ADHD Myths & Diagnosis Questions

Hello Dr. Eckman,
I really like your website, it seems like you really understand ADHD. I’m pretty sure that I have it too because my dad and my grandma are just like me. I have trouble paying attention and seem to have a problem with staying focused on one thing at a time. For instance when I’m in class, my mind wanders and when I try to study, my concentration lasts for maybe like 10 minutes. I have always had this problem but now that I’m older its getting worse. Can you help me? I should tell you that I don’t live in Portland Oregon but I’m wondering if you could treat me over the phone? I do have insurance through my dad. Please let me know if you can help me or if you can’t, could you recommend someone that can?
Drew S.

Hi Drew,
Many thanks for sending me your note. Firstly, a diagnosis of ADHD requires an in depth, very detailed evaluation which is usually done in person. There are many parts to the evaluation and making a diagnosis over the phone is difficult at best. I would suggest that since you have insurance through your father that you go online to that insurance company’s website and find a list of their mental health psychiatry prescribers such as psychiatrists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners etc. and see if they have an expertise in treating ADHD. If that doesn’t work, then it may be useful to Google the name of your town, for instance if you lived in Portland OR you could use the search terms: ADHD Portland Oregon (OR), or ADHD diagnosis Portland Oregon (OR) or even ADHD treatment Portland Oregon (OR). Then I would suggest you contact those individuals and discuss your symptoms and concerns.

Dear Mr. Eckman,
Thank you so much for your posting on ADHD myths. I was told by my old therapist that there is no such thing as ADHD. He sent me to see a doctor who said that I had depression. I was put on depression medication which didn’t do anything except make me feel worse. I felt very tired, was not able to focus on homework, and ultimately felt worse than before. I tried to tell my therapist about that, but he told me that the he and the doctor knew best and to give the medicine more time to work. I felt as if I was not being listened to. I told the doctor that I was also experiencing anxiety problems now, and he gave me another medication to try and solve that problem. I grew more and more unhappy, until it got to the point that I dropped out of college. I had to move back to my parents house. In desperation, I went online and started to read everything I could on ADHD. I learned that what I was experiencing was not unique and that others had similar stories. I took an online ADHD test and it said that I had many of the symptoms. So I called a few people who were on that website and asked them about ADHD. I was relieved to find one that I liked and once I got on some medication my world changed. I felt truly alive for the very first time. I now see that some people think they know all about mental problems but they do more damage by saying things that aren’t true. My ADHD had nothing to do with depression or anxiety and that myth needs to be exposed as not true. I tell everyone I know about what happened to me, and I’m happy to see your page that exposes the myths on ADHD.

Dear JM,
I was touched by your note. I write this ADHD blog for people like you that have similar stories. I’ve heard many such experiences where clients are not listened to and given diagnosis that are in opposition to their symptoms. I have heard too many tales where clients have classic ADHD symptoms and are told that either ADHD doesn’t exist or that it’s due to some anxiety experience from childhood. In some cases they are misdiagnosed by medical personnel and given erroneous medications which can exacerbate the symptoms. I hear that you finally found an ADHD specialist who properly diagnosed your symptoms and started you on a regiment that is working. You are to be commended for continuing your search until you found the right ADHD specialist to treat you. Good Luck!

If you or a loved one thinks they may have ADHD or ADD, please find a local specialist who can take the time to accurately assess your symptoms. ADHD or ADD is very real and can be treated with many things including medication, counseling, coaching, and others interventions. If you are in the local Portland Oregon (OR) area, I can be reached at (503)492-2200. If you live in another area, consult the internet for an ADHD specialist close to where you live.

Please keep those letters, concerns, questions and suggestions coming.

ADHD Myths

I just returned from a major ADHD Conference that was held in San Francisco, CA. One of the most prominent ADHD organizations is CHADD which stands for Children and Adults with AD/HD. They have been at the forefront in educating children, parents, educators, physicians, nurse practitioners, therapists and others about ADHD. This was their 25th year and if you haven’t heard of them please go check them out at

Another resource that you might wish to check out is ADDitude magazine which is dedicated to sharing information on a monthly basis for the ADHD community. To learn more about them go to

On the ADDitude website, I found the 7 myths about AD/HD that I wanted to share with you.

Myth #1) AD/HD isn’t a real medical disorder.

AD/HD has been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by major medical,psychological, and educational organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education. The
American Psychiatric Society recognizes AD/HD as a medical disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the official mental health “bible” used by psychologists, psych nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists.
ADHD (also known as attention deficit disorder) is biologically based. Research shows that it’s a
result of an imbalance of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, within the brain. Its primary symptoms are inattention, impulsiveness, and, sometimes, hyperactivity. People with AD/HD typically have a great deal of difficulty with aspects of daily life, including time management and organizational skills

Myth #2) Children who are given special accommodations because of their AD/HD are getting an unfair advantage.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools address the special needs of all children with disabilities, including children with AD/HD. Special accommodations, such as extra time on tests, simply level the playing field so that kids with AD/HD can learn as successfully as their non-AD/HD classmates.

Myth #3) Children with AD/HD eventually outgrow their condition.

More than 70 percent of the individuals who have AD/HD in childhood continue to have it in adolescence. Up to 50 percent will continue to have it in adulthood.
Although it’s been estimated that 6 percent of the adult population has AD/HD, the majority of those adults remain undiagnosed, and only one in four of them seek treatment. Yet, without help, adults with AD/HD are highly vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. They often experience career
difficulties, legal and financial problems, and troubled personal relationships.

Myth #4) AD/HD affects only boys.

Girls are just as likely to have AD/HD as are boys, and gender makes no difference in the symptoms
caused by the disorder. But because this myth persists, boys are more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

Myth #5) AD/HD is the result of bad parenting.

When a child with AD/HD blurts things out or gets out of his seat in class, it’s not because he hasn’t been taught that these behaviors are wrong. It’s because he cannot control his impulses. The problem is rooted in brain chemistry, not discipline. In fact, overly strict parenting—which may involve punishing a child for things he can’t control—can actually make AD/HD symptoms worse. Professional interventions,
such as drug therapy, psychotherapy, and behavior modification therapy, are usually required.

Myth #6) Children who take AD/HD medication are more likely to abuse drugs when they become teenagers.

Actually, it’s just the opposite. Having untreated AD/HD increases the risk that an individual will abuse drugs or alcohol. Appropriate treatment reduces this risk. The medications used to treat AD/HD have been proven safe and effective over more than 50 years of use. These drugs don’t cure AD/HD, but they are highly effective at easing symptoms of the disorder. The drugs do not turn kids into addicts or “zombies.”

Myth #7) People who have AD/HD are stupid or lazy—they never amount to anything.

Many well-known, high-achieving individuals have AD/HD, including top executives such as David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways. Other high-achieving people with AD/HD include Terry Bradshaw (quarterback, Super Bowl winner, and NFL commentator), Roxy Olin (actress on MTV’s “The City” and “The Hills”), Howie
Mandel (host of “Deal or No Deal”), Katherine Ellison (Pulitzer Prize winner and author), and Michael Phelps (swimmer and holder of 18 career Olympic gold medals, the most by any Olympian).

I will be posting more topics, information and will also answer your questions.
As always, if you, a loved one or someone you know, thinks they might have ADHD or ADD, please have them consult with an AD/HD specialist. I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback.

ADHD & Academics

Now that it’s September, school is starting again and with it, concerns from some about whether or not this will be another disaster waiting to happen. It’s not that the student is unprepared or unmotivated, it is that regardless of how hard they “try”, their efforts are for naught. They complain about their inability to stay focused, to be organized, to keep on task, to complete assignments, or to not lose and misplace things.

Imagine how difficult it would be term after term, semester after semester and year after year to hear that you aren’t trying, that you are lazy, that you aren’t working up to your potential. Patients tell me that they began to believe those words and felt demoralized and distraught. Sometimes the absorption of these negative thoughts leads one to feel anxious and or depressed and the schoolwork or job performance suffers. One begins to have a sense of underachievement and can show signs of stress, hypersensitivity, and low self-esteem.

If you can relate to any of this, I would advise you to consult with an ADHD/ADD specialist rather than suffer in silence. There is no need to ignore the signs and symptoms that your body may be telling you something is amiss. Case in point, a patient of mine most recently with tears in their eyes, share with me this past semester they got all A’s (a 4.0) in all their subjects and what was most pronounced, was this was the first time in their whole life that they had ever received an A, let alone an A in every subject. They remarked that now they knew that they weren’t lazy, or dumb, or unmotivated; if anything, they felt vindicated and motivated to continue their academic success.

If you are anyone you know thinks they may have ADHD or ADD, feel free to contact me either through this blog, the website at, or by phone at (503)492-2200.

As always, I am deeply appreciative of your questions, comments, feedback and suggestions.

ADHD/ADD & Anxiety

Maybe it is the recent tragedy in Colorado, or maybe it’s the thought of returning back to school in September that is causing the phone to ring off the hook from potential patients who are describing a mix of ADHD symptoms and higher anxiety. Callers are indicating that the catastrophe has caused them to feel more on edge, which worsens their inattentiveness, disorganization, problems concentrating, difficulties with procrastination and task completion.

Certainly it can be said that one’s external environment can adversely affect their overall sense of well-being. If there are underlying issues with ADHD or ADD, world or local events that are traumatic can add to the strain and stresses which can exacerbate the symptoms. Oftentimes at that juncture, patients become motivated to reach out and seek professional assistance. After they make the call and find out that this is not an isolated issue, they feel more empowered about finally addressing issues that have been longstanding. Many report knowing that as young children they suffered with these same symptoms and felt increased anxiety when events in their world were traumatic.

What is refreshing to know, is that with proper diagnosing, patients report a vast improvement in the ADHD/ADD symptoms and in many cases a disappearance of the anxiety symptoms as well. This supports the belief that it was the ADHD/ADD issues that were causing the anxiety rather than as some would have us believe, the anxiety that is causing the ADHD/ADD. Either way, what is crucial is for someone to make the call to a trained professional who specializes in ADHD/ ADD diagnosis, treatment, counseling and medication.

If you or someone you know, lives in the greater Portland Oregon (OR) area, and thinks they may have ADHD or ADD, and wants to speak to me about ADHD/ADD diagnosis, ADHD/ADD medication, ADHD/ADD counseling, or ADHD/ADD treatment, please call (503)492-2200. I would be honored to address your concerns and see if there is a way to resolve the issues.

As always, I welcome your questions, concerns and feedback.

ADHD & the Media

ADHD and the Media

There have been several articles lately in the news and one that I have received comments about was in the local Portland Oregonian a few weeks ago. The article cited information gleaned from the National Institutes of Health and indicated some warning signs of ADHD included but were not limited to:
1) Struggling to respond
2) Difficulties paying attention
3) Failing to listen to instructions
4) Problems staying organized
5) Leaving chores or homework unfinished
6) Talking too much or difficulties interrupting others

Most of the comments that I received coalesced around the consequences of not seeking treatment and these included:
1) Disrupted relationships
2) Rejection from peers, friends and important others
3) Underperforming at school or work
4) Depression and or anxiety
5) Greater risk of substance abuse
6) Impulsivity
7) Anti-social behavior

The article indicated that some treatments for ADHD included medication, structured classroom/work management, and behavioral therapy. It indicated that ADHD was not caused by bad parenting, too much sugar, or vaccines. It should be noted that ADHD does have a genetic component and does appear to travel in family clusters. Perhaps the best part of the article indicated that with treatment, individuals can improve their school or work performance and build strong relationships.

If you or someone you know has ADHD symptoms, encourage them to seek treatment from a local ADHD treatment professional. If you are within the local Portland Oregon (OR) area and have questions about ADHD diagnosis, ADHD medication, ADHD treatment, or ADHD counseling, please feel free to contact me at
(503) 492-2200.

As always, I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions.

ADHD/ADD and Self Confidence

After treating over one thousand patients that have a diagnosis of ADHD or ADD in Portland Oregon (OR), one of the main factors that emerges is the rise that these individuals seem to have in self confidence. Many relate stories of being told how deficient they were as children in one or more areas. They speak of enduring hardships in school, labeled as problem kids, told they were not working up to their potential and after awhile began to believe what they were hearing.

Can one begin to imagine how those young impressionable minds were affected hearing that over and over? It would be quite difficult not to begin to see yourself as the problem when in many cases it was simply that parts of the brain were not connecting properly and once remedied, these folks find results that in some cases are almost miraculous. I’ve heard stories of students who had been dismissed from schools were now getting 4.0 GPA’s, folks who were fired from numerous positions, getting raises and be held up as model employees. Patients who were taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications, find that they were no longer necessary or greatly reduced. It is amazing what can and does happen when someone is assessed, diagnosed, and begins treatment to correct the attention deficits.

If you have had problems with your ability to pay attention, problems with being able to focus or concentrate, find that your mind wanders after a few minutes on a task, start projects but rarely complete them, put off things until the last minute, etc. then you might have ADHD or ADD. Why suffer needlessly when assistance could be just a phone call away. If you, or someone you know, can identify with these symptoms, and live in the greater Portland Oregon (OR) area, give me a call and let’s discuss your situation.

As always I welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions.