Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to my Blog- Support Groups

Welcome! This is my first blog entry for a new blog on adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I write this blog as a person with ADHD, as a parent of a teen-aged son with ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and depression and as an Internal Medicine physician who treats and counsels adults with ADHD. Although there are many blogs addressing ADHD, most of them are written by lay people who may or may not live with ADHD, may not be raising children with this condition and who are not treating patients. In my blog I will review current scientific developments on ADHD and report other useful information that I gain from my own personal experience and from my patients, colleagues and attendees of my monthly adult ADHD support group meetings that I will tell you more about below. But first I would like to share a little bit about myself. 

As is typical, I was diagnosed with ADHD in my early 40ʼs shortly after my son who was seven at the time, was diagnosed with ADHD. I couldnʼt believe that I had gone through medical school and Internal Medicine/Primary Care Residency training without a notion of adult ADHD (ADHD was originally believed to be mainly a pediatric condition). I learned more about ADHD and its highly genetic transmissibility. I became aware that my life long struggles were also ones he was beginning to experience. And so began my journey thanks to my son, that leads me here today writing this blog. I'll share my thoughts on various aspects of life with ADHD through personal as well as professional insights.

Besides telling you about myself in this first post, I would also like to tell you about ADHD support groups. Support groups can be very useful for adults with ADHD; one does not feel so alone when meeting others struggling with many of the same issues. Attendees can learn from each other and be a source of information for local resources to other members of the group. My support group is run under the auspices of our local Seattle CHADD chapter. CHADD stands for CHildren and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. CHADD is a national organization providing education, advocacy and support for those with ADHD. The Seattle chapter falls under the Northwest Chapter of CHADD. CHADD has other local support groups that you can learn about by by visiting the Northwest Chapter website.  ADD Resources is another organization located in Tacoma, WA and has local support groups for both parents of children with ADHD and adults with ADHD. Anyone is free to join my support group which meets the first Monday of every month at 6 PM on the second floor of Seattle Healing Arts (map/directions), which is where my practice is located. There is no charge for attending the group and sessions last for about an hour. Snacks and beverages are welcome. Next meeting is on June 6th; discussion to include the impact of ADHD in the workplace and on friendships. Dr. Wendy Woodard Psy.D.,ABDA will be co-moderating with me.

Check my blog if you think this kind of information may be of interest to you. You can post a comment- we all have something to contribute to this discussion! Please note that in an effort to avoid posts that are promotional or outright span, my blog is moderated which means I will have to approve comments before they are publicly available and this may take up to 24hrs. My next post is scheduled for 5/23/11 and will most likely address the national mixed amphetamine salt shortage. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I've been to one of your support group sessions and found it to be very helpful to hear that other folks struggle with some of the same issues I do. It's also helpful to hear how others have addressed the challenges inherent in a life with ADHD. Very glad to see you have started a blog- looking forward to your subsequent posts!

  2. I'm 18 and after recently dropping out of college I was directed towards some information that has led me to firmly believe that I have been suffering with ADHD-PI my entire life. I always felt like a worthless and inherently loser due to my parents consistently reminding me how lethargic, unmotivated, and blank I was.

    What makes it all worse is that deep down I am a highly intelligent person and I felt like I was cheating myself out of a successful life in school or in the work force by simply being completely incapable of focusing on even minor important tasks. Had I shown any symptoms of hyperactivity I am certain I would have been diagnosed earlier, but I'm probably one of the most mellow and articulate people you will ever meet, and even extended contact with me wouldn't lead you to believe that I suffer from such a life-ruining mental condition.

    I've heard the cure is to pump myself up with pills. I am currently researching physicians who can make accurate adult ADHD diagnoses but apparently I am straight out of luck in finding anyone local.

    1. In response to the person who recently dropped out of college, I have gathered some tips for the high achieving (or not) ADHD student. I hope the following thoughts on STRESS MANAGEMENT might be helpful for you, an ADHD former student who might reconsider college. It might be helpful to other ADHDers, whether or not they are students:

      Research and clinical anecdotes suggest that "MINDFULNESS" practice is of tremendous help in reducing anxiety and enhancing a sense of well-being. "Mindfulness" refers to thinking/feeling/existing in the moment rather than berating ourselves about the past or worrying about the future. It is a useful idea, irrespective of one's spiritual beliefs. This does not mean that planning is unimportant, but that life passes us by when we are continually preoccupied by the past and the future. You may have a tendency to think far into the future about how things should go or will go. This is not very constructive, since change is really the thing you can count on.

      Accepting the inevitability of CHANGE will not only enhance your ability to adapt, but also allow for new, positive contingencies you may never have considered. Delaying happiness until some point in the future does not usually work.

      Calming yourself in the present will go a long way toward enhancing your academic functioning and emotional coping. First, you must learn to recognize signs of anxiety and overload. Second, you should develop a systematic way of addressing your situation once you realize you are overstressed.

      Taking deep, slow BREATHS is a good way to put the brakes on circular, pessimistic, anxious thought processes. Focusing on one’s breath is one of the best ways to regain awareness of the present. It might be a very useful tool prior to or during a test, for example.

      Many people find regular MEDITATION AND/OR YOGA to be extremely helpful in regaining a sense of calm, and are most effective when a part of one‘s routine. You might, for example, meditate for 15 minutes every morning and do yoga a couple times a week.

      Engaging in something that interests you and takes your immediate attention is also helpful in relaxing the brain. You might try hiking, for example, as it requires planning, path-finding, and focused attention to avoid getting lost or falling. Swimming can have a similar effect, particularly since it can put you in a meditative state. Even playing a computer game might do the trick.

      PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION is often very helpful as well, and something you might try before bed. There are a number of progressive relaxation tapes available on the market, or you might develop your own routine of systematically tensing and relaxing various muscle groups. Spending a few minutes of your time in this way is a better use of time than last-minute cramming.

      Your self-discipline will take you far if you can channel it toward your emotional health.

      Please add your own thoughts on this topic. Future blogs will address Time Management, Memory and Studying, Test Taking Tips, and other things.

  3. Hi Angela!
    Thank you so much for putting this blog up. I am recently diagnosed (in the past 4 months) and being treated with therapy and Adderall XR.

    I am hoping to make it to the meeting on June 6th if I can get out of work a little early.

    I'm mostly curious if maybe you could have a section where we can post questions for you?

    I am new to this diagnosis, though I have suspected for quite some time that I have ADHD. I'm working with a therapist and Psychologist but neither of them "specialize" in ADHD behavior/treatment.

  4. In response to anonymous, I have yet to meet a not-so-bright ADHDer! In fact, I enjoy working with ADHDers in part because of their intelligence. Girls display more often the inattentiveness of ADHD and less often the hyperactivity whereas boys are commonly diagnosed because of their hyperactivity. Medications are never a 'cure' but have been found by extensive research to be the most effective form of treatment. Making a diagnosis of ADHD requires an extensive and thorough interview by a mental health professional who is well versed in ADHD. Neuropsychologists administer specific tests which are helpful in diagnosing cognitive and psychological impairments. National ADHD organizations with local chapters like CHADD, have professional directories of mental health professionals. I co-moderate my support groups with a Harvard trained local neuropsychologist, Wendy Woodard, Psy.D,ABDA.

  5. Hi
    I have not been diagnosed with this condition but when I first read about the sympthoms of ADHD I felt relieved.All my life I have been the odd one out in each social group.I am now 34 years old and I am not planning to try and solve my problem throgh medication.I believe that people with ADHD have the ability to lead normal life without drugs.It just takes courage and I am already used to constantly feeling dazed and confused.

  6. I'm amazed at the difference i feel......I have always been distracted and cluttered, both physically and mentally. I would be annoyed if anything went too long. Was easily distracted. Am finding how pleasurable life is! Am enjoying talking with friends and family....enjoying listening to them. I have been positively affected in every single area of my life by Dr. Heithaus (thank you Doctor) I could go on for hours, but the real truth is two fold....that is, first, it feels like 24 hours in a day is perfect, not rushed. It feels like i can get everything done in plenty of time, im not rushed in my mannerisms and talk. Second, and this is the amazing part.....even though I know i have plenty of time (now) i am getting to things immediately, starting and completing my projects, then adding more to my day because i can and want to. I am now starting life at the tender age of 43......and I'm good with, I'm great with that.

  7. Dr. Heithaus, I see that NW CHADD's calendar currently does not show your support group meetings. I am interested in the group's status.

  8. I facilitate an adult ADHD support group along with Wendy Woodard PsyD every first Monday of the month from 6-7 PM at Seattle Healing Arts Center, 3rd Floor Forum. Next meeting will be Nov 7. I'm hoping to have a patient who is a very successful businessman, talk about how he was able to be successful despite no treatment and why he did finally seek treatment. All meetings are open to the public and free of charge. Meetings will be published on NW CHADDs calender. Hope to see you there!

  9. Hi Angela, I am so amazed about how people like you do good things for these people who suffer from adhd. I have read articles bout what is adhd and I am glad I dropped by on this page. Keep it nice.

  10. Thank you for creating this blog. This contributes a lot to people dealing with ADHD. I am looking for support groups in my area as well.

  11. I have recently been diagnosed with this condition and am looking back through my life events thinking 'Oh that's why! now I'm reading this blog and realizing I am not so odd and alone. Thank you and I hope to meet you all at a support group


Comments are welcome and encouraged provided that they are reasonably polite, not overly promotional, or outright spam.