, , , ,

Strategies for Better Heart-Brain Communication

Your heart has a mind of its own… Kinda. While it may sound cliche to “follow your heart,” there may be truth in the phrase.

It turns out, according to recent research, that there is ongoing communication between the heart and brain that has a heavy influence on how we think and feel.

The Heart-Brain Connection

We’ve had proof that the heart communicates with the brain in significant ways as early as the 1960s. In 1991, Dr. J Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain”, describing the heart as a complex intrinsic nervous system that is somewhat a brain of its own.

Research in the psychocardiology and neurocardiology field still has tons to learn, though consistencies in studies tell us quite a bit about the heart-brain connection.

Here’s what we currently know about the “heart brain”:

  • The heart starts beating before our brain has been formed
  • The emotional brain develops far before the logical brain
  • The heart has its own complex nervous system that is independent of the brain
  • The hearts nervous system is in constant communication with the brain
  • Signals from the heart synchronize with and direct many bodily systems
  • The heart makes many decisions on its own

Because of the early development of the heart and emotional brain, stress and emotions seem to have a strong connection.

This is to no surprise as we have known for decades that things like smoking, hypertension, PTSD, and emotional stress are closely linked risk factors for heart disease and strokes.

How the Heart Processes Emotions

In stressful situations, our bodies release adrenaline in a fight-or-flight response. This adrenaline increases heart rate and blood pressure and also signals blood platelets to release neuropeptide Y which can obstruct arteries in the heart.

Even emotional stress, such as a breakup, can cause abnormal contractions in the left ventricle of the heart — causing (quite literally) a broken heart.

Strategies for a healthy, happy “heart brain”

How do we leverage what we know about heart-brain communication? After all, controlling the thoughts of our minds can prove difficult enough. So, can you really control how your heart communicates with the rest of the body and mind?

To some extent yes. While the heart is an autonomous organ, we can take care of it in a number of ways.

It turns out, many things that make us smile and more appreciative of life also make our hearts happier.

Try the strategies below to make the best of your internal heart-brain communication.

Relaxation Practices

Relaxation techniques can have a surprising positive cardiovascular effect. There are a number of techniques that can achieve serotonin-boosted relaxation. A number of popular relaxation activities include mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises.

Yoga has actually proven to be a mood stabilizer and stress reducer by raising levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. And both Yoga and meditative practices have shown to increase serotonin — a crucial neurotransmitter in regulating mood.

Another technique is making a subtle change to the way you think about and talk to yourself. That internal monologue you hear all day makes a difference in how you feel.

Be mindful of negative thoughts and negative emotions; then channel positive energy to transform those thoughts into positive ones.

Comic Relief and Laughter

It doesn’t take a neurologist to know that happiness is a common result of laughter.

When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which in turn releases nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Laughter also loosens blood vessels and can lower signs of aging within them.

Exercise is another great way to stimulate endorphin release, as well as other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. If you’re looking for stress relief, there are no better ways to cool down to exercise and crack a few jokes.

Listening to “Dope” Music

Ever listened to a song and got chills? That pleasurable feeling is a consequence of dopamine release when listening to or anticipating your favorite music.

Listening to music has been known to reduce anxiety. This may be linked to the nostalgic connection music often has in our lives. Our favorite songs are often neurologically linked to positive feelings from our younger years when our brains are still in rapid development.

There does seem to be a correlation between what type of music is more mood-boosting than others. Studies have shown that upbeat music is proven to improve happiness in as little as two weeks, whereas non-positive-sounding music does not have the same effect.

A hug a day

… Keeps the doctor away!

Physical encounters like hugging or other forms of touch are known to release the hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin.

Oxytocin lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It has also been shown to directly prevent heart tissue death (which results in heart failure). Human studies have even shown intranasal oxytocin to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve mental stress test scores. It even showed to reduce chronic pain.

Taking Care of the Heart Brain

Taking care of the mind and body is always a good idea. We tend to either focus on either our mental health or our physical health, typically not both at the same time. And rather than react to a time of needed change, it’s always better to act proactively and preventatively.

Science has made it clear that taking care of the heart and brain are among the most important things we can do to prolong our lives and make for a happier self.

Sources

  1. Miller M. (2019). Emotional Rescue: The Heart-Brain Connection. Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science, 2019, cer-05-19.
  2. Armour, A. J., Dr. (n.d.). Chapter 01: Heart-Brain Communication. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/heart-brain-communication/
  3. HeartMath Institute. (2015, March 03). Heart Intelligence. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-intelligence/
  4. Halaris, A., MD. (2018, September 20). Psychocardiology: Understanding the Heart-Brain Connection: Part 1. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychocardiology-understanding-heart-brain-connection-part-1
  5. Silvani Alessandro, Calandra-Buonaura Giovanna, Dampney Roger A. L. and Cortelli Pietro 2016 Brain–heart interactions: physiology and clinical implications Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A.3742015018120150181
    http://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2015.0181
  6. Yuna L. Ferguson & Kennon M. Sheldon (2013) Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8:1, 23-33, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2012.747000
, , , , , ,

Why Spending Time Alone Is Good For Your Mental Health

Did you know that spending time alone can help you improve your quality of life?

Alone time is something that people either enjoy or fear. Unfortunately, many people struggle with being alone because they’re unsure of what to do.

While being alone can seem daunting, alone time benefits people in many ways if they know how to take advantage of it.

Here at Solara Mental Health, we regularly help people turn their lives around by changing how they think about being alone. We’ll outline why spending time alone is essential so you can also live a better life.

Read on to learn about how to spend time alone and the benefits of doing so.

The Benefits of Alone Time

When spending time alone, many people find it difficult to see what the benefits are. However, you can reap the benefits of alone time if you know how to approach things.

One of the main things we want people to understand is that being alone isn’t the same as loneliness. Alone time is simply time spent away from others, whereas loneliness is the feeling of being without someone.

Voluntarily spending time away from others can allow you to do the following:

Self-Reflect

When you’re constantly interacting with others, it can be challenging to think about yourself. However, self-reflection is crucial if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, as it also comes with many benefits.

Alone time will make it much easier to self-reflect because you won’t be focusing on others. Approach self-reflection with a positive mindset and use the time to improve yourself as a person.

Become More Productive

Alone time benefits those that are looking to get things done. If you’re never alone, you’ll have a hard time doing anything productive (unless it requires others).

Spending time alone will give you the chance to complete that project you’ve been putting off. The sooner you get things done, the quicker you can go back to being social.

Focus on Health

Similar to self-reflection, spending time alone lets people focus on improving their health. Whether it’s physically or mentally, alone time will ensure you can eliminate toxicity in your life and allow yourself to “reset.”

During alone time, think about the foods and beverages you have when surrounded by others. Not only will an unhealthy diet negatively affect your physical health, but it can also affect your mental health. Things like depression caused by a poor diet can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, even when around others.

Find Comfort

If you’re someone that struggles with loneliness, spending time alone can help you learn how to find comfort when away from others.

Those who are afraid of being alone often feel that way because they’re unsure how to use their time. If you can learn how to get the most out of being alone, you can have more control over your life. The comfort that comes with accepting alone time will increase your overall happiness.

How to Get the Most Out of Being Alone

Learning how to spend time alone isn’t difficult; you’ll just need to use that appropriately. If you find that being alone isn’t comforting, you can fill up that time with things to do. Whether it’s work or school obligations, exercise, or hobbies, doing activities will help.

Getting the most out of being alone can be done by planning your alone time and eliminating distractions. Here’s how to do that:

Plan Everything

It’s easy to feel lonely when you have nothing to do, and no one’s around. This can be prevented by thoroughly planning how your days will go.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, your entire day should be planned, including the time you’ll dedicate to doing nothing. While it may seem excessive, it’ll help you stay active, so you don’t end up feeling lonely.

Creating structure in your life will make the time spent alone more enjoyable, especially if you don’t go out much. If you’re someone that actively hangs out with others, you’ll eventually start cherishing the time you get to yourself.

Get Rid of Distractions

Aside from planning your day, you must eliminate distractions if you’d like to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Distractions can prevent you from getting things done, which will make you feel worse if you’re alone.

Whenever you’re working on something, you should never start browsing social media or random things on the internet. Instead, leave your phone in another room and consider getting something that’ll block certain websites so you can work productively.

Another type of distraction is thinking about negative things. For example, you may be watching TV, and a negative thought may cross your mind. Instantly you want to go down the rabbit hole; next thing you know, your upset with yourself because your thoughts took you to a dark place.

Reframe your thoughts and put your thoughts into perspective. Stop the train of thought you are going down and tell yourself out loud that what you’re doing is not right. This will strengthen your mind in order to take control of your thoughts.

It’s best to be engaged with something as often as possible. You’ll notice that relaxing after a long day of work is enjoyable, even if you’re by yourself. This is because you’ve gotten the most out of being alone.

Start Spending Time Alone More Often

With all of this information, you’re ready to reap the benefits of alone time. All you must do is start spending more time alone to get a better understanding of what exactly makes you feel lonely.

We encourage you to prioritize obligations to make your days more satisfying. If you still feel lonely after getting everything done, you can pick up some hobbies to keep your mind off things.

If you’re having a hard time in life, contact us to learn about how we can help you.

, , , , ,

Recognizing and Understanding the Cycle of Abuse

Abuse can be hard to understand and recognize, especially when you’re not familiar with the cycle of abuse and how it works. However, knowing this information could potentially save you or someone else’s life! 

If you’re struggling with abuse and mental health problems, then keep reading to learn more about this serious topic. 

Cycle of Abuse

This four-part cycle helps distinguish certain behaviors and patterns that abusive partners tend to have. By knowing these patterns of abuse, you can better protect yourself in future and current relationships. 

The four-part cycle starts with tension building, then an incident where abuse or violence takes place. After that, reconciliation is made, followed by a calm state. This tragic cycle repeats itself over and over again until the victim becomes worn down.

1. Tension Building

Tension building can be brought on by anything. Some of the triggers for an abusive partner are fatigue, overworking, being hungry, and other family issues.

The abusive partner will then begin to show signs of anger, fear, and feeling unempowered in the relationship. The tension that builds up as a result of these feelings can weigh heavily on you.

You might try to find a peaceful resolution. However, there may not be a solution until the abusive partner feels in control again.

Because of this, you might start feeling anxious and even scared. It is considered emotional abuse. Often, abusive partners use this tactic to inflict pain on others. 

2. Incidents of Abuse or Violence

Once the abuser has reached the breaking point, they will externalize these feelings. Abusers will use physical and verbal tactics to gain back control.

For example, they won’t allow you to wear certain clothes, or they’ll make you cut off communication with family and friends. Sometimes these tactics turn into sexual and physical aggressions. 

It is the most dangerous stage of the cycle. In fact, a recent report stated that six women die every hour as a result of domestic violence.

3. Reconciliation 

This stage in an abusive relationship can be very confusing. Often, the victim thinks that the abuse has stopped because the abuser has calmed down.

The abuser will start to show the victim their preferred love language like gift-giving or physical touch. Unfortunately, this “honeymoon” stage only lasts for a little bit.  

Often, those in a normal relationship don’t understand why the victim “doesn’t just leave.” For starters, the victim might not be physically or financially able to leave the relationship. 

The abuser might also hurt them for trying.

Most importantly, mental abuse causes a shift in a person’s brain chemistry. During the “honeymoon” stage, the victim’s brain releases oxytocin and dopamine.

Often, the victim is longing for this gratification, but the abusive partner will withhold affection to gain control. This causes the victim to stay and chase this feeling of “happiness.”

4. Calm State

During the calm state, the abuser will try and justify their abuse by apologizing. However, the apology is never sincere. It is really just a tactic to make the victim think the abuse won’t happen again.

The abuser will also blame their actions on others or sometimes the victim.

Here are some examples:

  • “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you made me mad.”
  • “Sorry for snapping you earlier; it’s just my job has been stressing me out.”
  • “The only reason I hit you was because you were provoking me.”
  • “I didn’t even hit you that hard; you should get over it.”

After their apology, the abuser will convince the victim that it won’t happen again. They might try to manipulate you by making the situation seem smaller.

You might start doubting yourself and think that you were dramatic. And slowly, you start believing that your partner will change. 

How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?

This cycle of abuse can leave someone with permanent damage. Many times battered women and men show symptoms of PTSD.

This mental disorder can bring on intense feelings of anxiety and paranoia, even if the victim has left the relationship. Over time, being in an abusive relationship can diminish someone’s self-worth and confidence.

It happens because the abuser is constantly attacking them and making them feel less than them. The abuser will use this tactic to wear down an individual not to seek happiness outside of the relationship.

Battered women and men are also likely to develop depression and suicidal ideations. Overall, being in an abusive relationship can deteriorate someone’s mental health. That’s why it’s essential to get help immediately!

Gaslighting and Manipulation 

Gaslighting and manipulation go hand in hand with the four stages of abuse. For starters, gaslighting is a form of lying by creating a false reality. 

For example, if a person finds their spouse cheating on them and the abuser outright denies the accusations, this is considered gaslighting. 

This tactic makes the victim’s reality and perception unclear. Often, the victim will feel “crazy,” but just because they don’t know what’s real and fake anymore. 

Manipulation is similar to gaslighting. For example, an abuser will try and control a situation by providing false information or showing empathy. Nevertheless, the abuser is doing this to establish control over a person.

Red Flags to Look Out For

All of the abuse mentioned doesn’t necessarily begin at the start of a relationship. Sometimes abusers will withhold these strong emotions and actions until they feel secure. 

However, there are minor signs that you should look out for during the start of a relationship. For example, love bombing is when a partner shows a lot of attention and affection during the first few weeks of being together.

It may seem normal at first, but this will progress at an unusual pace. The abuser might tell you they love you and that they want you to meet their family.

The problem with love bombing is that when the abuser has “locked” you down, they begin to withhold love. Love bombing eventually turns into a cycle of abuse.

Living Your Truth 

Abusive relationships can leave you feeling hopeless. But knowing the cycle of abuse can give you back some power! If you or a loved one is struggling with an abusive relationship, get help immediately!

If you have any more questions, contact us today to receive more information on our different services!

,

What’s the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Part III

adult adhd symptoms and treatment

Image courtesy of USMC

Adult ADHD. If you’ve been reading along with this article series, you know by now that it’s a thing. This is the third in a series of articles on recognizing Adult ADHD, and more on how to most effectively address it.

Our previous two articles in this series (Part I and Part II) addressed the origins of ADHD going from childhood to adulthood, common symptoms and classifications thereof (inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness), as well as known/suspected causes, and types of the disorder (ADHD/Inattentive Type, ADHD/Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and Combined ADHD Type). In this series finale article, we will cover practical ways to recognize, seek treatment, and follow up with your Adult ADHD treatment plan.

About 4% to 5% of adults in the United States have gone from childhood to adulthood with the disorder, but relatively few of them ever get diagnosed and/or treated for it. Below is a more detailed look at what Adult ADHD really looks like.

Review of Adult ADHD Symptoms

Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with one or more of the following, and not yet be aware of their condition:

 

  • Concentrating
  • Remembering/retaining information
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Organizing tasks
  • Following directions

This list of potential challenges that accompany ADHD for an individual is not exhaustive, but it’s easy to see how such challenges would create problems in more than one area of someone’s life: home, work/school, relationships, etc. As mentioned before, ADHD is treatable and manageable, and those with the disorder can adapt appropriately and lead successful, satisfying lives.

ADHD-related Complications

As touched upon in Part II of this series, other consistent, ongoing problems that may manifest themselves for an adult with ADHD include:

  • Severe boredom/disillusionment with life
  • Low self-esteem/difficulty with social acceptance
  • Repeated tardiness/forgetfulness
  • Procrastination
  • Impatience/anger management problems
  • Lack of ambition/motivation
  • Underachievement/underperformance
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Impulsiveness/behavioral problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficulty staying at any job for long

Some individuals with ADHD may be able to concentrate on something that really interests them, or get enthused/motivated about some project or other. Others with ADHD may have trouble concentrating/focusing frequently. Some seek out stimulation, while others avoid it. Some are introverted and withdrawn, while others are very social. Symptoms may be significant or slight, they may occur often or infrequently—every case is unique.

Additional problems

Individuals with ADHD can also be prone to:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Get in more auto accidents/get more speeding/traffic tickets
  • Have difficulty managing time/finances
  • Have more marital/relationship problems
  • Higher rates of breakups/separations/divorces
  • Multiple failed marriages

Adult ADHD Diagnosis

If you suspect that you might possibly have ADHD as an adult, you should seek out a professional opinion by a trusted referral. Ideally, the mental health professional you consult will have experience with ADHD diagnoses and treatment.

Your mental health professional might consider:

 

  • Sending you to get a physical examination, to eliminate the possibility that another condition other than ADHD is causing your symptoms (e.g., a learning disability, mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc.)
  • Performing and analyzing thorough blood work
  • Getting as much information as possible regarding your alcohol and drug use
  • Performing or referring you for psychological tests
  • An in-depth interview about your medical/family history to gather as much data as possible (ADHD does seem to have a driving genetic component)

 

The jury might still be out regarding at what precise age ADHD can reliably be diagnosed at first, but mental health professionals and experts will all agree that no one has ever been known to suddenly develop the disorder as an adult. Your clinician will likely “dig deep” regarding what you remember about your social adjustment, academic performance, how well you got along (or didn’t) with friends and siblings, as well as other behavioral patterns you had as a child. He or she may even consult with your parents to be thorough.

Adult ADHD Treatment

If your clinician does indicate that you have ADHD, the opportunity will present itself for him or her to develop a customized treatment plan – such a plan may include therapy and medication, as well as getting you educated on the subject, getting you up to speed with management tactics, and helping you enroll your family for moral support.

By following this treatment plan, you will be able to find creative ways to navigate your daily life more effectively, and moving forward in this manner, in and of itself, should give you a huge boost in confidence right away.  It will be of great benefit to you to take your mental health professional’s advice to heart and to follow his or her directives (i.e., consistency in taking medication as prescribed, practicing tools and techniques, etc.). Any side effects or setbacks you notice should be reported to your clinician right away.

Adult ADHD Medication

  • Stimulants – stimulant medications (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, Focalin, Dexedrine, etc.) are commonly used to treat ADHD in adults with a good success rate. Though stimulants can be successful in treatment, they can also be addictive, they can be difficult to remember to take daily for someone with ADHD, and they can lead to other unhealthy habits, such as drinking an alcoholic beverage in the evening to “unwind.”
  • Non-Stimulants –Your clinician might possibly prescribe a non-stimulant (e.g., Kapvay, Strattera, Intuniv).for you to take on its own, or in conjunction with a stimulant.

Therapy and Other Behavioral Treatments

Your clinician and you might consider some combination of the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a “psycho-social” approach directed at improving mental health. CBT helps condition the individual to develop an awareness of and to challenge counterproductive attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs about oneself. Throughout the process, the individual learns to develop and integrate healthier coping strategies and problem-solving skills. It is a powerful self-esteem booster.
  • Stress Management Training/Relaxation Techniques. Learning how to manage stress and relax in healthy ways can help lower anxiety, stress, and other physiological problems (e.g., high blood pressure, problems sleeping, obesity).  
  • Life/Career coaching and mentoring. If you feel uncomfortable setting and achieving goals, maybe you need to consult with someone who can help you challenge yourself more. A coach/mentor can help you learn to set and reach goals, as well as to improve productivity, organizational skills, and performance in critical areas of your life, including in the development of meaningful and healthy relationships with others.
  • Educating your support group. For your family and friends to better be able to support you throughout your treatment and on, it will help to get them up to speed on what ADHD is, and on how they can help and support you better.

Additional Practices

Take note and see if you can’t start implementing some of the following to get yourself going right away:

  • Get organized. Start with daily to-do lists (you don’t need to kill yourself, just be consistent), and get in the habit of getting them knocked out every day. Start using a planner, or a scheduling app on your phone; take notes to help you remember important tasks and events. Set reminders.
  • Eliminate distractions. Loud music, television, noisy environments. Learn how to focus better on where you are and on what you’re doing by minimizing distractions in your environment.
  • Deep, meditative breathing. Individuals with ADHD often have relationship problems with others because they are impatient in conversation, ineffective listeners, they can often do counterproductive things impulsively without considering consequences, etc. Teach yourself impulse control and to “slow down” through the practice of awareness breathing meditation. As you get more practiced at this, you will see your impulsive tendencies gradually melt away.
  • Burn off excess energy. Start exercising or take up a hobby to help you get in the habit of directing your energy toward filling your time with more productive pursuits and choices.
  • Learn to ask for help when you need it. No one can possibly know how to do everything, and we all need help from time to time. You shouldn’t ever be afraid or ashamed of asking your clinician or someone in your support group for help. Maybe you need help minimizing invasive/irrational thoughts, or need some ideas to help you fill your time with more creative and productive habits. Just ask.

Are you concerned about living with ADHD as an adult? Not to worry. It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

,

What’s the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Part II

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder causes

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

How do you know if you have ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? What makes this condition recognizable for an adult?

This is the second in a series of articles on recognizing ADHD in yourself as an adult, its main causes, proper diagnosis, and suggestions regarding how to address it.

As mentioned in our previous article, individuals with the disorder show a consistent pattern of three different categories of symptoms:

  • Inattention (difficulty paying attention)
  • Hyperactivity (being overactive)
  • Impulsiveness (acting without weighing consequences)

In addition to the categories of symptoms, there are also three types of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that some combination of the above symptom categories would designate an individual as: ADHD/Inattentive Type, ADHD/Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and Combined ADHD Type. This article will discuss some causes of the disorder, diagnoses, and treatment. For more information regarding the three types of ADHD, and the primary symptoms of each one, please refer to the previous article in this series.

Causes of ADHD           
The exact cause of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not yet known. Many issues in childhood can lead to difficulty sustaining attention, though that wouldn’t necessarily be considered to be the same as ADHD. For one, sugar consumption has long been suspected of being a cause of inattention and/or hyperactivity, though there’s no research-based evidence that would support this possibility.

Factors that may affect the development of ADHD can be:

  • The mix of genetics that makes the development of ADHD likely can certainly run in a family.
  • Problems in the central nervous system at certain significant moments during development are considered to be likely as a contributive factor.
  • Some environmental factors (e.g., exposure to lead often found in paint and pipes in older buildings) can likely increase the risks.

This list of possible causes of ADHD is not exhaustive, and the study of the condition continues. Maternal drug use, alcohol use, and/or smoking during pregnancy as well as premature birth are considered to be additional possible risk factors.

Additional concerns
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can make life fraught with problems for children, then later as adolescents, and even later as adults. Individuals with ADHD often:

  • Are frequently known to be more accident- and injury-prone than others who do not have ADHD
  • Struggle with poor self-esteem and lack of feeling socially accepted
  • Struggle to pay attention, which may lead to a subpar performance in work and other life endeavors, resulting in subsequent prejudice by other adults
  • Have shown an increased risk for a predisposition to abuse alcohol and/or drugs as well as other antisocial behavior

Other conditions
ADHD doesn’t spark other problems psychological, developmental, or otherwise. But individuals with ADHD are more likely than others to also grapple with conditions such as:

  • Anxiety disorders –which can cause overwhelming worry, insecurity, and/or nervousness
  • Depression – very common for individuals with ADHD
  • Learning disabilities –that include problems with comprehension and communicating confidently
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorderindicated by heightened irritability and problems coping with frustration
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – which is typically recognized as a pattern of negative, defiant, and hostile behavioral patterns toward authority figures
  • Conduct disorder – characterized by antisocial behavior
  • Bipolar disorder – a combination of depression coupled with manic behavior
  • Tourette’s syndromeknown as a neurological disorder reflected by repetitive muscle or vocal tics.

ADHD Diagnosis
No single test exists that can be reliably used to diagnose attention-deficit hyperactive disorder. As mentioned in our previous article, ADHD is typically diagnosed initially when a child consistently exhibits a majority or all of the recognized symptoms consistently for more than six months.

For a reliable diagnosis, you should receive a full physical, including screenings for vision and hearing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System, a non-invasive cerebral scan meant to monitor theta and beta brain waves. The theta/beta ratio will typically be higher for individuals with attention-deficit hyperactive disorder than for those without.

A comprehensive medical history should also be taken into account to screen for additional conditions that could be affecting you. ADHD-like symptoms and behaviors that can help determine whether you have ADHD or something else includes:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Problems sleeping
  • Unrecognized seizures
  • Recent significant life changes (such as the death of someone close to you, death of a long-time pet, divorce, moving)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

As previously mentioned in our last article, even though ADHD symptoms more often than not begin during childhood, hyperactivity will often diminish as a child grows into adolescence. Common symptoms (problems with paying attention, poor impulse control, and disorganization) may persist through an individual’s teens, on through college, and into adulthood. In the next article in the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder series, we will discuss Adult ADHD in more depth.

Do you feel you might have ADHD as an adult? It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

,

What’s the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

 

What's the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

How do you know if you have ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? What makes this condition recognizable?

This is the first of a series of articles on recognizing ADHD as an adult, the disorder’s backstory, and how to address it.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that makes it difficult for an individual to pay attention, follow the thread of a conversation, and reign in impulsive behaviors. He or she may also be restless, reckless, and virtually always active. Note that even though symptoms of ADHD typically begin during childhood, hyperactivity will often minimize as a child grows into adolescence. However, common symptoms (problems with paying attention, poor impulse control, and disorganization) are also frequently seen to persist through an individual’s teens, on through college, and into adulthood.

Individuals with ADHD show a consistent pattern of three different categories of symptoms:

  • Inattention (difficulty paying attention)
  • Hyperactivity (being overactive)
  • Impulsiveness (acting without thinking)

Three Primary Types of ADHD

ADHD/Inattentive Type (previously known simply as ADD)Individuals with this type the disorder typically get first labeled as children as dreamers, spacy, ditzy, unmotivated, lazy, unambitious, etc. One common trait is repeated forgetfulness (leaving things behind and/or losing them), and frequent “zoning out” in meetings or during conversations. He or she might miss an exit going home and not realize it for quite a while. An ADHD-prone individual may also run out of gas after forgetting to fill up during the work week. Friendships may suffer because the individual forgets get-togethers, or may wander past others without noticing them. Why? Because his or her mind is preoccupied with other things. This type of the disorder is the second most common type.

Maybe you’ve wondered if you have ADHD or perhaps something else. There is no blood or imaging test to diagnose the disorder, though if an individual as a child consistently showed signs of six of the following nine symptoms for more than six months (and on into adulthood), there’s a good chance for an ADHD/inattentive type diagnosis. Here is a frequently used ADHD checklist:

  1. Very easily distracted and sidetracked
  2. “Spacey” and forgetful throughout the day’s activities
  3. Will often avoid activities that take a lot of mental effort for long periods of time
  4. Doesn’t seem to pay attention when spoken to directly
  5. Frequently has a hard time staying on one task until completion
  6. Careless, sloppy, pays little attention to instructions and details
  7. Often loses materials and/or paperwork required for work and/or activities
  8. Typically disregards instructions, and does not follow through on chores or homework (usually because of a lack of comprehension, not out of rebellion).
  9. Has difficulty with organization and tidiness

ADHD/Hyperactive-Impulsive TypeThis type is far less common in children, though this type of the disorder typically manifests the type of behaviors most associated with ADHD. Only about 5 percent of with the disorder are classified as this type, and usually signs of ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive will have been recognized by the time a child is of preschool age. Most of the other ADHD diagnoses will be of the inattentive type, or the combined type.

Hyperactive/Impulsive individuals when children are typically viewed as “bratty,” obnoxious, unruly, wild, ill-behaved, etc. A hyperactive individual may have been very likeable as a child, but may have been considered to be an incorrigible “class clown.” Individuals who grow up with this type of ADHD are often thrill-seekers, restlessly active, etc. As children they may have grabbed toys from other children and/or refused to share long after classmates had learned the concept. Hyperactive child may have frequently continued to play at recess in school after the bell rang to go back inside, and may have frequently pretended not to hear parents and teachers. It would come as no surprise to see them push other children, yell, frighten/intimidate others, etc. Hyperactive-Impulsive children were most often those that would not nap, sit still, or stop disturbing a class by talking to others–they were often seen as “problem children.”

Your child grown into an adult with the hyperactive-impulsive disorder would likely have shown six of the following nine symptoms consistently over six months, many of which would have carried forward into adulthood:

  1. Frequent trouble doing leisure activities quietly
  2. Is ever on the go (think of someone being “driven by a motor”)
  3. Is a “pushy” driver, having difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  4. Talks excessively, rapidly
  5. “Fidgety” or “bouncy” with hands and feet, squirmy while seated
  6. Frequently stands up from sitting
  7. Excessively restless at inappropriate times
  8. Interrupts others/blurts out responses before the other person finishes talking
  9. Intrusive and “pushy” personality

Combined ADHD Type: Inattentive and Hyperactive-impulsiveThis type of ADHD is by far the most common, with obvious symptoms of both types. Keep in mind that not all individuals with ADHD display the full list of symptoms – someone with ADHD may have shown all the symptoms of one type, or several from each.

Some combination of the above symptoms need to have been consistently present for at least six months, symptoms need to have been made manifest before the age of seven years and been more pronouncedly manifest than childhood peers of the same age, and symptoms need to have consistently persisted through adolescence and adulthood.

In the next article in our ADHD series, we will discuss known causes of the condition, diagnoses, and treatment.

Are you concerned about the possibility that you may have ADHD? It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.