The 7 Types Of ADD & How To Treat

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

In the last episode of a series on identifying and treating the 7 different types of ADD, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen wrap up the discussion by describing the final 4 types of ADD: Temporal Lobe ADD, Limbic ADD, Ring of Fire ADD, and Anxious ADD. They also give you tips for how to properly treat someone who suffers from each one of these ADD types.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHA 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 spec 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 product 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're talking about ADD type, brain type week, and how ADD impacts relationships, work, school. Tana said, we didn't talk about how classic ADD impacts relationships. In my book, Healing ADD, there's a chapter called, "The Games ADD People Play." The first game they play is, let's have a problem. So, unless it's treated properly, they're looking for stimulation. They can find it in scary movies. So, you know, why does the movie Saw exist? It's not just Saw. It's Saw 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 3D. Why did your mother take you to scary movies when you were a child?
Tana Amen: The Hills have Eyes and Silent Scream, when I was 8 and 9 years old. What is that? It's just like, I didn't know.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, like they go after scary movies, they go to the edge in relationships. They can be conflict seeking, which means they play this game, let's have a problem. That wears out their partner. It's like, we're on vacation, we're having a great time. Why are you picking on me? It just happens over and over again. Their partners get worn out. So, they can find stimulation. Oh, this is the most amazing relationship ever. Then, a couple of hours later, change it into, you did this, you did that.
Tana Amen: So, let me ask you a question. This is, I think, a fairly practical thing people might be able to take away. I know, that was sort of my example growing up. I think learned behavior also happens, chaos. You start to learn that. Maybe that combined with some ADD of my own, or whatever. I thought that was normal. I thought that was just sort of normal in relationships. I remember when I first met you I thought, okay, this is ridiculous. He's lying. Nobody's that nice. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall, right? I kept waiting. It took me like a year and a half before I trusted it. I remember I was going through therapy. I'm like, nobody's that nice. He's trying to manipulate me somehow. I remember thinking that.
So, over time I dealt with my own stuff and I realized, no, he's actually nice. There are nice guys. They are really nice. So, I sort of dealt with that. The part that I want to point out is, number one, you have to recognize it, right? Recognize if you've gone through that, if that's been your example, it's not a crime to just go, okay. Just acknowledge it. You can't make it better unless you do. The other thing is, you can ... having peace in your house is just so amazing. You can channel that energy, if you know you've got that energy. I know I'm a little like one of those German Shepard's, those working dogs that need to be worked a lot. You always say if I don't have a project I'm dangerous. You'll come home and I'll have the back half of the house torn off, or I will have ordered a new dog from Germany, right? I'll do something like shocking.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh my God.
Tana Amen: I'm just like that. I know that about myself. I accept that. What I do is I make sure that I'm engaged and involved in something that channels that energy. Martial arts, for me, is the perfect thing, right? Writing books, doing things like this, the podcast, I just know that I need that outlet, so that I'm not bringing that into a relationship. Right? Can't people do that, learn to do that?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Absolutely. I think the older they get, especially if they are like you in their introspective, right? For somebody like you, therapy is so helpful because you're bright and you think about it.
Tana Amen: I want to be better.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You want to be better. For someone where their problems are always somebody else's fault, therapy's not that helpful, right? Therapy doesn't help everybody. It helps a certain group of people. I think you've taken full advantage of it. When I've done it for me, I've taken full advantage of it. We often say therapy is not for the weak person. It's for the strong person.
Tana Amen: Definitely not. You're going to see parts of yourself, naked, that you're just like, whoa.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's for the strong person. Okay. So, classic ADD, the restlessness can really impact relationships. The interrupting. The other person is not able to ... you know, relationships require one time to listening. A lot of people have ADD, they're not good listeners. They're always afraid if I don't say what I'm thinking, I'm going to forget it, because they get distracted easily. Classic ADD.
I did an article once for Men's Health. I used to be a columnist for Men's Health, and actually wrote a couple of feature articles for them. One was six women wrote about the best sex of their lives. I did the psychoanalysis of it. That was so much fun.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I was just going to say, that is something I'm sure you would ... never mind. Keep going.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That was so much fun for me.
Tana Amen: Keep going.
Dr. Daniel Amen: As I was reading about these wild experiences, I'm like, these are classic ADD women, right? Fun to write about, these are not women I would ever date.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They would make my life ...
Tana Amen: They are crazy. They will make you crazy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it's hard for them to be settled ...
Tana Amen: They're going to move on, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in the relationship. They are what we called montane voles.
Tana Amen: You need to explain what that means. People are like, what? What is he talking about?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, they actually did this study on monogamy. They actually did it on voles. Voles are little furry things, they look like prairie dogs. They are little rodents. They are prairie voles, so if they mate with another prairie vole, that's it.
Tana Amen: That's it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's it, 80% of the time. Even if they're partner dies, they are the only vole they want.
Tana Amen: They mourn, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: They mourn. There's another one called montane voles, that are one night stand artists. If they have sex ...
Tana Amen: Love the one you're with.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... with another montane vole, it just doesn't matter one bit if that's the vole they have sex with the next time.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, you have to sort of know who you are.
Tana Amen: Your values need to line up with the person you're with.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and stay with your species.
Tana Amen: That can be dangerous.
Dr. Daniel Amen: People with classic ADD are more likely to be ...
Tana Amen: Maybe they don't want to be that, maybe it's the ADD is the problem.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you treat the ADD, they can be ...
Tana Amen: They may be different.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... so much better. At work, more focused, in their relationships.
Tana Amen: You just got done saying, talking about self-esteem. Maybe that person hates themselves for that, but they keep repeating the cycle because they don't know what else to do. I'm just bringing something up that just occurred to me.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They don't know the underlying analogy.
Tana Amen: I know we see people who hate themselves, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's go onto type four, which is ... so, classic ADD, inattentive, ADD, over focused ADD. Type four, I describe as very early on with our imaging work, is one I call temporal lobe ADD. So, we have temporal lobes underneath your temples, behind your eyes. They're very large structures in the brain. They house the amygdala and the hippocampus. When they're hurt, either from a head trauma or toxic or you're born that way, mood instability, irritability, temper problems, learning problems, dark thoughts. I would get all these kids who had rage attacks. People thought it was bad parent. When I scanned them, they had trouble in their temporal lobes. I actually found that anti-seizure medications just balance them out. I often had to treat their ADD as well, but this is a very important step.
Tana Amen: This is important because with children this is just tragic. Think about this with a partner. Of all the types of ADD you've talked about so far, from my perspective, from a female perspective, I don't know about from a male perspective, that would be the hardest one to deal with. The others are annoying, irritating, might not put up with it. That one, flat out dangerous. That's just not going to happen.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It can be.
Tana Amen: The temper. If someone behaves that way toward me, it's not going to happen. The temper, the outrage, the violence, yeah, no. That could be a recipe for disaster. This one would be the hardest. You tend to label them as bad.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I think for anybody, it would be.
Tana Amen: You're going to label them as bad, is my point.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. When, in fact, they're hurt.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Making that shift is dramatic. You often have to treat ... you treat the temporal lobes. We often do it with an anti-seizure medicine, so Lamictal, Norantan, Depakote, Trileptal, Topamax sometimes. As it balances, you often will then add either stimulating supplement or medication. It can help so much.
Tana Amen: So if someone's dealing with this, give them an idea how long it would take to get this treated before they see some kind of result, and what can they do in the process? That's kind of a scary one, to me. What can they do? Help me out.
Dr. Daniel Amen: A couple of weeks.
Tana Amen: Get seen.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you have a scan.
Tana Amen: Suspect it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You have a map, right? That's why we scan people, to have a map. Then get on the right treatment. The best diet is a low carbohydrate, higher protein and fat diet. The ketogenic diet is actually been found to treat seizure disorders. I think it is almost like a storm going on in someone's brain, where they can be really great and then someone pokes them and they explode. If they have it and they drank, it's really the prescription for disaster. Higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. Sometimes neurofeedback can be really helpful. Sometimes hyperbaric oxygen, put the brain in a healing environment. So many of the best stories that I have are temporal lobe ADD kids that, on the right treatment, or adults ...
Tana Amen: Yeah, because you see that transformation.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... just saved their lives.
Tana Amen: Yeah, that's transformational.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It is a very important subtype. Type five is limbic ADD. That's a combination of both ADD and depression. They don't do well with stimulants, in fact stimulants often will work but then they'll rebound. It will cause them, when it wears off, to cry. They are people, classic ADD people often really are happy. Once they get bad thought, well, they got distracted from it and they went onto another thought. Limbic ADD people see the glass as half empty. It's almost like they always have this low grade depression. They tend to be more socially isolated, more lonely, negative, a little bit like Eeyore. They do better with sam e, a stimulating supplement, or with Wellbutrin. So, Wellbutrin often miraculous for this type.
Then, you know, early on I actually didn't want to see this type. I didn't describe it for, I think, five years. I would see it but it didn't fit my idea of ADD. People don't see things they're not looking for. They didn't have low activity in their brain, they actually had high activity in their brain. The whole thing was overactive. We call it the ring of fire.
Tana Amen: Oh, I've seen these kids.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. You know our friend Jared, we just transformed his life. Their brains working way too hard. You give them a stimulant ...
Tana Amen: It's almost like an infection, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: You give them a stimulant, in fact if you give type over focused a stimulant, they get more over focused. You give temporal lobe a stimulant, you may actually trigger the violence or trigger hallucinations. The limbic people, can make them sad. The ring of fire people, they can just get more angry, OCD.
Tana Amen: Violent.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I had one boy who became suicidal on it. So, the ring of fire is ADD plus really bad sensory integration things, like the world comes at them way too quickly. Sometimes they have tics. Often can go with Tourette's. Sometimes it's due to an infection, like a panda syndrome, which we can talk about.
Tana Amen: So, if I could just describe Jared from the perspective of a mother who had a little child. I didn't want my child around him, which is so hard for a mom to say, right? You have empathy for the other mother. You know that's painful to another mother, but I was afraid for my daughter to be around him because she was younger than he was, significantly younger. He was just this whirlwind that would come into a room. You just knew something was going to go wrong. He was just never very happy. If he did throw, go into a rage, he was going to punch a hole in a wall or something.
It's this sort of very out of control. It wasn't bad parenting. I knew it wasn't bad parenting. It was like, what is happening? It was like this ... it almost creates this sense of fear in the people around.
Dr. Daniel Amen: He had been tried on six medications. They wanted to put him on an anti-psychotic.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: When your friend, Christine, saw us on television.
Tana Amen: Right. I hadn't seen her for a while, part of it because of this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: She reached out to us. We took him off all of his medication. Put him on supplements. Changed his diet. It transformed his life.
Tana Amen: Like significantly. It's a scary thing to see.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now, the last type is ... ring of fire affects you in school. You're in the principal's office all the time. You're not able to focus because the world's coming at you.
Tana Amen: He was always in trouble, no friends.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You've been diagnosed with ADD. You've been on a stimulant and you failed it. That's the common thing.
Tana Amen: There's a good chance you don't have friends.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes. At work, you're often seen as a troublemaker. In relationships, you tend to go through relationships because ...
Tana Amen: Not a lot of people are putting up with it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... your partner is unhappy about your behavior. Now, the last type, it's the type that gets diagnosed the least because they cover for it. That's anxious ADD. They have the ADD symptoms, but because they have a higher level of anxiety, as opposed to most kinds of ADD where they have a lower level of anxiety, in fact maybe not enough anxiety, this type their basal ganglia is really busy. Their frontal lobes are sleeping. They have the core ADD symptoms plus they can be anxious and tense and predict the worst. Their level of anxiety keeps them on track, but it's at a great expense. These would be the ICU nurses, the emergency room doctors, the trauma surgeons. The anxiety kept getting them through nursing school and medical school, but at a cost it took them longer, and with sort of greater effort.
Tana Amen: Okay. So I think I have the anxious ADD. It didn't take me longer. That wasn't my problem. We said this in a different podcast, when I went through that really severe depression, because no one knew what was going on in my brain they put me on Prozac.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Prozac drops ...
Tana Amen: That was a disaster.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... sleepy frontal lobes.
Tana Amen: I wasn't anxious anymore.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You weren't anxious anymore.
Tana Amen: Disinhibited.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which was not necessarily a good thing.
Tana Amen: No.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We all need some anxiety.
Tana Amen: The anxiety is what was actually sort of keeping me on track. I think that, if anything, that was when whatever ADD signs I had emerged. Fortunately, I took myself off of it pretty quickly. I just knew I wasn't being me. I was like, what is this? That was never how I thought or behaved.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's why we really believe in first do no harm. What's the least toxic, most effective treatment? For you, if they would have treated your thyroid effectively, then treated the ADD, you ...
Tana Amen: Likely wouldn't have gone through that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... wouldn't have gone through that. Now you know that. You can share this information for others. So, I have a book, "Healing ADD." It's sold 500,000 copies.
Tana Amen: It's a great book. It's one of my favorite books of yours, I just have to say.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Thank you. If you want to learn more about this, we also have a course that Tana and I did together called "Healing ADD at home in 30 days." We like it because it's like 30 5-10 minute videos on what are the things you can do right away. You can get the book anywhere where great books are sold, or on You can get the course at Stay with us.
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