We read a great article by Dr. David Williams discussing the possible reasons for the astronomical rise in ADHD and Bipolar disorder in our children. He also discussed alternative treatments for parents who would like to avoid using medication. The following is a summary of what we learned:
Prevalence of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder:
- Some studies estimate 1 in 10 children has been diagnosed with ADHD. Some say as many as 15% of all boys and 6% of all girls have the problem. Others say as many as 20% of all school-aged children have ADHD. (Am J Public Health 99;89:1359–1364)
- The number of young people being treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold in the United States between 1994 and 2003. (Arch Gen Psychiatry 07;64(9):1032–1039)
Big Pharma to the “Rescue”:
- Insurance reimbursement is skewed in favor of medication. Dr. Williams spoke with many psychiatrists who say insurance companies pay them three times the money for “checking and adjusting” a child’s medication than they do for spending the same amount of time counseling them.
- Children are being prescribed powerful mind-altering drugs at a time when their central nervous systems are still developing. No one yet knows the true damage or future consequences of such risky practices.
- Children are being given the same drugs as adults—drugs that have been shown to have very serious side effects like diabetes, hormonal disruption, infertility, significant weight gain, and blood disorders. Additionally, it has been proven that these drugs can cause the very same problems they are being given to treat—problems like hyperactivity, depression, insomnia, and psychosis.
- There are no blood tests or brain scans that can definitively confirm a diagnosis of either condition. The diagnosis becomes a subjective judgment call.
- Mainstream doctors feel that diet, nutrition, and the child’s home environment have little, if anything, to do with the disorders.
- Parents are told the best thing they can do is focus on pharmaceutical ways to immediately help the child until the medical community discovers more about the problems.
What does Dr. Williams Think is Causing the Rise in ADHD and Bipolar Disorder?
- According to Dr. Williams, practically every case of ADHD and bipolar disorder can be directly linked to dietary/nutritional, hormonal, or environmental factors. Or, most commonly, a combination of these.
- The environmental factor Dr. Williams believes most often triggers ADHD or Bipolar disorder is the increase in fear/stress for today’s youth.
How Does Fear/Stress Contribute?
- Chronic stress takes a physiological toll on the adrenal glands. In response to stress, the adrenals release several hormones—one of which is cortisol. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels by counteracting the effects of insulin, suppresses the immune system, and helps metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- These are all things that help increase your body’s ability to “fight or flee” and survive when confronted with stress.
- When the stress passes, cortisol levels return to normal and the body relaxes.
- But, in a chronically high-stress situation, levels don’t return to normal and we begin to experience many negative effects. The same effects you’ll recognize as being diagnostic markers for ADHD and bipolar disorder:
- Impaired cognitive performance (mental performance suffers)
- Blood sugar levels are imbalanced (swings in mood and energy levels, craving for carbohydrates)
- Decreased immunity (allergies, increased susceptibility to illness, slower wound healing)
- Thyroid dysfunction (weight gain or weight loss, fluctuating energy levels, depression, skin diseases)
- Sodium loss (craving for salt, increased blood pressure)
- Increased abdominal fat (metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes)
- Some kids deal with stress by internalizing it which causes them to become numb and have difficulty concentrating or paying attention. They can become pessimistic, depressed, and lose interest in those things that they once valued.
- Other children use action to deal with their fears. They act out and exhibit hostility toward others in an attempt to regain control of their life. They refuse to cooperate with parents, teachers, and other authority figures. They get busier and busier trying to outpace their fears, but their hyperactivity becomes less focused and less useful. It’s as though their minds need to be constantly stimulated so there’s no idle time available to concentrate on the fear or stress at hand.
- The two patterns are the same characteristics exhibited by children being diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder.
Dietary/Nutritional and Hormonal Factors Contributing to ADHD and Bipolar Disorder:
- Two of the most common underlying problems directly associated with ADHD and Bipolar disorder are weak and poorly functioning adrenal glands (hypoadrenia) and poor blood sugar control (typically hypoglycemia).
- That’s why cutting caffeine (an adrenal stimulant), high-fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates (white flour, cereals, sugar, candy, fruit juices, sodas, etc.) from the diet and replacing those with nutrient-dense foods higher in protein and fat often makes such a huge difference.
- Fats are crucial for normal growth and the development of children’s nervous and other systems. Eating quality fats doesn’t make one fat…refined carbohydrates do. Children need to eat the proper amount of healthy fats like olive oil, beef, butter, and lamb.
- Other things that help include: eating more frequent but smaller meals throughout the day, not skipping meals, and eating high-quality protein snacks like nuts, peanut butter, cheese, whey powder, and avocados.
- Vitamins and nutrients have been shown to help resolve ADHD and bipolar disorder. This includes several of the B vitamins, zinc, folic acid, chromium, iron, vitamins A, C, D, and E, and magnesium.
- He also recommends: protein shakes with lecithin (choline) granules, adrenal glandular, thyroid glandular, and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Dr. Williams does not want to downplay the seriousness and the difficulty of dealing with either ADHD or bipolar disorder. For the child and the family, both can be a nightmare.
- There may be cases where either the type of changes he has discussed won’t solve the problem, or the underlying cause can’t be determined.
- He believes some of these disorders have a contributing genetic basis, maybe from a mother’s drug use or the child’s earlier exposure to some toxin. These cases may require medication.
- However, based on research studies, his experiences and that of hundreds of other practitioners, he thinks that is more of the exception than the rule.
We believe this article applies equally well to autism. After all, it is at the opposite end of the spectrum from ADHD. We believe reducing stress, eating a healthy/balanced diet, and adding supplements can make improvements in the symptoms of autism as well.
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