A lot of people seem to be getting diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder these days, adults and children alike.
Heck, I took an online test, and it looks like I've got it. Try this on: the main symptoms are poor attention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Ha! I don't know about you, but that's everyone I know.
Many think there's an epidemic, not of rash behaviour but of over-diagnosing. Still, some folks may be having a difficult life and not realize why.
If think you or your child suffers from this, see a health care professional. Then I'd say get a second opinion. And maybe a third. Conventional treatment may involve Ritalin or antidepressants, but there are other options.
What the experts say
"I accept ADHD as a real disorder, but you need to figure out what works for you. It's about learning to work with your brain as opposed to working against it . When I was in college, I discovered that I'm a strong kinesthetic auditory learner, so I recorded my notes onto audio tape. Now I use technology like screen readers that read text aloud or convert it into MP3s. I take a situation in which I'm at a disadvantage, like sitting down and reading, and make it into one in which I'm at an advantage. Unfortunately, right now assessments only focus on the problems. So you get 30 hours of psycho-educational testing that focuses primarily on your weaknesses. Nobody really shows you how to bridge your strengths.-
GERARD MONTIGNY , ADHD coach, Ottawa
"Often in children, ADHD is related to an overload of toxins. It might become more pronounced in adult life because organization skills may not have been acquired earlier. Adults can have nutritional deficiencies or exposure to toxins. A doctor may prescribe Ritalin or antidepressants, but treating this disorder needs more experience than the average family doctor has. I'd supplement with magnesium and vitamin B6 . For hyperactivity I might consider a combination of passion flower , lemon balm , skullcap , oat grass and St. John's wort . Beech can also be good, as is the Bach flower remedy impatience . I'd put an adult on a cleansing and detoxification program."
SCOTT CLACK , naturopath, Toronto
"ADHD can be related to allergies and runs in families. Boys are six times more likely than girls to have it. People who have hives or asthma, symptoms related to allergy or food allergies may also have hyperactivity disorder. Most doctors don't realize that allergies can affect the brain and behaviour. [The most common allergens in people with ADHD] are dust, mould, pollen, foods or chemicals. People with these allergies have characteristic red noses, dark eye circles, wrinkles around the eyes, abnormally red cheeks and earlobes. They tend to have wiggly legs. One natural treatment is to exclude milk, eggs, wheat, chocolate, corn, peanuts and sugar for one week . The second week, add them back [one at a time] and see which causes hyperactivity. Homeopathic remedies can be amazingly effective."
DORIS RAPP , MD, founder, Practical Allergy Foundation, Buffalo
"The most important things are reducing intake of sugar and caffeine and making sure you're getting enough essential fatty acids and B vitamins . Kids need to get out and get active . With adults exercise is still critical, but dealing with day-to-day stress is a much bigger factor. We want to use neuro-vasodilating herbs that increase bloodflow to the brain, but more particularly those that are also tranquilizing. These are thyme , lavender , valerian , passion flower and lemon balm. The mints are really good, spearmint , peppermint and wild mint . Marjoram is excellent for this type of thing. Gingko can be used but can be too stimulating, so you need to combine with another more tranquilizing herb. Counselling may be necessary as well. You need to change the way you respond to stress."
MICHAEL VERTOLI , herbalist, Toronto
"Some say ADHD affects about 4 or 5 per cent of adults. I think that's a big overestimate, and there's often an overlap with anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioural therapy helps get people to pay attention to the relationships between their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. One of the main techniques is to get people to focus on a narrow slice of time and think about what they're feeling and doing. They're taught to do thought stopping , which is basically imagining a big stop sign and yelling to yourself to stop. CBT is tough to do with kids with ADHD. Pharmacotherapy is the main way to go for them."
PETER FARVOLDEN , head of the Psychological Trauma Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto