Symptoms: Inattentive, distractible, hyperactive, disorganized and impulsive. Normal brain activity at rest; decreased brain activity during concentrated tasks.
Cause: Dopamine deficiency; decreased blood flow in prefrontal cortex and cerebellum, as well as basal ganglia, which helps produce dopamine.
Treatment: Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvance or Concerta, or stimulating supplements, such as rhodiola, green tea, ginseng, as well as the amino acid L-tyrosine, which is a building block of dopamine; extra physical activity; fish oil that is higher in EPA than in DHA.
Symptoms: Short attention span, distractible, disorganized, procrastinates, may daydream and be introverted; not hyperactive or impulsive; impacts girls as much or more than boys.
Cause: Dopamine deficiency; low activity in the prefrontal cortex.
Treatment: Stimulant medications, such as Adderall, Vyvance or Concerta, or stimulating supplements, such as amino acid L-tyrosine; high-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet; regular exercise.
Symptoms: Core symptoms of Classic ADD, plus trouble shifting attention, going from thought-to-thought or task-to-task; getting stuck in negative thought patterns or behaviors.
Cause: Dopamine and serotonin deficiencies; over-activity in anterior cingulate gyrus, which makes flexibility difficult.
Treatment: Supplements, such as L-tryptophan, 5-HTP (dietary supplement used as antidepressant), saffron, and inositol (naturally occurring nutrient used to boost alertness, focus, mood and mental clarity); otherwise anti-depressants Effexor, Pristique, or Cymbalta; avoid high-protein diet, which may trigger mean behavior. Neurofeedback.
Temporal Lobe ADD
Symptoms: Core symptoms of Classic ADD, as well as learning, memory, and behavioral problems, such as quick anger, aggression, and mild paranoia.
Cause: Abnormalities in the temporal lobe; decreased activity in prefrontal cortex.
Treatment: Amino acid GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid) to calm neural activity and inhibit nerve cells from over-firing or firing erratically; magnesium to help with anxiety and irritability; anti-convulsant medications to help with mood stability; gingko or vinpocetine to help with learning and memory problems.
Symptoms: Core symptoms of Classic ADD, as well as chronic low-level sadness (not depression): moodiness, low energy, frequent feelings of helplessness or excessive guilt, and chronic low self-esteem.
Cause: Too much activity in the limbic part of the brain (the mood control center); decreased prefrontal cortex activity, whether concentrating on a task or at rest.
Treatment: Supplements DL-phenylalanine (DLPA), L-tryosine, and SAMe (s-adenosyl-methionine); anti-depressants Wellbutrin or Imipramine; exercise; fish oil and diet modifications.
Ring of Fire ADD (“ADD plus”)
Symptoms: Sensitivity to noise, light, touch; periods of mean, nasty behavior; unpredictable behavior; speaking fast; anxiety and fearfulness.
Cause: A ring of hyperactivity around the brain (the entire brain is overactive, with too much activity across the cerebral cortex and other areas).
Treatment: Stimulants alone may make symptoms worse. Begin with an elimination diet. If an allergy is suspected, neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin are boosted through supplements, such as GABA, 5-HTP, and L-tyrosine, and medication, if necessary. For medications, begin with anticonvulsants and the blood pressure drugs guanfacine and clonidine, which calm overall hyperactivity.
Symptoms: Core symptoms of Classic ADD, as well as being anxious and tense, having physical stress symptoms like headaches and stomachaches, predicting the worst, freezing in anxiety-provoking situations, especially if being judged.
Cause: High activity in basil ganglia (the opposite of most types of ADD, where there is low activity).
Treatment: Promote relaxation and increase dopamine and GABA levels. ADD stimulants, taken alone make patients more anxious. Begin with a range of “calming” supplements, such as L-theanine, relora, magnesium, and holy basil. Tricyclic antidepressants Imipramine or Desipramine to lower anxiety, depending on the individual. Neurofeedback to decrease symptoms of anxiety, especially to calm the prefrontal cortex.
The information in this article comes from Dr. Daniel G. Amen’s bookHealing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD (Penguin Group, 2013), and an article in ADDitude Magazine, The Seven Types of ADD – and How to Treat Each One.
Eve Kessler, Esq., a criminal appellate lawyer with The Legal Aid Society, NYC, is co-founder and President of SPED*NET Wilton, Special Education Network of Wilton (CT), http://www.spednetwilton.org and a Contributing Editor of Smart Kids.