About Gina Pera

About Gina Pera wedding photo with Dr. Goat

Welcome to the ADHD Roller Coaster, specifically the About Gina Pera page.

Finding solid ADHD expertise on the Internet—or even in the mental-health profession—can be tricky!

  • How do you know if the information is reliable?
  • Moreover, how do you round up all the bits and pieces into a useful, actionable whole?

For 20 years, I’ve helped folks find their way—adults with ADHD and their loved ones. Compassionately. Responsibly. Comprehensively. With humor, when it’s appropriate.

I will never forget what it was like, to feel so alone and misunderstood by the public and the mental-health community.  My lemons are your lemonade. Drink up!

On this page, I briefly offer my credentials.

New!  I am excited to announce that my long-awaited course is here!  Participants can also join me and your peers in comprehensive online training: Solving Your Adult ADHD Puzzle.

Gina Pera Adult ADHD course

Mission: Elevating Lives Through the ADHD Lens

My goal since the late 1990s has been three-fold:

  1. Reducing suffering and elevating lives by providing support, validation, and education
  2. Providing intelligent and informed conversation around Adult ADHD—and its treatment standards—for the average person
  3. Emphasizing that ADHD couple therapy requires educating and supporting each partner and the relationship—in a fair and equitable way.  That is, not simply asking the partner to be “more understanding” or executive secretary to the ADHD partner.

My published body of work, including two major books and a chapter in Dr. Russell Barkley’s clinical guide, carries out this mission.

Gina Pera and Dr. Goat wedding photo with gina getting wet

Why This Mission?  I’ll Tell You

In 1993, I was a print journalist living in San Diego. Then I met my future husband, a scientist. 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. Twenty years later, it still does!  Each year, research tells us more about the personal costs of poorly managed/unrecognized ADHD. We must do better.

See that photo above? It’s our wedding, in 1999. Notice me in the dripline? See the soaked fabric on my shoulder.  I didn’t know I was in the dripline!  I thought it was just raining hard. My husband didn’t realize he’d put me in the dripline! Consider that literal and metaphorical, for years until we found our way.

Once I realized how common our challenges were for millions of others, I decided to shine a light on the path for others behind us. And he has supported me every step of the way. He is a life scientist, after all.

About Gina Pera and her brain mold
A reader gifted me with a lovely brain mold

“But What Are You Exactly, Gina Pera”?

I get that question a lot.  Trouble is, my work defies easy categorizations.

ADHD couple therapy training gina pera

So, I lack a simple marketing message. But smart folks manage to find me, and I am grateful for their company. We make fast progress!

They say they know I’m in their corner. My cross-disciplinary knowledge, in particular, helps them to solve many a mystery in their lives. Who knew XYZ [sleep apnea, addictions, driving safety, sensory processing and auditory processing disorders, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc.] might be related to ADHD?  Not their physicians. Not their therapists.

Sure, this is more common knowledge in ADHD world now. But it wasn’t for many years. And yes, I am happy to credit my efforts toward making that happen.

The truth is, there is nothing simple about ADHD. You deserve a comprehensive understanding and evidence-based knowledge—one that helps you understand your particular ADHD-related issues and solutions. I make that accessible to the average person and to mental-health professionals.

The ADHD Relationships Lived Experience

Let’s back up. My direct experience with Adult ADHD began in the late 1990s, while still trying to make sense of my new husband’s inexplicable behaviors. Browsing the library’s “new books” section, an interesting title caught my eye:  Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Daniel Amen, MD.

That book changed my life alright—along with my husband’s life and many tens of thousands of people my work has helped.

So shocked that we didn’t know about adult ADHD—that none of our couple therapists knew, either—I started volunteering in my community to organize lectures and groups.

That’s how I started on my path to becoming an internationally recognized Accidental ADHD Expert.

Service and “In the Trenches” Research

  • 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
  • Providing editing services pro bono for an important book addressing  Adult ADHD and the Criminal Justice System: Spinning Out of Control
  • Attending years of high-level conferences on ADHD—taking copious notes and asking questions
  • Reading many hundreds of published papers—and dozens of books
  • Conducting the most comprehensive survey on Adult ADHD, the ADHD Partner Survey, the findings of which are included in Dr. Barkley’s clinical guide

ADHD relationship books by Gina Pera

Writing and Speaking

  • Writing this award-winning blog for 14 years—the longest-running website of any kind on Adult ADHD
  • 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 expert, Russell Barkley, PhD, to write the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his “gold standard” clinical guide, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment.
  • Being asked to produce for Routledge Press the first clinical guide for treating ADHD-challenged couples:  Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: Clinical Interventions, with esteemed ADHD authority Arthur L. Robin, PhD.
  • By invitation, speaking at international high-level ADHD conferences
Russell Barkley Clinical Guide Gina Pera
With my new copy of Dr. Russell Barkley’s clinical guide, containing the first-ever chapter on Adult ADHD couple therapy (yes, I wrote it!)

Blog Highlights

Everything that affects people with ADHD concerns me. “ADHD Relationship” issues don’t operate in a vacuum. Everything that affects the ADHD partner affects everyone else in their sphere.

ADHD Consumer Watchdog:

What good is “pursuing treatment” when the prescriber or therapist metaphorically drops you on  your head? And maybe discourages you from ever trying again? Sorry, but “talk to your doctor” too often proves a dead-end. Or worse.

Sampling:

  • Successfully lobbied the FDA to downgrade the first two Concerta generics—so consumers who rely on their medication working would not have to accept an inferior substitution
  • Helped consumers navigate the new mess after the 2017 White House administration’s new FDA chief approved a flood of inferior Concerta generics
  • Concerned about the misuse of genetic tests to guide ADHD medication choices, I recruited my scientist husband to join me in writing a seven-part blog post series.
  • Warned about the risks of Adderall 20 years ago—and ended up being right, darn it  (The Tragic Truth Of Prescription Adderall, or “Madderall” remains my most popular post)
  • Among the first to warn about differences between brand and generic medications, in the context of ADHD

ADHD Educator:

Combing cross-disciplinary research to help the public understand that ADHD is a physical condition—it affects more than “attention” and “focus”

These blog posts are among my most popular—and in most cases, the topics appeared here first:

Adult ADHD Relationship Expert:

Everything that affects the adult with ADHD affects the partner (and children). That is not hard to understand.

You deserve a comprehensive education and strategies targeted to your needs. Not “Five Tips and Tricks”. Not standard couple-therapy beliefs uncomfortably shoe-horned into ADHD relationships.

In addition to my published work, I’ve covered the gamut on this blog:

  • You Me ADHD Book Club — Recognizing the neglected needs of dual-ADHD couples, I asked two women with late-diagnosis ADHD (husbands same!) to write chapter-by-chapter essays based on their reactions to reading Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?   Their essays also illustrated that ADHD relationship issues are not simply “ADHD vs. Non-ADHD”
  • Educated readers on the link between ADHD neurobiology and behaviors such as empathy and reciprocity
  • Wrote first-person essays on my own marriage, through the lens of Adult ADHD
  • Explained common Adult ADHD phenomenon that, misinterpreted and left to continue, could wreck lives (Adult ADHD and The Automatic No and When ADHD Leads to Self-Medicating with Argument)

No Pharmaceutical Industry Support

Compared to when I started this blog (2008!) and the few glorious years after, the Internet has become the Wild West on Adult ADHD.

Anyone can say anything. The louder they say it, the more credibility they are accorded. The  online marketing cabals, as they are called —a sort of mutual-admiration society echo chamber—mislead for their own purposes. Amateurs market themselves as experts. Desperate consumers don’t know the difference.

There are no “gatekeepers”.

Consider the stakes: The difference between accurate and skewed information is the difference between a life or relationship well lived — and a life or relationship hobbled.

Since the beginning, I have been entirely self-funded. Why? Because conflict of interest is real. With my background in print journalism, I know it is a slippery slope.

Also: My book was the first to take a solid “pro-medication” stance. That was a risk in 2008!  Medication is the single most effective tool in the ADHD toolbox, and I did not want this message tainted any apparent conflict of interest.

To be clear: You’ll never hear me castigate “Big Pharma”. The pharmaceutical industry has funded much ADHD research, and that’s often a very good thing. It has helped to legitimize the diagnosis. Researchers must provide evidence and undergo peer scrutiny. Their reputations, careers, and other types of grants depend on it. And they must by law disclose this support.

By contrast, the financial support behind websites and personalities is typically done covertly, with no disclosures.  That’s a problem.

Award-Winning Print Journalist

About Gina PeraAs an old-fashioned veteran journalist with a reputation for accuracy, I’ve brought to this topic since 2000 my skills in

  • Listening and asking good questions
  • Parsing statistics
  • Vetting experts as being reputable and truly expert
  • Assessing and gleaning key points from the published research—and gauging the strength of the research
  • Chasing down facts (and following the money)
  • Synthesizing complex information into everyday language
  • Knowing the limits to my knowledge and referring for more information to vetted research and/or specialists
  • Merging all this with the detailed stories from thousands of adults with ADHD and their loved ones.

Thank you for spending time with me. I’ll try to make the most of it!  Let’s work together to elevate our lives and the standard of Adult ADHD care.

Gina Pera

 

33 thoughts on “About Gina Pera”

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  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

    1. Omg Gina !! Your site just popped up on my phone this morning ! I just don’t even know where to begin about myself !??

      I’m relating to so many people in your Blogs ! I’m 71 yrs old. I was officially diagnosed with ADHD in my early 50s. There’s so much more I could say ! But, rt now, I need help !! I can’t focus, concentrate, organize, finish any tasks, or even start them !!

      I have low energy, no motivation & procrastinate !! I’m so frustrated with myself, I just don’t know where to turn !!? I’m on adderall 20mg tabs 2x per day, it’s definitely not working !!? My Dr. can’t help me !! I’m a very self help reader, but, I can’t seem to fix myself, etc. !!? But, I want n need some, answers & action in my life now today !!?

      I have Depression, Anxiety, Hashimotos Thyroid and on May 10, 2021, I had a TIA, No answer’s why ? So, I’m on a Heart Monitor for 30 days now, to hopefully find a reason !!? I’m taking Lipitor 40mg daily now n I’m calling my Neurologist today, bc of all of my extreme Side Effects from it !?? Oh boy ! I know I’m a mess ! !

      Gina, I can tell your very knowledgeable about ADHD and You Care !!! looking forward to your reply !! TU, for letting me vent n respond !!

    2. Dear Connie,

      Feel free to vent here any time. Thank you for seeing that I am knowledgeable and I care.

      Here’s my little vent and validation for you:

      It’s absolutely CRAZY that adults with ADHD are largely left to figure out their diagnosis for themselves—and then cobble together treatment from a mental-healthcare field that barely acknowledges ADHD, much less knows how to treat it.

      Also: That physicians seeing what are likely signs of ADHD—or its physical fallout—and not knowing it. Diabetes. Obesity. Sleep apnea. Probably Hashimoto’s, too. etc.

      First:

      Why are you prescribed Adderall (assumed generic) 20 mg tabs 2 x day? How did your prescriber arrive at that choice? Or is all you’ve ever been given?

      Most people with ADHD do better on a sustained-release stimulant — not the ups and downs of an immediate release or extended release in a clunky and cheap delivery system.

      If you haven’t tried brand Vyvanse (also in the amphetamine class, as with Adderall) or brand Concerta (in the methylphenidate class), you might not know what you are missing.

      Second:

      Adderall can increase your heart rate and precipitate “cardiac events”— if it’s not the right Rx for you. All the more reason to try something else.

      Third:

      TIA and now Lipitor? Why? Actual high cholesterol or physician just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks?

      Lipitor might actually push some people toward dementia, according to recent preliminary research (in addition to earlier research). That is hardly what someone with ADHD symptoms needs.

      https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-06-15/could-a-type-of-statin-raise-dementia-risks

      Notice that the other class of statin does not appear to carry the dementia risk.

      quote:

      The researchers found that of 300 older adults with mildly impaired thinking and memory, those using “lipophilic” statins were more likely to develop dementia over the next eight years.

      Lipophilic statins include such widely used medications as simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and lovastatin (Altoprev).

      They’re considered lipophilic because they are attracted to fat and can cross into many body tissues, including the brain. That’s in contrast to hydrophilic statins — like rosuvastatin (Crestor) and pravastatin (Pravachol) — which act mainly in the liver.

      Summary:
      1.
      At the very least, you might ask your physician about Crestor or Pravachol instead of Lipitor.
      2.
      Try other stimulant choices, perhaps Vyvanse and Concerta. These represent the most popular choices in the two classes of stimulants, amphetamine and methylphenidate.

      I hope this helps!

      Gina

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