Adult ADHD (It's not just for children).

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It used to be that ADHD was a condition associated with the young. You probably remember kids like this from your school days: The one who has trouble paying attention in class, falls off his chair (ADHD is more common in boys), fidgets, is hyperactive, disorganized, impulsive and unruly. They’ll grow out of it.  They’ll calm down and change. That's what we all thought.

But that’s not altogether true.

ADHD can persist, following you into adulthood. And it usually does.

About five percent of U.S. adults have ADHD. That number might be much higher, but since few adults get diagnosed or treated for it, we’ll never know. Many people don’t even know they have it - all they do know is that every day can be a challenge in getting things done and following through with tasks. They may write those off to common age-related memory lapses, or assume their plates are just too overloaded and blame multitasking. And many times, ADHD can be confused with the symptoms of other conditions, particularly anxiety and mood disorders.

Though the symptoms of ADHD can change in severity and character and people can learn to adjust and cope, ADHD doesn’t go away just because you’re a grownup.

Most people do not outgrow it, says Dr. Russell A. Barkley, author of “ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says.” In a New York Times blog, Barkley says that ADHD is  likely to persist into adulthood, especially if you’ve had severe symptoms as a child, or if you’ve suffered from depression or other forms of mental illnesses along with the ADHD.

There is no one test that can definitely diagnose ADHD – but, there are classic symptoms. And while it’s somewhat normal for all of us to have some of these behaviors (who hasn’t felt the compulsion to fidget, or had the impulse to do some retail therapy?), it’s the person with more severe symptoms that falls into the ADHD category – especially when it interferes with the quality of their life, their job or their self-esteem.

Think you might have adult ADHD? See if any of these sound familiar:

  • You have trouble following directions
  • You find it difficult to retain information
  • You can’t concentrate
  • It’s a challenge to finish work on time
  • You're impulsive
  • You’re disorganized
  • You have problems prioritizing tasks, and following through
  • You often feel restless or move around a lot
  • Your tolerance for frustration is low
  • You have trouble coping with stress
  • You have a “hot” temper

Whether it's caused by genes, the environment (lead exposure as a child is a risk factor), or problems with the development of your central nervous system, ADHD is treatable – though not curable - through medication, education, learning new skills and psychological counseling, says the Mayo Clinic.

A recent study finds that mindfulness meditation can be an effective complementary approach to add to your arsenal of ADHD treatment. It certainly can’t help you if you’d rather not take medications like Strattera or Vyvanse, and are looking for something a bit more natural and mellow.


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Five Things to Know About Complementary & Alternative Medicine

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Maybe popping a pill is so not your thing...or perhaps you're not getting pain or stress relief through traditional or conventional medicine.

There could be another option: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), an approach used by about four in ten adults and about one in nine children in the U.S. Sometimes, complementary medicine is combined with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, is used in place of conventional medicine. And integrative medicine uses both conventional and CAM treatments.

In our quest for good health, many of us might overlook this field that’s gaining acceptance and is growing each year. Perhaps it’s because you don’t have a full understanding of what it is. Or maybe you think it’s a sham; or worse, an ineffective or harmful sham.

Ok, so what is it?

CAM is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Think non-mainstream, natural products like herbs, vitamins, minerals and probiotics. Think mind and body practices like yoga, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, massage therapy, meditation, acupuncture and relaxation techniques. And then there are things like tai chi, qi gong, healing touch, hypnotherapy and movement therapy like Pilates, Alexander technique and Feldenkrais method.

Just a few days ago, the American College of Physicians updated their guidelines for the treatment of lower back pain, changing their recommendations which previously suggested medication as a first-line therapy. Now, they say, try alternative therapies like acupuncture, exercise, massage therapy or yoga. 

With so many choices on the menu, how do you choose? Here are some of the most popular, with the information you need to pick one (or more)to please every palate:

1. Acupuncture. One of the oldest healing practices in the world and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine, this involves stimulating specific points on the body. If the word “needle” sends chills up your spine, you needn’t be frightened: these are hair-thin (not at all like hypodermic needles that deliver vaccines and other shots), about the diameter of a human hair. It is said that the sensations people feel is the qi, or energy, becoming unblocked. The thin needles penetrate the skin and are manipulated either by hand or electrical stimulation.

 Research shows acupuncture to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting following surgery and chemotherapy. It can also be effective in relieving chronic pain, especially back and neck pain, osteoarthritis/knee pain and headaches. Acupuncture is generally considered to be a safe practice – but make sure to find a well-trained practitioner who uses sterile needles. In most states, they must have a license, certification or registration to practice. If you’re lucky, you may have an insurance carrier who covers the cost of treatment.

2. Yoga. Yoga’s got deep roots in ancient Indian philosophy, merging physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation and/or relaxation. It can help with chronic low-back pain, according to studies, and reap other health benefits like lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and help relieve anxiety and depression. That downward dog and tree pose also go a long way toward giving you a more flexible body; and toward stronger muscles and bone strength, too.

3. Meditation. Never underestimate the power of your mind – meditation can interact with your body to create calm and a deep state of relaxation. Done correctly, it can focus your mind and shut off that endless stream of “noise” in your head - something that can be mighty challenging, especially in these fraught times.

4. Chiropractic/Osteopathic Manipulation. A misaligned spine can wreak havoc on your body, interfering with your nervous system, impacting your immune system and adversely affecting your health. That’s the chiropractic philosophy, which focuses primarily on your body’s structures and systems – like bones, joints, circulatory and lymphatic systems – through spinal manipulation and massage therapy to reduce pain and stress, induce relaxation and help with pain relief.

5. Natural Products. Count herbal medicines (or botanicals), vitamins, minerals and probiotics among the types of products that CAM-users turn to. The NIH reports fish oil/omega 3, glucosamine (for joint pain), Echinacea (for upper respiratory problems, colds, urinary tract infections and slow-healing wounds) and flaxseed (to lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar) to be top of the list in popularity.

Note: The safety and effectiveness of many CAM therapies is sometimes uncertain. That’s why you should be mindful in choosing a CAM practitioner, and make sure to inform your healthcare professional of any CAM practices you are using, since they can, in some cases, interfere and interact with medications or other supplements.