Forget the Ritalin and try changing lifestyle, outlook, and habits argues this energetic debut primer for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Sachs, a clinical psychologist with ADD who specializes in treating it, contends that drugs rarely help adult sufferers. He recommends instead a targeted regimen of self-analysis and behavior modification pegged to a monthlong calendar of daily lessons and goals (with weekends devoted to review). The program starts with tips on getting a good night’s sleep, proper hydration, exercise to flare off energy, and a suitable diet. (He haphazardly cites the paleo diet, the zone diet, and a gruesome “100 percent organic, raw, vegan diet.”) Sachs moves on to techniques to counteract the impulsiveness, distractions, and inappropriate conduct that plague ADD patients. He encourages readers to inventory their strengths and weaknesses and concentrate on tasks and careers they find interesting—he was reborn when he switched from being an administrative assistant to psychology—and to study and avoid triggers, like dealing with customer service reps, that can spark meltdowns. Noting how persistent lateness, missed deadlines, and chaotic comportment harm families and co-workers, he suggests that readers embed themselves in social networks that train sufferers to become reliable, punctual, and considerate of others. (He credits the men’s group The ManKind Project with helping him cultivate these virtues.) And Sachs offers many straightforward tricks to short-circuit ADD symptoms: keep a notebook to jot down off-topic ideas instead of blurting them out at meetings; loudly say “No!” when attention drifts away from the work; use apps to avoid getting sidetracked by email; break big jobs into small steps with rewards to motivate incremental accomplishments. Sachs provides lucid explanations of the brain science behind the cravings for stimuli and inability to concentrate that plague those with ADD and probes sufferers’ anguish as they cycle through failure, shame, self-loathing, and withdrawal. He conveys all of this with a mix of been-there insight and mordant humor. (The “Instant Gratification Monkey” is “the voice that pipes up when you’re working on your taxes due tomorrow and says, ‘Hey, let’s take a trip down memory [lane] and see if our ex is still on Facebook.’ ”) People with ADD (and many others who recognize themselves) should find much useful guidance here.
A cleareyed but warmly reassuring self-help guide with loads of hands-on ADD advice.