I read Dr. Daniel Amen’s “Healing ADD,” the 2013 revision of his 2001 book. Full disclosure, I actually listened to the unabridged audiobook. This was the first book that I read by recommendation after finding out about my own ADHD.
What stands out about this book?
Dr. Amen, through the use of SPECT scan technology, has identified seven distinct types of ADD. As a side note, he uses “ADD” where most experts I have read have transitioned to using “ADHD.” For this post, I will mirror the language from his book.
First, Dr. Amen shares the core symptoms for all types of ADD as: short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, and poor internal supervision. Then he splits out from there, distinguishing the 7 types of ADD based on symptoms and SPECT scans.
Not familiar with seven types of ADD? Here’s a preview:
- Classic ADD – Inattentive, distractible, disorganized, hyperactive, restless, and impulsive.
- Inattentive ADD – Easily distracted with low attention span, but not hyperactive. Instead, often appears sluggish or apathetic.
- Overfocused ADD – Excessive worrying, argumentative, and compulsive; often gets locked in a spiral of negative thoughts.
- Temporal Lobe ADD – Quick temper and rage, periods of panic and fear, mildly paranoid.
- Limbic ADD – Moodiness, low energy. Socially isolated, chronic low-grade depression, frequent feelings of hopelessness.
- Ring of Fire ADD – Angry, aggressive, sensitive to noise, light, clothes, and touch; often inflexible, experiencing periods of mean, unpredictable behavior and grandiose thinking.
- Anxious ADD – Anxious, tense, nervous, predicts the worst, gets anxious with timed tests, social anxiety, and often has physical stress symptoms, such as headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms; conflict avoidant.
Curious about which of the 7 types of ADD might pertain to you? If you’re not up for a SPECT scan at the moment, you can take this brief online questionnaire directly from Amen Clinics: https://addtypetest.com/
What makes this book useful?
Though I haven’t heard other experts speaking of ADD or ADHD divided into 7 subtypes, Dr. Amen has been very thorough in his research. The benefit you derive from that is that he has very specific recommendations for each type of ADD that he has identified. The beginning of the book is dedicated to sharing the core ADD symptoms and then helping you to identify which subtype or subtypes are impacting you.
Having that knowledge in hand, you can use this book to follow Dr. Amen’s recommended treatment course of medication, supplements, diet, and neurofeedback, with a specific plan for each subtype in each of these areas. So if, for example, you’ve got type 2, Inattentive ADD, you can use the book to find the exact treatment recommendations for you, including medication, supplements, diet, etc.
Beyond this, the last section of the book is full of tips that are useful for those with ADD, and people who work with those with ADD. The chapters dedicated to parents and teachers I found very helpful. I only wish my parents and teachers had had access to them when I was a child.
Some tips Dr. Amen has for treatment of all types of ADD:
- Take a 100 percent multivitamin daily
- Take 2000-6000mg of Fish Oil daily
- Eliminate caffeine and nicotine
- Exercise for 30-45 minutes daily
- Limit screen time to 30 minutes per day
- Do not yell at a person with ADD, it will only make matters worse
- Test ADD kids and adults for learning disabilities
- Never give up seeking help
What didn’t work for me
While most of the book was very useful, it was pretty clear that the recommendations given for the 7 types of ADD are contingent on you knowing which type you have. And although he does share the online questionnaire that you can take, nothing replaces the SPECT scan technology that he references throughout the book. In some ways, the book felt like a 400 page commercial for SPECT. I don’t want to discount the help it gave me, but to get the most value from the book, it’s clear that getting one is needed.
I actually found the book very useful. At the start of each chapter based on an ADD type he shared stories from real patients and their families. This made it easier for me to relate to what I was listening to. If I were listening again, I would use the book as a reference rather than a cover-to-cover read, targeting those areas of the book specific to my subtype(s). I haven’t gotten a SPECT scan, but reading the various sections of the book and taking the questionnaire gave me enough to feel like I was getting some very helpful targeted advice.
🧠🧠🧠🧠 4/5 Brains – Great Read
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