Do You Get The Weekend Blahs?

Weekends can be a challenge when you have ADHD.  This might sound counterintuitive, as surely the stressors of a busy work week are trickier than a leisurely weekend

However, ADHDers can find unstructured time unsettling.  Although you might resist the idea of structure, people with ADHD actually do very well with it. [Read more…]

ADHD and Dopamine

ADHD and DopamineDid you know that the brain of a person with ADHD doesn’t produce as much dopamine as someone without ADHD? This shortage affects the anterior frontal cortex part of the brain and impacts attention and focus and impulsivity, mood, and motivation…core symptoms of ADHD.

The way ADHD medications work is by positively affecting dopamine levels. For example, Ritalin and Adderall work by blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake so the dopamine that is produced stays in the synapse for longer. Adderall causes more neurotransmitters to be produced.

When your brain doesn’t have enough dopamine, it craves it. You might find yourself driven to do activities that aren’t particularly healthy, like overeat on carbs, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, drive fast, have extramarital affairs, over spend or take street drugs.

However, there are things you can do to increase the levels of dopamine in your brain in a healthy and natural way.

1) Exercise

When you exercise your brain produces more dopamine. Find an exercise you love and do it every day.

2) Take Omega 3

Omega 3 increases your levels of dopamine. Take a supplement as well as including more Omega 3 rich foods in your diet.

3) Meditate

When you meditate you also increase your dopamine levels.

4) Vitamin C

Include lots of Vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C is very helpful in ensuring the dopamine synapses is working well.

5) Eat foods that raise dopamine levels contain the amino acid phenylalanine, once eaten the body converts it to tyrosine and then tyrosine manufactures dopamine. Include beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds in your diet as these are all good sources of phenylalanine.

6) Your body needs iron and vitamin B6 to convert food from phenylalanine to dopamine. So get your iron levels tested by your doctor, if they are low ask about taking a supplement. In one study researchers found that 84% of the children with ADHD had an iron deficiency, so it’s worth finding out.

7) Sleep

When you sleep you don’t use much dopamine, which means your dopamine levels increase overnight ready for the new day.

8) Reduce stress… stress depletes dopamine.

ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

 

Approximately 20 percent of ADHD adults also have Bipolar Disorder. It’s difficult to differentiate between the 2 conditions as some symptoms are the same. For example: ADD is diagnosed by elevated levels inability to concentrate, impulsivity, distractibility and hyper-activeness. During a manic episode someone with Bipolar Disorder experiences high levels of impulsivity and hyper- activeness.

People with ADD can be inattentive and during a depressed mood someone with Bipolar Disorder may also experience this inattentiveness.

However, there are lots of differences too.

ADD usually appears in childhood (although not always diagnosed in childhood) and is consistently present lifetime.

Bipolar Disorder (with some exceptions) usually appears in the very late teens or early 20’s. There are long periods of ‘normal’ mood levels. As well as experiencing the intense highs and lows that are characteristic of Bipolar.

In both ADHD and Bipolar Disorder there are swings from one mood to another. But while someone with ADHD experiences more intense moods than a peer with ADHD, there moods are still deemed ‘normal’. By contrast someone with Bipolar experience intense moods, swinging from an incredible high and happy mood or mania to a deep low depression.

People with ADHD’s emotions and moods are connected to life events. So if something happy happens they feel joyful, if a sad event happens they feel sad. This differs from someone with Bipolar Disorder as their moods are not connected to events in their life.

There is no reason to feel scared or fearful if you think you have one or both ADHD and Bipolar disorder. Both can be managed, and you can enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. However like all conditions it’s important to first understand what you are dealing with and then it can be treated  according, so visit your doctor to begin the diagnosis process.