5 Surprising Causes of ADD Symptoms by AmenClinics

Outside of genetic predisposition, poor diet, and lack of exercise, there are a variety of reasons why ADD symptoms may arise in children, adults, and even the elderly.

Below are 5 of the most common factors that are often overlooked.

1. Head Injury

One of the most common (and most overlooked) causes of ADD symptoms is long-forgotten or unrecognized head injury, especially to the front part of the brain. In our experience, many professionals and parents underestimate the impact of head injuries, assuming that a person needs to have a significant loss of consciousness for a prolonged period of time in order for it to do damage. Our brain imaging work, along with the work of others, is disproving this notion.


2. Lack of Oxygen or Toxic Exposure

Lack of oxygen causes a decrease in overall brain activity while brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, cause toxic inflammation in the brain, damage tissue, and impair healthy blood flow.

Exposure to mold, pesticides, lead, mercury, intrauterine smoking, and other toxins have also been linked to various neurodevelopmental disorders. This factor is very important to understand and evaluate, as a different approach, including a biomedical evaluation, is often warranted.


3. Medical Problems & Medications

Certain medical problems, such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and thyroid disease can look like ADD. Likewise, certain medications can make people look and feel hyperactive and/or inattentive.

Related: ADHD At Age 76: SPECT Revealed More

4. Depression & Anxiety

Many symptoms of depression and anxiety are also found in ADD, so history is the key to proper diagnosis and treatment. ADD symptoms are generally constant over time, while depression and anxiety tend to fluctuate. Unfortunately, many people with ADD experience chronic anxiety and develop depressive symptoms due to the constant demoralization that goes with having ADD.

Related: When Depression and ADD Intersect

5. Hormonal Factors

Hormones play a major role in ADD, and symptoms are generally worse around the time of puberty in both males and females. In females, ADD symptoms are often worsened during the pre-menstrual period and also around the time of menopause.

Laughter as Brain MedicineBy AmenClinics

Laughter is wonderful medicine for your brain and body.

  • When you watch a funny movie, the blood flow to your heart increases.
  • Laughter releases endorphins, which helps lower pain and counteract the effects of stress hormones.
  • Laughter also boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.

Laughter can also help you live longer!

One Norwegian study showed that:

  • Those with a sense of humor outlived those who didn’t find life funny (the survival edge was particularly large for people with cancer).
  • Adults who scored in the top quarter for humor appreciation were 35% more likely to be alive than those in the bottom quarter.
  • In a subgroup of folks who had a cancer diagnosis at the start, a great sense of humor cut their chances of death by about 70% compared with adults with a poor sense of humor.

Becky Johnson, a witty author and friend of mine, whose new humor memoir, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook (co-authored with her daughter) may give your brain a happy boost through literary laughter therapy.

Becky is also a good friend of The Amen Clinic, and even wrote about her experience getting a brain scan!

In the book, Becky writes, “A few years ago, I had a brain scan done at the Amen Clinic. The good news is, contrary to urban myth, I do have a brain! In fact, according to Dr. Amen… I have “a beautiful brain.” On my brain scan, however, there is what appears to be a dent in my forehead. This is not an actual hole in my head, but an indication that blood flow is in not hurry to infuse my prefrontal cortex with thinking fluid. The result is that I’ve gone through my entire life with something called Inattentive ADD. It basically means that, though I am a bright and creative thinker, I am simultaneously ditzy and absentminded, at least when it comes to remembering things like time and appointments and where I put my glasses, or getting jokes, which mostly fly over my head at the speed of light.”

Becky once told me, “Having a sense of humor has helped me not to take myself too seriously. And being funny has helped my loved ones to see me as more endearing than irritating. Sometimes it feels like there is a classroom of Kindergarteners in my brain, all doing their own thing. Jumping on chairs, hollering out the window, coloring on the walls. This product helps bring the class-in-my head to order, and gives me the ability to focus on one project at a time and get it done.”

Laughter helps you learn.

One of the reasons I use humor in my presentations is to help people relax, because when we are relaxed and laughing, your ability to learn and absorb information increases. Try lowering your stress with some funny movies, or grab a copy of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and enjoy some chuckles.

Know Your ADD Type – Take Dr. Amen’s Free Questionnaire! By AmenClinics

We understand that not everyone can make it into one of our clinics for treatment, so it’s very important that we extend our support to you and your family in every way possible.

If you think that you or a loved may have ADD, take Dr. Amen’s new online questionnaire to learn more. After determining your type, you will receive a full, comprehensive report including an ADD Action Plan with natural and targeted treatments that you can start from home.

Did you know that there are multiple types of ADD and that one treatment does not fit everyone? When ADD is misdiagnosed, left untreated — or worse — treated improperly . . . it can ruin your life:

  • According to one study from Harvard, 52% of untreated people abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • 33% of untreated teens never finish high school – 3 times the national average – so they end up in jobs that do not pay well.
  • Parents of ADD children divorce 3 times more often than the general population.

Having raised 3 ADD kids, I know that there can be a lot of love in ADD families, but there can also be a lot of chaos, frustration, and tears.

Having ineffectively treated ADD is also very expensive as people go from doctor to doctor and try multiple medications, which often do more harm than good.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

I’ll tell you why…

Using a functional brain imaging study called SPECT, my colleagues and I have literally looked at the brain activity of tens of thousands of people with ADD.

This is what we have discovered and what you need to know:

  • There are 7 distinct types of ADD- not just the simple types: ADD and ADHD.
  • Not everyone with ADD is hyperactive.
  • Treating 5 of the 7 types with stimulant medication alone usually makes things worse.
  • Specific, targeted treatments exist for each type.

We’ve seen thousands of transformational stories and have effective solutions –many of which are natural and lifestyle methods that can be started from home– to dramatically improve you and your loved one’s lives in a short period of time.

If you believe that ADD is affecting you or a loved one, there are 3 steps to take today:

  1. Know whether you or your loved one is likely to have ADD.
  2. Learn which type (or types) may be present.
  3. Discover the right types of treatment, targeted to your specific ADD brain type.

Powerful Antidepressant: “Counting Your Blessings”By AmenClinics

More than 100 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and it is thought an estimated 70-90% either do not receive sufficient medical treatment, do not respond to therapy, or do not have access to quality care. As a result, there is an immense unmet need for alternative, economical, and effective strategies for treating major and minor depression.

New research supports an age-old concept for lifting depression. It is also safe, low-cost, and self-administered. It is called Positive Activity Intervention (PAI) which is a fancy term for doing what many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would have advised in year’s past: participating in positive activities like counting your blessings.

The authors of the study found that PAIs, such as counting one’s blessings, practicing optimism, performing acts of kindness, and using one’s unique strengths, “teach patients ways to increase their positive cognitions, emotions, and behaviors without professional help.”

Journal Editor, Kim A Jobst said, “This is ground-breaking work of global significance. It applies in all cultures at all times but especially in our pharmaceutically dominated culture of dependence. Because it is in many ways common sense, it is all the more important to have scientific validation and more low cost highly effective means to help people submerged in the sea of depression.”

Dr. Daniel Amen‘s research on the brain has found that depression comes in a variety of types and there is not a one-size-fits all cure. However almost everyone can receive positive benefits from nourishing the brain with healthy food and exercise, alongside positive thoughts and actions. I encourage everyone to learn how to fight the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts in their brain) and embrace thoughts of gratitude and realistic positivity. Supplements like fish oil and Vitamin D can further boost mood levels.

Exercise Gains Momentum as Psychiatric TreatmentBy AmenClinics

Recent studies have found that exercise is not only beneficial to your physical health, but your mental health as well.  This has prompted mental health clinicians to rethink treatment strategies and to consider the possibility of exercise not just in therapy but as therapy.

“Above and beyond the standard benefits of exercise in healthy living and general well-being, there is strong evidence demonstrating the ability of exercise to in fact treat mental illness and have significant benefits on a neurotrophic, neurobiologic basis,” Dr. Douglas Noordsy, associate professor and director of psychosis services at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Some of the strongest evidence is seen in depression, where psychiatric benefits from exercise have been shown in some cases to match those achieved with pharmacologic interventions and to persist to prevent remission in the long term.

Dr. Noordsy referenced a study from researchers at Duke University in which 156 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) were randomly assigned either to aerobic exercise, sertraline therapy, or both for 4 months.  The difference in remission rates for either group after 4 months were not significant – 60% and 69%, respectively, but at a 10-month follow-up, those that were exercising showed a significantly lower relapse rate.  In fact patients that were exercising on their own after the treatment period had half the chance of meeting the depression criteria 6 months later compared to patients who didn’t exercise after the 4-month study.

A similar study from the same group of researchers 10 years later in a larger sample involving 202 patients assigned to supervised exercise, sertraline therapy (50 mg to 200 mg) or placebo showed remission rates of 46% at 4 months and 66% at the 16-month follow-up across both treatment groups, with no significant greater improvement with SSRIs compared with exercise in predicting MDD remission at 1 year.

Other studies have shown equally impressive results in exercise for a variety of populations, including pregnant women with depression, who have a high interest in avoiding medications, people with HIV, and even patients with heart failure, who showed not only a significant reduction in depression related to exercise but also reduced mortality.

In addition to being an effective therapy for treating depression, exercise has also been seen to help with anxiety.  While the evidence in relation to anxiety is not quite as strong, it still suggests a benefit particularly with rigorous cardiovascular workouts to address the physiologic effects associated with anxiety.

“We know that with anxiety, the heart rate goes up, you start breathing fast, and it kind of snowballs with more anxiety, and that can trigger a panic attack,” Dr. Noordsy explained.  “So one of the important positive effects of physical exercise is it allows people to become conditioned to having their heart rate and respiratory rate increase when they’re not associated with anxiety, thereby addressing the triggers.”

In regard to other psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, the evidence is somewhat, but patients often have symptoms similar enough to depression to suggest a benefit, Dr. Noordsy said.  “The evidence on depression in bipolar disorder is strong enough that I certainly feel comfortable in talking about exercise as part of bipolar patients’ management.”

In terms of more serious psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, evidence is limited on benefits of exercise for the core symptoms of psychosis or cognition. However, several studies have shown improvement in comorbidities and metabolic issues related to antipsychotics that such patients commonly face.

One study of a jogging intervention among 80 inpatients with chronic schizophrenia, in which 40 patients jogged for 40 minutes 3 times a week, depression, anxiety, phobia, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors declined significantly compared with 40 inpatient control participants who were inactive and showed no improvement.

The evidence on the benefits of exercise in cognitive function disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, is much more extensive, with as many as 8 strong studies on dementia alone in the last 3 years showing improvements with activities such as walking and strength training on memory and executive function.

Dr. Noordsy noted one particularly remarkable study in which researchers compared patients with and without the ApoE gene, which is linked strongly to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  In the study, patients who were ApoE-negative showed similarly low mean cortical binding potential, related to plaque buildup in the brain, regardless of whether they exercised or not.  But although ApoE-positive individuals had values that were substantially higher, the ApoE-positive patients who exercised had values similar to those who did not carry the gene.  “You could look at these results and rightfully say physical exercise neutralizes your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease if you’re ApoE positive,” Dr. Noordsy said.

How to Get Patients Moving

Perhaps the biggest caveat with all mental health conditions is how to motivate patients who are struggling with psychiatric disorders to exercise.

Dr. Noordsy offered some key suggestions:

  • Start with an assessment of lifetime history of activity and current activity then educate the patient on the potential effects of exercise on their disorder and how it fits on the menu of other treatment options.
  • Make clear recommendations.  For example there is a lot of evidence in areas such as smoking cessation and in the addiction literature showing that a substantial subset of people will respond to very clear recommendations.
  • Offer motivational tools such a behavioral planner that allows for goal setting.  Connecting a patient with an exercise group can be helpful as well.
  • Consider the patient’s current activity capacity in recommending a regimen.  The general amount of exercise believed to result in a benefit is about 30 to 60 minutes per day, between 3 and 7 days per week.  Some studies have shown strength training to be as beneficial as aerobic activity.
  • Help the patient find an activity that works best for them, rather than recommending anything specific.
  • Guide the patient to educational resources, such as information sources or books on exercise and the brain.

Importantly, discussing the role of exercise in the context of human evolution might be a more effective approach with patients than the standard recommendation to get some exercise.  For example, our ancestors hunted animals for food, tended to their gardens, built their own homes and walked wherever they need to go.  Physical exercise was what our bodies were designed to do and when we don’t do it our bodies and brains fall apart.

Another important component in helping patients benefit from exercise is simply to improve awareness among other clinicians which underlines the importance of this article and why I’m sharing it with all of you.  Now get up and get moving!  Your brain and body will thank you for it.

Source:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/774639