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ADHD in the News – Dopamine May Not Be to Blame

December 11, 2013

ADHD BrainJust when I got to the point that I felt pretty confident explaining the difference between dopamine and dopamine receptors and how the different ADHD meds affect those two things in order to help alleviate symptoms, new research shows that low dopamine levels may not be the root cause of ADHD as previously hypothesized. Researchers at Cambridge University in England claim that dopamine dysfunction is not the root cause of ADHD.  This claim is based on the results of a study published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.  In the study, the effects of ritalin on attention and focus were studied across a group of participants that included people with ADHD and people without the disorder.  Attention in all participants who received doses of Ritalin (as opposed to a placebo) improved regardless of ADHD diagnosis indicating that Ritalin increased dopamine in all participants and that the effects of increased dopamine were consistent.  However, the study did show that those with ADHD seem to have structural differences within the grey matter of the brain that are not seen in the non-ADHD participants. These findings open the door for a more in depth understanding of ADHD and the potential for better treatment options in the future. For more information, check out these articles:

Dopamine May Not Be Behind Attention Disorder 
Imaging Study Shows Dopamine Dysfunction is Not the Cause of Attention Deficit Disorder 
Implications for ADHD and It’s Treatment, Brain: A Journal of Neurology

You can also access the published findings here.

&%$#* – ADHD and Road Rage

August 9, 2013

ADHD and Road RageThis week, I read a blog post from Psychcentral’s  ADHD Man of Distraction Kelly Babcock about his experiences with Road Rage.  It brought back a flood of memories from right after my ADHD diagnosis and got me wondering if others with ADHD suffer from the same problem as me.

You see, despite how crazy it sounds, every time I get behind the wheel of a car I attract every bad, slow, incompetent driver within a

100 miles radius.  It may seem implausible to you but no matter where I am going, these drivers are always in front of me or beside me making it impossible for me to drive exactly the way I want to.

They drive too fast for me to pass when there is a passing lane and then slow down as soon as it becomes unsafe to blow by them.

They repeatedly tap their brakes for no comprehensible reason or neglect to use their brakes at all.

They get in front of me on the highway and then go 5 mph slower than I want to.

They never use their turn signals when they are changing lanes, don’t understand the meaning of the word “YIELD”, and always assume they have the right of way in every situation.

And I know with certainty, they are doing it on purpose just to piss me off.

At least this is how it felt for me when I started taking ADHD medication.

At first it was a REAL problem.  I went to my therapist begging for help because there were times that I felt like I was being crazy, tempted to follow some bad driver to their destination just so I could yell at them, worried that my disproportionate anger seemed to come out of nowhere, and scared because I didn’t know why I was suddenly afflicted with this intense road rage.  It wasn’t like  I was a new driver – I have been driving for more of my life than I hadn’t.  It didn’t make sense and I didn’t like feeling so out of control.

For awhile, it was the single worst side effect of taking meds.

But as I learned more about my ADHD and began to understand how it impacted me, my sudden bout with road rage began to make sense which gave me the information I needed to create compensatory strategies.  Here is what I learned:

1. I can know something intellectually (that the other drivers can’t possibly be intentionally trying to drive me crazy with their bad driving) but struggle to connect that intellectual understanding to my emotional response.

2. I have always hated having to share the road with other people because they are unpredictable and make bad decisions.

3. I am hyper-conscious about the dangers of driving because my mother was in a very bad car accident when I was a kid.  I am especially hyper-aware of how other drivers decisions can impact me and this means I hate to be surrounded by or blocked by other cars with no way “out”.

4. Once I started taking meds, I could no longer distract myself from dealing with 1,2, and 3.  Unfortunately, I also had no skills to deal with the fear, anger, and frustration that comes from sharing the road with other people.

For me, this is a perfect example of how ADHD can impact your life in ways that you never realize.  Thankfully, with a little insight, some time, and some super strategies, I can drive without arriving at my destination ready to rip someone’s head off!

ADHD in the News – ADHD Boys and Addictive Gaming

August 6, 2013

ADHD and GamingA recent study found that boys with autism and ADHD spend more time playing video games than their peers without those conditions.  Participants in the study who have been diagnosed with autism spent and average of 2.1 hours a day playing games and those with ADHD averaged 1.7 hours per day as compared to the 1.2 hours spent per day by boys in the control group.  While there was no real consensus on what constitutes “addictive levels” of gaming and no real explanation of why these findings seem problematic, everyone in every story seemed to agree that this was bad.

I, as the mother of two ADHD boys and the wife of an ADHD/Aspie husband, do not necessarily agree.  While I, like every parent, wish my children spent more time outside and worry about what all this online living means for their future, I do not believe all this game playing is “bad” for my boys.  They have gotten real benefits from playing games that I don’t believe they may have gotten without the virtual experiences gaming provides.

In my house, it is now and has always been all about balance.  I don’t place arbitrary limits on things like TV and gaming simply because some expert who has never met my children told me I should.  My boys are excellent students who are active both physically and socially.  They have hobbies other than video games.  They have friends and manners and can both make fire without matches.  They are kind, well-rounded, loud, fun, funny teenagers….and if they ONLY played games for 1.7 hours a day, we would have a significantly smaller electric bill.

 

The Place of Possibility

July 25, 2013

ADHD Place of PossibilityI recently had the opportunity to meet with a prospective client and his wife who had been married for more than 25 years.  They had been through a lot together over the years and had always managed to make it through, until now.  They were working with a marriage counselor and were also interested in working with an ADHD specific coach because he had recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

Now, I love working with couples and I love seeing the looks on the faces of the people I help when they are suddenly able to see something familiar in a new or different way.  As I sat with this particular couple, I was rewarded with those looks several times but also confronted with an challenge that had never presented itself quite this way before.  The person rewarding me with all the looks was the wife, not the one with ADHD.  That, in and of itself, was unusual.  I am more used to connecting with the ADHDer and seeing them come to life once they realize I actually get them.  But what was even more unusual was that the husband, the one with ADHD, seemed to believe everything I said but was unwilling or unable to see how information, insight, and new ways of doing things would actually produce different results.

He was defeated.  He was there, sitting with me and his wife because it was the only thing he could think to do to try to save his marriage.  He got what I was saying.  He saw how an ADHD life could be different than the one he was living, but he had no hope left that would allow him to consider even the possibility that his ADHD life could be different.

It was heartbreaking.

Every discussion eventually led to him explaining in one way or another that what I was saying “sure sounded nice” but that “things would never be different because they have never been different before, no matter what he tried.”

I did my best to maneuver around each of the obstacles he put up in front of me but nothing seemed to change his belief that no matter what he did, things would never be different.  And then I had one of those amazing and insightful moments that I love seeing in my clients.  Here is what I learned.

When we grow up with undiagnosed ADHD we can develop a kind of armor that helps protect us from the parts of the world and the people around us who do not understand us.  Part of that armor, as least for him, was a strong defense mechanism that rejected anything hopeful.  After all, if you never believe something different can happen, you will never be disappointed if it doesn’t.

For him, these defenses kept saying “we have tried everything and nothing changes, this is no different and you don’t want to try again if you are just going to fail”.

But what I understood in that moment was that he was creating the exact situation that would guarantee the results he was expecting.  He had to room for hope because he had lost his place of possibility.

This is something we all need to have in our minds, our hearts, and our lives.  We need to preserve a place where the possibility of success, no matter how small, can reside.  When we lack this “Place of Possibility”, we have no capacity for growth, no hope for change, and most importantly, no reason to try and we all know that if you never try, you can never succeed.

If you are feeling stuck and unable to see success in anything you do, you need to create enough space to open up a place of possibility in your life, only then will you be able to make changes that will take you in the direction you want to go.

Turning Leaf Life Coaching offers coaching for ADHD and Life Transitions worldwide.  For more information, go to www.turningleafcoaching.com.

ADHD in the News – Breastfeeding May Protect Against ADHD

July 24, 2013

ADHD and BreastfeedingA new study from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine has determined that breastfeeding may offer some kind of protection against the development of ADHD.  The study took a retrospective look at the breastfeeding history of a group of children aged 6-12.  The group included children who had been diagnosed with ADHD, siblings of these children, and children who do not have the condition.  After accounting for other risk factors, the results indicated that those children with ADHD were less likely to be breastfed than those who did not have ADHD.

When I first read this headline, I was like, “ok, we must be an anomaly then because I breastfed both my boys and they both have ADHD”.  However, as I read the articles and news reports, I noticed something important.  If you look at the results, it isn’t actually a question of breastfed or not breastfed, it is a question of how long they were breastfed.  With both boys I had to return to work within a month or two and despite my efforts, it did not take long for me to decide that trying to pump while working was never going to be a workable solution for me and my ADHD.

This meant that although I did breastfeed, it was only for a month or two whereas the study doesn’t even count it unless the child was breastfeeding at 3 months.  Therefore, my boys would fall under the “not breastfed” category. According to the study, only 43% of the children with ADHD were being breastfed at 3 months as opposed to 73% of the children without it.

If further research confirms this link and expands our understanding of why the link exists, it may provide just cause to look at how we handle maternity leave in this country.

However, I would like to mention the somewhat obvious point that since kids with ADHD are more likely to have Moms with ADHD and breastfeeding while working is an ADHD nightmare, it may have nothing at all to do with breastfeeding or breast milk or the bond created between mother and child.  It may be that ADHD moms are less equipped to handle the challenges presented by breastfeeding once they return to work which decreases the amount of time they breastfeed AND that ADHD moms are more likely to have ADHD kids.

Turning Leaf Life Coaching offers coaching for ADHD and Life Transitions worldwide.   For more information, go to www.turningleafcoaching.com.

The First Step

July 19, 2013

Over the past year I have been the lucky beneficiary of several life management lessons generously provided by the universe.

You could also say that the universe has been beating the crap out of me in an effort to help me move farther along on my life path.

But like all things, its all in how you look at it. 

In recent weeks, I have been pondering the events of the past 12 months, looking for meaning, trying to distill the sometimes random, often meaningful, frequently trying events into something usable, something tangible, something that I can grab hold of and do something purposeful with.  Here is what I found.

Awareness is the key to happiness.
Awareness is the key to self-discovery.

Awareness is both the journey and the destination.

It is at the root of everything that matters.

That is a big statement, I know.  But it needs to be.

Time and again as I delve into the depths of what it is that defines me, the one thing that breaks the pattern, opens the next opportunity, and provides a gentle nudge or a flashing neon sign to point me down the path I need to travel along has been a new sense of awareness.  It may be a gradual feeling of coming to my senses as old behavior’s that no longer suit who I am fall away.  It can be a crushing tidal wave that pounds into me, setting me adrift, and leaving me searching for shore.  It can make me feel like I am strapped into a tilt-a-whirl that has been spinning so fast I didn’t notice it was moving until it suddenly stopped and left me dizzy and disoriented.  And it can also feel like finding the last piece of the puzzle and sliding it into place creating a moment where everything is simply right in the world.

Awareness is the first step. 

It is also the last step and it makes up several of the steps in between. It is the hardest step and the easiest step and the step that will trip you up every time you take your eyes off the road.

Some might argue that awareness is the result of self-discovery, that awareness is what you get from initiating self-change.

I can only disagree.

To me, you cannot possibly hope to change something about yourself – your weight, your relationships, your job, your bad habits or your outdated patterns – until you are aware of what it is about that part of you or your life that makes you want to change it.  How can you possibly lose weight if you are unaware of why you are overweight, of what you are eating, of how your lifestyle is affecting your body?  You can sign-up for every celebrity-sponsored weight management program on the planet, pay every penny you have, and be totally committed to making the change and you will still fail over the long term.

You will fail…….Unless you can sit quietly with yourself, look deep inside, and allow yourself to be become truly aware of what is holding you back.

Only then will all the strategies and plans and goals and decisions make a difference.\

Take the first step…..

To find out how to take that first step toward your goal, contact me today.

ADHD in the News – FDA Approves Brainwave Test

July 16, 2013

ADHD and BrainwavesThis week, the FDA approved the use of the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System which uses electroencephalogram (EEG) technology to record brain waves.  The test measures the ratios of theta and beta wave frequencies.  This ratio can then be used in the ADHD diagnosis process as the theta/beta ratio is often higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in those without the disorder.  The test will not provided a definitive diagnosis but can improve accuracy when used as part of a comprehensive diagnostic interview and assessment.

This is great news for those of us with ADHD on several fronts but primarily for this one reason.  Perhaps if there is an actual diagnostic test for  ADHD it will cut down on at least some of the speculating that it is a) not a real condition b) an excuse to medicate active children.  I am also a big fan of anything that means more people with ADHD have the opportunity to get a diagnosis so that they can get on with living their lives in the most successful way possible.

Unfortunately, like all things ADHD, this test is only approved for children and adolescents but hopefully the science will soon begin to catch up with the reality that Adults have ADHD too!

Learn more about EEG Technology here

 

Turning Leaf Life Coaching offers coaching for ADHD and Life Transitions worldwide over the phone and in person throughout NH, ME, MA, and VT.  For more information, go to www.turningleafcoaching.com.