ADD/ADHD and Your Relationship


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ADD/ADHD and Your Relationship

Intimate CoupleADD/ADHD is a disorder that affects children and grown-ups. It can make one forgetful, disorganized, restless, and unfocused. But it can also bring bursts of creativity, energy, spontaneity, and a wonderful ability to think out of the box. If you are in a relationship with someone with ADD/ ADHD, you have probably experienced some of these traits in your partner. There may be times you adore the capabilities they have while, at other times, you don’t know what you are going to do with them! Any relationship requires patience, love and a whole lot of understanding to make it through the hurdles of life together. Here are some tips to help you feel happy and content in your relationship:

Do some research on ADD/ADHD

Go on the Internet or read on a book on the disorder. Learn what triggers ADD/ADHD, the symptoms, and helpful tools to manage the disorder. The information you gather will help you understand your partner and approach them with more sensitivity.


If you find there is any area of frustration due to the disorder, help your partner see a way to remedy it. For instance, if your partner has a hard time focusing, enroll in a meditation class together. Help your partner organize by giving a clear, written plan of the day/ week/ month. You are a team!


Listening is often the best form of communication there is. Open the doors to communication by listening with an open mind to your partner’s ADD/ADHD struggles. He or she may experience periods of low self- esteem, embarrassment, disappointment or even hopelessness associated with the disorder. Do not add extra pressure or put-downs. After you have listened to your partner, you can share how you feel affected too. Then, there is time for problem solving and resolving the issue with love and compassion on both sides.


Mindfulness is an approach to help focus the mind. It is useful in most people and can be learned from books, meditation CD’s or with the help of a therapist. Committing to a mindfulness practice together makes a wonderful date night!

Be understanding, strong, and focused to bring out the positives in your partner. When your ADD/ADHD partner feels balanced, they will be able to the same back to you.

An Unhealthy Gut & Anxiety


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I always like to consider thinking, “outside of the box,” and I believe some “alternative ideas” really can and do work. Please take a moment to read:

I have known about Dr. James Greenblatt, a Boston-area psychiatrist, for some time now. He worked at McLeans Hospital when I was receiving my clinical training. McLeans is a premier mental health facility that works with Harvard’s Medical School.  Greenblatt does not practice “alternative medicine,” rather he is an expert psychopharmacologist. He has since left McLeans and is now a clinical faculty member at Tufts Medical School.

“Dr. Greenblatt, like many others, are beginning to recognize the power of healthy gut bacteria. The average adult carries up to five pounds of bacteria — trillions of microbes — in their digestive tract alone.

A recent study in the journal Science showed that thin and fat people have different bacteria — a discovery that could lead to weight-loss programs. Doctors have also been using fecal transplants to seniors when their gastrointestinal health is compromised in nursing home living.”

Dr. Greenblatt believes there may be a link between what’s in your gut and what’s in your head. He goes so far as to suggest that certain bacterias actually may play a role in the following disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia and autism. “In some patients, the strep bacterium has been linked to OCD in a condition known as PANDAS.”

“According to, Jane Foster, associate professor of neuroscience and behavioral science and part of the McMaster University & Brain-Body Institute.

“Anyone who has a mental health disorder that coincides with a GI disorder is a good candidate for probiotics,” she said.

One such candidate was Adam Johnson, who since the age of 5 has struggled with ADHD, anxiety and some mood disorders, and has been treated with a variety of medications.

“We know now he had too much stimulation and realize his brain worked differently than everyone else’s,” said his mother, Kay Lynn Johnson of Massachusetts.

“Adam is a very slow processor and deep thinker and has an incredibly divergent brain going a thousand miles an hour all the time,” she said.

For many years, he was treated by a well-respected pharmacologist and a therapist, according to Johnson. But prescription medications were not working well enough, and by the time he was 14, his family turned to integrative medicine looking for a “broader range of tools.” His urine and blood tests found a bacterial imbalance.

“I don’t want to bad mouth drugs — they have a place,” said Johnson. “But I think there’s more to learn.”

Last year, he was taken off all medications, put on a special diet and treated with probiotics. “Friends, family and his teacher were amazed,” said his mother.

Today, Adam is in honors classes, playing clarinet in the band and doing well. “It’s been a real triumph,” she said.”

For a more in depth look on this topic, I recommend reading:

Coping When Your Child is ADD or ADHD


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Counseling for ADD-ADHD Tampa
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You relationship with your ADD/ADHD clild can be healthy and happy.

You relationship with your ADD/ADHD clild can be healthy and happy.

When your Child is ADD or ADHD

When you are the parent of a child with ADD/ADHD, you may be experiencing a full range of emotions.  But often your emotions are put on the back burner as you struggle to just maintain order in your house.   A typical cycle I hear parents express, goes something like this.  You get angry at your child for not being able to complete a simple task you asked him or her to do.  You then experience regret for losing your cool, maybe even embarrassment from your behavior or theirs.  Put all these emotions together and by the end of the day, you are exhausted, which will lead you to being less patient again tomorrow.

Cope With Your Emotions

This is why, as a therapist, I consider the parent’s mental health to be just as important as the child’s.  If you are not coping well with your own emotions, then you are not handling your child’s ADD or ADHD in the most effective way.  Ignoring our emotions does not make them go away.  They will resurface when you least expect them to.  Talking through these feelings is a good start.

As a parent, it is vital that you are well rested.  If you push yourself past fatigue, you will not have the patience and clear mind needed to cope best with your ADD or ADHD child.  We usually get fatigued and burnt out when we are doing too much.

Be Efficient

Get out a pen and paper right now.  Look at your weekly to-do list and begin to edit it.  What are your essential tasks (grocery shopping, getting ready for school, etc…) and what is less essential.  See if you can combine any errands into one.

Also write down, when your day is the hardest and when it is the smoothest.  Sometimes we see that the tricky part of our day is when we are trying to do too much.  Just like we tell our kids to focus on one task, we must do the same.  If you are trying to check your email and help your child with homework, this may frazzle you, causing you to be exhausted and impatient.  Set aside a separate time for computer distractions.

Make Your Health A Priority

Also, get some fresh air in the afternoon- even if it just a few minutes to breathe.  Whatever you do, send a message to yourself that your health is important too.  In an airplane emergency, the parent puts the oxygen mask on first.  Let’s put on the oxygen mask by taking good care of ourselves and our families.

ADD/ADHD & Texting Turmoil


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Texting, who doesn’t do it? For the person with ADD/ ADHD this can spell disaster. Did you know that texting can cause sleep issues, which can lead to memory processing problems? I watched a news story (aired on CBS New York on 2/28/11) that focused on texting and the affect it can have on sleep patterns. Here’s another issue: For those individuals with ADD, texting tends to reinforce positive feelings because of the instantaneous responses. Texting gives us the false sense that we are connected; texting fuels the impulsive nature of the ADD brain. However, all this instant quasi-relationship building just feeds into an already overloaded brain.

I often have clients tell me about their texting and relationship issues. They mistakenly believe they only use texting infrequently and when quick communication is necessary. “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” “Yes, 8pm is perfect”―in other words, bullet point communication. And yet, partners will complain about their “text-a-holic” tendencies that cause heated arguments and ultimately, the unraveling of the relationship.

A scenario I’ve heard many times too often―one spouse complaining because the other is so busy texting he/she can’t pay attention to dinner or the kids. In one case, the husband had no idea that this was bothersome. Once the behavior was brought to his attention and after a couple of sessions talking about how important communication with family is, he was able to put his phone away during dinners, be engaged and participate in thoughtful conversation.

Many clients have asked, “Is it possible to be addicted to texting?” For those with any type of social anxiety, texting has become an easy way to feel like part of a group with simple keyed responses. But be cautious of the downside. Texting may affect time management when one becomes lost in a series of long texts back and forth. It happens; trust me!

However, the positive affect texting can have on time management results when you can send someone a short message, rather than call and have a long conversation. For those with the ADD/ADHD brain, texting feels good because thoughts come up like speeding bullets and can then be dispersed in their hand-held device―like a video game. If you have ever watched a “20-something” text, it’s at warp speed.

Texting is not a horrible invention. It can be marvelous and fun. But for those with ADD/ADHD, there is a need for boundaries to be set. Enjoy your texting, but watch the clock. Nurture your relationships and don’t forget that eye contact feels better than finger-to-key contact.

ADHD Therapy in Tampa


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Suzette fell onto the couch in my office exclaiming, “I need help!”   She was frazzled.  “I just don’t know how to get my household under control or even myself. I feel so overwhelmed most of the time.  Suzette explained, “My life was fairly easy before I had my children. I love them so much, but I can’t seem to handle the details of raising them and trying to care for my husband, too.”  Once Suzette had let all the words and emotions of her story come out, she took a deep breath and waited to hear how we could work together to help her find solutions to help her deal with her ADHD.  How could she better manage her seemingly surmountable tasks?  Even the weekends weren’t offering her any reprieve.  Suzette is a typical woman who comes to see me for depression and anxiety.  She’s also looking for solutions to help manage her ADHD symptoms.  Together we have worked to analyze her life, helping to find a balance that works for her, not against her.

After a series of ADHD therapy sessions with Suzette, she discussed with me how much easier and more manageable her life has become.  She even managed to get away for a weekend with her friends, feeling confident that upon returning home, she would be able to pick up right where she left off with her now functioning schedule.  Suzette recently began working on calming her thoughts.  She talks now about feeling in control of her life and is efficiently managing her family members’ schedules.  Her home life feels more relaxing; she understands her own emotional state, feeling more confident and happy.  Suzette continues to learn how to be mindful of her own needs as she supports her family’s needs.  She’s a great example of a woman who is managing her ADHD symptoms and feeling in control of her life.  If you feel you live in the Tampa area and have ADHD symptoms and need someone to talk to, please reach out to us.