For one of the more common mental health disorders--and increasingly becoming even more so--attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is widely misunderstood. The image of young boys bouncing off the walls still defines this condition for so many of us, yet this presentation makes up a fraction of those affected and what variables are actually at play.
Nearly 10% of American children (more than 6 million) have been formally diagnosed with ADHD (CDC, 2018). Persisting into adulthood, approximately 10 million adults are knowingly affected (CHADD, n.d.). On top of that, people with ADHD often have comorbid (coexisting) mental health conditions. The most prevalent comorbidities, particularly for women, include anxiety and depression. We also see addiction, rejection sensitive dysphoria, and behavior and conduct issues, such as oppositional defiant disorder, among others. It’s not uncommon for the diagnosis of ADHD to be missed, especially in girls and women, and the person may be misdiagnosed with, and subsequently medicated for, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or something else.
As the diagnosis and awareness of ADHD continues to rise, so have the questions around why that is. Evidence suggests there are a myriad of factors, including increased awareness and recognition, increased biological vulnerabilities, and sociological factors, such as chaotic households and increased childhood stress. Some believe we’ve developed this kind of society-driven reaction that looks similar to ADHD due to our relatively abnormal (evolutionarily speaking) lifestyles. Think about it: our day-to-day schedules consist of long, sedentary school/work hours, excessive screen time, and a lack of opportunity to engage with our creative brains, time in nature, face-to-face interpersonal interaction, and physical activity.
Common Symptoms of ADHD:
Hyperactivity (fidgeting, tapping, squirming, talking excessively, etc.)
Trouble starting and following through with tasks
Zoning out during conversations
Anxiety and/or depression
Regularly making mistakes
Executive function deficits (difficulty planning, organizing, and following through)
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, how do you know if you are someone with ADHD or are suffering with the symptoms of an overstressed, sedentary society (or both)? The answer lies in how often you’re experiencing these symptoms and how much they’re interfering with your life. If you struggle with the list of symptoms above on a regular, consistent basis and your life (i.e. career/school, relationships, home life, etc.) are being affected, it may be time for you to seek help and a diagnosis.
What Causes ADHD?
No single cause can be attributed to ADHD. There are likely several factors at play, including genetic and environmental factors (Weyandt, 2007). Conventional medicine considers 60-80% of ADHD is hereditary (Froehlich et al., 2011). That leaves up to 40% being attributed to non-genetic influences, with epigenetics suggesting factors such as diet, lifestyle, and chemical exposure influencing genetics directly. ADHD can also be influenced by sleep deprivation, exposure to toxins and heavy metals (including to the parents preconception, in utero, or directly to the child), the health habits of parents preconception, food additives and sensitivities, and nutrient deficiencies (Froehlich et al., 2011; Hvolby, 2015; Sciberras et al., 2017; Thapar et al., 2013).
With so many factors up against us, how do we stand a chance of protecting against and/or improving our lives with ADHD? Thanks to epigenetics, the key is utilizing nutrition, herbs, and lifestyle. That’s not to say we can eradicate our ADHD, but we can certainly ease and improve symptoms, thus improving our overall lives.
That all said, I’m sure some of you are thinking you’ve been programmed for failure, and are doomed to live a life of struggle. Not so fast. Thankfully, in addition to the not so fun traits of ADHD, there are a lot of very fun traits attributed to this disorder. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Have you ever shaken yourself awake in the middle of the night with a grand idea? Or loved someone fiercely? Maybe you’ve gone on spontaneous adventures without a worry in sight. Perhaps taking leaps of faith is something you do on the reg? You’re probably one of the most resilient people you know, standing up no matter how many times you’ve fallen down. A lover of trying new things, digging in and getting your hands dirty. A creative, a “magician,” a dreamer, an “ideas (wo)man?"
Folks with ADHD are some of the most creative, innovative, spontaneous, resilient, compassionate people out there. We have a strong sense of fairness; we’re passionate, driven, and persistent; we have the ability to view things from different angles, resulting in good problem-solving skills; and we’re some of the last remaining romantics out there.
Having ADHD definitely has its disadvantages, but it also comes with some pretty sweet bonuses, too. And it certainly keeps life interesting, which, at the end of the day, isn’t that all we ADHDers want? To keep it interesting?
A Bit About Me...
Lindsay Kolpitcke is a Boise native who earned her degree in Mind-Body Transformational Psychology with an emphasis in Holistic Nutrition from Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in 2014. Since then, she’s become certified in several modalities, including Brain, Health, and Life Coaching, Hypnotherapy, Neurolinguistic Programming, and Emotional Freedom Technique, in addition to being a Registered Behavior Technician. She’s also been self-studying herbalism since she was 16 years old, and enjoys the ability to work closely with herbs and other healing tools and modalities as a Shop Steward at The Vervain Collective.
Lindsay works to incorporate all facets of her training to support her clients in an integrative, holistic manner. She views the coach-client relationship as a partnership, and enjoys educating and empowering her clients so they can take their health into their own hands.
As a human with ADHD, Lindsay understands firsthand the struggles associated with this disorder. She has both personal and professional experience establishing and developing skills and techniques, and utilizing nutrition and herbs, to foster growth in this area.
You can find me @lindsaykolpitcke, playing with herbs at The Vervain Collective, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is currently under construction, so follow along with me to hear when it launches and for all other fun happenings!
To learn more about what I do and how I can support you, please schedule a complimentary consultation with me here. I'm looking forward to meeting you. Now go follow the dopamine.