Archives for May 2013

Talking Too Much When You Have ADHD

ADHD and talking too muchDo you talk a lot? Do you use more words to express yourself than other people you know? While this might not be problematic in your home life, it can be a huge problem at work. People are busy and want you to get to the point. You sense them getting impatient, or backing away when you start a conversation (they know once they engage they will be there for a while). Neither, of which, is nice for you.

The way we talk is also how we write. If you talk a lot you will properly find writing concise notes hard too. If writing notes is a big part of your job, (nurses, doctors social workers, therapists, lawyers are just a few examples), then writing notes takes you a LOT of time. Plus, you want to include all the information to cover yourself  legally/company policy. You become overwhelmed with the backlog.

Catching up seems like it will never happen because every day more gets added to your pile. The answer to both of these problems is the same. Planning and headers. Both might sound too simple to work or boring and time consuming. However, this simple strategy does work, only takes minutes, yet save you hours.


To keep conversations short and to the point, before approaching your boss or colleague or heading into a meeting:

  1. Grab a piece of paper and write the title of the topic you want to talk about. This keeps you on topic.
  2. Underneath jot down the key issues you want to address, no more than 5.
  3. Under each key issue write the relevant points.
  4. If linear thinking is hard for you, use a mind map to brainstorm the points. When you have it clear in your mind transfer the information to a list. Lists make you look more professional (I know! But that is a whole other topic).

Taking time to do this simple plan, will allow you to talk briefly and succinctly and keep you on task. It will make you look and feel professional and organized.You might even say to the person I want to have a quick conversation about X and these are the 5 things I want to cover. This helps them to gauge the length of the conversation.

Keeping your written words brief

Very similar principles apply when you are planning what to write in the official notes.

  1. Before you write in the official notes, on a piece of paper list topics you want to document.
  2. Under each key issue write the relevant points.
  3. Using the above as a frame work begin expanding it in the official notes.
  4. Different work environments have different rules for how the official notes should look.

However, if appropriate:

* Use headings. It helps you to stay on subject and easy for other to find what they need quickly.
* Use bullet points. You can get the key information out without taking time to form sentences.

5. If writing notes is a big part of your job, you are properly repeating the same things again and again… just in different parts of client/ patient notes. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. Create a template for yourself for different topics that recur a lot in your line of work. This will save you tons of time and you can go home on time.

ADHD, Dopamine and Getting Things Done!

dopamineAt school I was never a of fan chemistry.  However, now I find the chemistry in our brains fascinating. Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin are all chemicals that keep us safe and happy.  Dopamine is particularly interesting as the ADHD brain has less dopamine than the average brain.  This results in ADD challenges, such as focus and concentration.

There are ways to increase dopamine, both with ADHD meds, and natural ways such as taking omega 3, exercising and meditation. You can also increase dopamine by getting things done!

When you set yourself a goal and achieve it, you get a shot of dopamine and feel good.  Because we like the good feeling we naturally want to achieve something else.  Human brains don’t distinguish between big goals and small goals.  It just rewards you for accomplishing something you set out to do. So you can use this to your advantage and set a small achievable goal every day.

Unfortunately, most ADDers are hard on themselves and only give themselves permission to feel good after achieving something BIG.  For example, studying for a degree, you could wait 4 years until the degree is completely finished to feel good. Or you could set mini goals for yourself every day of the journey.  Remember, big achievements come from many small ones.  Don’t minimize the small ones as they are vital to success.

The other trick to getting more dopamine in your daily life is to set your mini goals at the right difficultly level.  If they are too easy, you won’t get a satisfied feeling.  If they are too hard you will give up trying. Be careful if you recognize yourself in this because rather than helping you to succeed, it demotivates you and you get less done.

Your challenge this week is to…

1) Break a goal into small achievable parts

2) Achieve a mini goal every day

3) Notice and enjoy the sense of satisfaction and your dopamine shot!

Alternative Ways To Treat ADHD

How the body responds to food and lifestyle choices and its effect on ADHD have always fascinated me. Earlier this year a reader of the Untapped Brilliance blog contacted me and said,

“I just came across your blog and I love it.  I have never tried medication for my ADHD.  I have made quite a few lifestyle changes in the last few years.  I have tried many things out there in the world of naturopathy, alternative therapies, etc.   You are right on about gluten…. “

They went into a little more detail about everything they’d tried and then said, “Feel free to contact me if you would like me to share more so you could in turn share it with your readers. “Greg Weinstein

After a few emails to and fro, it was clear Greg was a wealth of knowledge it and it would be better for you to hear directly from Greg.  So, here is a 40 minute interview with the man himself!

During the interview Greg shares what trigger him to start exploring alternative ways to treat ADHD.

He also talks about…

  • The Small intestine (the second brain)
  • Blue green algae
  • Water
  • Green veggies (kale etc)
  • Mucus producing’ foods (such as dairy)
  • Colonics
  • Internal cleanse that utilizes psyllium husk and bentonite clay
  • Stress management

Greg’s enthusiasm makes you want to try everything!  Even if some of the things sound weird or are very new to you, I am positive you will curious to try at least one of the suggestions.


ADHD and Teeth Grinding, Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome

Sleeping difficulties are one of the comorbid conditions that Adults with ADHD can experience. Sleeping difficulties are one of the comorbid conditions that Adults with ADHD can experience. While Insomnia is the most well known sleeping difficulty, the other common ones are Teeth Grinding, Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome.

Having sleep problems is a double whammy when you have ADHD because lack of sleep results in ADHD symptoms, such as, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, distraction and disorganization. If you have or suspect you have a sleep disorder, it is important to treat it so that you can minimize its effects on your life and your ADHD.

Teeth Grinding or Bruxism (From the Greek word brygmós “gnashing of teeth”)

The short term effects of teeth grinding can include headaches, aching jaws, sore facial muscles, earaches and stiff or tight shoulders. While long-term effects can include: tooth sensitivity, worn or cracked teeth, infections or dental abscesses, pain and stiffness of the jaw. If you recognize yourself as a tooth grinder, visit your dentist who will fit your with a mouth guard.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

There are 2 types of sleep Apnoea:


This is where during sleep the soft tissues and muscles of the throat relax so much they block air for 10 seconds or more and your breathing is interrupted.


This is where the air is reduced by 50% (or more) for 10 seconds or more while you sleep.

Problems breathing while you sleep mean you move from a deep sleep to a lighter sleep or wake up completely. Because everyone needs a certain amount of deep sleep per night, if you aren’t getting enough you will feel fatigued in the morning. As well as, short term problems, such as reduced attention there are long term problems such as heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Visit your
doctor ASAP. You will be prescribed a CPAP, which is a breathing machine that maintains your airway.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS)

This common condition results in an overpowering desire to move your legs. It might be accompanied by a crawling feeling on your legs. While the exact cause isn’t known, it’s thought to be due to low levels of dopamine, or an underlying health condition, such as, an iron deficiency. Visit your doctor and they will be able to assess you. Your treatment will depend on their findings.

Whatever your sleep problems, get them checked out ASAP. You will feel like a new person after a good nights sleep.


ADHD and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a form of anxiety that occurs after a traumatic event. The severity of PTSD depends not on the event but on the individual’s perception of the event. Traumatic events vary from losing a job, being involved in an accident, sexual abuse, or natural disasters, such as, earthquakes or witnessing war. PTSD is a condition that frequently co-exists with ADD. In fact, Dr Hallowell believes most ADHD adults have a mild form of PTSD because if left unmanaged ADD can mean repeated traumas, humiliation, rejection and failures.

ADHD and PTSD can look similar, so check this article out. As it explains the similarities and differences of the 2 conditions.

Having ADD can also increase the likelihood of developing PTSD, as an ADHDer can put themselves in situations that can cause trauma. For example, the Hyperactive and impulsive ADHDers are looking for stimulus and excitement without thinking of possible negative consequences. While the inattentive ADHDer might not notice the early warning signs that would have alerted them to get out of a particular situation.

If you have ADHD and  PTSD here is what to do:

1) If your PTSD is server, get professional help straight away. Trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy is very helpful. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and relaxation techniques are very helpful too. Medication might be prescribed for secondary symptoms e.g.depression. Remember there is no shame in seeking help.

2) If you feel that your PTSD is because of your life with ADHD, then you might decide to treat your ADHD first. By managing your ADHD, your chances of experiencing traumatic events will be reduced (if in doubt speak to your doctor).

The ADHD book ‘Untapped Brilliance, How to Reach your Full Potential as an Adult with ADHD’ also a great resource to learn how to manage your adult ADHD.