There are some children and adults who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). They have a difficult time remaining focused on one task. They are easily distracted; their thoughts constantly change and frequently feel bored. Spontaneous behavior often takes place, which has a negative impact on their relationships with people and their career life. To help understand ADHD I have interviewed Dr. David Fazzari, PHD who is a psychologist in Manhattan.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
“I’m a cognitive behavioral psychologist practicing in mid-town Manhattan specializing in the treatment of adult ADHD. Cognitive behavior therapy focuses more on problem-solving the issues that affect you now, rather than discussing childhood experiences at length.”
“The cognitive part of the treatment involves looking at how maladaptive or biased thoughts effect how you feel emotionally, and we work together to substitute healthier and more adaptive thoughts. Similarly, the behavioral part involves identifying dysfunctional behaviors, which often involve an element of avoidance, and substituting more adaptive, positive behaviors. This can include confronting feared situations, forging new relationships, or learning new coping skills such as social skills or time management strategies. For my ADHD patients, I tailor this approach to their unique issues and concerns.”
“The great thing about cognitive behavior therapy, and what drew me to it during graduate school, is that it has gone through rigorous research trials that have shown it to be effective in treating a wide range of issues, from depression to anxiety to ADHD.”
What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
“ADHD is a neurobiological condition that begins in childhood. It is characterized by persistent difficulties with inattention, which can occur with or without hyperactivity and impulsivity. In the past it was believed that children outgrew the condition, but we now know that about half of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. It is estimated that 4-5% of the adult population have ADHD. We do not know exactly what causes ADHD, but we know it runs in families and is associated with differences in certain brain structures and neurotransmitters.”
What are the signs and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
“The symptoms are broken down into two categories. The first category is inattentiveness. This can include things such as forgetfulness, frequently losing things, difficulty concentrating, procrastinating, or difficulty getting places on time. The second category is hyperactivity and impulsivity. This includes things such as difficulty sitting still or staying seating for very long, feeling physically restless, always feeling the need to be “on the go”, talking excessively, or interrupting others. Though people often think ADHD is synonymous with hyperactivity, it is possible to have only the inattentive symptoms.”
“Now many of us experience symptoms such as these periodically, so what’s important for the diagnosis is that these symptoms are significant enough to interfere with someone’s ability to function at work, home, or with friends. Also, they are relatively constant, rather than waxing and waning over time. And finally, ADHD begins in childhood, so these symptoms are unlikely to suddenly pop up later in life. While many people are not diagnosed until they are adults, they will report their problems were present throughout most of their life.”
What type of impact does attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have on her person’s life?
“The impact can vary quite a bit from person to person. ADHD may result in someone performing below his or her level of ability or being under-employed. For example, you may be extremely bright and talented, but your difficulty completing projects on time keeps you from getting promoted, or worse, results in getting fired.”
“ADHD can also cause problems in your personal relationships. Chronic lateness, interrupting others, or not following through on promises because of forgetfulness can strain marriages and friendships. And if you have undiagnosed ADHD, you may just assume it’s a character flaw rather than a treatable medical condition.”
“The problems caused by ADHD can lead to other conditions as well. It is estimated the 50-75% of adults with ADHD also suffer from another mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.”
“But it’s far from being all doom and gloom. Often individuals with ADHD are able to “hyperfocus” on certain tasks or activities, and if they have aligned their career with that natural strength they can be extremely successful. Also, they are often compassionate, creative, and have a quick wit. Their creativity can lead to out-of-the box thinking and break-though ideas. One example of this is David Neeleman, the founder and former CEO of Jet Blue Airways. He is diagnosed with ADHD and credits his success to the creativity he feels is tied to his ADHD.”
What type of help is available for someone who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
“Stimulant medication is the most common treatment for ADHD and can be extremely effective. However, even with medication, people with ADHD may lack the concrete tools they need to organize their life or cope with any co-existing emotional problems. That’s where cognitive behavior therapy can help. I help my patients set up an organizational system, learn techniques to reduce distractibility, and change harmful thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their difficulties. We also discuss the role of exercise, diet, and social support in managing their symptoms. With the right set of tools, I have seen my patients make extraordinary changes in their lives.”
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
“Adults with ADHD are often very persistent. My advice is that if you are struggling with ADHD, then seek out help and apply that persistence to your treatment. Learning new skills and habits can seem daunting at first, but if you persist, the payoff can be tremendous.”
Thank you Dr. David Fazzari for the interview. If you would like to learn more about Dr. David Fazzari check out his website at