The journal Pediatrics published research today that suggests — pretty strongly — that physical activity is important for kids who have ADHD because it increases executive control and inhibition, much in the way that ADHD medications do. Exercise: Possibly the best thing for all mental health?
No word as to how it affects adult ADHD, but I’d wager that it’s also beneficial. James Hamblin at The Atlantic raises a really important point about how we treat kids with ADHD:
“‘If physical activity is established as an effective intervention for ADHD,” they continued, “it will also be important to address possible complementary effects of physical activity and existing treatment strategies …’ Which is a kind of phenomenal degree of reservation compared to the haste with which millions of kids have been introduced to amphetamines and other stimulants to address said ADHD. The number of prescriptions increased from 34.8 to 48.4 million between 2007 and 2011 alone. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars in recent years while school exercise initiatives have enjoyed no such spoils of entrepreneurialism.”
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For pretty much my whole life, I’ve been a huge slob. We’re talking gigantic piles of clothes on the floor, dirty dishes all over the house, disgusting bathroom, “What is a duster and how do you use it?” levels of slobbery. I have ADD, and I always found it nearly impossible to focus long enough to clean something up, let alone maintain any semblance of organization. A couple years ago, I decided I was tired of my apartment looking like a frat house, so I made a commitment to change my behavior. I read this book, which is amazing and highly recommended. I learned to work with my ADD instead of against it. I consciously created a bunch of new organizing systems and cleaning habits. Today, I feel like an ADD success story. I’m still no neat freak (dusting will never be my thing), but I clean my house pretty much every day, willingly, and – gasp! — I enjoy it. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that might help you, too:
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When people find out I take Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they often want to know what that feels like. What makes my brain different from theirs? I have a really hard time answering that question, because A) I have no idea what goes on in their brain and how it compares to what goes on in mine and B) it’s really, really hard to explain. That’s why I’m so in love with this video by filmmaker Ryan Higa, explaining just some of the ways ADHD manifests itself in his life. Even though I know I have ADHD, I was shocked to discover just how many of these behaviors — like, 98 percent of them — are similar to my own, including things I never even realized were my ADHD at work. So THAT’s why I can memorize a phone number easily but then instantly forget it the second I start dialing! From now on, whenever anyone asks what ADHD feels like I’m sending them this video. [Laughing Squid]
When I first started taking Adderall, it wasn’t prescribed to me — it was my boyfriend’s. It was 2006, and I had a fun but creatively unfulfilling job at a men’s magazine. On the weekends, I was determined to grow a freelance career that, god willing, would allow me to quit. Freelance writing, especially when you’re starting out, involves a lot of pitching, in particular pitching editors who don’t know you. It’s a lot of coming up with ideas, proposing those ideas, and waiting, hoping and praying, that someone, anyone bites and is willing to pay you a decent sum to write it. To be a successful freelancer writer, you have to be extremely motivated and focused.
I had the motivation. But focus was out of my grasp. I felt stuck literally and mentally. And being stuck make me anxious. Keep reading »