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ADD/ADHD


Introduction

ADD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children, affecting anywhere from 3 to 5 percent of school aged kids. It is more prevalent in boys than girls. ADD and ADHD are often misdiagnosed and sometimes go undiagnosed. While in children, hyperactivity is often displayed as constant squirming and moving, in adults it may be more of a constant feeling of restlessness and agitation. Extreme procrastination, disorganization, trouble making deadlines, and impulsive behavior is common. While most of us have challenges in these areas, someone with Adult ADD/ADHD has these problems constantly, in good times and in bad, and often to the despair of loved ones. Since ADD is often treated with potent pharmaceuticals, many parents of children or adults diagnosed with attention deficit disorders seek natural management.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) defined is an inability to control behavior due to difficulty in processing neural stimuli and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a family of related chronic neurobiological disorders that interfere with an individual's capability to regulate activity, attention, and behavior. If not managed properly, ADD and ADHD can have adverse long-term implications including poor academic and vocational performance and social-emotional issues.

Neuroimaging studies show that ADD/ADHD sufferers handle neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and adrenalin) differently. Diet can affect the production of these brain chemicals. At the same time, it is important to treat the correct condition. Sugar, for example, helps the amino acid tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier and changes in to serotonin, which lifts mood and stimulates social interaction. Therefore, craving sugar may be a sign of low serotonin and this may manifest as depression

Food allergies often worsen symptoms of ADHD and ADD. In fact, 88 percent of children with ADHD test positive for allergies or food dyes, most commonly, chocolate, eggs, milk, peanuts, and additives. Allergen-free diets can help alleviate symptoms.

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Common Symptoms

Attention Deficit - difficulty maintaining attention to work or play; does not complete tasks; does not listen when spoken to; easily distracted; failure to pay attention to details, makes careless mistakes at school or work; has difficulty organizing tasks or time; unable to follow instructions unless they are given one at a time.

Hyperactivity - trouble engaging in quiet activities, such as reading; runs or climbs in inappropriate situations; talks excessively; thumping, fidgeting, squirming, moving constantly; wanders through classroom or workplace.

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Natural Treatment

Many ADD/ADHD drug treatments, like most prescription medications, have negative side effects, both short- and long-term. The best approach to managing the symptoms of ADD/ADHD includes a combination of natural and mainstream approaches. From a nutritional standpoint, there is a strong association between food and the exacerbation of symptoms and behavior (nutrition counseling online or in person). Deficiencies in certain nutrients may worsen symptoms. Specific macronutrients are essential for the stimulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is necessary for concentration and attention. B vitamins are crucial for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, which help turn amino acids and other raw materials into hormones and neurotransmitters necessary for brain function. Also, overly processed, glycemic foods may increase inattention as well as deplete nutrients that are essential for neurotransmitter balance.

Those with ADD/ADHD, or even those with similar behavior patterns and no diagnosis, tend to have sensitive biochemistries and are more affected by certain foods, especially foods containing chemicals, additives, alternative sweeteners, and the proteins found in milk (casein) and wheat (gluten).

Supplements such as Rhodiola Rosea and Inositol have been shown to improve symptoms of ADD and ADHD, as well as anxiety. Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve brain function, including concentration, memory, and depression. Exercise programs have also been effective in the treatment of ADD/ADHD in both children and adults.

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References

American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical practice guideline: diagnosis and evaluation of the child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics. 2000; 105(5). 1158-1170.

Alternative treatment. ADDitude Magazine. 2007. Available at: http://www.additudemag.com/alternative-adhd-treatment.html. Accessed on November 10, 2009.

Definition of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Medicinenet.com. February 8, 2003. Available at: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=22329. Accessed on November 10, 2009.

Definition of ADD (attention deficit disorder). Medicinenet.com. September 28, 2003. Available at: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2138. Accessed on November 10, 2009.

Rister S. Healing Without Medication. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc; 2003: 24-28.

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