because you have to… And some of you out there who have ADD children, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s funny because I had the opposite experience. I can’t relate to it at all. Mine was so overly cautious about everything like terrify. She was terrified of everything.

Daniel Amen, MD:

No, not Haven. My granddaughter.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh, she’s terrifying.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Not Kaitlin when she was young. I mean, now she’s awesome and she’s good mom and all that, but I was chronically stressed. And I remember whenever I’d go to the mall, she’d always try to get away from me. I mean, I would hold her hand. And for those watching on video, I would hold her hand and I’d take my pinky and wrap it around her wrist because I’m like, I need a good grip.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Didn’t you put her on a leash one time?

Daniel Amen, MD:

No, because I wrote a column in the daily Republic, the local newspaper,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh I see.

Daniel Amen, MD:

In Fairfield. And so whenever I went to a mall,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You wanted to put her on a leash.

Daniel Amen, MD:

People recognize me.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And I just couldn’t deal with, Dr. Amen, I love you. Why is your child on a leash? I just, couldn’t deal with that. So what I used to do is put her in her stroller and tie her shoes together so she couldn’t get out. And she would look at her shoes and look at me, give me that sour face.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I’m dying.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And I’m like deal with it. Because I’m here to have a good time. I’m not here to chase you. It’s like, where are you going? We’re out being together. I remember one time we were at a picnic and I didn’t have my eyes on her for like 30 seconds. And she’s literally headed toward the street.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh my gosh.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And I had to run at a dead sprint to get her so she wouldn’t hurt herself and-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Never had those issues. I had the opposite. Chloe wanted to be carried everywhere.

Daniel Amen, MD:

See how,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Crazy.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Things like this activate your nervous system. So you don’t notice what you like more than what you don’t like. And it was a conscious effort.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, because that’s like a survival. You’re always in survival mode.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And parents who have ADD children, it reshapes,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That sounds exhausting.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Their brain. It’s totally exhausting.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I mean just when the grandkids are over, I’m exhausted. I adore them and I’m exhausted when they leave because I’m so scared. I’m constantly terrified because they are just, they have no fear. None.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You have to watch all the time, which resets your nervous system. And now you begin to notice what’s wrong. Because of that,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I see accidents,

Daniel Amen, MD:

Trauma.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Everywhere.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And also, the people with ADD because they have sleepy frontal lobes. When you notice something you like, it’s nice and it raises oxytocin and probably a little bit of serotonin. When you notice what you hate, it raises dopamine. So people with ADD often use,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

So its like fight or flight.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Negativity as a stimulant. It was very early in my career and I was seeing Betty a couple of times a week. Loved her. But she started every session with how she was going to violently, gruesomely kill herself. And I was always off balance with her. Because I,

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s so sad.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Don’t want her to kill herself. I used to have the belief that somebody killed themselves, then I was a failure. And I realize I can’t control what other people do, but I can be really helpful.

But as we often say, sometimes the illness wins. Anyways. With Betty, I was just always anxious until one day I’d scanned her. She had really low frontal lobe function and she came in and she started the, how I’m going to kill myself. And I don’t recommend psychiatrists do this unless you really know someone very well. And I went, okay, you need to stop that. I said, you’re no more going to kill yourself than I am. You have five children. You love them. You know if you kill yourself, you’ve just gifted them a 500% increase chance of killing themselves. You use those horrible thoughts as a stimulant. You stimulating yourself with those visualizations.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

So interesting.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And she like took a step back and she’s like, she’s paying me. And I’m basically telling them to stop talking about suicide. And she goes, I do that. I notice what’s wrong about myself. I notice what’s wrong about my kids. And I had no idea that it was because I was using them as a stimulant. And over the next year, she just got so much better. We of course worked to balance her brain. But bad thoughts can be a bad habit. Bad thoughts can be a bad habit. And you break bad habits by noticing them, by being curious, by seeing what triggers them, what cues them, and try to understand the reward. The reward for her was unconscious, was biochemical, if you will. And then come up with a new routine. So when I think about suicide, I really don’t want to die because I’m not gifting that to my children. Let me do something else. And the thing she did was notice what she liked about other people more than what she didn’t.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I think that’s why I love exercise so much. And I discovered that when I was a kid. Because it stimulates my brain. Exercise has been shown, especially intense exercise for people who have sleepy brains, right, to release those chemicals, to increase blood flow to the brain, to make you feel happier. And figuring that out for myself was one of the most important things that I’ve done. And I hear other people with ADD say the same thing, lots of them. And it’s one of the things we tell our patients, is intense exercise, short bouts of intense exercise can really help.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

To make happier.

Daniel Amen, MD:

One has to wonder if your quote ADD didn’t come from the chronic stress you experienced as a child that made your frontal lobes sleepier. That just as you said, people with high ACE score have an activated limbic brain, emotional brain, but sleepy frontal lobes. Anyways, we hope you find this helpful. Again, your homework is, whether you’re listening to this at work or home, is the next person you come in contact with, say something nice to them. Notice what you like more than what you don’t.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.