attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a childhood-onset disorder that is becoming increasingly common. It is estimated that approximately 8 to 10 percent of children and 4 percent of all adults are affected, leading to problems functioning at school or work and escalating the risk of accidents and injury.
People who suffer from ADHD also have an increased tendency to experience emotional disorders such as depression.
What are the Characteristic Symptoms of ADHD?
Children with ADHD typically exhibit a variety of symptoms, including inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity; these are characterized by the following behaviors:
- Difficulty following instructions;
- Tendency to leave tasks unfinished;
- Failure to listen when someone is speaking;
- Difficulty organizing and completing daily tasks;
- Dislike of activities that involve sitting and focusing on one thing.
- Answering before a question is completed;
- Difficulty taking turns.
- Constant movement (restlessness);
- Fidgeting or squirming when seated;
- Excessive chattering;
- Inability to engage in quiet play.
Adults with ADHD are often unaware that they have the disease until their own child is diagnosed; at this time, problems that they have been experiencing are often recognized as signs of the disorder. Adult symptoms may differ from those of children and often include chronic lateness, procrastination, anxiety, poor work performance, anxiety and/or depression, impulsiveness, difficulty concentrating, and lack of organizational skills.
What Causes ADHD?
ADHD is a complex childhood mental disorder, and its exact causes have not yet been completely identified. However, most experts agree that a combination of factors is most likely at the root of the problem. Heredity, brain chemistry and anatomy, environmental influences, hormone imbalances, inflammation, dietary and digestive issues have all been linked to the development of ADHD in young children.
Heredity: ADHD shows a tendency to run in families, and children who have older family members with the disorder are more likely to develop attention deficit issues than the general population.
Brain Chemistry and Anatomy: Individuals with ADHD typically have inadequate levels of certain neurotransmitters; in addition, they often have fewer nerve cell connections in the brain than people who do not have the disorder.
Environmental Influences: A wide variety of chemicals and other body invaders can have a tremendous effect on mental and physical development and have been associated with ADHD. Alcohol, drug and nicotine use by pregnant women can contribute to mental health issues in infants; heavy metal and mold toxins, pesticides, and a number of food additives are also known to contribute to mental disorders such as ADHD.
Hormone Imbalances: Many of our physiological and mental functions are regulated by the chemical messengers we call hormones. ADHD and other mental disorders are frequently linked to imbalances in the adrenal, thyroid, and other hormones in our bodies.
Inflammation: The inflammation caused by immune system disorders such as food allergies has been shown to impact healthy brain function.
Dietary and Digestive Issues: Poor nutrition typically results in system imbalances that affect the body’s ability to manufacture the neurotransmitters and other substances necessary for maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. Food allergies, especially a sensitivity to gluten, are 7 times more likely to occur in individuals with ADHD; in addition, digestive issues such as “leaky gut” can result in toxic substances being released into the body and wreaking havoc on physiological and mental health.
What are the Common Treatment Methods for ADHD?
Conventional medicine holds that there is no cure for ADHD, although it can be controlled through a life-long regimen of medications combined with psychotherapy. Doctors often prescribe either a stimulant such as Ritalin or Concerta, or an antidepressant such as Wellbutrin, for children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In addition to these medications, patients may participate in therapeutic counseling and practice behavioral modification techniques. For some children, a special education program may be recommended.
While these treatments do control the symptoms of ADHD fairly well, the medications tend to have some disturbing side effects, and many parents prefer to find other methods for modifying their child’s behavior
Can ADHD be Treated Without Medication?
Many ADHD experts have recorded a great deal of success in treating ADHD through nutritional and other natural means. Dietary supplements have been consistently shown to restore balance to neurotransmitters and hormones; eliminating allergens from the diet has also proven effective for alleviating the symptoms of ADHD and other mental health disorders. A cleansing diet is often recommended for removing toxic substances from the body, improving both physical and mental health.
Working with a knowledgeable natural health practitioner can make all the difference between eliminating the most bothersome symptoms of ADHD and enduring a lifetime of taking powerful and expensive synthetic drugs that cause any number of unwanted side effects.
A naturopathic specialist can help you determine the cause of ADHD through a series of laboratory tests that can identify deficiencies and toxins that lead to ADHD, as well as recommend the correct supplements to help you overcome this debilitating disorder.