About Gina Pera

 

About Gina Pera

Welcome to the About Gina Pera page.

You’re seeking support and education for Adult ADHD, right? You value your life, your relationship, your family, right? That means, I assume, that you want solid expertise and experience, right?

You might have noticed, though: Finding solid ADHD expertise on the Internet—or even in the mental-health profession—can be tricky!  On this page, I briefly offer my credentials for your consideration.

You’ll find more information on my work and background throughout this site.

My Mission

Helping you to understand—and thrive in the presence of—ADHD.  

For 20 years, my  focus has been twofold:

  1. Reducing suffering by providing support and validation
  2. Elevating the discourse around Adult ADHD—and its treatment standards.

Why This Mission?  I’ll Tell You

In 1993, I was a print journalist living in San Diego. Then I met my future husband. In the process, I accidentally discovered Adult ADHD—and the overwhelming need millions of people had for knowledgeable support.

It all left me stunned—the lack of awareness and professional help.

See that photo above? It’s our wedding, in 1999. Notice me in the dripline? Consider that literal and metaphorical, for years until we found our way.

To find a larger meaning in suffering through what my husband and I did, I decided to shine a light on the path for others behind us.

“But What Are You Exactly, Gina Pera”?

I get that question a lot. Some readers ask if I am a coach or a therapist—or a psychiatrist (those emails are addressed to “Dr. Pera”).

Trouble is, my work defies easy categorizations.

One week I’m successfully leading the charge for the FDA to downgrade inferior Concerta generics that were sending lives off the rails. The next week, I am presenting a plenary talk at a professional ADHD conference on our Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy model.

Currently, I am finishing a series of comprehensive online training for adults with ADHD and their loved ones.

Naturally, that all makes me a marketer’s nightmare. But smart folks manage to find me, and I am grateful for their company.

From what they tell me, they know I’m in their corner. And, my cross-disciplinary knowledge helps them to solve many a mystery in their lives.

The truth is, there is nothing simple about ADHD. I believe you deserve a comprehensive understanding and evidence-based knowledge. And, I work to make it accessible to the average person and to mental-health professionals.

 

About Gina Pera
With my new copy of Dr. Russell Barkley’s clinical guide, containing the first-ever chapter on Adult ADHD couple therapy (I wrote it!)

The Lived Experience Plus

My direct experience with Adult ADHD includes:

  • The “lived experience”—my husband was diagnosed in 1999, thanks to my trying to make sense of seemingly paradoxical behavior (more below)
  • Founding and leading for 16 years an online group for the partners of adults with ADHD—1,000 members at any one time and 14,000 posts overall (and counting)
  • Leading two face-to-face groups in Silicon Valley for 15 years: One for adults with ADHD, one for the “partners of”; both free and open to the public
  • Attending years of high-level conferences on ADHD—taking copious notes and asking questions
  • Reading many hundreds of published papers
  • Writing this award-winning blog for 12 years—and reading every comment (responding, too)—almost 6,000 at last count
  • Publishing in 2008 the groundbreaking, award-winning Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? —the first and only book to comprehensively detail Adult ADHD, the impact of late-diagnosis, the dual nature of “denial”, the potential effect on loved ones, and evidence-based treatment strategies
  • Being invited by a preeminent ADHD research and clinical expert, Russell Barkley, PhD, to write the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his “gold standard” clinical guide.
  • Conducting the most comprehensive survey on Adult ADHD, the ADHD Partner Survey, the findings of which are included in Dr. Barkley’s clinical guide
  • Producing, with esteemed ADHD authority Arthur L. Robin, PhD, the first clinical guide for treating ADHD-challenged couples=

Award-Winning Print Journalist

Facts matter. They especially matter in a field so widely misunderstood and even disparaged, where real lives hang in the balance.

As a veteran journalist with a reputation for accuracy, I’ve brought to this topic since 2000 my skills in

  • Researching any given topic
  • Parsing statistics
  • Vetting experts as being reputable and truly expert
  • Assessing and gleaning key points from published research—and gauging the strength of the research
  • Chasing down facts
  • Synthesizing complex information into everyday language
  • Knowing the limits to my knowledge and referring to research and/or specialists

Thank you for spending time with me. I’ll try to make the most of it!

Gina Pera

 

32 thoughts on “About Gina Pera”

  1. Pingback: Ride the ADHD Coaster Without Getting Whiplash | See in ADHD

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  4. Pingback: Gafas, TDAH y estigma. Segunda Parte | Dra. Elena Díaz de Guereñu

  5. Pingback: Gafas, TDAH y estigma. Primera Parte | Dra. Elena Díaz de Guereñu

  6. Pingback: “¿TDAH adulto en España? ¡Sí!” Gina Pera entrevista a la Dra. Elena Díaz de Guereñu | TDAH ADULTOS

  7. Have just ordered your book,Thankyou for writing it,sounds great.I am an RN have a son who grew up with ADD,was on Ritalin to cope with school.Now as a 32 year old adult is having huge problems,with his marriage just hanging on,has been treated for a year with a anti depressant,makes him worse I think,with impotence and weight gain,not good.After waiting a year,he is finally getting to see a psychiatrist in a month,I have no doubt all his problems are ADD,how do you get doctors to listen and accept that not everyone has bipolar? My son has anger issues,also forgetting to brush teeth etc,I think the anger is frustration,he was like this as a teenager when he came off the Ritalin.We are in Australia,will let you know how he goes,fingers crossed,he just wants to be happy,then we are all happy,so hard on spouses and children and parents!!! Thankyou

  8. HI Devon,

    Thanks for bringing that study to my attention. In fact, I am familiar with it. I tend to follow the more interesting research on ADHD.

    I’m glad that that author brought up a very important point, and which the researchers should have stated as a limitation of the study (and, it should be noted, it’s one study, unreplicated):

    “The first thing I do when I see a study like this is I look at who the sample is, and that creates a little bit of an interesting issue in terms of interpreting it,” says Dr. Steven Kurtz, senior director of the ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York. “The subset of folks who have ADHD who are there have been able already to exceed a bunch of hurdles.”

    Dr. Kurtz emphasizes that ADHD presents so many challenges for children—focus, task completion, perseverance—that getting through high school successfully is a feat that requires proper support from both family and educators.

    “When I read this, I thought of Kinko’s. You know why?” Dr. Kurtz asks. “Because the guy who started Kinko’s, who is an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 of ADHD… was able to think outside the box. He had an extremely high IQ, an incredible amount of support, and the appropriate accommodation in school.”

    Best,
    Gina

  9. Hi Gina, I am curious…has your book been translated into French? My Fiance is French and though he speaks and reads English well I am afraid this book would be too much for him at this time (he has yet to move here and “live in English” full time yet but I KNOW this book would really help us out. I tried looking around and guessing at what the title would be but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Are there plans to get it into French?

    On another note it is completely frustrating to me that, at 33 years old and just diagnosed a few months back I am running around like crazy trying to find a new doctor. I had started meds (life-changing, and yet, I’m still me – I LOVE IT) and well…I missed an appointment (at this time I can only get refills on a month to month basis with an appointment (Dr. and Insurance make more money this way, they must love it! And me, I have to get time off of work, lucky I am an educator and have the days I can take) and well, yes, how very ADHD of me, I missed an appointment. I didn’t like the original appointment I was given but could not find any other day to get in so I took it and in the end I couldn’t make it. I have been calling my doctor’s office for a month (it’s always just the answering service that calls) and they keep taking my messages but I never get called back. I have been off my meds and wow, a month of of them and things are spiraling out of control — this used to be my normal? HOW? WHY? WHAT? I am trying to find a new doctor and it’s more complicated now because my employer is switching insurance companies come September 1st. I’m going crazy. I really wanted to use thiswhole summer to prepare for the next year and be super productive. Good luck to me finding a new doctor, getting in (waiting lists are horrible) and then getting them to agree to my diagnosis and not assuming I am some kind of addict or drug dealer etc….Anyway, thanks for the book, thanks for the blog!

    1. Hi Faith,

      Congrats on the diagnosis — and that Rx works well for you. That’s big!

      re: my book in French. Unfortunately, it’s not available in French yet. Many people in Quebec have been very interested in a French translation. In France itself, ADHD awareness is in the basement. It’s very expensive to have a book translated and made available in another language. So, unless a generous donor comes along, it won’t be anytime soon that the book will be en Francais.

      re: your month-to-month Rx. It’s actually a federal law for the stimulants. One way around it is to see if your insurance coverage offers a 60- or 90-day mail order benefit. If you have it, that’s the only way to go, imho.

      best
      g

  10. Dear Gina,

    I found your fabulous book through one of your articles at http://www.additudemag.com. Our daughter was diagnosed just over a year ago with ADD. While reading about it, I began to realize that I wasn’t just reading about our daughter, but also about me. When I started reading about the symptoms of ADD and realized that they described me, one of my first thoughts was, “You mean these ‘character defects’ are actually diagnosable?!?”

    I won’t bore you with our saga before and after diagnosis, but suffice to say that I finally got around to researching ADD meds in preparation for today’s appointment with my psychiatrist. I enjoyed, in an ER humor sort of way, the irony of reading questions such as, “Do you wait until the last minute to get started on important tasks?” Um, yeah, I’ve only known for a month that I’m going to have this appointment, and that we’re *finally* at the point of seriously considering prescription medications. So, okay, a few days before the appointment I’ll finally start truly researching the available meds. Sheesh…

    Anyway, due to our daughter’s adverse reaction to one medication–anger, aggression–I was pretty gun shy about trying stimulants for myself. In your book I skipped straight to the chapters on medications. What I learned there caused me to be willing to try a stimulant with a “start low, titrate slow” approach. And that’s what were doing. I discussed what I’m reading with my husband and how his observational input is really needed to find the right medication at the right dose with the right delivery mechanism. The book is now on both our Kindles.

    We’ve endured nightmares–some years long–while finding the right medication for me for depression. Starting another round of the medicine roller coaster has been filling me with dread. The find-the-right-medicine detective strategies I’ve learned in your book has turned that dread into cautious hope.

    Thank you so much for your book. My undiagnosed ADD has caused much grief in our marriage and family. I’m so thankful that you’ve written about the huge impact this disorder can have on relationships. I’m looking forward to working with my husband to make our marriage stronger than ever before.

    BTW, personally I think ADD should really be called VAS: Variable Attention Syndrome. http://ellenmandeville.com/battling-disorder/

    1. Hey Ellen,

      I love you so much!!! 🙂

      Do you know how many times people have written me to say they loved my book, and then they report bad results with medication because they didn’t really read the medication chapter — or somehow thought the doc would “handle it.”

      You are among the RARE number, in all these years, that has actually made clear note of that chapter and, more importantly, has used it to help you over your fears.

      This leaves me impressed and happy!!

      And I’m happy the rest of the book has helped, too!

      Remember now, at least half of folks with ADHD have a co-existing condition. Often, it is depression or anxiety. Sometimes those are caused by the frustrations of untreated ADHD. But sometimes they are neurogenetically based. And, that means sometimes the stimulants will exacerbate the depression or anxiety.

      That is typically no reason to stop the stimulant, if it’s effective for ADHD symptoms. It’s simply a reason to keep trying — maybe a different class of stimulant or a different delivery system, maybe add a medication to address the depression/anxiety (or maybe an amino acid)…or many other options.

      The important thing to know is that you can go slowly and keep adjusting until it works for you.

      Best of luck. Please keep me posted on your progress!
      xo
      g

    2. Thanks, Gina!

      But careful now… don’t love me too much. I somehow managed to let my psychiatrist give me an Rx for Adderall knowing that there were some good reasons to start with the methylphenidate class stimulants. **HUMPH** Well… it is a super low dose, but I’m wondering if I’m merely wasting a month starting here.

      And as for co-existing conditions, I was diagnosed with depression 7 1/2 years ago. I should write sometime about *that* medication roller coaster. ugh! I’m currently on bupropion 150 mg and Deplin 15 mg, which seems to be helping me manage the depression.

      Now to sleuth out the right medicine, right dose, and right release mechanism for ADD. *sigh* Can I just go hide now? 😉

    3. Haha! Okay, maybe I got carried away there. But I’m sincere….you are the rare bird in that respect! And I worked so hard on those chapters.

      Hey, maybe Adderall will work great for you. It does for many people. I just urge caution with trying it first, for many reasons. Also, most people I know who did well on Adderall did better on Vyvanse — and many who did not tolerate Adderall tolerated Vyvanse. So, there’s that.

      Super-low dose is good. You can always go up. More and more, I see the wisdom of not “shocking” the body with a larger dose, anyway. Starting as low as possible and increasing slowly is a smart way to go, in my opinion.

      It will be interesting to see what happens to your depression (a squishy word) when the stimulant is on board. The bupropion might be helping your depression because of the stimulating effect.

      Don’t hide now. You’re almost there! 🙂

      Good luck!
      g

    4. Hey Gina,

      Hope you don’t mind me clogging up your About page with my comments and queries!

      I’m currently on my first ADD medicine trial of Adderall. I started on 2.5 mg 2x/day and yesterday titrated up to 5 mg 2x/day. Yesterday and today, I can see improvement in my focus, but am also noticing myself becoming easily, outrageously irritated and emotional after five hours. I’m trying to decide between continuing on with this trial (plan is to bump up the morning dose in a week to 10 mg), or calling my doctor and calling this trial quits. I would appreciate your thoughts.

      We’ve unwittingly suffered through nasty side effects during medicine trials for depression in the past. My biggest fear right now is becoming a raving bitch to my family. I really don’t want to go there again.

      I’m so thankful for all your research into ADHD. My saint of a husband has stood by me through thick and thin. Okay, so often he was standing over me with blame and frustration in his eyes…. At least now we’re understanding it better and are seeking ways to mitigate ADD’s detrimental effect on our lives. Anyway, thank you for all you’ve done, are doing, and will do. My husband and I both appreciate it.

    5. Ellen — I was perhaps more subtle than I could have been in my book, my observations about Adderall.

      In short, I recommend avoiding it until learning that other options don’t work.

      The reasons are that, in my long observation, it tends to provoke more irritability. There can be other reasons for the irritability. (I think I answered that before). But I bow to no MD who claims that it has no greater side effect potential than Ritalin. None.

      Start with the MPH class, and try a very low dose. Don’t titrate quickly.

      Go back and read my Rx chapter in the book! 🙂

      g

  11. This book has been a Godsend for me.I,m positive my wife has ADD.I,ve read many relationship books over the years but nothing seem to fit until I read this book.The solutions here are great.Many of them work like magic.We,ve also done Imago and that has helped greatly.It has helped my wife stay focus,which seems very hard for her.I haven,t approached my wife yet for fear she would become to angry.She doesn’t,t believe in ADD and I think she would be greatly affended by the idea.Many thanks,your book saved my life.Now everything makes sense.

    1. HI Rick,

      I am so happy to know that the book has helped you to such a degree. I am working now on a book for couple’s therapists, to help them to recognize ADHD in the couples seeking their help and knowing ADHD-specific strategies. We have modified Imago to apply to ADHD couples.

      I hope that the more that you become grounded in your knowledge in ADHD, the more your wife will be willing to consider it. Don’t give up!

      best,
      g

  12. Pingback: “¿TDAH adulto en España? ¡Sí!” Gina Pera entrevista a la Dra. Elena Díaz de Guereñu en su blog | Dra. Elena Díaz de Guereñu

  13. Gina-
    I stumbled upon a comment of yours on another site that referenced rates of prevalence around military bases…wondering if you can suggest any research that’s out there? It’s exactly the data I am looking for- I’m a Navy Mental Health NP student working on my final paper and havent seen much on pubmed, etc. with regard to ADHD numbers in the military. Any help is much appreciated!
    -Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for writing.

      You know, I think hard and fast figures will be hard to come by. I’ve seen no definitive studies on overall rates of ADHD in the military.

      At a few ADHD conferences, I’ve made a point to identify military representatives and ask them about the situation. What I’ve learned is that the level of awareness about and treatment for Adult ADHD is highly dependent not only upon the branch of the military (the Air Force seems to be the most “enlightened” when it comes to treatment, but that’s just my impression) but also upon the specific base. Treatment availability can vary widely base to base.

      Further complicating the picture: I’ve learned from moderating the online group for partners of adults with ADHD that many serving in the military are afraid to ask for an evaluation or treatment; because it will mean dismissal. So, whatever “official” number is out there, you can bet the “unofficial” number is higher.

      It seems the best way to get a handle on the prevalence is by looking at specific studies and extrapolating. Often the first part of published papers details the existing background knowledge on the subject, and so these papers might even include the numbers you’re looking for.

      Here are two such studies:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21209294
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22305866

      I suggest that you keep looking through PudMed and also write to the researchers asking if they can help with specific questions you have. There is usually an e-mail for the lead researcher just below the title information. Most researchers try to be helpful, and since this is their topic area they have no doubt larger knowledge of the demographics.

      I wish you all the best with your research; it is much needed!

      Gina

  14. I think my husband has ADD/ADHD and after reading your book, I am almost positive! I have been trying to search for help in the Reno, Nevada area, but cannot seem to find anyone or get any recommendations. My husband is very successful and does not think he needs any help because people with ADD/ADHD aren’t as successful as he is, so he cannot not have it. I need to find some kind of help in my area and I am getting desperate! Any advice you can give me would be appreciated.
    Thank you so much for writing the book, I don’t feel alone anymore and that means everything to me right now.
    Thank you,
    JJ

    1. Hi Joell,

      I’m so glad my book has helped you not be alone. That does count for a lot, I realize, as there wasn’t such a book for me 12 years ago. 🙂

      I can suggest two options for you.

      1. I offer limited telephone consultations. Sometimes just an hour or two of talking with someone who truly understands can be a big thing!
      2. I moderate an online discussion group (not a “chat” group but e-mail based). Here is the link:

      http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/ADHD_Partner/

      best,
      Gina

  15. Hi Gina,

    I have only been researching this for a day and a half now and already reading your articles, comments, and joining the yahoo support group has given me some peace of mind that “I am not crazy” and my partner does love me!

    My partner and I have been together for 2 1/2 years. She was diagnosed with AD/HD as a child and has never received any support or medical attention. Her mom went the natural route with keeping her daughter active and exhausted to curb her symptoms. But as an adult that was left to her to do and she struggled with it!

    One way she self medicated was by doing just that….self medicating. She became addicted to pain pills and abused them for 15+ years. She is 2 years clean now, but once off the treatment she is on I/we worry how the AD/HD might manifest into the addictive feelings she feels that makes her feel like using.

    Can you speak on what you know about AD/HD and addicts….addictive personalities.

    Thank you, Heidi

    1. Hi Heidi,

      I’m glad you found my blogs. You will probably find my book equally helpful — if not moreso. I wrote it as a comprehensive guide to understanding Adult ADHD, including its impact on relationships, and knowing about its evidence-based strategies.

      As for your partner’s mom, yes, the “natural” route often ends in the scenario you describe: with unhealthy self-medicating. The sources of substance-abuse are many, and include sexual activity, alcohol, marijuana, pain killers, food, gambling, driving fast/recklessly, etc.

      I wouldn’t call it an “addictive personality,” however. I would call it untreated ADHD. My book will help you understand the role played by dopamine in the brain’s reward systems and how ADHD neurobiology can hijack that reward system.

      tx
      g

  16. Gina,
    I’m on meds for my Adhd.
    My problem is that I give up on therapy when I’m not in crisis.
    I don’t know what to talk about when it’s not imminent danger Etc.
    Have you any experience with hypnotherapy?
    Any other suggestions?
    Thanks as always.
    Steve

    1. Hi Steve,

      Well, anyone who hears me talk on these topics knows that I’m likely to ask, “what meds, how did you select them, and how long throughout the day are they in effect?” Because so many times the medication isn’t what it should be.

      I would also ask what kind of therapy? Is it ADHD-focused therapy that helps you to develop new habits of planning, so that you don’t want for crisis to get you dealing with certain things? The best ADHD therapists employ practical skill-coaching, too.

      But to your question, yes, I think hypnotherapy is often a great idea. But it depends on what you’re needing it to accomplish. It’s not going to help you with practical skills (organizing one’s time, priorities, or stuff). But it can help with getting better sleep, avoiding substances such as cigarettes and caffeine, and calming the mind so you stay more mindful.

      I hope this helps,
      g

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  18. Hi Gina , as spouse and parent of ADHD son/husband I cannot put into words how important your book has become to me since I ordered it from Amazon I was desperate for some information/help/empathy for partners.
    Here in Ireland the ignorance is worse than what you would find in USA
    I am determined to find some funding to purchase as many copies of your book as I can and ‘spread the word’,I cannot be sure but in a country of over 1 million people, I would bet I am the only one who has a copy of this book and my mission is to change this for all the other people in the same situation and dont even know it.
    Thank you for putting it together and I thank God I found it.
    Regards
    Donna

    1. Bless your heart, Donna, and thank you for writing. It means to much to me to know that you’ve found the book helpful. It’s been a rather mammoth undertaking, but to learn from people like you that I’ve achieved my goal –bringing others out of isolation and doing my bit to end the suffering that comes with ignorance — well, it’s hard to ask for more. THANK YOU.

      When I spoke at the ADDISS ADHD conference in London last year, I met a few people from Ireland. Perhaps ADDISS could put you in touch with some local advocates. It seems that, as it was in the U.S. until a few years ago, the emphasis remains on children and not adults.

      take care,
      Gina

      I haven’t checked with Andrea Bilbow (director of ADDISS) to see if they will hold another conference next year. If they do, it’s a marvelous opportunity to learn and to gain support from others who “get it.”

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