ADD/ADHD | What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?


[ADHD Explained: A 28-Minute Primer] [Understood for learning & attention issues] What we know as ADHD, [Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D. — Associate Director,] [Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders] attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—or some people still call it “ADD,” attention-deficit disorder— has been recognized by some doctors since way back in 1902. But from 1902 until 1980, it was all about little boys who couldn’t sit still, couldn’t shut up, and were driving everybody nuts. It was just behavior problems. The name of the disorder was changed a number of times. There were different formulations. But it was all about behavior problems. Since 1980, which is when they first changed the name of the disorder to include the words “attention deficit,” we’ve realized that this is not so much a behavior problem but far more a problem with the brain’s management system— its executive functions. And we also learned that there are many people who have ADHD who’ve never had any significant behavior problems. And that even for those who have, that’s usually the least of it. It’s the attention problems that tend to make more trouble for people, particularly as they get a little bit older and more is expected of them for being able to manage themselves. One thing that’s important to be clear about from the very beginning is that ADHD has nothing to do with how smart a person is. There’s some people who have this who are like super, super, super smart. Others, high average, middle average, low average, slow. I treat people for this who are like university professors and doctors and lawyers and big shots in business. A lot of people who are regular folks. Some people have trouble doing the basics. You could be anything along the IQ spectrum and still have ADHD. It has nothing to do with how smart you are. The other thing to know is that this is a problem—a set of problems— that include a wide range of characteristics, and what I’d like to do today is to describe for you some of the characteristics of what we call ADHD, give some examples of them, and then talk a little bit about what we know about what’s involved in the brain in the course of ADHD. One thing that’s important is that people— one of the main things that people with ADHD complain about is trouble staying tuned. That when they’re listening or reading or working on something, they get part of it, but then it sort of drifts off, and then they’re back, and then they drift off, and it drifts off again, and then they’re back. They have difficulty staying tuned. It’s similar, in a way, to the problem you have with a cell phone where you’re in an area where you don’t have good reception. You can get part of it, and then the message keeps fading in and out. The other thing is that they often have a problem with being distracted. Like anybody else, they see and hear things that are going on around them. They have thoughts going through their head. But most people, if they have something they’ve got to focus on, can push that stuff out of the way and focus on what they’ve got to do. People with ADHD— it’s real hard for them to do that. They’ll be sitting in the classroom trying to listen to what’s going on, or perhaps they’ll be in a meeting or sitting down trying to read something or write something, and somebody drops a pencil, and they have to sort of check and see, where did the pencil go? Then they’ll be back on task again for a couple of minutes. Then they’re thinking about some TV show they saw the night before. And then they’re back on task again for a minute, so they’re thinking about some conversation they had with somebody two hours ago. And then they’re back on task again for a few minutes, and then they’re looking out the window like anybody else will from time to time, but they’re likely to sit and watch the squirrel go up the tree a little longer than somebody else and be checking out the traffic and the cloud formation, the guy who’s mowing the lawn. Then they’re back on task again for a few minutes, and they’ll be thinking about what they’re going to do when this is over and how soon is this thing going to be over anyhow. I’ve got things I’ve got to do. And what am I going to have for supper tonight? And I wonder what’s on TV tonight? All these things are coming in all at one time, and it’s almost like you’re trying to watch TV and you’ve got four different stations all coming in at the same time on one channel, and it gets kind of hard to separate the signal from the noise. But the thing that’s puzzling about this, that really makes it very difficult for people to understand, is for people who have ADHD, it’s like that almost all the time, but not always. Everybody I’ve ever seen who has ADD— and that’s a lot of people—has a few things they can do where they have no trouble paying attention, no trouble focusing. Let me give you an example. Sixteen-year-old boy I saw—he was the goaltender for his school’s ice hockey team. And it just happened that the day his parents brought him in to see me was the day after his team had just won the state championship in ice hockey, so they’re bragging a little bit at the beginning about how great he was in the tournament the day before. And apparently he was a very good goalie. They said when he was in there playing hockey, he missed nothing. He knew where the puck was every second of a fast game. Totally on top of it. The kind of goalie every team wants. Smart kid. Tested way high up in the superior range. Wanted to get good grades. Was hoping to go to medical school. But he was always in trouble with his teachers. And what they’d say to him is, you know, once in a while you’ll say something that shows how smart you are. We’ll be talking about something. You’ll come in with some comment that’s really very perceptive, and it’s quite impressive. But most of the time, you’re out to lunch. You’re looking out the window. You’re staring at the ceiling. You look like you’re half-asleep half the time. You don’t even know what page we’re on. And the question they kept asking him was, “If you can pay attention so well “when you’re playing hockey, how come you can’t pay attention when you’re sitting in class?” Here’s another example. A lot of times parents will bring in kids for me to see, and they say, “You know, “the teacher says this kid can’t pay attention “for more than five minutes. We know that’s not true. “We have watched her play video games. “And she can sit and play those video games “for three hours at a time and not move. “And the teacher said she’s easily distracted. “That’s nonsense. When she’s playing those games, “she’s locked on that screen like a laser, “and the only way you’re going to get her attention is to jump in her face or turn off the TV.” So again, it’s like, you can do it here. Why can’t you do it there? Now, it’s not always sports or video games. There’s some people with ADD— they’re not good at that stuff. They might be into art, and they’re sketching and drawing and really getting into it. Somebody else, when they were little, they’re creating engineering marvels with LEGO blocks. And then when they’re older, they’re taking car engines apart and putting them back together or designing computer networks. But everybody I’ve ever seen who has ADHD has a few things they can do where they have no trouble paying attention, even though on almost everything else, they’ve got a lot of trouble paying attention. And if you ask them about it, you say, “What’s with this? How come “you can do it here and you can’t do it here, here, and here?” Usually what they’ll say is, “It’s easy. “If it’s something I’m interested in, I can pay attention. If not, I can’t.” And most people hear that and they say, “Yeah, right. Congratulations. That’s true for anybody. “Anybody’s going to pay attention better for something they’re interested in than for something they’re not.” Which is true. But here’s the difference. People who don’t have ADHD—if they’ve got something they’ve got to do and they know they’ve got to do it and it’s important, they can usually make themselves pay attention, even if it’s pretty boring, just because they know they have to do it. People with ADD—it is incredibly difficult for them to be able to make themselves pay attention unless the task is something that’s really interesting to them, not because somebody told them it ought to be interesting, but just because it is interesting to them for whatever reasons. Or if they feel like they have a gun to their head and something very unpleasant is going to be happening very fast if they don’t take care of this right here, right now. Under those two conditions, no problem. They can focus very well. Anything else, it’s really difficult for them to focus. But the problem is, this is not something that’s under voluntary control. It makes it look like it’s a problem with willpower. “If you can do it here, why can’t you do it here, here and here?” But it’s not a problem with willpower. It’s a problem with the way the brain is wired. All the characteristics of ADHD, which I’m going to be describing here, are things everybody has trouble with sometimes. It’s just people with ADD have a lot more trouble with it. So in that sense, ADHD is not an all-or-nothing deal like pregnancy, with, either you are pregnant or you’re not pregnant. There’s nothing in between. It’s more like depression, where everybody gets bummed out once in a while. But just because somebody’s unhappy for a couple of days doesn’t mean we’re going to diagnose them as clinically depressed. It’s only when those depressive symptoms are persistent and pervasive and making a lot of trouble for them, we say, “Yep, that’s a depression. We ought to do something about it.” So all the characteristics of ADHD are problems everybody has sometimes. It’s just, with people who have ADD, they just have a lot more difficulty with it more of the time. And the problem is, it is not under voluntary control. It’s not something you can do with willpower. But let me tell you about some of the other things which we see with people with ADHD. One is they often have trouble getting organized and getting started on things. For many, it’s difficulty organizing their stuff—their backpack, their desks, their notebooks, their filing system, their living space— bigger mess than most other people most of the time, unless somebody else is helping them take care of it. Other people have no trouble at all with their stuff. They have a lot of trouble with their time and their work. And what they’ll tell you is, “If I have a bunch of stuff to do “at one time, it’s really hard for me to look at it and say, “‘OK, that should be first. That should be second. That should be third.'” But even when they get their priorities straight, which often doesn’t happen, they tend to have a lot of difficulty getting started. Another piece of it that you’ll often hear about from people with ADHD is, they’ll say they have a lot of difficulty in regulating their sleep and their alertness and being able to keep up the effort to finish things in a reasonable time. Many complain that they have trouble getting to sleep, and what they’ll tell you is, “I often stay up a lot later “than I really want to or should because I’ve found “if I try to go to bed before I’m really, really exhausted, “I just can’t shut my head off. I just keep thinking of stuff. “And so I stay up late reading, watching TV, “surfing the net, or whatever until I’m just exhausted. “Then I fall asleep fine. But the problem then is I tend “to sleep like a dead person, and I have a hard time “resurrecting myself in the morning. And if I don’t have “somebody around to help me get myself out of bed “in the morning, I’m very likely to be late to whatever it is “I’m supposed to do or possibly sleep through “the whole thing. I just keep hitting the snooze button or just turn the clock off altogether.” During the day they’re usually all right as long as they’re on their feet moving around or talking a lot. But if they have to sit still for very long to listen or to read or do paperwork, the eyelids start getting kind of heavy. Another thing that often happens as a problem with people with ADHD is they have trouble staying with a task, that they may start it reasonably well, but they have a hard time then keeping up the effort to finish it in a reasonable time. I had a track star from the university, a runner, who came into my office one day, and he said, “My mind’s a great sprinter, but it’s a lousy distance runner.” He said, “If the task I have to do is something “you can do in one quick chunk, you just go all out for it “and then you’re done with it, I’m fine. But if it’s “something where you can’t do it in one quick chunk, “it’s a longer-term project, if you have to chip— “keep chipping away at it day after day, that I have “more trouble with. And my approach to that “is either hurry up, slapdash, get the thing done, “or, why don’t we just set this aside and wait until it becomes a little more of an emergency?” Everybody has trouble with deadlines sometimes. People with ADD, it’s almost like they can’t get started until it’s becoming an emergency. Another thing that often persons with ADHD have trouble with is writing. I’m not talking about penmanship, now. I’m talking about taking ideas and putting them into sentences and paragraphs. Because what people say is, often, “I’ve got a lot of ideas for what I should write “for this essay I’m supposed to write “or for this term paper, but it just takes me half of forever “to be able to get the sentences and paragraphs “put together so they make sense. I’m either changing it or it’s just disorganized.” They have difficulty organizing their thoughts and being able to get the words out in a reasonable way. Another piece of this—it’s not part of the official diagnostic criteria for ADHD, but it’s certainly something that a lot of people with ADHD are concerned about and complain about— is that many times they have difficulty managing their emotions. But I need to give you a few examples, because it’s not the same for everybody. Salesman I saw one time came in and he said, “You know, I was in the diner yesterday late afternoon “having a lunch. I’m in a pretty good mood, sitting there “eating my sandwich. The guy in the booth behind me “gets his sandwich. He’s chewing too loud. He’s going chomp, chomp, chomp.” He said, “There was something about that noise “that was driving me nuts. It was as though “a computer virus had gotten into my head “and just gobbled up all the space, “and that’s all I could think about, was that noise. “I’m sitting there with my fists clenched, seriously thinking “about getting up and smacking this guy in the mouth because he was chewing so obnoxiously loud.” He said, “I didn’t do it. I didn’t want to get arrested. “But if I’d been at home, I would have been yelling at somebody or I would have walked out of the room.” He said, “Then it was strange, “because after a few minutes, he’s still making the same noise, but then it didn’t bother me anymore.” He said, “Stuff like that happens to me a lot “where there’ll be some little frustration, the kind of thing “that most people on a scale of frustration would say— “that goes from zero to 10—would say, that’s a zero or a one, maybe a two at the most. For me,” he said, “it can be like a seven or an eight or nine.” He said, “Sometimes I make a big fuss about it. “A lot of times I don’t say anything. But I feel this surge “of anger where I feel like punching somebody or breaking something. And then usually it’s over with.” But he said, “It’s not always that way.” He said, “Day before that, I’m in the office. I’m walking “down the hall. A friend of mine who works “in the other department’s coming around the corner. “He’s walking toward me reading some papers “as he’s walking. And I hadn’t seen him for a long time. “So as we approached each other, I stopped and said, “‘Hey, what’s up? How you doing?’ I figured we’d stop “and chat for a minute. And he looks up, says hi, puts his head down, keeps right on walking.” He said, “Now most people would blow that off “in a minute and figure he was in a hurry. He’s got to get to a meeting or something. We’ll talk later.” He said, “Not me. Happened at lunchtime. I got nothing “done for the rest of the day. I spent all afternoon “thinking to myself, ‘Did I do something to annoy him?’ “Or maybe I did something to offend somebody “in his department and they’re all angry with me. “Or maybe I’m just the kind of person that nobody likes, “and nobody would tell me about it. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.” Other people, it’s not like that. They get an idea in their head of something they want to do or something they want to get or something they want to buy, and all of a sudden that wish takes on such strong urgency that the feeling is, I’ve got to have it now. And it almost doesn’t matter how expensive it is or how inconvenient it’s going to be for them or for somebody else, or whether they’re using time and money now for this that they know they need for something else tomorrow that’s more important. There’s just this relentless push, and they will keep that up until either they get it or they hit a brick wall. But even if they get it, they’re not that happy, because usually by then they’re off on something else they want. Other people, it’s not like that, but they worry a lot. Like one woman talked about how she was driving down the expressway. She’s in the left lane. She said, “I’m in the left lane. “I’ve got the Jersey barrier to my left, an 18-wheeler truck “on my right. We’re cruising about 65 miles an hour, “and this truck starts to pull over a little bit. “He didn’t get in my lane, but it got me thinking about “how big his truck was and how small my car was. “And pretty soon I’m thinking to myself, “what would happen if he didn’t see me and he pulled “over and squished me against the Jersey barrier? “And soon I’m not just thinking about it. I’m running “a very vivid movie in my head, imagining exactly what “it would look like if that truck came over “and smashed into my car, crumpled the car, “sharp pieces of metal were sticking into me, “I’m bleeding to death, the car’s getting dragged “along the Jersey barrier, the truck jackknifes, “cars and trucks behind us are hitting us repeatedly, “there’s this massive traffic jam, takes a long time “to get the rescue squad out to cut me out of the car. “By that time, I’ve bled to death. They have to call “my family and tell them I’m dead. And all this “while I’m trying to drive the car 65 miles an hour down the road.” She said, “Stuff like that happens to me “all the time. There’ll be some little thing, and I think, “what would happen if this happened? “And everything’s going all right, and I’m thinking, “what would happen if this happened or what “would happen if that happened? And pretty soon I’m not just thinking about it. I’m into it.” Now, it’s not like anybody with ADD has all this stuff. But many will have one or some combination of a couple of them. But what they have in common is that computer virus in the head thing, that the emotion, whether it’s the hurt feelings or the being annoyed about something or, “I’ve got to have it now,” or, “What would happen if?”—comes and just sort of gobbles up all the space in their head, and it’s very difficult for them to put it in perspective, to put it to the back of their mind and get on with what they’ve got to do. Another thing that’s very important for people with ADHD is their working memory. If you ask folks who have ADHD, “How’s your memory?” Often they’ll say, “I’ve got the best memory in my family. I can remember stuff nobody else can remember.” And they give you some example about some movie they saw 10 years ago. And they can tell you every detail of the entire storyline of the movie they saw once 10 years ago and haven’t seen it since. Or somebody else will say, “Yeah, I went “to the Super Bowl five years ago. I can still describe for you almost every play they ran during that game.” Or somebody else will say, “I’ve got 450 songs “in my head, all the music, all the lyrics, all the verses that were popular back in the ’70s.” But even though they might be very good about remembering some things like that from a long time ago, if you ask them about something that happened just a couple of minutes ago or yesterday, often they can’t tell you. The problem with memory with ADHD is not with long-term storage memory. It’s with short-term working memory. It’s what you depend on when you go into the other room to get something and you’re standing there scratching your head wondering what in the world you came in here for. Or you’re working on a project. You go downstairs to get something you need for the project, see something else that’s interesting or something else that needs doing. Soon you’re up to your elbows in project number two, having totally forgotten you were in the middle of project number one upstairs and it was kind of important to get it done. Students complain—they’ll be in class. Teacher asks the question. They’ll raise their hand. They’ve got a good answer for it. Teacher calls on somebody else first. You have to wait while this other kid says her shtick. Then the teacher comes back and says, “Yeah, what were you going to say?” It’s like totally clueless. Not only have I forgotten what I was going to say, but what was the question again? Or they’ll read something and understand it perfectly well at the moment that they read it. They read a few more pages, stop for a second, and realize their eyes have gone over every word and they haven’t got the foggiest idea of what they just read. Or—this really bothers them—they’ll study for a test the night before the test. They’ll go over it and, quiz them, they’ve got it. They go into class the next day thinking they’re going to get a good grade on this, and all of a sudden the big chunk of what they knew the night before has evaporated. Can’t pull it out of their head when they need it. But then a few hours, a few days later, something jogs their memory and it’s all back again. It’s not that they didn’t have it. It’s they couldn’t retrieve it when they needed it. Or you’re getting ready to go someplace. You think of five things you need to take with you. Half an hour later, you’re walking out the door. You got one of them. Can’t remember the other four to save your life. It’s where you have to hold one thing in your mind while you’re doing something else. That’s the kind of memory problem that people with ADHD complain about. Another part of this is managing action. You know, it’s certainly true that there are some people who, even as adults, are very restless and antsy. It’s like they always have to have some part of them in motion. And there are some who are very quick to jump into things, even as adults. And certainly there are many kids who have this sort of thing. But the fact is, many people with ADHD have difficulty slowing down when they need to slow down and speeding up when they need to speed up. Often they have difficulty in monitoring their actions. They’ll sometimes speak out of turn and not take into account what the effects are going to be of talking out and saying what they’re saying. Or they’ll jump into something without thinking about, “What’s going to happen if I do this?” But all these things I’m talking about—the problems with memory, the problems with difficulty in controlling actions, the problems with regulating emotions, the problems with regulating alertness and sleep, the problems with being able to focus and shift focus when you need to—all these things constitute the range of difficulties that people with ADHD complain about. And remember, all of these are things everybody has trouble with sometimes. It’s just that people with ADD have a lot more trouble with them. So the question is not, does it ever happen, but how much does it happen? How much does it interfere with the person’s being able to do the things they have to do in their daily life? Now, how does it happen? Why is it that some people have this—so much more difficulty with these things than other people do? The evidence shows that it seems to be mostly inherited. Out of every four people diagnosed with ADHD, one of them has a mom or dad who’s got it, whether they know it or not. They never used to diagnose this very well. Even today, it gets missed a lot. The other three, if they don’t have a parent who has it, usually they have a grandparent or an uncle or an aunt or a cousin or a brother or sister. One of their relatives will have it. Although often, it’s not recognized. There are some people who have this where you can see it from early childhood. There are some others where you don’t see it much in the early years of their schooling, but then when they begin to move into middle school and they don’t have that one teacher who can help to keep things organized for them, now all of a sudden they’ve got to keep track of what’s going on in several different classes and homework for different courses and moving around from one class to another. They have a lot more difficulty managing it. There’s some whose parents are so effective in building a scaffolding around them that you don’t even see the problem until they get up into high school where their parents are not that much aware of what they need to do, or they may move out of the house and move off to college or get involved in some work where the parents can’t help them, and you begin to see then that they have a lot of trouble organizing themselves and doing what they need to do. So we don’t always see this in early childhood. Sometimes it doesn’t really appear until adolescence or early adulthood. But the fact is that those are usually the hardest times, I would say probably for most, middle school, high school, first couple of years of college or going out in to the work world. Those are the times when most people with ADHD have the most difficulty with it. Because those are the times when you have the widest range of tasks you have to do with the least opportunity to escape from the ones you’re not that good at. If you’re lucky, as you move on, you can focus more on the things you’re good at and let somebody else do the other stuff that you’re not that good at. And some people function quite well that way. But the fact is, these are problems that can cause a lot of difficulty, not just in school, but in the way people get along with other members of their family, the way people manage their social relationships and the way they manage their jobs. And what we need to do is to be able to design a way of helping them to work with their strengths and working around their difficulties. But I think in order to be able to really appreciate this fully, it’s important to understand what’s going on in the brain that underlies these difficulties, which I’ve just been describing. The brain is about two and a half pounds. About that big. In there, you’ve got 100 billion neurons. Those are the cells that make up most of the brain tissue. It’s hard for most people to imagine a number as big as 100 billion, but here’s a way you can do it. Think about pixels on a TV screen. Imagine a 17-inch TV screen or monitor screen for your computer. On that screen, you’d have about 200,000 pixels. Now imagine if we then went to the Freedom Tower in New York. It’s almost 100 floors high. And take 17-inch monitor screens and set them side by side, bottom to top, all the way up one side, all the way around, so this entire building is totally covered with 17-inch TV sets, and turn them all on, and add up all those pixels on all those screens in that entire, huge building. You would then have enough pixels, if you added them all together, to show how many neurons one person has in their brain. Now, these neurons—they’re very, very tiny. You have to look at them under a microscope. But they come in different sizes and shapes, but they all work on a branches-and-twigs system, something like this. And if you isolate any one of them, you’d find that there are over 1,000 places where it’s connecting and interacting with the ones around it. But the thing that’s amazing about it is, the whole system works on low-voltage electrical impulses, and it is not wired together for anybody. That’s true for those with ADHD. It’s true for every one of the rest of us. They are not directly connected. Let me show you what it looks like. If you can imagine these tiny, tiny connections that are so small you need a microscope to see them. Look like a couple of mushroom heads butted up against each other. And then there’s a space between them which is thinner than a piece of tissue paper. So when there’s something that’s coming in from the brain, electrical impulses traveling along here, it has to jump this gap like a spark plug. And there are little receptor buttons on the other side here that it has to connect with. And if it comes in strong enough … ccckkkoo. It goes on to the next connection and moves on from there to wherever it needs to go. If it doesn’t, it just fizzles here. But the other thing we have here is there are little bubbles on the side. This is where they’re coming from. This is where the chemicals are manufactured. The brain makes 50 different chemicals to help carry messages back and forth. And there are two of them that control most of the things that I’ve been describing in ADHD. So what’s happening when that electrical impulse comes is it releases microdots of that chemical. That’s what crosses the gap and hits these receptors. It works like a spark plug. And then if it hits the right threshold, it moves on. And then on this side, there’s some little cells that work like little vacuum cleaners that go scha-week and suck back the chemicals and reload the system. Otherwise, it would be just locked open all the time. We think what happens with people who have ADHD is their brains make these chemicals the same way everybody else’s brain does. But they simply do not release and reload them effectively. And the other thing we know is that for eight out of 10 people who have ADHD, if you give them the right amount of the right medicine, the system can work better. For some, it’s huge how much it helps. For others, it’s substantial, but it’s not huge. For others, it helps a little but not that much. And two out of 10 it doesn’t work at all. But the fact is, though this is indeed a chemical problem, the medicines we have for ADHD cure nothing. It’s not like you have a strep throat, you take an antibiotic, and it knocks out the infection. It’s more like my eyeglasses. I have a problem with my eyes. I can’t see well. If it I’m looking at typewriter-size print, it just looks blurry to me. If I put these on, I can read it as well as anybody can. Take them off, I’m right back where I started. The glasses do not fix my eyes. They just help me see when I’ve got them on. And the same thing is true of the medicines we use for treating ADHD. But it’s also important to recognize that medication is just one aspect of the treatment that’s important for somebody with ADHD. And there are many ways in which we help people with ADHD by helping them to learn skills, by helping them to use some technology and strategies to be able to deal with whatever they have to deal with in school or on the job or in their family and social relationships. And it’s most effective to be able to first of all have a very good evaluation, to understand exactly which problems with ADHD this particular person has and then to have the team of—if it’s a child— the child and the parent, and the doctor, in consultation with the educators and teachers that are working with them—to try to assess what are the strengths of this child. That’s our beginning point. What are the difficulties? And what plan can we put together which will allow us to be able to build on those strengths and help the child or the adult learn about ways of dealing more effectively with their difficulties so that they can succeed and reach their full potential. [More to Explore on Understood] [Video: How Is ADHD Diagnosed?] [ADHD and Emotions: What You Need to Know] [5 Things Not to Say to Your Child About ADHD] [How ADHD Affects Kids’ Sleep—] [and What You Can Do] [Understood | for learning & attention issues] [U | understood.org]

100 thoughts on “ADD/ADHD | What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

  1. The music thing is so true for me. I can remember lyrics from pretty much every song I like no matter how long it's been since I last heard it

  2. I got diagnosed with ADD yesterday by my therapist and I never really thought I had ADD because I have really bad depression from stressing over everything like my grades because I can never focus in class. Well little did I know that it's often common to have ADD and depression. I don't want my friends to judge me because of it and now I'm getting put of medicine for both ADD and depression.

  3. I am 90% sure, My son may have ADD and my husband and I chose not to medicate him and also our insurance didn’t cover to get him diagnosed. Since elementary he was in an IEP program. I became his advocate. I would constantly communicate with his IEP teacher and all teachers all throughout his elementary, junior high and high school. He graduated this year from high and just started college in August. He is struggling. I would like to ask any of you if you know where he can go to get diagnosed and start getting medication to help him concentrate. He says he can’t remember anything after class. So he gets bad test grades. I also asked him to not take lots of classes a semester. He is 18years old now. Is there a place he can go to get help that is cheap or free? Any information I would appreciate it.

    On my husband’s family there is DEPRESSION, ADHD, ADD and AUTISM

  4. Yes….it takes me a minimum of 1 hour to go to sleep. I am so busy thinking and cannot stop.
    Meanwhile, I used to work IT for a university and kept falling asleep when setting up images (WAIK) for the computers. I typically can never take naps or sleep until 2am (1am right now) but having to sit at a computer and wait for it made me narcoleptic.

  5. I mean, don't everybody have it like this? Do I have ADD? Isn't it just like, easy to get distracted? Like I find myself all of a sudden doing something instead of the thing I should be doing without realizing, but isn't that normal? This would explain a lot about my weird ass behaviour, but I just thought everyone had it like this

  6. In K-8 I did well in school, when I got to High School I couldn't focus well enough to do well on a test because I was convinced that life would be over if I didn't do well on a test. I used to sweat like a pig on test day. I'm amazed that no one thought about this when doing my IEP. Is test anxiety related to my ADHD?

  7. Thankyou for assuring it has nothing to do with how smart a person is and many different people of all walks of life deal with it

  8. My rooms always have been a mess now it is my flat I am an adult I have been diangosed with depression I have been called everything in the book…I love AD(H)D Video because I feel like finally someone is as all over the place as I am and on the other hand they still seem to figure stuff out so much more than I did so far in my 29 years. Feeling "not normal" sucks 24/7 , but after I am "allegedly not having ADHD" I guess I just have going to accept being different and trying to find a miracle.

  9. 13:05 Omg I relate to this one so much. I know I'm always overthinking everything to a point where it becomes overwhelming. I never knew why and I always wanted it over but I didn't know how to stop even though most of the time I knew it was absurd. I've been reserching ADHD for about a week now and this is the first time I've heard about overthinking being a symptom.

  10. Thank you so much for this video. I've been obsessively watching a bunch of videos on ADHD since I realized I may have it and this video is the most understandable and comprehensive out of any that I have watched so far. The examples provided really give me a better grasp on what each symptom is.

  11. I dont know what i have anymore ive been never able to really do anything right i could barely remember math skills from 2nd grade when i entered 3rd i cant seem to keep up with simple tasks i cant remember anything and any time i try i crash harder
    It takes me 30-60 mins to write 5-6 sentences
    Its so hard just to do anything, why can i remember something thats useless from years ago but not something that was from yesterday and important.

  12. I was 25 before I was diagnosed with ADHD. I'd achieved poor results my whole schooling life and never had any sense of self efficacy with academia and most of my mates knew me as a bit of an air head. I finally decided to see someone after attempting university for a second time about 5-6yrs out of highschool. I noticed in my lectures I was always looking around the room and became self conscious that the people behind me in the theatre would notice how often im looking around the room in a daze and not concentrating. Then I started wondering how the fck they did it and it highlighted to me how I'd always struggled like that. The strongest point of consistancy throughout my school memories is just staring out of windows or blankly at my desk/drawing on it. I was never an outspoken student and didnt distract the class much, always just off in my own world, never drawing attention to myself or how little attention I paid. after seeing a psychaitrist she diagnosed me with ADHD and I've been on a stimulent treatment ever since. that was about a year ago. Nowadays I enjoy study and learning. my average grades now are far greater than I ever thought I was capable of achieving. My self esteem and quality of life have risen dramatically and am successfully working towards short and long term goals. treatment has changed my life for the better and greatly enhanced my view of it. Life can be pretty depressing when you struggle daily in a way that that makes everyone around you percieve you as dumb and thats just the only identity youve ever known. If your unsure about having ADHD I'd strongly recomend seeing some one (after adequate research). In my experience, You may be surprised just how capable you are and how great life can be when you understand yourself and how to manage your condition.

  13. My son and I both do the “computer virus” thing. We call it “looping” because it feels like an inescapable feedback loop of whatever the thing is at the time.

  14. Pretty clear. Thanks a lot. I just discover I didn't live my life woth my full potencial and I'm in my late forties.😱😟😕😭😢😩🤧🤬🤬🤬
    I need to throw up.

  15. Maybe because we're not meant to be "normal". Maybe because we're not meant to be in an office, staring at a computer, trying to conform inside of a box, crunching numbers, sitting in corporate meetings. Our minds are too big for small ones to understand it. Maybe we are just socially conditioned to think we are supposed to all be the same. Maybe we're actually just born artists, dancers, creators, writers, illustrators, painters, story-tellers, entrepreneurs. Stop looking at it like a disability, start looking at it like a gift. A fish was never meant to fly, a bird was never built to swim. Embrace your brilliance, celebrate your difference. If someone doesn't understand you the way you are, walk away. But don't ever walk away from yourself, or the gifts given to you that are yours and yours only.

  16. I got 3 cities that call me to repair something OR can I talk to their mechanic OR can I repair it. I've been diagnosed with Lupus. With ADHD. Leave me alone. Your car will be figured out. Anything else. Sidetracked instantly. OR blank out with brain going thousand miles minute.

  17. I'm in 8th grade and I get these symptoms a lot. I can't focus on reading. Most of the things I do my mind goes completely blank. Things I can focus on I focus too much. I always daydream during class. I can barely keep up with things. I have a thing that holds led and I use it a lot to be able to focus better. I can't do projects until the last day before I turn it in. I can't start an essay. Literally anything can distract me. I forget things very easily. I can't stay still in things like chairs I am always moving around and when I am standing I don't know how to explain it but I kinda spin while standing. I probably have something more but it's 1a.m. and I'm sleepy.

  18. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post a transcript of this! So many excerpts that should be shared on social media or (for those with really short attention spans) memes!

  19. This was one of the best videos that describes ADHD in a clear, simple, and scientific manner. There was no bias or emotional underpinnings by this doctor and I really appreciate that.

  20. I was locked in an isolation chamber in school when I was a child because of these symptoms. I wasn't a risk to my classmates. I can't even hurt a fly. However, I was labled a distraction.

  21. 12:00
    This sounds EXACTLY like misophonia / selective sound sensitivity. Nor everyone with ADHD have misophonia. It is not an official diagnosis, but there are many, MANY, people who suffer from it and have nearly identical experiences.

  22. Sure, I can play a game for 3 or 4 hours straight, but during that time, I start more quests than I finish. Always interested in the next quest, can not focus on finishing that one quest i started two hours ago… SQUIRREL!!!!!

  23. I lived for years with that "oh you can do this or remember everything about this but you cant do this or that…."

    Parents never really supported any form of figuring things out to get help so as an adult with a son I took time to get the answers….I'm always reading online….im definitely a slow starter and I cant deal with meetings….I have to multitask but then I get bored….

  24. Who else with ADD/ADHD always starts crying when they watch videos about the "symptoms" bc it just gets so real and you get reminded of how hard it can be sometimes… Or is it just me?

  25. 28 years and I can finally make sense of myself and debilitating state I have been in. Sick of being bundled up with depression when the only reason I'm depressed if the lifestyle explained above literally dictates my happiness.

  26. This guy talking mad facts, I have ADHD and when I’m off my pill i tend to focus on things I want to but get distracted easily and drift off I hate it but I don’t want to take my pill cause I feel free. My pill is great but it gets annoying over time sometimes I feel depressed when I’m off my pill and want to kill myself then I look back and think that’s the stupidest thing, life is great! Thank God but I wish sometimes I didn’t have ADHD😔😔😔

  27. Yeah, this video reminds me that I probably should have killed myself by now. BUT I IMPOSE MY FLAWED EXISTENCE UPON THE WORLD LIKE AN EVIL CANCER, IN DEFIANCE OF GOD.

  28. I spent my life trying to understand WTH was wrong with me. 2 years ago I came to the conclusion that my brain just does not shut off.
    This is accurate. This is so accurate that it hurts and its a relieve.

  29. Watching a video on ADHD ignoring my work at work, while obsessively refreshing my messages from my doctor about ADHD and i keep getting up to talk to friends across the room and forgot to finish this video

  30. I auto diagnosed myself that I have ADHD. Does Dr. Brown has ADHD? If not how is he capable of understanding ADHD? He's perfectly describing ADHD… At least my ADHD.

  31. This is soooo accurate… I can’t even explain how we’ll explained it is. I don’t want to be like this and frequently it has impacted my life in so many different ways.

  32. dammit. ADHD gets distracted by ADHD video, and really can't focus on this video. I would like a ADHD geared ADHD video. And if I go on about ADHD, might as well get ready to play a shot game.

  33. I’m watching this as i’m doing a task because i got bored and kept distracting myself by thinking about random past events.

  34. Any one else sometimes stops the movie to get snacks/drinks and while making/pouring them thinks about what movie you were watching again ?

  35. All this describes me so much… I'm 25 now and going to see a psychologist next week, hoping she can diognose me and I can get some help.

  36. I have a tendency to annoy people they say I don’t pay attention when they talk. If I’m not interested I don’t pay attention! Actually I’m listening but I’m looking elsewhere. Focusing is horrible and so many things in and out of my mind daily.

  37. damn like damn.. and im over here thinking about dropping out of school but for quite some time i have come to the realization that something was wrong with me and i thought i was immensely depressed but its bc of this . it makes me so happy that this makes so much sense. after i thought about it , it all makes so much sense and i feel calm and aware yet i still struggle daily with these things and plan to seek professional help soon. so i can cope with this and try to be good at time management. ive always been told i was terrible at everything and that im slow and dumb . but thats not it chief . and then my mIND WONT SHUT UP . and i space out so much even in this video. i got lost in his words i literally forgot and had to rewind it . no but he is right about the concentrating on something of interest. and im. a huge procrastinator its terrible 💀 not to mention that i do things without thinking through fully and my mom telling me that im dumb and retarded and need to be more alert. this is just mmm so relieving omgosh.

  38. I’m so glad I’d stumbled upon this channel because I’ve been dying and craving to know what ADHD is about and I’m so glad that I’ve found this because it speaks to me and it tells and shows me what I have and what I need to do and learn on my condition so thank you guys for having this video on.

  39. Darn it i cant help it but to cry myself all this time i've been asking myself whats the problem there's something wrong inside my brain,But What this guy said describe my daily struggle in life. I tried to tell to my mom but she just tells me to not think like that she just think im just a slow learner .

  40. What about copper and Zinc? You did not mention science along with your talk.Science shows that it's a metabolic deficiency. You should check out Dr William J. Walsh.

  41. My mind has 30 stations all playing at once,24 hours a day even when I finally get to sleep my thoughts never shut off,. Most of what was described is my life or better description exist!

  42. I'm 35 years old and everything he said resonates with me.
    I always felt like an underachiever all through my life and that something was wrong with me. I quit college 3 times, got in trouble when I was in The Navy for always being late, Im forever leaving my phone or keys in work…..I could go on. Literally all the symptoms he mentioned in this video and more.
    I always knew there was something not quite right with me because of my poor concentration. Earlier this year I did an official Mensa supervised IQ test and scored 137 (I enjoy doing puzzles and can concentrate for long periods on certain things like puzzles and maths, because I enjoy them) . After doing the IQ test, my score gave me the confidence to give University another go.
    I'm 5 weeks into my course and have been getting stressed out, struggling to complete essays and projects and to listen in class for long periods of time. SO I decided again last week to look for reasons for this. How come I'm so intelligent but can't get any work done when I sit down at my computer and can't get anything else done either?……..anyway I've finally found the answer. I've written out 5 pages of my symptoms and will be going to the Doctor's tomorrow to try and get a diagnosis and hopefully some medication to help me.
    Discovering this has been a huge relief for me.

  43. As I'm watching this I'm trying to play a mobile game and then I got distracted and tried to find an article I read probably two months ago. I swear , hand to god I'm trying to stay tuned.

  44. Literally the best explanation of ADD/ADHD I've ever heard. He explained my entire life in a 28 minute video. Thank you for this.

  45. Thank you so much for your in depth explanation of all the little things! It helped me understand my daughter more, AND explain some of what I do myself.

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