Mental illness is a broad category of conditions that encompasses various disorders. The most common conditions include anxiety/panic disorders, depression/mood disorders, and attention deficient hyperactivity disorder/attention deficit disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) symptoms present themselves in childhood and continue into adulthood. The troubling symptoms permeate and cause problems at home, school, work, and in relationships.
Some experts suggest that ADHD can occur in eight to 10 per cent of school-aged children. The classic problem that children face is having a difficult time paying attention or concentrating. This results in the inability to follow directions, forgetfulness, misplacing/losing items, complete tasks and inhibits their ability to function in their every day lives. Adults with ADHD often have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting and professional achievement. Consequently, ADHD also impairs one’s personal life as well by eroding self-worth, drive and personal relationships with friends, family and significant others.
What are childhood ADHD symptoms?
If a child has ADHD, their symptoms usually become noticeable before the age of seven. The most common diagnosis is made between the ages of three and seven. The red flag signs of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Inattention means that a child is easily distracted and struggles to follow directions or complete tasks. A child may avoid or dislike activities that requires stillness such as sitting still and quietly and struggle to pay attention to instruction. Careless mistakes often happen as a child is also forgetful, loses things and has difficulty organizing daily tasks. Unfortunately many of these children become labeled as “lazy” because their condition is misunderstood. Classic hyperactivity symptoms include constant movement such as squirming, fidgeting, bouncing while sitting or difficulty with staying seated. Children with this condition may talk excessively, run and climb on everything. Another common facet to ADHD is impulsiveness which manifests in often interrupting others, difficulty waiting for one’s turn and/or blurting out information.
What are adult ADHD symptoms?
Adults with ADHD often experience similar symptoms to children and include but are not limited to chronic lateness, forgetfulness, poor organizational skills and employment problems.
What causes ADHD?
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown as there are many components that contribute to good mental health. Research suggests that ADHD is believed to be the imbalance of brain chemicals, which can cause brain changes and result in number of symptoms in both children and adults. Brain chemicals are also influenced by factors that one can control such as physical activity levels, stress and one’s diet.
The healthy brain foods
The human brain is highly active and requires a constant source of nutrients to function properly. One of the most important but forgotten-about recommendations includes eating breakfast. Studies have found that eating breakfast can improve short-term memory and attention span in children. They found students who ate breakfast performed significantly better than those who did not. Researchers found that high-calorie, highly processed breakfast foods actually hindered concentration. Avoid unhealthy breakfast cereals and pastries that are laced with excessive amounts of sugar and food coloring.
Fish is a really good brain food. It is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats are also known to reduce cholesterol, heart disease and stroke risk as well as play a vital role in enhancing memory and mental ability. It is recommended to eat two servings of fish every week.
The brain is primarily composed of fat. Therefore, it is important for one to eat healthy fats. These are ones that come from natural sources such as avocados, which contain in excess of 25 essential nutrients. Research has shown that nuts and seeds are brain foods as well. Walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios are rich in fiber and nutrients that are known to help brain function. Dark chocolate also has other brain enhancing properties. It contains natural stimulants such as caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, experts agree that exercise is one of the most important elements in mental health. Children and adults who exercise are less likely to experience ADHD and individuals who have ADHD can better manage their symptoms. Aerobic exercise is the most beneficial as it increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain.
Additional recommendations include attaining restorative sleep, effectively managing stress and staying hydrated.
Source: DR CORY COUILLARD, Alpha Theta Center Neurofeedback.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Rancho Santa Fe 92067 area.