Updated: Apr 16
I'm sure most parents say this often, but what if it is a sign of something bigger? Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a real disorder and is commonly diagnosed in New Zealand, and in some cases it is also misdiagnosed.
ADHD affects both adults and children, however it's more noticeable in children, adults tend to hide their symptoms and have learnt coping strategies.
The symptoms of ADHD are more apparent when starting a new school, be that primary, intermediate, high school or university.
The common ADHD symptoms are
Unable to sit still, always wiggling on their seat
Not listening or following instructions
Lack of concentrating and focus
Easily distracted and bored
Over thinking things, mis-reading social cues
Impatience, doesn't like waiting for their turn
Difficulty organising or completing tasks
Prone to losing things, forgets things
Often butts in and has problems regulation their emotions
Waiting until things are urgent or overdue before starting them
I also see in my clinic, patients with ADHD presenting with
Irritability with anxiety
Trouble getting thoughts / ideas on paper, getting sentences to make sense
Great long term memory, poor short term memory
*Most people has some of these symptoms sometimes, people with ADHD have these most of the time.
ADHD is not a behavioural problem, its a common neurodevelopmental disorder that between 5-10% of school aged children in New Zealand have.
Traditionally it was more commonly diagnosed in boys, however recent studies show that rates are similar in girls. Girls ADHD symptoms can look very different than that of boys, for example, girls may come across as overly sensitive or emotional . They might interrupt conversations and be very talkative.
Children with ADHD tend to present with other issues such as learning issues such as Dyslexia, Anxiety, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Audio Processing Disorder.
There are also many positive aspects of ADHD
People with ADHD are normally more Imaginative, creative, enthusiastic, innovative, adventurous and curious than their non ADHD peers. Many famous actors and Entrepreneurs have ADHD, as they can have amazing focus on things that interest them, such as hobbies, sport or computer games.
People with ADHD are changing the world, they are the thinkers, the problem solvers, the future CEO's and gold winning athletes. They have the energy, passion and drive for change.
As parents teachers and caregivers we need to encourage their passions and embrace their uniqueness while building their self esteem, let them know how special they are.
Our current school system is hard for these children, As children get older they can grow out of some of the symptoms, and learn strategies to cope with their ADHD.
There is no blood test or x-ray that confirms ADHD, It is a subjective diagnosis. Sometimes those symptoms maybe caused by other factors such as allergies, food intolerances, nutritional deficiencies, heavy metals or other medical conditions.
Currently medications prescribed in New Zealand for ADHD is methylphenidate. This has a number of different names such as Ritalin or Rubifen. Methylphenidate comes in different forms and it may take some time for your doctor and you to find the dose and timing that works best.
This medication can work well, but it does have many side effects, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, reduced weight gain, insomnia, nervousness, depression, irritability, aggression, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, movement disorders, fever, rash, alopecia, and growth restriction.
It's important to note that this medication does not cure ADHD, it helps suppress the symptoms of ADHD while taking it.
There have been some fantastic research over the past few years, highlighting the benefits of nutrients and their role in improve concentration levels.
Dr Julia Rutledge from Canterbury university has completed some promising studies on children with ADHD and nutritional therapy using Daily Essential Nutrients.
There are also studies done with Enzo (nz pine bark extract) and improvements in ADHD symptoms.
Some environment factors can cause ADHD symptoms
Increase heavy metals such as Lead, Mercury
Exposure to Moulds and EMF
Air pollution (children that live in the city have higher rates of ADHD then choose in the country).
BPA from plastics exposure is linked with increased ADHD
Mouth breathing may lead to the induction of ADHD-like symptoms.
Recent studies suggests that sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm disturbances can lead to ADHD-like symptoms.
Gut disorders, the digestive system and nervous system are connected via a two-way highway known as the gut-brain axis. People with ADHD are more likely to have signs of gut dysfunction, such as, constipation or diarrhoea, bloating, tummy pains, and food cravings for cheese, sugar and refined carbohydrates such as bread, biscuits and pasta.
The diet is a major factor with ADHD, nutritional deficiencies such as Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, B vitamins and Omega 3 are common.
Diets high in refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemical food additives, preservatives, process seed oils and low in antioxidants.
There are higher rate of food intolerances and sentitives in children with ADHD.
25% of children with ADHD will have a parent with a similar condition
Studies show that people with ADHD have few receptors for dopamine
How can I help?
There are multiple factors that can influence the way our brain, neurotransmitters and nervous system works. It's important to look to see why / what could be done to help reduce ADHD symptoms. Fortunately, most of these can be assess by looking at the health history and through functional testing.
Natural treatments for ADHD may include changes in diet, nutritional supplementation, herbal medicines and gentle lifestyle changes. Contact me today for an appointment.