ADD / ADHD

Overview+

Attention deficit disorder (ADD), often referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is the most common psychiatric disorder in children and adults, affecting between 5-10% of the population.

It is characterized by:

  • Persistent short attention span
  • Distractibility
  • Disorganization
  • Procrastination
  • Forethought and judgment problems
  • Impulse control problems (in some, but not all)
  • Hyperactivity (in some, but not all)

To better understand the nature of ADD, Dr. Amen began looking into the brains of people with ADD using noninvasive SPECT imaging starting in 1991. Over time, he realized that ADD is not a single or simple disorder, but has many forms. Just as there are many different causes of chest pain, he found different brain SPECT patterns in his ADD patients. Over the next 6 years, he discovered and carefully described 6 different types of ADD. He also found that what works for one type of ADD may not work for another, and can even make their symptoms worse. Years later, he added a 7th type: Anxious ADD.

Untreated ADD Ruins Lives

Having untreated or incorrectly treated ADD affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life and has been associated with school underachievement, family conflict, drug abuse, legal difficulties and poor work performance. ADD is involved with low self-esteem, chronic stress, failure, depression, and even suicide.

Untreated or Ineffectively Treated ADD/ADHD Can Result In…

  • Failure to reach potential at school or work
  • Family conflict
  • Drug abuse
  • Legal and criminal problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic stress
  • Depression

Find an explanation of each of the 7 different types of ADD below, along with an example of a patient’s brain before and after treatment, how Amen Clinics use brain SPECT imaging scans, and additional resources. Note: there is greater detail in Dr. Amen’s book, Healing ADD and his other books and DVDs on the topic.

Undersurface view, concentration. Marked decrease prefrontal cortex and left temporal lobe

Undersurface view, w/Adderall. Overall marked improved activity

How Amen Clinics Can Help You+

“One treatment does not fit everyone.” – Dr. Amen

In traditional psychiatry, doctors use symptoms alone to arrive at a diagnosis and then typically prescribe one or more drugs. At Amen Clinics, we spend 2 hours gathering details on each patient’s medical history, work and sleep patterns, social life, and much more; then often do lab studies, and afterwards, visualize brain activity using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of the patient’s brain at rest and while concentrating.

The scans help our doctors know areas of the brain that are working normally, as well as those that are underperforming or overactive. Armed with this body of information, a targeted treatment plan, including lifestyle changes, is created and shared with the patient.

As a rule, we prescribe the least toxic, most effective treatments possible, including natural brain-directed supplements, medications, dietary changes, education, and customized counseling or psychotherapy. We also utilize other very powerful healing methods when indicated, such as neurofeedback or transcranial magnetic stimulation.

How can SPECT help you get better?

Since 1993, Dr. Amen and his research team have published 49 scientific articles, including papers on his work with NFL athletes, suicide, ADD/ADHD including discovery of its many forms (7 of them), predicting treatment response with stimulants, marijuana, aggression, murder, criminal recidivism, brain injury, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), oppositional defiant disorder, as well as before and after treatment responses to drugs such as clomipramine (an antidepressant).

In addition to the Amen Clinics own research, our website at www.amenclinics.com. (under “The Science”) has over 2,800 scientific abstracts on SPECT imaging as it pertains to a wide variety of neuropsychiatric conditions. Using this database, clinicians, researchers and others can easily view the bulk of substantial science underlying what we do.

Learn more about SPECT

Visit our Science Page to learn more about how SPECT works.

Our clinical approach is backed by solid research!

Below is a brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scan of Joan, a woman who suffered from severe ADD and dyslexia her whole life. The image on the left is her brain when we first scanned her at age 62. Notice the “potholes” and irregularities, which show low blood flow to her brain. After a short time of being on a targeted brain healing program, see how her brain (on the right) had improved. For Joan, a better brain came with a much better life. Joan’s treatment response, along with those of thousands of other Amen patients, underscores a central reality: By changing your brain, you can change your life for the better.

Before

After

7 Types of ADD/ADHD

The 7 different types of ADHD are described briefly below. You can find more detailed information in Dr. Amen’s book, Healing ADD, which is available in our store.

Type 1: Classic ADD/ADHD+

Symptoms:

Primary ADD symptoms (short attention span, distractibility, disorganization) plus hyperactivity, restlessness, and impulsivity.

Common SPECT findings:

Usually low prefrontal cortex and cerebellar activity with concentration.

TYPE 2: INATTENTIVE ADD+

Symptoms:

Primary ADD symptoms plus low energy and motivation, spacey, and internally preoccupied. Type 2 tends to be diagnosed later that than Type 1, if at all. It is more common in girls. These are quiet kids and adults, often labeled as “lazy”, “unmotivated”, or “not all that smart”.

Common SPECT findings:

Usually low prefrontal cortex and cerebellar activity with concentration. We are working hard to see how these two types differ in the brain.

TYPE 3: OVER-FOCUSED ADD/ADHD+

Symptoms:

Primary ADD symptoms plus cognitive inflexibility, trouble shifting attention, being stuck on negative thoughts or behaviors, worrying, holding grudges, argumentativeness, oppositional, and saddled with a need for routines. It is often seen in families with addiction problems or obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Common SPECT findings:

Usually high anterior cingulate activity plus low prefrontal cortex with concentration.

TYPE 4: TEMPORAL LOBE ADD/ADHD+

Symptoms:

Primary ADD symptoms plus a short fuse, misinterprets comments, periods of anxiety, headaches or abdominal pain, history of head injury, family history of rage, dark thoughts, memory problems, and struggles with reading. This subtype is often seen in families with learning or temper problems.

Common SPECT findings:

Usually low temporal lobe activity plus low prefrontal cortex with concentration.

TYPE 5: LIMBIC ADD/ADHD+

Symptoms:

Primary ADD symptoms plus chronic mild sadness, negativity, low energy, low self-esteem, irritability, social isolation, poor appetite, and sleep patterns.

Stimulants by themselves usually cause problems with rebound or produce depressive symptoms.

Common SPECT findings:

Usually high deep limbic activity plus low prefrontal cortex at rest and with concentration.

TYPE 6: RING OF FIRE ADD/ADHD+

Symptoms:

Primary ADD symptoms plus moodiness, anger outbursts, oppositional, inflexibility, fast thoughts, excessive talking, and very sensitive to sounds and lights. Dr. Amen named it “Ring of Fire” after the intense ring of over-activity he saw in the brains of those affected. This type is usually made much worse by stimulants.

Common SPECT findings:

Marked overall increased activity across the cortex; may or may not have low prefrontal cortex activity.

TYPE 7: ANXIOUS ADD/ADHD+

Symptoms:

Inattentiveness, distractibility, disorganization, anxiety, tension, nervousness, a tendency to predict the worst, freezing in test-taking situations, and a tendency toward social anxiety. People with this type are prone to experience the physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches and gastrointestinal problems.

Common SPECT Findings:

Increased activity in the basal ganglia at rest and while the person is concentrating. Decreased activity in the underside of the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum while the person is concentrating.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL TYPES OF ADD / ADHD+

  1. Take a 100% multi-vitamin every day. Studies have reported that they help people with learning and help prevent chronic illness.
  2. Eliminate caffeine from your diet. It interferes with treatments and sleep.
  3. Get 30-45 minutes per day of intense aerobic exercise. At Amen Clinics, brain health is very important to us, so please make sure kids have safe exercise outlets and wear helmets when appropriate. When nothing else is available, go for long, fast walks.
  4. Turn off the television and video games, or limit them to no more than 30 minutes a day. This may be hard for kids and teens, but it can make a huge difference.
  5. Food is a drug. Most people with ADHD do best with a diet that is high in protein and low in simple carbohydrates. Healing ADD is a good place to start learning how to make this diet work for you or your loved one.
  6. Do not yell at people with ADD/ADHD. Many people with ADD/ADHD seek out conflict or excitement because they like the stimulation it brings them. They can be masters at making other people mad or angry. Do not lose your temper with them: if they are able to get this reaction out of you, their subconscious, low-energy prefrontal cortex lights up and the stimulation makes them feel great. Never let your anger be their medication—they can get addicted to it.
  7. Test ADD/ADHD kids and adults for learning disabilities. They occur in up to 60% of people with ADD/ADHD. The local schools are often set up to do this for school-age children.
  8. Apply for appropriate school or work accommodations.
  9. Take a high-quality fish oil supplement. Adults: 2,000-4,000mg per day. Children: 1,000-2,000mg per day.
  10. Never stop seeking the best help for your brain.

Get the assistance you need for ADD/ADHD from Amen Clinics, Inc.

Amen Clinics, Inc. specializes in brain health, innovative neuroscience research, diagnosis and treatment for a wide variety of neuropsychiatric, behavioral, and learning problems in children, teenagers and adults. Established in 1989 by Daniel Amen, M.D., Amen Clinics has an international reputation for utilizing brain SPECT scan imaging for a wide variety of neuropsychiatric problems, including ADD, anxiety, depression, autism, and memory problems.

Our philosophy at the Amen Clinics is simple: Change your brain, Change your life.

For more information about help with ADD/ADHD and our conditions, please call us at 1-888-564-7200 or schedule an appointment

References

Camargo, EE: Brain SPECT in neurology and psychiatry. J Nucl Med. 2001 Apr;42(4):611-23.

Holman BL, Devous MD Sr. Functional brain SPECT: the emergence of a powerful clinical method. J Nucl Med. 1992 Oct;33(10):1888-904.

Krausz Y, Bonne O, Marciano R, Yaffe S, Lerer B, Chisin R. Brain SPECT imaging of neuropsychiatric disorders. Eur J Radiol. 1996 Feb;21(3):183-7.

Amen Clinic Research Papers