The people over at www.everydayhealth.com asked a panel of experts to answer questions about ADHD in children. They then invited me to answer those questions in relation to Adult ADHD. Here are the questions and my answers.
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1. Why is ADHD on the rise?
ADHD isn’t really on the rise, although it might seem that way because more people than ever before are being diagnosed. This is due to an increased knowledge and awareness about ADHD both in the medical profession and the general public. Also, because our lifestyle has changed dramatically in the last 100 years and jobs require people to sit still for longer periods of time. This is a challenge that forces a person to seek help, when in another job environment it wouldn’t have been an issue. Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of having ADHD. Thanks to modern medicine more and more of these babies are surviving and thriving than in the past.
2. Why are there so many theories about the cause of ADHD? What are the most common?
There has been much research into the cause of ADHD and while the exact cause is still unknown, differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to controls have been found in three areas: anatomical, chemical, and functional. There is also a strong genetic component as well.
3. Is ADHD pharmaceutical treatment really necessary?
Taking medication is one option in the treatment of ADHD. There are alternative methods too. Prescribed medication such as Ritalin works exceptionally well for some people. Research has shown that stimulant medication works for about 70-75% of the adults who take it. However, for some, benefits are outweighed by side effects such as loss of appetite, insomnia, and an increase in heart rate or blood pressure. Some people have used prescribed ADHD drugs at a time in their life when it was helpful, perhaps while at university. Yet now they are in a different phase of their life and no longer take it. For others, they are very opposed to taking medication. Medication can be helpful, but it’s not a cure all and even adults taking ADHD medication still use alternative treatments. Taking medication is a personal decision and one that can be evaluated regularly.
4. Alternative treatments for ADHD
In my book, Untapped Brilliance: How to Reach Your Full Potential as an Adult with ADHD, I outline 11 steps to minimize your unwanted ADHD characteristics so that the gifts of ADHD can shine through. These range from diet, exercise, sleep, and time management to the people in your life and goal-setting. These holistic approaches have proven to be highly successful in treating ADHD.
5. TV, video games, and ADHD
Watching TV can be a nice way to unwind and give your busy brain a break when the work day is over. It is also often used to keep you company while you are doing boring and repetitive tasks such as housework or clearing clutter. However, the danger with TV and video games is that you become so engrossed that you stay up late and then have difficulty functioning due to lack of sleep the next day. This then makes your ADHD symptoms worse.
6. The ADHD diet link
When you eat a healthy diet full of whole foods and good, quality protein spaced evenly throughout the day, your ADHD brain stays fully nourished and repays you by functioning at its peak. In the 1960s, Dr. Feingold created a diet that was a strict elimination diet and he reported that no artificial coloring, flavouring, sweeteners, and preservatives helped children’s behavior. However, this is a very complex diet and the verdict is still out as to whether or not it is actually effective. I like to keep things simple and easy for my clients and the way of eating I mentioned above is very effective.