In new article published online in ADDitude Magazine, Dr. Joel Nigg reviews some recent findings on the impact of environment on the development of ADHD traits. Long thought to be strictly a genetically inherited brain dysfunction, increasing amounts of research (along with increasing amounts of attention paid to previous research) are demonstrating a clear link between ADHD development and the environment. This field of research, focusing on the link between genes and environment, is known as epigenetics. In this case, the prefix epi- refers to something beyond, over, or upon something else. In other words, epigenetics studies the factors beyond simple genetics (if there is such a thing as simple genetics) that influence the development of certain traits. In his article, Dr. Nigg states, “Epigenetics paints a much more complicated view of ADHD, but also a much more optimistic one; genes do not solely determine an individual’s fate.” For those who struggle with ADHD, the round pegs trying to fit into square holes, one of the bleakest aspects of daily life is the belief that things will always be this way and cannot be improved. Epigenetic research is telling us more and more that this belief is false. Nigg reports, […]
As a person with ADHD, my mind doesn’t really have an ‘off’ switch. My working memory definitely has an off switch but my thinker is permanently stuck at full throttle. When I take medication for my ADHD symptoms, this is lessened, but even then, ideas are my constant companion. You know what else? Lots of those ideas are really good. I have ideas for things I want to write about, learn about, read about, sing about, and go and do. There are videos to be recorded, books to be written, charts and graphs to be populated with data to be analyzed. There are opportunities for networking, classes to be developed, marketed and taught, and scripts to be polished. I could go on (and on and on and on…) but you get my point. Of course the best time for this outpouring of initiative and creativity is when I finally lay down in my bed at night but it is not reserved solely for that time. When I was in university, my textbooks and research articles were full of notes in the margins pertaining not to the material I was reading but to ideas triggered by what I was reading. This […]
In no particular order, I present 10 of my favourite pieces of wisdom from Dr. Gabor Mate, bestselling author of “Scattered Minds“, “When the Body Says No”, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”, and co-author of “Hold on to Your Kids”. 1. It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour. There is a purpose to all behavior and feelings. We just need to look a little deeper to find it. On the surface, addictive or self-destructive behavior seems illogical but if we focus its benefits, few though they may be, we will be able to unlock the mystery of the behavior and put ourselves in a position to change it. 2. The DSM … defines attention deficit disorder by its external features, not by its emotional meaning in the lives of individual human beings. I’ve noticed this in discussing the symptoms with doctors, even those who specialize in treating the condition. The list of symptoms and signs makes very little room for the emotional impact of poor time management, poor attentional control, lack of follow-through, impulsive behavior, and constant restlessness. The list doesn’t touch […]
Ok, it’s been 10 days since I finished writing the first installment of this article. I kind of knew that would happen. I knew it would happen because it’s happened so many times before. Despite this knowledge, I often feel powerless to do anything about it. Today, I’m going to address another reason why I might feel that way as well as making some suggestions that might help to overcome it. Lack of Motivation This may seem overly obvious as an explanation but motivation is much more biological (biochemical, to be specific) in nature than people realize. Wanting to do something isn’t as simple as being interested in doing it and then doing it. In order for any activity to be motivating, even those that we experience as intrinsically rewarding or intensely pleasurable, we rely on the presence of a critical neurochemical known as dopamine. Dopamine has many functions, depending on where in the brain and body it is being used. It is a pleasure chemical (stimulants increase dopamine levels, as does sexual activity). It also provides physical energy. It is implicated in control of fine and gross motor control (Parkinson’s patients don’t have enough dopamine in the part of […]
Non-linear people in a linear world I used to teach a class called “Understanding Anger and Anxiety”. The class was quite lengthy, taking an entire day. While the class could be summed up in one simple sentence, “Anger is anxiety”, I invested several more hours so that that point would be fully understood and appreciated. I warned the class at the beginning that when I am trying to teach something important, I speak in concentric circles, working my way around the perimeter of the concept, introducing several threads that may at first appear to be unrelated, and then gradually narrowing in on the main point. In this way, they have the proper context for the final, parsimonious concept that I want them to walk away with. Despite this warning, it was obvious to me as the class proceeded that there were people who were having a hard time hanging in there with me as I wandered through philosophy, psychology, sociology, and neurophysiology. As we went around and around in circles talking about so many seemingly unrelated points, their eyes would glaze over. After the class, I sent out e-mails asking for feedback and there were a few people who gave […]
Dr. Gabor Mate expresses it very well. If you have questions, drop me a line.
Here are the answers to some common questions: What’s the difference between ADHD and ADD There is no difference. ADHD is divided into three types: Inattentive, Hyperactive/Impulsive, and Combined. ADD is the Inattentive type. When it comes to diagnosis, the official label is ADHD. This confusion is probably responsible for many missed cases of ADHD. How do I know if I have it? Psychiatrists or psychologists are the only mental health professionals qualified to diagnose ADHD. If you have concerns, make arrangements to see one of these individuals. The diagnostic criteria for ADHD are as follows: A. Either (1) or (2) 1) Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with the developmental level: Inattention often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behaviour or failure of comprehension) often has difficulty organizing […]