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ADHD by James Greenblatt, M.D.
Natural Individualized Multi-Modal Treatment Plans ADHD is the most recent name for a complex neuro-biological disorder which can occur in children, adolescents, or adults. Symptoms usually include difficulty with attention, concentration, memory, organization, and. for some, impulsivity, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and relationship problems. There is a wide range of behaviors associated with ADHD. Variability of symptoms is a hallmark of this disorder.
Diagnosis and Assessment
There is no one test for diagnosing ADHD. A comprehensive evaluation by experienced professionals is necessary to rule out the presence of other conditions. Learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, oppositional behaviors, and other psychiatric or medical disorders may coexist with ADHD.
The Importance of Treatment
Without treatment, ADHD can lead to profound distress at school, work, or home, resulting in academic or professional failures, poor social skills, low-self-esteem, depression, anti-social behaviors, or substance abuse.
Individuality & Variability
It is important to emphasize that every case of ADHD is unique. Biological, psychological, and social factors can all work together to, create an individualized symptom picture. Genetic predisposition, brain wave or neuro- chemical imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, family and school dynamics, and emotional stressors may be involved. For this reason, it is best to design a treatment plan able to address specific individual needs.
A multidisciplinary, multimodal approach is believed to provide the most effective treatment for ADHD. This includes options for both conventional medical and alternative therapies, with behavioral management, nutritional modifications, parent training, and individual, family, or group therapy, and medication as needed.
Symptoms of ADHD often improve through the use of medications. The most common are stimulant drugs, particularly Ritalin and Dexedrine. With the right choice of medication at the correct dosage for a particular individual, many report significant symptom improvement. Other medications are also prescribed. Unfortunately, none of these medications treat the biochemical or neurological imbalances underlying ADHD, and many have side effects.
Natural & Alternative Therapies
Many forms of alternative treatment have been effective in resolving, symptoms of ADHD without reliance on long-term use of medications. These therapies work to rebalance the brain neurochemistry in a variety of ways.
EEG Biofeedback is computerized training which teaches children and adults to recognize and control specific brain waves. Researchers have found that those with ADHD have an abundance of Theta waves (associated with daydreaming and inattentiveness and lowered levels of Beta waves (associated with concentration and focus). Through a series of training sessions, EEG Biofeedback helps individuals learn to control these brain wave patterns and their behaviors.
Brain function and neurochemistry is very sensitive to the intake of nutrients through diet. The need for specific nutrients can vary greatly, with some individuals requiring much higher or lower amounts of certain foods or food components. Further research in this area is needed, but many doctors and patients report long-term improvements following the application of dietary changes and/or nutritional supplementation. Those with symptoms of ADHD should be assessed through blood work and nutritional analysis to see if the following factors have an impact on their disorder,
- Food Allergies/ Sensitivities
- Carbohydrate Sensitivity
- Essential Fatty Acid Imbalances
- Protein/Amino Acid Deficiencies
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
- Free Radical Damage
- Sensitivity to Sugars or Caffeine
- Sensitivity to Food Additives
- Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Each of these areas may have a powerful effect on symptoms. For example, the removal of a wheat or dairy allergen for a sensitive individual, or the addition of the correct form and dose of an essential fatty acid can lead to far-reaching positive changes in brain chemistry, function, and associated behaviors.
Blood Chemistry Analysis
Standard blood chemistry profiles currently used by general practitioners are not able to provide a full picture of a patient's health status. New biochemical laboratory tests, using computerized databases, can now provide detailed information on bodily systems and nutritional status. Such a blood analysis helps the doctor to understand how to best treat and rebalance the biochemistry of a particular patient, through changes in diet, elimination of allergens, or the addition of missing nutrients.
Dr. Greenblatt writes:
"I have learned many things from the thousands of families and children I have worked with over the years. The most significant lesson I relearn with every patient is how complex our uniqueness really is. This concept of individuality extends beyond looks, intelligence and personality. This individuality defines our core metabolism and biochemistry. This unique metabolic puzzle supports our ability to pay attention, inhibit unwanted behaviors and regulate our moods.
"In children and adults suffering from ADHD, we have found profound nutrient deficiencies and biochemical abnormalities. The science is now available to explore these unique metabolic profiles and begin to understand our individualized biochemical fingerprints. Treating the underlying biochemistry addresses the core of the problem. I believe this is preferable to only providing temporary relief of symptoms through medication."
In his workshops and seminars on Natural Therapies for ADD and Depression, Dr. Greenblatt offers detailed information on nutritional influences for neuropsychological disorders. These workshops review the scientific research supporting nutritional and alternative therapies, and address the interests of medical professional, mental health practitioners, teachers, patients and family members.
Dr. Greenblatt is available for individual consultation and has a private practice in psychiatry in Newton Centre, Massachusetts where he is the medical director of Comprehensive Psychiatric Resources, Inc.
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