Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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The next articles in my series on Adult Attention Deficit Disorder will focus on ways to live successfully with ADD. ADD is a difference or inconsistency in attention focusing which has been found to have a biological basis in brain functioning. This ADD difference can cause havoc with life satisfaction nowadays within our technological and stressful environment. Please remember that I am including the condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder within the discussion of ADD. All individuals who have ADD share at least internal restlessness and some fidgety behavior, while we add the H designation for others who have a more sustained urge for movement. In this series of articles I will highlight each general principle and then provide details to get you started. There are no magic solutions for this condition, and usually multiple types of intervention are needed to promote maximum functioning.

What is the good news? Over the last several years I have been searching for updated and innovative information on treatments for ADD. I found a number of new techniques which I will overview for you. The bad news is I have not found any one source which contains comprehensive and definitive information about all of these techniques. Furthermore, everyone with ADD does not experience this condition in the same way, so all treatment techniques must be adapted and individualized. If you have ADD you will know that you usually approach new ideas with excitement, heightened interest and grand ideas for doing it all at once. However, you also know that ADD can drag you down into discouragement and frustration. You'll recognize the familiar feeling of being overwhelmed and defeated, sometimes feeling hopeless, even like a failure. This is why I recommend therapeutic ADD coaching designed to lead you slowly, one step at a time, into positive life change. Certified mental health professionals can include ADD improvement plans within therapy sessions which are paid for by insurance.

We know that the ADD brain functions very well under conditions of high interest, while conversely the ADD brain slows down and becomes unfocused when conditions become more familiar, repetitive or boring. We know that beta brain waves appear when attention is focused but in low interest conditions are replaced in the ADD brain by less focused brain activity and theta (daydreaming) brain waves, at times even delta (sleep) states. Therefore, the first therapeutic principle is: Maximize beta brain waves when focused attention is needed.

The most direct way to maximize beta brain waves is to listen to beta hemi-sync CDs when you desire a focused state of concentration. There are only a few published references so far in the use of hemi-sync for ADD, so I will provide explanatory information. Robert Monroe found a way to use the brain's frequency following response as he developed his hemi-sync technology. This hemi-sync method provides two different auditory wavelengths to the ears stereophonically which combine to form a binaural beat for the brain to follow. The title hemi-sync is derived from the fact that this method synchronizes brain hemispheres while you listen to the auditory input. Monroe founded a nonprofit institute to use this technology for many different applications. I have written about the use of hemi-sync for relaxation, meditation and sleep promotion. In this particular application, the binaural beats stimulate beta waves in the ADD brain which promote focused concentration. You will rarely hear the binaural beats. Instead you will hear metamusic compositions which you can listen to with stereo headphones or other stereo systems. Many of my ADD clients have started using this music to improve their concentration. This music is not distracting, but instead provides a rhythmic background to stimulate beta brain waves while you concentrate on the task at hand. The CDs are reasonably priced and can be found at I would suggest the titles Remembrance; Lightfall; Breakthrough; with other possibilities being: Baroque Gardens; Einstein's Dream; Illumination; Indigo; Revelation; Seasons at Roberts Mountain. Hemi-sync in Motion is good for exercise and chores. The same website has single titles: Attention; Brain Repair and Maintenance; Concentration; Offloading; Retain Recall Release; which will help you learn or practice improved attention skills. The hemi-sync CDs can also be downloaded from iTunes. I have a lending library for my clients to introduce them to hemi-sync applications. Note: I have no financial interest in these products.

Because neurotransmitters stimulate production of brain waves, ADD neurotransmitter deficits can also be treated with medications which increase dopamine and norepinephrine. Many people have found medication extremely useful although not a magic solution, while others cannot tolerate the effects or side effects. In some cases several different medications will need to be tried to find the best assistance for you. You would first need to have a diagnosis of ADD to take to your physician for a medication evaluation. Your doctor should give you a clean bill of health related to heart functioning and blood pressure before you try these medications. The first choice would be medication in the short acting categories: methylphenidate (Ritalin, Focalin, Concerta, Metadate) or amphetamines (Adderall or Dexedrine.) These medications will go in and out of your system in 4 to 12 hours, and you can use them selectively when focused attention is needed. As these medications are controlled substances, their access is less than convenient as the medication must be refilled each month with a written prescription from your doctor.

I will continue my ADD discussion in the next several articles. Meanwhile remember my ongoing recommendation to increase humor in your life. In this spirit I bring you breaking news on the latest medical miracle! A horrifying new disorder has been discovered: DSACDAD, Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption Deficit Anxiety Disorder. Luckily, there is a medication specifically developed for this condition: Havidol. You can enjoy learning about DSACDAD at where you can also take the Zing self-assessment test.