The Common Characteristics Of Classic ADD

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

Dr. Daniel Amen changed the way he treated his patients when he discovered that there are several different types of ADD, all with distinctive symptoms and in need of their own particular treatment plan. Through his work in SPECT imaging, he went on to categorize 7 different types of Attention Deficit Disorders. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Daniel and Tana discuss the most signifying traits present in the Classic form of ADD.

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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 first 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 in natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit
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 Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're in the middle of maybe the brain type week, how ADD can affect you at home, in your relationships, at school, and at work. But before we get to that, I want to read one of the reviews for the podcast from Alicia Garcia. I don't get how she manages, this is Tana, being a nurse, keeping a second degree black belt, being a mom and being an inspiration to the world.
Tana Amen: Oh, and having ADD according to you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And she's energetic and happy about it instead of breaking down. Like who literally gets home from a demanding job and then decides to be karate kid for a couple [inaudible 00:01:44] hours.
Tana Amen: Well, first of all, martial arts is my therapy. There's nothing more therapeutic than going and hitting stuff, just FYI. And you are going to say that's because my ADD and I don't care. It just feels amazing. But I also have a lot of support. We're a support team. We are a team. So it helps a lot.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So I think we need therapy because you have a subtype called anxious ADD. And the anxiety you feel causes you to suppress some of the ADD symptoms. But there's no question in my mind if somebody would have treated it early, you'd be the chairmen of the Department of Medicine at Harvard.
Tana Amen: Yeah, if sometimes-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because you're so smart that having ... And what's even more important for you I think is being raised in a broken home by a flaming, and I love your mother, flaming ADD mother.
Tana Amen: Yeah. It's true.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And having a dad that was distant and depressed.
Tana Amen: And just completely disconnected. He wasn't there.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you would have been raised in our home, Lord only knows what you would have done. And you've done amazing and I married you which means I'm not trying to fix you. You're my partner for life we often say, right? The only reason you're running-
Tana Amen: Till death to us part.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... is if you're chasing me.
Tana Amen: Let's be clear: till death do us part. No, but let's have a candid moment for one second, because we're joking around in the last episode. I've actually often wondered until I really started to understand how this works, because I do feel like I actually do pretty well with my life. I'm actually very happy with my life. I feel like I've accomplished a lot. My favorite thing is being a wife and a mother out of all the things I do. That's my favorite thing. But I feel like I've done a lot. I feel very accomplished. But there are times that I wonder, "Wow. I feel like I did not really start to meet my potential until 38-years-old." And when I started to figure that out.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And part of that was getting your ADD treatment.
Tana Amen: Right. And I really didn't understand. I was paying my bills on time. I was graduated from college. But I didn't even really know it was a struggle because I was so used to struggle. My entire life was a struggle from the time I was little. So there's this poster of this lion roaring and he's like, "I've been fighting to survive since I was a child." That's what I always felt like, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: And since you have your ADD treated, how many books have you written?
Tana Amen: Well, if you count the journal, it's 10. But if you don't count the journal, it's nine.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. So moving on, actually this is a very important point. Nobody wants to be labeled.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Nobody wants-
Tana Amen: It's hard.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... to be part of-
Tana Amen: You get defensive.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... a defective or abnormal. But everybody wants a better brain. And if we think of this as brain help, rather than you have a mental illness, you're just more likely to get help because you want a better brain. Who doesn't want a better brain?
Tana Amen: Here's the deal. We all have something. Like everybody-
Dr. Daniel Amen: How many people you know who don't have anything?
Tana Amen: None. Okay? So just embrace it. Lean into it, because here's the deal. Here's something that I want to just point out. We just said my mom's got flaming ADD. I mean from hell. She's got ADD from hell. She's also one of the most amazing women I've ever met in my life. Right? So this is a woman who didn't graduate from high school. She was a 16-year-old runaway. Grew up in a really, really difficult home, really difficult situation. She's also an incredible entrepreneur, which tends to go with ADD. So she didn't go to college, didn't finish high school, and she always said to me, "I have no choice but to start a business." She didn't start one because she wanted to. She started one because no one would hire her. So she started a business because she was very strong willed, very intense, and no one was going to hire someone who didn't graduate from high school. So she started her own business, and she's worth more than what? She's like in the top what, one or two percent in the country? So the woman is a powerhouse and she's an entrepreneur. And she's creative. So we have to sort of pay some tribute to that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and many people who have ADD are highly successful. So Terry Bradshaw has talked about-
Tana Amen: Surgeons.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... his ADD. Justin Timberlake has talked about his ADD. So-
Tana Amen: But even people in the medical field.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... this is the guy that owns Jet Blue, talks about his ADD.
Tana Amen: In the military it's rampant.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's getting it treated so that you can take the energy that you have-
Tana Amen: And channel it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and channel it and do the things you're really good at and farm out the things you're not really good at.
Tana Amen: Right. And that's the thing I learned.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And that's a sign of intelligent life.
Tana Amen: That's the thing I learned. Thank you. You just said it. That was the thing I learned was I don't have to be good ... That's why I was joking in the first episode when you said you don't do this, you don't do that. You're not good at this part. I'm like, "Because I learned I don't really care. I don't have to be good at everything. I'm going to focus on what I'm good at. And I'm going to find people to help me with the things I'm not." That's the sign of intelligence. So that's the sign of successful people. But-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So before we get too far, we have to dive into the types and then we can talk about each of these things with the [inaudible 00:07:32].
Tana Amen: Okay. So don't forget. I want to come back to, let's talk about when we get to that part why are certain people who seem incredibly successful like surgeons? Why are so many of them in certain fields? Why do they have a higher instance of ADD?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So it tends to be trauma surgeons and emergency room doctors because they have low dopamine levels.
Tana Amen: Which I was a trauma nurse.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You're so funny. They need excitement in order to be able to focus. So high incidence among firefighters as well. So when I first started doing imaging I found it wasn't one thing. So there's classic ADD, that's type one. It's what people think of. Short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, impulse control. Plus they're hyperactive. They're restless. They're impulsive. They have trouble sitting still. While they're in class they're eating something just to keep-
Tana Amen: I did do that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Just to like, "I've got to keep busy or I'm going to-
Tana Amen: No, for me it was I would get bored.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... or I'm going to fall asleep."
Tana Amen: Yeah, I'd fall asleep. Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so falling asleep in class is a very common thing. But it's really it's the hyperactivity. I have people say they can't sit through boring movies. If it's not somebody's dying every three seconds, then ...
Tana Amen: Okay? Really, you just said that just because a bad guy has to die in a movie for me to be happy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes, that's a whole psychological thing by itself. But so classic is the hyperactivity plus the attention plus the impulse control issues. And the kids, boys who have this are diagnosed early, and they're medicated. Girls who have it are not so much diagnosed.
Tana Amen: Why are they overlooked?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because we have gender bias-
Tana Amen: What?
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in this country that if a little boy is having problems, the parents get very worried because they believe he's going to have to take care of a family some day. And they get him-
Tana Amen: This could still be going on.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's still goes on.
Tana Amen: This can't still be happening.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Absolutely still goes on.
Tana Amen: This is not acceptable.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I didn't say it was acceptable.
Tana Amen: Not acceptable. Listen to me if you're listening to our podcast. This is not acceptable.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But if a little girl is having problems, they think she's not that smart.
Tana Amen: Not acceptable.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And they hope she marries somebody nice.
Tana Amen: Oh, my god. Don't even say rich. I will seriously knock you off your chair. Don't. Don't say it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I didn't say rich. But it's that mindset-
Tana Amen: Ah! My skin is crawling.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and I remember when I was growing up, I always thought I was going to college even though my dad nor my mom went to college. But my dad told all of my sisters they didn't need to go to college.
Tana Amen: Ah! I was told the same thing by the way.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And in a lot of parts of the world, that still goes on that there's gender bias. And the reason I bring this up is boys are actually diagnosed five times more than girls. But when you actually screen them for all the types of ADD, boys have it more like twice as much as girls. So girls remain dramatically underdiagnosed because they tend to be more the inattentive type which we'll talk about in a minute. And they tend not to have as much testosterone. So they are less of a behavior problem. So they're less likely to bring negative attention to themselves.
Tana Amen: Yeah. That would have been horrifying.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And because of that girls also have a higher incidence of limbic ADD and anxious ADD and so they don't get diagnosed. So they are condemned to live a life of mediocrity-
Tana Amen: Oh, wow.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and not get near their potential. And they hate themselves for it because they know they could be better. So self-esteem is actually the difference between where you think you should be with your potential and where you are. And so if you're close to where you are, you feel pretty good about yourself. But if you believe your potential's here, but your performing here, you hate yourself. And so girls are dramatically underdiagnosed. And the most common way women are diagnosed is they have a hyperactive son. And they bring their son here. And if it's a smart doctor and you really think a child has ADD in one form or another, you begin to look at mom and dad. And you go, "So who's got it?" And so Katelyn, my third child who I adore who I just had dinner with, is a great mom-
Tana Amen: Great mom.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and she had classic ADD from the before birth. She was so active inside her mother's womb we though she was going to be a boy, but she wasn't. And trying to hold her when she was a year old was like trying to hold a live salmon. She was so active. And she kept climbing out of her crib. Climbing out of her crib. Climbing, like, "What are you doing?" I actually went and found a net that I put on top of the crib. And every night I would zip her in. And she would grab the sides of the rail and shake it to go to bed at night. And so hyperactive ... You know I had a spiritual crisis because of this child?
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Catholics, and why they do this god only knows, god probably doesn't even know, is they bring children into church with them. And when I was little I'd go to church. There'd be seven of us sitting in a row with my brother bothering me. And she was so bad in church, so active and blurt out in the middle of mass, and I'd take her out and threaten her life. And then I realize, "Well, that's a bad thing because she's not going to go to church when she's older because you go to church get your life threatened." And it was bad for business because-
Tana Amen: Right. You're the doctor.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... I'm like the only child psychiatrist in the county and if your child's the worse one it's bad for business.
Tana Amen: But you're bringing up a very good point because so think about it because we said we're going to do this through the lens of home, work, whatever. So I have two half-sisters and one of them behaved really well when she was young. The other one was kind of a nightmare. And so the one that was a nightmare basically got beaten. I didn't grow up with her, she's my half-sister. But I remember my stepmom breaking spoons over her. My dad I mean beating this child with a belt. She just would not listen. I don't care what you did, this kid was not going to listen climbing out of her crib. She was one of the worst kids I've ever seen. The other one stayed out of trouble when she was little. Now that changed when she was older. But when she was little she was good.
Tana Amen: So the parents not only felt a tremendous amount of guilt for losing their tempers with her, which those kids can cause parents to lose their tempers. And everyone thinks, "Well, you should never lose your temper." I've seen some of these kids cause parents to lose their tempers.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, they do that purposefully. Now it's not conscious. It's Pavlovian which means they're getting benefit from it and they don't know why they react. So the classic ADD child, they're excitement seeking or conflict driven.
Tana Amen: Well, there's another-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So they play this game called "let's have a problem." They don't know they do it. But if they have a bad morning at home, like mom screams and cries and threatens their life-
Tana Amen: Which happened every day.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... then they have a good day at school. But if they have a good morning at home, they often have a bad day at school.
Tana Amen: So I'm going to give you an example. So the other thing is it caused guilt with the other sister, a lot of guilt growing up because she didn't get beaten. So that ended up causing problems for her. But here's a really interesting thing that happened. When she was 12 I remember my dad was divorcing my stepmom, and my stepmom called me. She's like, "I cannot handle these kids. Can you please come take the younger one for the weekend?" And I'm like, "I'm her sister." I was like 10 years older than her. But I'm like, "What?" It sounded weird to me but I'm like, "Okay. She needs a break."
Tana Amen: So I remember I drove up there and I picked her up. And she was pretty hard to deal with. And she gets in my car. I literally got three or four miles from the house where I picked her up and she started in with me the way she does with her mom. I didn't say one word because I'm like 21, 22, so I'm not very patient. Didn't say one word and I scared the heck out of her because I guess I spun a U-turn, which in a very aggressive way. Drove back to the house. Slammed on my breaks. Threw her bag out of the car and I went, "Get out." And she goes, "What?" I go, "Get out of my car. I'm not your mom. Get out. I'm done." And she literally was the best kid for the rest of the weekend. Zero trouble with her.
Tana Amen: So you have to kind of wonder why. Did it stimulate her? Did it ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because she's scared of you.
Tana Amen: She's not scared of me. I didn't do anything to her.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Are you kidding?
Tana Amen: I did nothing to her.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Half the world is scared of you.
Tana Amen: No, they're not. I didn't do anything. My question is, seriously, from a biological and psychological standpoint, why does she listen when that happens?
Dr. Daniel Amen: When we come back-
Tana Amen: You didn't answer my question.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... we're going to talk about-
Tana Amen: You didn't answer my question.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... the conflict seeking, scary nature of somebody who has ADD. Stay with us.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook we give away every month.