Dr. Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist, best-selling author, director of the Amen brain clinics, and host of many popular PBS specials.
He is famous for conducting ground-breaking research using brains scans and neurofeedback therapy to help further the understanding and treatment of conditions such as ADHD, addiction, depression, anxiety, obesity, dementia, and others.
Many of you may recognize him as the host of the popular PBS special based on his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
He is an important important figure in the world of ADHD, whose brain research has advanced our understanding of the condition.
In his best-selling book Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD Dr. Amen asserts that there are six different types of ADHD, rather than the three subtypes listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by mental health professionals to diagnose ADHD.
The Daniel Amen ADHD Subtypes:
1) Classic ADHD: This is the stereotypical version of ADHD featuring hyperactivity, restlessness, and impulsivity.
2) Inattentive ADHD: This subtype is also common, and features low energy, low motivation, and internal preoccupation. Those with this type of ADHD often appear to be "spacey" and are often mistakenly labeled as "stupid", "lazy", or "unmotivated." More common in girls.
3) Over-Focused ADHD: Folks with this subtype are often fixated on negative thoughts or behaviors, and tend to worry. They tend to be inflexible/stubborn, and often require a need for sameness or routine. This subtype is most often seen in families with a history of addiction or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
4) Temporal Lobe ADHD: This is ADHD with a touch of anger/volatility. Those with this form of ADHD often have a "short fuse", are more easily agitated, and tend to resist the instructions of adults. They may also suffer from periods of anxiety, and experience physical distress such as headaches and abdominal pain. They are more likely to experience memory problems and have difficulty reading. Most common in families with a history of learning disabilities or anger management issues.
5) Limbic ADD:
This is the "sad" subtype highlighted by chronic mild sadness,
negativity, low energy, low self-esteem, irritability, social isolation,
poor appetite and poor sleep patterns. In such children, the stimulants
so often prescribed to treat ADD often cause problems in terms of
rebound or depressive symptoms.
6) Ring Of Fire ADD: This is ADD with full blown moodiness, anger outbursts, oppositional behavior, stubborness, inflexibility, excessive talking, and sensitivity to light and sound. “Ring of Fire” refers to the intense ring of overactivity that Dr. Amen has observed in the brain scans of affected people. Stimulants often make this type of ADHD worse.
One of his main messages is that each type of ADHD is different, and thus requires different treatment approaches. In other words, one treatment does not fit everyone.
Eliminate Caffeine. Caffeine interferes with ADHD treatments and hinders restful sleep. While most ADHD medications are stimulants (Ritalin, etc.), they may not be effective in relieving ADHD symptoms in many folks due to the different types of ADHD.
Diet And Excercise. Engage in 30-45 minutes of daily exercise or physical activity as it is shown to reduce ADHD symptoms and promote sleep.
Most people with ADHD respond positively to a diet that is high in protein and low in simple carbohydrates. Therefore it is important to get enough brain-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids as found in fish oil or flaxseed oil for vegetarians. (2,000-4,000mg per day for adults, 1,000-2,000mg for children).
Unplug! Turn off the television and video games, or limit them to no more than 30 minutes a day. Late night television viewing or gaming stimulates the brain and hinders restful sleep. Turning off gadgets may be hard in our technology-obsessed age, but it can make a huge difference in terms of focus, energy levels, mood, and overall health. Read a book instead.
For Parents And Loved Ones, Try To Remain Patient. Do not yell at children with ADHD as many of them are struggling and often cannot control their symptoms. For children that are always acting out and getting into trouble, yelling at them can become their way of getting your undivided attention, even if it's negative attention.
Learn The Connection Between ADHD And Learning Disabilities. Up to 60% of all people with ADHD have learning disabilities, so get tested.
Seek Out Available School Or Employment Resources. This includes learning about programs such as the 504 for ADHD, IEP for ADHD, employer-provided EAP programs for adults, and disability (SSI for ADHD).
My Personal Story
I am a doctor who treats ADHD and the mother of a son with ADHD, and Daniel Amen's book helped improve my son's quality of life and transformed the way I work with ADHD patients.
As a clinician, I was used to defining and diagnosing the three "official" subtypes of ADHD listed in the "diagnostic bible" (DSM). While such definitions can be sufficient for some folks with ADHD, others, like my son and many of my patients, did not always fit these subtypes.
Daniel Amen's book expanded my view of the condition, and his treatment recommendations helped my son improve his grades and behavior. As a result, I always recommend his book to other parents of ADHD children, adults with ADHD, and anyone who wants to gain insight into a fascinating condition.