What is Ring of Fire ADD?

By Dr. David Velkoff

Ring of Fire ADD is a type of ADD characterized by abnormally increased activity in multiple areas of the brain, which in individuals on qEEG brain mapping scans can appear as over activity or overstimulation.

Of the hypothesized 7 types of ADD (Classic ADD, Inattentive ADD, Over-focused ADD, Temporal Lobe ADD, Limbic ADD, and Ring of Fire ADD), Ring of Fire ADD is often described as being the most intense, as this characteristic of overstimulated brain activity can cause the sufferer to experience intense feelings of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and hypersensitivity.

Please note that the above-mentioned hypothetical 7 types of ADD, including Ring of Fire ADD, are not diagnoses recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.  However, we feel these are worth addressing as the concept has reached widespread popularity with the general population after being promoted in the media.


Ring of Fire ADD Symptoms

Ring of Fire ADD symptoms can appear in the individual as a quick temper or short fuse with low frustration tolerance. Their temper can cause them to be oppositional, moody, and emotionally over reactive, leading to serious social, academic and occupational difficulties.

Individuals afflicted with Ring of Fire ADD may report having a difficult time working with others, and staying focused on their tasks. Their emotional dysregulation and hyperactive brain activity may allow little room for the tolerance of non-preferred tasks, such as schoolwork and other activities requiring sustained focus on mundane or non-stimulating tasks.


The Difference between Bipolar Disorder and Ring of Fire ADD

Those suffering from this theoretical type of ADD can often be misdiagnosed as suffering from Bipolar disorder, but Ring of Fire ADD differs primarily in the consistency over time of symptoms.

Those children suffering from Bipolar disorder can have “manic episodes,” or periods of extreme irritability , increased impulsivity, and aggressiveness, which on the surface  looks extremely similar to the symptoms of Ring of Fire ADD. However, where Ring of Fire ADD and Bipolar disorder differ,  is that those suffering from Ring of Fire ADD do not experience symptoms episodically as in Bipolar disorder with being very symptomatic  and other times seeming normal .

Individuals with Ring of Fire ADD experience their symptoms on a more consistent basis.

This isn’t to say that one cannot suffer from both Bipolar Disorder and Ring of Fire ADD, because this is certainly possible, and some research studies even suggest that nearly 50% of those suffering from Bipolar disorder also have ADD.

It’s still important to differentiate between the two disorders in order to ensure that those afflicted can receive the proper treatment designed to minimize symptoms and maximize quality of life.

Who’s at risk?

Like other types of ADD, Ring of Fire ADD can appear in both children and adults.


How to treat Ring of Fire ADD

Ring of Fire ADD treatment must be carefully prescribed, and here at the Drake Institute, we believe that the best approach to treating any type of ADD is to begin with a qEEG Brain Map to uncover the regions or networks of the brain which are dysregulated linked to symptoms that require therapeutic intervention.

Once our brain mapping technology has shown where over activity issues are located, we develop a treatment plan individually tailored to the specific dysfunction that your brain is experiencing. By treating ADD with brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy, we help patients to reduce and/or resolve these debilitating symptoms often without the need for intrusive medication.

Because the level and specifics of hyperactivity in brain wave patterns with Ring of Fire ADD can differ from patient to patient, our qEEG brain mapping technology is vital to understanding how to develop an effective treatment plan, and our 25 years of experience in applying individualized treatment plans has generated a success rate of about 80%.

Through brain map guided neurofeedback, linking symptoms to abnormal brain functioning, with supportive care for the parents or spouse as well, we help our patients develop healthier brain functioning. This produces a reduction of symptoms.

We advocate for pursuing ADD treatment without medication first when appropriate.  We can still help patients who already are on medication to further improve, and often reduce their requirements for medications . Be aware that stimulant medications that are used most typically for ADD or ADHD can exacerbate Ring of Fire ADD symptoms since the brain is already overstimulated.



While dealing with Ring of Fire ADD can be difficult, the Drake Institute can help. In fact, our treatment process provides patients with the most powerful tool of all: neurophysiological self-regulation.

Our brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy helps to develop the brain’s innate ability to improve its own functioning, allowing our patients to develop much more control of their lives and health. In addition they can experience a significantly improved quality of life, all without the adverse potential side effects related to common ADD medications.  


Get Help For Your Family Today

If you or your child are not a patient at the Drake Institute and are in need of help, please contact us to schedule a no-cost screening consultation today.


Contact Us Today

To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.

dr david velkoff headshot

“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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