For some people, it certainly does! It’s important to recognize that in three to five per cent of the population, a brain scan, often due to genetics, will reveal lowered cortical activity in the prefrontal area of the brain causing symptoms of impulsivity, distractibility, and inattentiveness. That’s when the right kind of medication and behavioral intervention is effective. We’ve been fooled into thinking, however, that ADHD is more prevalent than it is by the increasing number of people who look like they could use a chill pill. The symptoms are real, no question, but the causes are misunderstood. When we ignore causes and treat symptoms with medication only, we can end up with years of consequences in the form of debilitating side effects: loss of sleep, increased anxiety, irritability, and moodiness.
The point of this controversial yet extremely important new book is that the way we are living our lives today is responsible for the development and chronicity of so many difficult symptoms. When the author, Richard Saul, who is also a neurologist, asked his patients to make changes to their lifestyle, insomnia, hyperactivity, lack of focus, and poor task performance went away. Such challenging behaviors were replaced with a better capacity to fall and stay asleep, improved concentration, achievement, and greater ease.
When we see doctors with lists of symptoms and ask for a prescription, we miss a great opportunity to make changes to underlying causes that will prevent the side effects that have the potential to gravely harm us in the long term. Please try these drug-free changes before considering medication (and remember, we need to engage in new behaviors 21 to 28 times before they will begin to feel natural, easy, and automatic for us. In other words, don’t give up too soon!):
1. Turn off your technological gadgets earlier in the evening.
2. Work fewer hours. Productivity is best when work hours are capped. Learn what your healthy cap is and stick to it.
3. Exercise more, and make it as fun as you can.
4. Consume far less coffee, sugar, and alcohol.
5. Get more sleep. If you need to have blackout blinds, wear earplugs, an eye-patch or listen to a sound machine, do so! We all need more sleep.
6. Don’t forget to do 60 Seconds to make all of these changes easier to make.
When stress is out of balance, when we are not limiting stressful activities, and not spending enough time engaged in sensory experiences that sooth and rejuvenate, we get into trouble. If you’re not sure how to start with finding more balance, start with a fun, informative read in The 60 Seconds Fix.