9 Frequently Asked Questions About ADD/ADHD

Questions About ADD

Content updated from previous publish date.

Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD)—is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in children, it remains highly misunderstood, frequently undiagnosed, and incorrectly treated—especially in adults. If you have ADD/ADHD, suspect you might have it, or know someone who has it, you probably have questions. Here are answers to 9 of the most common questions the psychiatrists at Amen Clinics hear from their patients.

SPECT scans show when people with ADHD try to concentrate, activity in the prefrontal cortex decreases. The harder you try, the worse it gets. Your brain betrays you. It’s like you put your foot on the gas pedal, but your car goes… Click To Tweet


1. Why does my ADD/ADHD get worse when I try harder to concentrate?

The brain SPECT imaging work at Amen Clinics shows that when people with ADD/ADHD try harder to concentrate, activity in the prefrontal cortex decreases, which makes it even harder to pay attention. This means that the harder you try, the worse it gets. With ADD/ADHD, your brain betrays you. It’s like you put your foot on the gas pedal, but your car goes slower rather than faster.

This is what podcaster, author, and motivational speaker Mel Robbins learned when she visited Amen Clinics to get a brain scan as part of an episode of Scan My Brain. Robbins didn’t discover she had ADD/ADHD until age 47 and seeing her brain scans at rest compared to during concentration helped her understand so much about the struggles she’s had. Her scans revealed that activity in her brain dropped dramatically when she was trying to focus, causing her to exclaim, “This explains why I can’t write a book!”

2. How does ADD/ADHD medication work?

Think of people with ADD/ADHD like those who need glasses. People who wear glasses aren’t crazy, dumb, or lazy; their eyes are shaped funny. It’s the same for people with ADD/ADHD. They aren’t crazy, dumb, or lazy either; their brains work differently, and medication can improve brain function in some cases. But medication doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. This is because ADD/ADHD is not a single or simple disorder thing. Brain SPECT imaging shows that there are 7 types of ADD/ADHD. Knowing your type is key to getting the most effective treatment.

3. Can I live a productive life with ADD/ADHD without medication?

Generally, yes, but it takes effort. There are many natural ADD/ADHD solutions that can help, but you need to choose strategies that work for your type. Strategies that benefit all 7 types of ADD/ADHD include:

  • Eating a brain-healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids

In addition, take supplements based on your ADD/ADHD type. And if you have really severe ADD/ADHD symptoms, such as inability to focus or impulsivity that gets you into trouble, consider medication.

4. Is a person ever too old to begin taking medicine for ADD/ADHD?

No. Look at one 94-year-old woman who came to Amen Clinics after her great-grandchild, her grandchild, and one of her children had already been treated there. When she was asked why she was seeking treatment, she said, “I want to finish reading the paper. I can never finish the paper.” Her SPECT scans showed that she clearly had ADD/ADHD and it’s likely that her family members had inherited a genetic predisposition for the disorder from her. After only one month of treatment, she returned to the clinic and announced that not only was she reading the whole paper, but she had also just finished reading her first book!

5. What is the function of dopamine in ADD/ADHD when it comes to focus and being productive?

Mel Robbins asks this question in her Scan My Brain episode after learning that dopamine is typically low in people with ADD/ADHD. Low dopamine is associated with decreased motivation, trouble focusing, and a lack of the horsepower required to get things accomplished. This is why people with ADD/ADHD often seek out conflict or engage in risky behaviors as a way to stimulate the brain and trigger the release of dopamine.

6. My ADD/ADHD got worse after having kids. Is that common?

This is very common. People who have ADD/ADHD often figure out how to manage their own lives, but when there’s a new baby or multiple toddlers in the house, it gets more challenging. Sleep deprivation and increased stress make it much harder to cope. Plus, if you have ADD/ADHD, odds are your kids will have ADD/ADHD too, which can really increase your stress. All that added stress can exacerbate symptoms. The best strategy is to adopt brain-healthy habits, learn stress-reduction techniques, and teach them to your children too.

7. Can a hormonal imbalance cause ADD/ADHD?

If you have ADD/ADHD, you typically have it your entire life. It’s not just something that develops in midlife when you’re going through perimenopause or menopause. However, menopause and hormone imbalances can cause symptoms that are commonly seen in ADD/ADHD. So, the determining question is, have ADD/ADHD symptoms—short attention span, disorganization, distractibility, procrastination, and poor impulse control issues—been the story of your life? Or did the symptoms just show up as you went through a hormonal change?

8. Can an ADD/ADHD diagnosis be due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

It’s very common for people who have had one or more concussions or sub-concussive head injuries to develop symptoms seen in ADD/ADHD. In fact, it is so common, that the physicians at Amen Clinics considered making the effects of TBI an eighth type of ADD/ADHD! Rehabilitating the brain trauma can help resolve ADD/ADHD-like symptoms. However, if you hit your head repeatedly, as many boxers or football players do, it can lead to lifelong ADD/ADHD symptoms. The key to recovery is rehabilitating your head trauma with strategies like hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), neurofeedback, and more.

9. Which diet plan should a person with ADD/ADHD follow?

The best diet plan depends on your ADD/ADHD type. For most of the types, a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate plan works best. For those with overfocused ADD/ADHD, however, it’s better to eat lower amounts of protein and higher amounts of complex carbohydrates. All 7 types of ADD/ADHD can benefit from optimizing brain function by stabilizing and balancing blood sugar. Eliminate sugar and foods that quickly turn to sugar and eat a lot of healthy fat salmon, avocado, nuts, and seeds.

Gaining a better understanding of ADD/ADHD can help you learn how to better manage your symptoms. If you still have questions that aren’t answered here, seek help from a mental health professional who understands that ADD/ADHD is a brain-based disorder with multiple types. This can help you get a more personalized treatment plan so you can improve your focus, organization, and impulse control.

ADD/ADHD and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    Comment by vorbelutr ioperbir — November 22, 2023 @ 5:24 AM

  2. Thank you, for this, information, I have adult, ADHD. Very helpful, info. I am currently, being treated. I have read along of your great books and watched your shows. Very, helpful!

    Comment by Deborah Ruyf — December 11, 2023 @ 8:33 PM

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