Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Adult ADHD

Arrghhh . . . .  Anyone see Dr. Hallowell on Good Morning America today talking about Adult ADHD?  I’ve read his books, and I’ve found him to be one of the few medical practitioners in this field that seems open to treating the disorder without medications, including the very methods we use at Spark, but you wouldn’t know it from this interview.

He says that (i) ADHD is “genetically transmitted, there is no doubt about it,” “95%” of the time; (ii) it is extremely under diagnosed in adults; (iii) medications – taken properly – are “very safe” and can be taken “indefinitely” because “when used properly,” these meds have “no side-effects;” and (iv) if you learn to adjust your life-style and develop new habits, you can wean yourself off these meds.

Also, if you watch the interviews with two adults who were diagnosed with ADHD and began taking meds for it, you’re led to believe these meds will enable you to have a novel published and earn huge bonuses at work (hmmm, maybe I should start taking Ritalin . . .).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  I’m all for people getting help with attention issues – they really do exist -- and I believe that meds have their place, but only as a last resort.

I mean, really, if ADHD is genetic (and on that note, what about the research linking the disorder to, among other things, pesticide exposure (http://sparkdevelopment.blogspot.com/2010/05/pesticides-and-adhd-whats-next.html), too much television (http://sparkdevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/01/dont-touch-that-dial-literally.html), and artificial food additives (see, e.g., The Oxford-Durham Study: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Dietary Supplementation With Fatty Acids in Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder?), and you need meds to deal with it, how can a change in lifestyle and habits cure the disorder?
Maybe, I’m missing something, but meds, in theory, affect a theoretical imbalance of neurotransmitter transmission and uptake in the brain.  Also, in theory, these meds do their thing in your brain and then they’re out of there.  Thus, you have to take them pretty much every day (in some cases, more than once a day).  So, I don’t think anyone believes that these meds permanently repair the hypothetical imbalance in your brain.

If that’s the case, how can a lifestyle change get you off these meds successfully?

What is actually going on?  Read between the lines.  Dr. Hallowell states that lifestyle changes can work.  And we know, and the research backs us up on this, that dietary changes, exercise, and sensory programs can quiet the internal “noise,” decrease the intensity of (and sometimes even eliminate) the “distractions,” and increase focus and attention.

Would one argue that a change in lifestyle is merely a coping mechanism, and the ADHD still exists?  If that’s the case, then aren’t the meds merely coping mechanisms as well?  And, if the two serve basically the same purpose, i.e., coping with ADHD, wouldn’t you want to do the one that is safer, and probably ultimately more likely to present a more permanent solution? 

Granted, drugs are quicker, but if the meds are not changing the biology, are we merely promoting the idea of taking drugs to enhance performance (http://sparkdevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/02/drugs-for-everyone.html)?

No one really knows how these meds work, no one really knows about the long term effects of these meds (see, eg, http://sparkdevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/01/finnish-study-questions-long-term.html), and it is simply and utterly untrue that these meds have no side-effects.  Like all psychotropic medications, they do have side-effects, even when taken properly, and while it is rare, there is documented proof of some very bad things happening to some people who took these meds (http://sparkdevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/02/on-subject-of-medications.html and http://sparkdevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/06/unexplained-sudden-death-and-adhd-meds.html).

Hey ABC, how about a story about people who cured themselves without meds?

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