I will start off with a baffling statistic that my doctor told me about yesterday.
The Mayo clinic has done research on children that were treated successfully with ADHD stimulants. Out of the study, 25% of those kids actually had a sleep disorder instead of ADHD.
Does that surprise you? It surprised me. If they were treated successfully with stimulants, then don’t they have ADHD? Well, the stimulants helped them during the day to stay alert and more focused because they weren’t getting the deep sleep or regular sleep cycles they needed at night. These kids were damn tired. My doctor said these same kids will be 5x’s more likely to have a chemical addiction sometime in their life because they were treated with possibly addicting stimulants when in actuality – they had a sleep disorder instead. If I were a parent of a kid being treated for ADHD – I would get my kid in quickly for a sleep study. What have you got to lose?
Can you see where i’m headed here with my own ADD issues? Yep, that’s right. After all this testing the doctor determined quite a few findings and because of a few discrepancies - they don’t add up to ADD.
Here is what he found:
1. My brain wave scan showed that the back of my brain showed Delta (or sleep waves) and that I was either highly doped up on drugs/alcohol OR that I may have a sleep disorder. (well, having kids will do that to you.) I rarely use alcohol and never use drugs, so the latter is probably true.
2. The center of my brain showed major Beta (or anxiety/concentration) waves, but he said my ratio of Beta 1 to Beta 3 was WAY off – so I have a very, very overactive brain! Therefore stimulants are not for me. The neurologist reported that it showed anxiety, excessive worry, rumination and vigilance.
3. My body is taking a big hit physically from all the Beta activity because it can mean high anxiety, fight-flight-freeze, and major levels of cortisol, hormones, and adrenaline are being released too easily because of how I am wired. All of this is affecting my major strengths – Visual memory and attention. Not good. I can’t even draw enough from my strengths because of all this Beta activity buzzing.
4. I tested very high on the depression/anxiety scales – he was very concerned about that and wants me to seriously consider going back on an SSRI. I’m not so fond of that idea, but i’m going to really think about it. He says that I don’t have enough feedback from other adults – I don’t have a feedback loop and that my world is getting smaller and smaller. It’s a social anxiety thing and I know it.
5. My IQ showed that I am highly intelligent (thankfully) and that I have “learned well” – up to my IQ’s potential. He said that if it was ADD – that there would be a difference between my IQ and how well I learn new things. My biggest strength was in the visual memory category. Weaknesses were Auditory processing and a possible math learning disability.
Some of his recommendations (and I will be getting a 15-20 page written report with all of this info) is:
1. starting a regimen of high quality Omega 3′s – he suggested the brand Omega Brite, as it is manufactured in a facility using nitrogen and each capsule is individually sealed for optimum quality.
2. Purchasing a little biofeedback machine from a company called Heart Math. It’s a little portable machine that I can use when I am stressed or anxious that will give me feedback and retrain my brain to not release the fight/flight/freeze response so easily. The model of the machine is called “EM Wave”. Go to www.heartmath.com
3. Daily excersize to even out my anxiety and moods. He said that there’s a great book out by John Ratey called “SPARK”. It talks all about excersize and how it does what NO drug can do. For people that do have ADD – it helps you wake up your brain and focus and for those of us with Depression/Anxiety – it calms us down to help us focus.
4. I need to make an appointment to have a Sleep Study done to see if there is anything else going on with my sleep patterns/cycles that have nothing to do with being up with children at night.
5. He recommended that my husband and I both read another book called “Brain Lock“. It explains how people with the Singulet issues in the brain (where you have a hard time switching gears and moving from one activity to another) can overcome and learn how to unlock those gears. There is a process in the book, step by step on how to do it and my husband needs to read it too – so he can try it with me.
6. He wants me to get some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – learning how to retrain my brain to not crave negative thoughts for stimulation. Supposedly some brains that are sleepy look for stimulation. Unfortunately positive thoughts are not stimulating enough, but negative thoughts are – so my brain has been on a beating frenzy for years telling myself that I’m stupid, a fuck-up, etc… nice, huh? He said he was reviewing and going over and over my forms, records, etc and he said that he just couldn’t understand why I was so damn hard on myself, that I couldn’t accept that my brain was wired a little differently and that I just needed to accept a little help.
7. He recommended that I look for a volunteer position where I feel confident and could do something that I really enjoy. I said ART would be great – so I am going to look for a volunteer position where I can maybe help out kids with disabilities with art. He wants me to do this about 3 hours/week. I need to expand my “feedback loop” so my social anxiety doesn’t get worse. I fear that one day - I may not ever want to leave the house – thankfully I’m not there yet, but I could see how that might happen.
I’m sorry if I’ve disapointed those of you that may have been following my blog, but hopefully you can gain some insight from it. You may have ADD, or you may not. Seriously consider a sleep study before going on any meds.
My doctor never mentioned ADD during the whole appointment, so at the end I finally asked “So, does all of this add up to ADD??” - and he said no and explained all the reasons why. He felt I wasn’t lacking in dopamine in my brain’s frontal cortex and also because of my IQ vs. how well I learn - there wasn’t enough discrepancy. Also, the neurologist has a ‘marker’ for ADD and I didn’t fall in that category afer she reviewed my brain wave scan.
But he said a lot of my symptoms/behaviors ARE consistent with an attentional disorder.
I have a lot of work to do … and it’s overwhelming, but I am satisfied with the final outcome and I hope that I can implement these changes and that I will be able to see a difference in my life.
I’m supposed to go back to the clinic in 6 months and they will test me again on attention to see where I’m at.
If you are interested in learning more about the clinic I went to – shoot me a comment and I will forward the information off in an email.