Magical Drink for Focus and Productivity

People sometimes get annoyed when I suggest simple strategies because their problems seem so big, they think only big solutions could possibly help.  However, sometimes simple is the most powerful and a perfect example of this is keeping fully hydrated by drinking enough water.

Our brain is made up of 85% water.   In order, to keep it working at its optimal function, we need to drink LOTS of water.   Without enough water, our concentration becomes shorter, memory worsens (which can already be a problem if you have ADHD), and we become moody, depressed and fatigued. The brain also needs oxygen and the more hydrated the body is, the more oxygen is available.

It is thought that an adult loses 10 cups of fluid each day even without exercising.  So it’s important to drink and hydrate every day.  On an average day aim for ten 8 oz glasses of water. However, that will increase on hot days, when you exercise and if you consume drinks like coffee and alcohol.   On these days you will need more water to counter-balance these dehydrating factors.

How to drink more water every day:

1) Note how much water you drink in one day at the moment.

2) Think creatively how to increase that.

For example:

  • Carry a bottle of water with you whenever you go out.
  • Keep a bottle of water in your car to drink on route to and from work
  • Have a jug of water in the fridge with lime or lemon slices (makes it extra tasty)
  • Get a pretty glass you love drinking water from

3) Make water drinking goals, e.g. 4 glasses before lunch

4) Consider purchasing a home water filter system

5) Notice how alive and able better able to focus when you are fully hydrated.

ADHD Meds

adhd medicationsThere is no magic pill that cures ADHD. Rather there are prongs of treatment that when combined can help manage the unwanted aspects of ADHD. I talk a lot about the non-pharmaceutical treatments on this blog however this article is about prescribed medication.

There are 3 types of medication that can be prescribed to help ADHD: Stimulants, non-stimulants and antidepressants. When thinking about ADHD Meds, stimulants are the ones that automatically spring to mind. However, if they aren’t effective or they can’t be prescribed because of another medical condition, then non-stimulants and antidepressants can be prescribed.

Stimulant medication

Stimulant medications are the most effective medication for treating ADHD. About 75% of adults find them to ‘work’. As a result, they are the most prescribed medication and the most studied.

It might sound counter intuitive for a person who has ADHD to take a stimulant. However, if we remember that ADHD is a neurological condition, it makes more sense. ADHD problems stem from the deficiency of neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain.

Neurotransmitters are like postmen or women who deliver messages between neurons. The brain has hundreds of different neurotransmitters and they help with everything from sleep, heart rate to fear and anxiety, to mood and temperature. The important neurotransmitters for ADHD are norepinephrine and dopamine because they are responsible for attention and activity.

ADHD medication stimulate (hence their name!) certain brain cells to make more of the neurotransmitters they were missing for optimum brain function. In addition, they act by blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake, so there is more of the neurotransmitter in the synapse.

The two main types of stimulant medications are:

  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextro-amphetamine

All brand name ADHD drugs available derive from them. For example:

  • Adderall and Dexedrine come from Dextro-amphetamine
  • Ritalin and Concerta come from Methylphenidate

One of the reasons why ADHD medication gets confusing is that whenever a drug company makes a drug using a different format, either the way it’s consumed (capsule, tablet, etc.) or how its released (short or long acting, etc.), they are required to give it a different name. For example:

  • Ritalin is short acting
  • Ritaline SR is intermediate acting
  • Concerta is long acting
  • Daytrana Patch comes as a skin patch

However, they are all stimulants from the Methylphenidate family.

If you would like to have a visual of the different ADHD drugs, WebMD created a useful table.
http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-medication-chart

Is the medication working?

Some people wonder how they will know if the medication is working for them. You will notice that it your focus is improved and it’s easier to attend to just one thing. If you are hyperactive, then you will notice that has been reduced. Everyone’s experiences are slightly different. One person reported that she realized the medication was working when she went shopping and only bought exactly what she had written on her list. She couldn’t believe how fast the trip was because the products that weren’t on the list didn’t catch her attention or distracted her from her mission.

Side effects

Medications can have side effects; and for some people, they dislike the side effects so much that they stop taking the ADHD meds. Though, the side effects often wear off after about 2 weeks, as your body gets use to them.

Some of the side effects are: loss of appetite, insomnia, and an increase in heart rate or blood pressure, dry mouth, etc. If you are experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor. Often, they can be reduced by changing the dose, release length or stimulant family.

Dose

Finding the right therapeutic dose for you requires working closely with your doctor. Usually, you start with a lower dose and gradually increase it until you feel the medication is helping you, without causing a racing heart or feeling jittery.

Having a close relationship with a knowledgeable doctor is very helpful. Pharmacists are also a wealth of information. You can also empower yourself with information by doing some reading on the topic of ADHD medication.