What Your Doctor Might Be Missing About ADD/ADHD

What Your Doctor Might Be Missing About ADD ADHD

Most people who think they (or their child) might have attention-deficit disorder (ADD), also known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), head to a pediatrician or primary care physician for a prescription for stimulants. But this common condition that affects 4.4% of adults and 9.4% of children is highly complex and requires a much deeper investigation than just a brief office visit and a one-size-fits-all treatment plan.

Amen Clinics, the global leader in brain health, has worked with tens of thousands of children and adults with ADD/ADHD for over 30 years. Based on this experience, along with the world’s largest database of functional brain imaging related to behavior, the team at Amen Clinics has identified 10 critical things about ADD/ADHD that many healthcare professionals might be missing and that could be keeping you (or your child) from getting relief from symptoms.

10 Critical Things About ADD/ADHD That Many Healthcare Professionals Might Be Missing

1. Not everyone is hyperactive.

Many people with this condition are never hyperactive. The non-hyperactive or “inattentive” ADD people are often ignored because they don’t bring enough negative attention to themselves. Many of these children, teenagers, or adults earn the unjust labels “willful,” “lazy,” “unmotivated,” or “not that smart.” Among the patients at Amen Clinics, inattentive ADD without hyperactivity tends to be more common in females.

2. ADD/ADHD is a brain issue.

Based on brain imaging studies using a technology called SPECT, which measures blood flow and activity in the brain, Amen Clinics has found that ADD/ADHD is associated with abnormal brain patterns. And there isn’t just one type. There are 7 types of ADD/ADHD. Knowing your type is essential to getting the right help for yourself or your child.

3. Stimulants don’t work for everyone.

Stimulant medications can be helpful for some people with ADD/ADHD, but not for everybody. In fact, giving stimulants to people with certain types of ADD/ADHD makes them worse. In addition, according to the neuropsychiatrists at Amen Clinics, taking prescription medication should never be the first or only thing you do to treat a mental health condition.

4. ADD doesn’t show up as an adult.

ADD is called a developmental disorder because people have it early in life. It is not something that develops in middle age. If you have ADD/ADHD symptoms but never had them as a child, it is likely due to something else, such as depression, chronic stress, hormonal changes, a head injury, or some form of toxic exposure.

If you have ADD/ADHD symptoms but never had them as a child, it is likely due to something else, such as depression, chronic stress, hormonal changes, a head injury, or some form of toxic exposure. Click To Tweet

5. Head trauma can contribute to the condition.

One of the most common causes of ADD-like symptoms outside of genetics is head trauma, especially to the prefrontal cortex. SPECT is clearly able to show areas of damage that are not seen on the anatomy studies like CAT scans or MRI studies. When the prefrontal cortex is injured, people have more ADD/ADHD-like symptoms. Many people—even healthcare professionals—do not fully understand how head injuries, sometimes even “minor” ones where no loss of consciousness occurs, can alter a person’s character and ability to learn.

One of the most common causes of ADD-like symptoms outside of genetics is head trauma. Click To Tweet

6. ADD/ADHD can lead to substance abuse.

Drug and alcohol abuse are very common problems in teenagers and adults with untreated ADD/ADHD. A 2011 study from researchers at Harvard in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reported that people with the condition are one and a half times more likely to develop substance abuse (including cigarette smoking) compared with people who don’t have ADD/ADHD.

7. Your biology matters.

Amen Clinics has found that what you eat, how well you sleep, and how much you exercise can have a major impact on your symptoms. Most people with ADD/ADHD (but not Type 3 Overfocused) do best with a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet. Getting 30-45 minutes daily of exercise, especially aerobic exercise that increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, can be very helpful. Sleep disturbances are very common in people with ADD/ADHD. Many have trouble getting to sleep at night and getting up in the morning. Sleep deprivation leads to overall decreased brain activity. In order to optimize brain function, aim for at least 7 hours each night.

8. Nutritional supplements can increase focus and attention.

Basic supplements that can benefit people with all types of ADD/ADHD include a multivitamin/mineral, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. There is good scientific evidence that rhodiola, green tea, ginseng, and ashwagandha increase focus and attention.

9. Neurofeedback can be helpful.

A very exciting biological treatment for ADD/ADHD is neurofeedback. This interactive, non-invasive therapy helps strengthen the brain to achieve a more focused state. Amen Clinics patients who have used neurofeedback therapy have reported enhanced focus, decreased impulsivity, and improved moods.

10. When assessing ADD/ADHD, there are many things to consider.

According to the CDC, 6 of 10 children with ADD/ADHD have at least one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. At Amen Clinics, conditions that are evaluated include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and tic disorders (such as Tourette’s syndrome). In addition, adjustment disorders or family problems; a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; medical factors; and learning/developmental problems need to be evaluated. Only by understanding everything that may be contributing to symptoms and addressing each of these issues can you (or your child) truly get well.

ADD/ADHD, as well as conduct disorders and behavioral disorders, can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.


  1. My granddaughter has had mental trauma in her life. Her mother was murdered and she was told this year that I was not her mom and how her mother died. She had been put through many things I found out after I took her in. She was about 8 months when I got her for good. I am tired of giving her this medicine and in 3 months she has to try something else. I want to get her tested and then decide on what to do. I live in Indiana is there someplace I can take her to test her? I want her to be the best she can be. She is super smart. But she needs help. Please help me to help her. She hates taking pills every day. I don’t like it. But that’s what they do.

    Comment by Wanda Turnbull — September 11, 2020 @ 5:23 AM

  2. I wish you had a clinic in Texas. I live in Dallas and would LOVE to have somewhere nearby that I can go to.

    Comment by Olga Rosenberger — September 11, 2020 @ 5:48 AM

  3. Would like more information on a clinic near me?

    Comment by Tonya — September 11, 2020 @ 8:09 AM

  4. I have alit off pain in addition to ADD. Can you treat it?
    Where are you located?

    Comment by Deborah l jones — September 11, 2020 @ 11:49 AM

  5. Very sad Amen clinics are so expensive, so many people and kids could use this help.

    Comment by Jennifer — September 12, 2020 @ 9:28 AM

  6. To Wanda Trumbull, in addition to what the Amen clinic can do for you, I have been learning about Trust Based Relational intervention for children from hard places TBRI through free zoom classes provided by SaddlebackChurch Lake Forest, California. Max McGhee in the orphan care ministry there has been very helpful. maxm@saddleback.com
    I was diagnosed with ADHD, I also deal with the effects of childhood trauma. These classes are helping me understand what could help me heal as well learning to understand and help others who struggle. You care about this young one, God does even more. I’m praying that He will guide you in this journey for her good. May His protection and blessing be upon you both. In Jesus’s Name.

    Comment by Ruth — September 13, 2020 @ 10:20 AM

  7. I have always said I have anxiety issues. I’m not looking for excuses to blame. I’m looking for answer’s about why I am so uptight, I always fidget with my hands and fingers, or shoving things (food, toothpicks, sunflower seeds) in my mouth while driving… it is driving my wife nuts, always complaining at me, stop that, can’t you just stop it.. i feel always on edge..
    It is causing me serious marriage troubles and relationships issues,, I drive people away..
    Just looking for some help, I’m 58 and tired of fighting with people and being defensive about who I am.
    Is there someone near me that can help
    Marysville wa. 98271

    Comment by Chuck Allen Wheeler — September 13, 2020 @ 6:16 PM

  8. I have been doing neurofeedback for 23 years because my son was diagnosed with ADHD. Why can we not give them another label instead of disorder. They are different people trying to live in a controlling society. The label hurts them rather than helping.

    Comment by John Styffe — September 15, 2020 @ 11:22 AM

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