Lisa Ling's Surprising ADD Diagnosis at 40

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.


When journalist Lisa Ling decided to be tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on an episode of "Our America With Lisa Ling," the results surprised her: She met all of the criteria for Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD.

"My head is kind of spinning," she said. "But I feel a little bit of relief because, for so long, I've been fighting it and I've been so frustrated with this inability to focus."

Ling suspected she might have an attention disorder -- she said she remembers elementary school teachers frequently talking to her parents about her issues focusing in class. In high school, if a topic didn't interest her, she could sit through an entire period and not retain anything that was covered.

Related: Lisa Ling Gets Her ADHD/ADD Test Results

"I have always had a bit of a difficult time focusing on things that aren't interesting to me, and I get really, really anxious before taking any kind of test or having any kind of evaluation," Ling said in the above video from the episode.

She met with Dr. Craig Liden, a worldwide ADD/ADHD expert, who began the evaluation by asking Ling about her key areas of concern.

"As a journalist, when I'm immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I'm not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it's supposed to go," Ling told him. "I've been like that since I was a kid."

After the initial evaluation, Ling went to another room for a series of tests as Liden watched from behind a one-way mirror. From following instructions like putting her right hand on the evaluator's left shoulder to trying to pick out the two matching images from a group of 20, Ling felt stressed throughout the experience. Then, it was time to hear her results.

Also on Oprah.com: The Most Compelling Moments from "Our America With Lisa Ling"

"There's really two or three key things that came out of this," Liden told Ling. "The one that really sticks out at the top is any part of the testing that demanded focused, sustained attention, you had much more struggle with."

Ling agreed, as Liden continued. "The other test with the pictures that she had you name, your performance was below what [we] would have anticipated," he said. "That was a test that really tapped in on all of the issues simultaneously: the need to focus, the ability to process and retrieve things efficiently."

That surprised Ling -- "I thought I did well on that one!" she said -- but she was still eager to hear what all of it meant.

"My belief is that if you've got a biologically based problem with your ability to pay attention, then you're a candidate for using medication," Liden said. "I don't see the medicine as being the sole treatment. We're going to help refine the strategies that you do have right now and develop some new ones to help you function at a much higher plane than even where you are right now."

Ling nodded, smiling.

"It's sort of exciting to think where things could go," Liden said.

"Our America With Lisa Ling" airs Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.


More from Oprah.com: