ADHD & More: Lesser Known Benefits of Cannabis Use

In 1996, California passed landmark legislation that legalized the use of medical marijuana, also known as cannabis. In 1998, a few more states followed suit; within ten years, 11 of the 50 states had legalized medical marijuana. Over 20 years later, as of 2019, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana use, with ten states plus the District of Columbia fully legalizing its use.

The legalizing of marijuana began as its startling effectiveness in alleviating a variety of medical conditions became popularized. While marijuana’s effectiveness in alleviating pain, nausea, seizures and increasing appetite are well known, here are a few lesser known benefits of cannabis that may surprise you.

Improves Lung Capacity

According to a 2016 study on the Effect of Cannabis Smoking On Lung Function and Respiratory Symptoms for the NPJ Primary Care Respiratory Medicine Journal, marijuana smoking is associated with an increase in the lungs’ forced vital capacity. The cause for this is unclear, but may be due to inhaling and holding smoke in the lungs, as is commonly done by smokers of marijuana.

Increases Motivation

There is a growing number of people using cannabidiol (CBD) to manage symptoms of panic, anxiety, and depression. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has long been the most well-known cannabinoid in marijuana since it causes the infamous “high”. However CBD, another naturally-occurring cannabinoid in marijuana, doesn’t cause a “high” but does provide other positive effects to its users, including a decrease in symptoms of panic, anxiety, and depression, while providing an increase in motivation.

Helps Alleviate Symptoms of ADHD

For people with ADHD, it may be difficult to focus on tasks. People with ADHD may feel restless or have difficult sitting still. Marijuana use has been an effective treatment option for some sufferers of ADHD. The medications typically prescribed to people with ADHD helps correct the levels of dopamine in their brain, and marijuana is believed to have a similar impact on the brain as its prescription counterparts.

 

While there are a myriad of health benefits to potentially gain from the use of cannabinoids, nothing is risk-free. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Are you struggling with an ADHD diagnosis and looking for support and coping strategies? A licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Do Fidget Spinners Actually Help ADHD?

They are beloved by children everywhere and the bane of existence for many teachers and parents. Fidget spinners have been flying off store shelves in recent years, touted as a gadget that can help reduce anxiety and treat symptoms of ADHD in young children. But are fidget spinners everything they’re cracked up to be?

So do fidget spinners really offer any value in helping children with behavioral disorders? Many child psychologists feel there isn’t an easy answer, including Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the ADHD and Behavioral Disorders Center at the New York-based nonprofit Child Mind Institute, who has said, “The most frequent thing we say to parents with an unfortunately disheartened tone is that if something appears like it’s an easy fix for mental health difficulties, it’s probably too good to be true.”

Admittedly, the toy is so new that not many studies have been conducted regarding its efficacy. But one child psychologist, Paulo Graziano, set up a study with colleagues after his own daughter became enamored with the toy.

What were his findings?

While they can be entertaining, fidget spinners do not help children focus or do better in school. In fact, Graziano cautions parents that fidget spinners can do more harm than good, because they can distract kids more than help them.

During the study, Graziano and his team found that interaction with fidget spinners actually caused children with ADHD to violate more rules. Children payed less attention to the teacher, had more trouble staying on task, and were less able to answer questions when called on.

Where Did the Idea That Fidget Spinners Help ADHD Symptoms Originate?

If fidget spinners seem to do the exact opposite of what the marketing campaigns suggest, where did the idea even come from they could be some sort of learning aid?

There are theories that in kids with ADHD, excessive movements – their bodily fidgeting, rocking, leg shaking etc. – increases their prefrontal cortex arousal and alertness, thereby helping them engage in some academic tasks. While the theory that natural movements may assist in this way, the fact is, fidget spinners don’t really inspire kids to move more than their thumb.

So, the theory is nice, and the makers and marketers might have meant well, but no, it appears that fidget spinners do not actually help children with ADHD focus better.

Other Ways to Help Your Child Focus

Parents tend to focus on the negative behaviors of children with ADHD, but studies have shown these children do much better with positive reinforcement. Give your child lots of praise and attention for good behavior, speak with teachers regularly about their progress, and get help from a trained psychologist who can offer developmental strategies.

If you are the parent of a child with ADHD and would like to discuss treatment options, please reach out to me. I would be more than happy to talk about how I may help.

 

SOURCES

http://time.com/money/4774133/fidget-spinners-adhd-anxiety-stress/

Do fidget spinners help children with ADHD focus?

https://www.brainfacts.org/Diseases-and-Disorders/Childhood-Disorders/2018/Do-Fidget-Spinners-Help-Kids-Focus-071818

4 Fun Activities for You & Your ADHD Child

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, you know one of the main symptoms is hyperactivity. In other words, your child may seem to have an excess of energy, and all of that energy needs to be channeled.

Unfortunately, modern kids are far less physically active than kids from just 20 years ago. It used to be natural for kids to be outside running around and riding bikes, but many of today’s kids spend their time sedentary, watching television, and playing video games.

Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists are taking note of this change and expressing concern. Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has said, “Being outside provides ADHD children with a more open environment to appropriately express their energy.”

And psychotherapist Terry Matlen, ACSW, agrees, “Children who are hyperactive and impulsive can release tension far easier being outside running, jumping, swinging, and playing sports than sitting indoors.”

If you want to reduce ADD/ADHD symptoms in your child, help them get their body moving. As a bonus, all of this physical movement will help your child improve their balance, coordination, and other gross motor skills.

Here are some fun activities you can enjoy with them.

Riding Bikes

Not only is bike riding a terrific aerobic exercise that is gentle on growing bones and joints (as well as aging bones and joints!), it’s a great way to explore your neighborhood or local community. When we drive by places in our cars, we tend to overlook many of the details and things that make our local communities special. But when we ride our bikes, we can take in much more.

Family Sports

If you’re lucky enough to have family members nearby, consider having a weekly family team sporting event. This could be family soccer games, touch football games, softball games, or whatever you come up with. Make the prizes fun, like losers cook winners’ dinner or losers mow winners’ lawn.

Yard Work

Speaking of mowing the lawn, having your kids help out with yard work can be a great way to spend time together while getting important tasks accomplished. Painting fences, raking leaves, and hauling things in the wheelbarrow are great ways for your kid to release energy. Plus, when you’ve completed a project together, your child will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Treasure Hunt

Whether it’s in your backyard, at the local park, or in a forest at the end of town, a treasure hunt is a creative way to get your kid exploring in the great outdoors, moving their body, and having an awesome time. Your treasure hunt could have an educational theme, like finding and solving math problems to get the next clue or learning about American Presidents with each treasure found.

 

Kids with ADD/ADHD are constantly being told to calm down and sit still. So getting them outdoors where they can move their bodies and explore will not only calm their hyperactivity and impulsiveness, but will also make them feel better about themselves.

If you or a loved one has a child that has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

Not Just a Phase: Signs You May Have Adult ADHD

In the fast-paced world we live in today, it’s easy for anyone to become forgetful or get distracted. But for adults with ADHD, their difficulty maintaining attention negatively impacts their life in numerous ways. Problems begin to surface at work, in relationships, and at home. If you’re concerned you may have ADHD, here are some signs to look out for.

Can’t Relax
The ADHD sufferer’s hyperactivity and/or restlessness makes it difficult for them to relax. If you have ADHD, you may find frequently it difficult or almost impossible to do things that require a quiet mind, such as staying seated during an entire movie or meditating.

Trouble Concentrating
If you’re easily distracted or have trouble focusing on simple tasks, this is a sign you may have ADHD. Your difficulty concentrating may cause problems at work such as not paying attention in meetings, or problems in relationships because you’re distracted during conversations.

Lack of Organization
Responsibilities such as your career, maintaining your home, paying bills on time, and caring for children and/or aging parents can become unmanageable for adults with ADHD. Your difficulty staying organized can cause problems such as misplaced documents at work, or lights being shut off from unpaid bills.

Procrastination
If you find yourself often running late, missing deadlines at work, and piling up laundry in your room, these symptoms of procrastination are signs you may have ADHD. Adults with ADHD tend to procrastinate because of their distractibility, difficulty focusing, and trouble handling mundane tasks.

Bad Temperament
If you have angry outbursts, then find yourself immediately over it while your friend or loved one is still reeling from the exchange, this is a sign that you may have ADHD.

Impulsivity and Risk Taking
Adults with ADHD tend to take risks and be impulsive. You might buy something expensive on a whim, have unprotected sex, drive recklessly, or blurt out thoughts that hurt or offend others. If you find yourself acting on impulse without taking account of possible repercussions, this is a sign that you may have ADHD.

Although ADHD is oftentimes self-diagnosable, it’s important to consult with a trained mental health professional. Some of the symptoms of ADHD such as trouble concentrating and risk taking are also associated with bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental health issues. Getting the right diagnosis is an important first step for your road to wellness.

If you think you may have ADHD and would like to consult with a licensed and experienced mental health professional, contact my office today so we can schedule an appointment.

5 Tricks to Managing Your Everyday ADHD

If you’re an adult struggling to cope with ADHD, everyday life can present you with various challenges. You may have difficulty managing work and personal relationships, meeting demands at work and at home, as well as taking care of your own health and well-being. If you’re in need of some tips to help you manage daily life with your ADHD, below are five strategies you can start using today.

1. Watch the Clock
Becoming more mindful of the time will help immensely in managing your day-to-day symptoms. When you start tasks or chores, make note of the time; write it down or say it aloud if needed. You can also stay aware of the time by always wearing a wristwatch. Take note of areas in your home where you may spend a lot of time without realizing it, such as your garage, bathroom, or living room. Instead of relying on small appliance clocks that are easy to ignore (such as on the microwave or the cable box), buy a large wall clock and place it in a highly visible location.

2. Use Timers and Reminders
Use your smart phone to set timers when you start tasks. You can also use your smart phone to set reminders to yourself.

3. Make a Priority List
Keep a list handy for tasks and chores, and be sure to list them by priority: the most important things get done first. For lower priority tasks, schedule to do them after your higher priority tasks are complete. Set a reminder to review your priority list each morning, before you check voicemail or email. When you receive tasks from others, schedule them right away according to your priority list, rather than theirs.

4. Remove or Manage Time Sinks
If you find yourself checking email, news/gossip sites, blogs, or social media too frequently, uninstall or move app shortcuts around to make them harder to access. For websites or computer games/applications, delete shortcuts or bury the shortcut in a folder so it’s more difficult to get to.

5. Give Yourself Extra Time
When figuring how long it will take to complete a task, add 10 minutes on to the time to allow yourself extra time to get things done. Plan to arrive at work and other functions 10 to 15 minutes earlier to avoid being late.

Although there’s no cure for ADHD, there are many things you can do to manage it. By developing healthy habits, you’ll find that handling daily challenges will become second nature.

For additional help, you can find many resources (such as articles, apps, podcasts, and webinars) to help you manage your ADHD at www.ADDitudemag.com, and at add.org/resources.

If you’re having trouble managing your ADHD and would like some guidance from a licensed, trained professional, call my office today so we can set up an appointment to talk.

The ADD / ADHD Cookbook: Help Balance Your Brain With Food

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, you may be wondering if what you eat has any impact on how you feel or your disorder. The answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!”

Modern science is now proving that diet contributes to many of the major diseases we encounter in life such as heart disease and type II diabetes. One of the findings is how food affects inflammation in the body, inflammation being the root cause of all disease.

Inflammation can also affect the brain, and many health experts are now making a connection between diet and diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression, and ADD/ADHD.

Yes, that’s right – your diet does affect your/your loved one’s ADD or ADHD. Which means the extra boost to your treatment that you’ve been looking for has been hiding in your fridge all this time.

With this in mind, let’s talk about what you should… and should NOT be eating if you have ADD/ADHD:

AVOID

Sugar

The more we find out about this white substance, the more it starts to feel like none of us should be eating it. Excessive sugar intake can tamper with the reward pathways in the brain that are involved in drug addiction. Many believe it can also tamper with the hyperactivity trigger. Sugar also causes erratic blood sugar levels, which cause dramatic mood swings in some people.

Besides the obvious culprits like candy, cookies, and soda, it’s also important to avoid most packaged foods, which often have high amounts of hidden sugars. This includes condiments, soups, and cereal.

Colorants and Other Additives

Colorants and other additives are meant to make our food look more appealing or last longer on store shelves, but many people believe that these substances also contribute to inflammation in the body.

As with sugar, a good rule of thumb is to avoid prepackaged foods as much as possible. Artificial drinks are a big culprit. Always read labels and when you see the word “flavor” or “flavored” anywhere on the package, the safest bet is to set the package back down and walk away.

Common Food Allergens

Many children and adults have allergies or sensitivities to foods that contain gluten, wheat, corn, and soy. These have been associated with inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Consider getting officially tested for these sensitivities and allergies with your doctor to see if there are any other foods that should be personally avoided.

EAT MORE

Protein

Are you eating enough protein? Most people simply don’t get enough into their diet. Protein is not only responsible for building muscle, but also building and repairing every tissue, organ, and even hormones.

Research has also shown that ADD/ADHD symptoms are caused by an imbalance in the catecholaminergic systems in the brain areas that control memory, motor functioning and emotional regulation. The two most abundant catecholamines in the brain are the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Both of these are derived from the amino acid tyrosine and amino acids are derived from proteins, so make sure to get enough into your diet from sources such as lean meats, eggs, and nuts.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are important to anyone for a variety of reasons. They reduce inflammation and also help to transmit brain signals. Health experts have also linked ADHD to an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. You can increase your omega-3 consumption by eating cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna.

If you have a kiddo that doesn’t like the taste of fish, consider a quality omega-3 supplement. It’s true that the less expensive supplements can occasionally have a harmless fishy smell, but through trial and error or asking a pharmacist you’ll quickly find that there are many options available that are no more offensive smelling than household aspirin.

B Vitamins

Remember those neurotransmitters I just mentioned in the section about protein? B vitamins actually help to synthesize those neurotransmitters. You can eat all the protein in the world but if you are deficient in B vitamins, you won’t get the full benefits. While foods like fish, meat, and eggs are excellent sources of B vitamins, most health experts agree supplementation is the easiest and most effective way to get enough into your body.

 

After adjusting your diet, if you feel you need some extra help getting your ADD/ADHD symptoms under control, please reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.

The ADD / ADHD Cookbook: Help Balance Your Brain with Food

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, you may be wondering if what you eat has any impact on how you feel or your disorder. The answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!”

Modern science is now proving that diet contributes to many of the major diseases we encounter in life such as heart disease and type II diabetes. One of the findings is how food affects inflammation in the body, inflammation being the root cause of all disease.

Inflammation can also affect the brain, and many health experts are now making a connection between diet and diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression, and ADD/ADHD.

Yes, that’s right – your diet does affect your/your loved one’s ADD or ADHD. Which means the extra boost to your treatment that you’ve been looking for has been hiding in your fridge all this time.

With this in mind, let’s talk about what you should… and should NOT be eating if you have ADD/ADHD:

AVOID

Sugar

The more we find out about this white substance, the more it starts to feel like none of us should be eating it. Excessive sugar intake can tamper with the reward pathways in the brain that are involved in drug addiction. Many believe it can also tamper with the hyperactivity trigger. Sugar also causes erratic blood sugar levels, which cause dramatic mood swings in some people.

Besides the obvious culprits like candy, cookies, and soda, it’s also important to avoid most packaged foods, which often have high amounts of hidden sugars. This includes condiments, soups, and cereal.

Colorants and Other Additives

Colorants and other additives are meant to make our food look more appealing or last longer on store shelves, but many people believe that these substances also contribute to inflammation in the body.

As with sugar, a good rule of thumb is to avoid prepackaged foods as much as possible. Artificial drinks are a big culprit. Always read labels and when you see the word “flavor” or “flavored” anywhere on the package, the safest bet is to set the package back down and walk away.

Common Food Allergens

Many children and adults have allergies or sensitivities to foods that contain gluten, wheat, corn, and soy. These have been associated with inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Consider getting officially tested for these sensitivities and allergies with your doctor to see if there are any other foods that should be personally avoided.

EAT MORE

Protein

Are you eating enough protein? Most people simply don’t get enough into their diet. Protein is not only responsible for building muscle, but also building and repairing every tissue, organ, and even hormones.

Research has also shown that ADD/ADHD symptoms are caused by an imbalance in the catecholaminergic systems in the brain areas that control memory, motor functioning and emotional regulation. The two most abundant catecholamines in the brain are the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Both of these are derived from the amino acid tyrosine and amino acids are derived from proteins, so make sure to get enough into your diet from sources such as lean meats, eggs, and nuts.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are important to anyone for a variety of reasons. They reduce inflammation and also help to transmit brain signals. Health experts have also linked ADHD to an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. You can increase your omega-3 consumption by eating cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna.

If you have a kiddo that doesn’t like the taste of fish, consider a quality omega-3 supplement. It’s true that the less expensive supplements can occasionally have a harmless fishy smell, but through trial and error or asking a pharmacist you’ll quickly find that there are many options available that are no more offensive smelling than household aspirin.

B Vitamins

Remember those neurotransmitters I just mentioned in the section about protein? B vitamins actually help to synthesize those neurotransmitters. You can eat all the protein in the world but if you are deficient in B vitamins, you won’t get the full benefits. While foods like fish, meat, and eggs are excellent sources of B vitamins, most health experts agree supplementation is the easiest and most effective way to get enough into your body.

 

After adjusting your diet, if you feel you need some extra help getting your ADD/ADHD symptoms under control, please reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.