ADHD – How do you live with it?

This week I will tell you more about how ADHD kids (and adults) live, what kind of medication they use, alternatives and problems.

One of my best friends has this disease and since young he has been swallowing pills.
What I remember most clearly about our time together in 6th grade was that he was always moving and pranking people.
Very annoying indeed.
He was known to be a trouble maker in school and some teachers were even scared to enter our class because of him.
Then in 7th grade he started to take pills. He cooled off a lot. He was a smart boy after all and graduated with good grades, but I still remember that we used to make fun of him all the time because he had to swallow pills.

“HAHAHA why are you so bumpy, did you forget to take your pills? What are you, mental?”

Of course we thought it was funny and we didn’t mean any harm, but  a little more grown up now I think it must have hurt.
He was just a normal kid after all. Perfectly normal.


But what kind of drugs did he have to take?
First and most important: Medication does NOT cure ADHD. It only treats the symptoms, but once the medication is stopped, the symptoms come back.
But what about the ADHD medications makes the symptoms stop? Almost all ADHD medications function as stimulants.
This might sound counterproductive, but these special stimulants actually help ADHD people calm down and focus.
They increase the blood flow to the brain and influence the production of dopamine and epinephrine.
These abstract terms actually describe just 2 neurotransmitter responsible for learning and focusing.
ADHD drugs also make the body hold onto that extra amount of dopamine and epinephrine a little longer by influencing the receivers in the brain.
These kind of medication are said to mitigate the symptoms in about 75% of all patients.
However long-term applications of this treatment have been questioned, because a number of side-effects are associated with these medications:

  • insomnia
  • weight loss
  • stunted growth
  • ‘zombie’ behaviour
  • mood swings
  • loss of appetite
  • heart problems
  • nervous tics
  • hallucinations

Mainly because of these side effects parents often consider taking their children off the pills temporarily (over summer break) or even at all.
But even quitting the treatment can have negative side effects, but that is an aspect I’ll discuss in a following post.

“It’s vital that both children and adults understand the medication they are taking” 
(MHRA Head of Patient Information Quality, Jan MacDonald)

Only if the patients (or parents) have full information about the medication, side effects and alternatives they can make the right decision about the treatment of ADHD.
Most experts now recommend medication together with psychotherapy, counselling or behaviour therapy.
Recent research has shown the benefits of behavioral interventions for ADHD preschoolers.
And even parents start to think away from the usual treatment with f.e. Ritalin and other drugs.

The best ADHD alternative treatment is probably a combination of therapy, diet, exercise and counselling
(Father of an ADHD child, Blogger)

But there is an issue here with the insurance companies so the cost of these treatments may not be covered by insurance.
A big shortfall in my opinion.
As you can see in the graphic below, which is a treatment algorithm for ADHD, non-medication alternatives are almost ignored.
The emphasis still lies on the standard drugs.

What is unknown to most is that there are also natural alternatives.
F.e. years ago, Ben Feingold, an allergist created a special diet, which has shown an improvement in neurological and physiological functions. The diet eliminates junk foods, food additives, pesticides, preservatives, allergens, high sugar foods, so basically everything which has been identified to have a negative impact on ADHD.
Other than that there are also other popular natural products: Homeopathic remedies.
F.e. ‘Verta alb’ is great for soothing nerves and restlessness.
And with ‘Tuberculinum‘ children are less irritable and less destructive and negative in their behavior.
(Find out more about natural remedies at www.nativeremedies.com)
Luckily natural alternatives are gaining more popularity, even with doctors and specialists.

Try natural herbal remedies before you turn to prescription medication.
  It has always seemed illogical to me to give a child stimulants.
(Robert Locke, Health enthusiast specialized in Children’s Health)

Chrystle Fiedler, health writer, points f.e. to a study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience about the effectiveness of pine tree bark.
Researchers found that the bark reduces stress hormones, and hyperactivity.
It also improves concentration and coordination.

There are no side effects to homeopathic remedies and they are perfectly safe. There is no risk of drug abuse.
There is no need for medical monitoring.
Why isn’t everyone just using them then? Well that’s easy.
Even though there are only positive reviews on natural products for ADHD, they are rarely published because they have no financial backing.
But the government has a solution for that issue.
Did you know that it is possible for ADHD children to be determined disabled by Social Security standards,
thus qualifying them for monthly benefits and for Medicaid?
But then on the other hand, do you think of your child or yourself as being disabled just because of a lack in concentration?
It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?

But for now let you thoughts rest until next week
when I will give you even more things to think about.
And for my friend, he is off the pills since 15 and doesn’t have any problems at all.

Over and out.

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6 Responses to ADHD – How do you live with it?

  1. Ferhat says:

    Hi Katharina,
    Your topic is quite different than the others. And a good thing too. I’m tired of reading business, business, business… Thanks for this post. First of all 6 years ago we had visitors. It was a family with 3 children. One of the kids suffered ADHD. This one child was active like 5 children at the same time. However when I saw his medication I couldn’t believe it. Stiff dose of medicine and it was dangerous. ”These drugs are usually not designed for children, but the doctor is a good friend of my husband”, told the mother. This little boy couldn’t sleep without the medicine and after getting the stuff he began to have a dazed expression on his face. Incredible but true. I think the parents aren’t enlightened enough in this issue. And the doctors are only interested in their own profit. ”Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed`”, Mahatma Gandhi.
    I would like to know: Why did you choose this topic? Do you have personal experiences with such ”invalids”? What can you recommend parents when their children suffer ADHD?
    I like the topic, however the terms in your post are too abstract so that the post gets a clinical presentation. Your post would be more interesting when you included personal experiences/encounters or an interview of an ADHD sufferer. Nevertheless I liked your blog and it is worthwile to read. Thanks 🙂

    • katharinakueppers says:

      Hey Ferhat,
      Thanks for your comment it helped me a lot!
      I fixed the entry concerning the medical terms and I hope it is easier to understand now.
      For the personal expiriences from patients, I already included some in my introduction post before, maybe you want to check that one out? Here is the link: https://fastexposure.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/attention/
      Thanks again for your input! 🙂

  2. Pingback: This week on FastExposure « fastexposure

  3. mirkalilka says:

    I can only agree with Ferhart. Your blog post is indeed different from the others. It’s really brave that you chose this topic and I am glad that you stick to it. We hear a lot about ADHD cases but we never get real in-depth knowledge. I am convinced that have made a thorough research about ADHD because you have shown us quite a lot of information about common medication, for example. Nevertheless, I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the technical terms that you have used. For someone who is not deeply involved in the topic, it is difficult to follow all those terms so I would recommend you to reduce your usage of this terminology and additionally explain some words in great detail.
    Since your post is “currently under construction” I guess that you will add or change some things, but still I feel like giving you a vital piece of advice. So far I just see descriptions in your post,the effects of medication and an enumeration of therapies. It is good that you started that way, but when you continue your post, try to focus more on how doctors aim at making profit with it.

    Moreover, you can look for opinions about the different medication and therapies. Do they really serve the purpose? You could visit this site as starting point: http://besttreatadhd.com/adult-adhd-medication/adderall-weight-loss-reviews-on-natural-products-for-adhd-a-controversial-issue/ I think it would perfectly fit the information you have gathered so far and maybe give you some ideas where you could dig deeper:)

    I am anticipating your finished post and looking forward to your edited version, hopefully with more pictures:)

    • katharinakueppers says:

      Hey Mirella,
      I have to thank you for your input too, I looked at the link you gave me and I really found some more useful information!
      The post is now finished and I hope that you will enjoy reading it again, the improved version:)
      Hmm but I am a tiiiiny little bit unhappy, because you already mentioned a topic I will discuss in my last post about this topic, the profit of doctors…
      aaaaargh spoiler alarm 😀
      Thanks never the less, that you already brought up this aspect of ADHD just shows me that it really is an important aspect I should be talking about. You can anticipate it!

  4. Pingback: ADHD – A conspiracy? « fastexposure

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