Tag Archives: Appetite

Consider A Medication Vacation For Your Child

Summer’s here and the time is right for taking a vacation.

Whether it be a (and I can’t believe I’m about to use this word) stay cation at home or a vacation somewhere less-than exotic, most of us look forward to a few days off work so we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

But what about your ADHD child? Most school-age ADHD children take some form of medication to help them alleviate the symptoms of distraction or hyperactivity. These medications allow those taking them to sit still and think straight for long enough that they can actually learn something  in the classroom and during homework.

ADHD medication, whether it be stimulant-based or otherwise, is designed to do one thing: alter behavior. The medication is supposed to allow the child to behave in a more situationally correct manner and it achieves this by suppressing natural behaviors.

Taken out of context, that probably sounds like a horrible idea. It’s only when we begin considering that the natural behaviors are counter productive and disruptive both socially and academically that we understand changing the natural order is, in this case, a good thing.

However, change does not come without a cost. Consider the child who doesn’t take her medication one morning. More often than not, she will come home from school in a foul mood, cross and angry with the world. This is because her brain no longer has its expected pharmaceutical buffer supporting her cognitive processes.

It’s jagged and jarring and can make life difficult for both the ADHD child and anyone around him.

And yet, here I am suggesting that you might want to consider taking your child off her medications during the summer. While I might still be considered an idiot by some, I’m on the right track with this idea.

I will say, as a sort of fair warning, the pediatrician our young dudes still see does not believe in medication vacation for summer as a matter of course. However, there are certain circumstances under which she will give her go ahead.

You might consider a medication vacation as a way of assessing whether your child can do without medication for good. Because children are growing, the effect medication has on them will change over time. It could be that your child would do better on a different medication or no medication at all.

The only way to figure that out is to stop the current medication. ADHD isn’t something you age out of. However, some folks with the disorder can find ways to circumvent the disorder so they won’t need the medication.

A lot of that has to do with maturity. When younger, most kids don’t have the mental discipline necessary to do what needs to be done to help them overcome the hardships imposed by ADHD.

You might also want to consider a medication vacation if your child has been suffering from side effects, such as a loss of appetite. Within days, you’ll discover that most kids will begin eating more once they no longer are taking their medication. This could help them catch up on their necessary weight gain.

If you do give your little dudette a medication vacation, understand that it’s not on a whim. It’s a good idea to assess the success or failure of the vacation as summer winds to a close.

It could be that impulse-control issues without medication made it a difficult time. Or you might notice that your child is exhibiting more defiance when off the medications. Regardless, it’s a good idea to sit down with your child, your partner and the child’s doctor to discuss what you learned during the vacation.

This information can be invaluable as you begin to plan for the school year ahead.

The main thing I want you dudes to take away from this is that you should never stand pat when it comes to your child’s health and welfare. They’re growing and changing all the time, which means your approach must be constantly evaluated to see if it can be changed or should stay the same.

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Hands In The Air: This Is A Sleep Up!

Dudes and dudettes need sleep.

I know this isn’t a big revelation or anything here, but it’s important that we establish this baseline. We do need sleep. And probably a lot more of it than we’re willing to give ourselves.

Research shows that most people require seven or eight hours of sleep to function optimally. Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten your life. From infancy to old age, the effects of inadequate sleep can profoundly affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health.

According to sleep specialists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, among others, a number of bodily systems are negatively affected by inadequate sleep: the heart, lungs and kidneys; appetite, metabolism and weight control; immune function and disease resistance; sensitivity to pain; reaction time; mood; and brain function.

See? I told you so. Not that I want to get all high and mighty here, dudes. Because, after all, I’m probably one of the worst offenders, let me tell you. I get up around 0645 every morning, or at least every weekday morning when I was working at Awesome Elementary School. Unfortunately, I rarely got to bed before midnight the night before. Add in time spent falling asleep and, there you go, I’m down in the 6.5-hour range.

And I know I need more than that.

When I started reading that list of organ systems that could be adversely affected by a lack of sleep in a Personal Health column by Jane E. Brody in The New York Times, I started feeling it all. Each and every single symptom. All at once. Dizzying, I tell you. Or was that one of the symptoms?

Poor sleep is also a risk factor for depression and substance abuse, especially among people with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Anne Germain, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. People with PTSD tend to relive their trauma when they try to sleep, which keeps their brains in a heightened state of alertness.

Dr. Germain is studying what happens in the brains of sleeping veterans with PTSD in hopes of developing more effective treatments for them and for people with lesser degrees of stress that interfere with a good night’s sleep.

I’m pretty sure you don’t have to have PTSD to make horrible sleep a risk factor for substance abuse and depression. I can tell you, and I’m sure you know if you’ve ever slept as badly as I tend to do, I feel horrible the next day. And, when you consistently feel horrible, that’s a pretty good recipe for being depressed about your situation.

So what’s the solution?

Seriously? You had to ask?

It’s get more sleep. Even though that might be hard, it’s the best recommendation you can have for increasing your health and making you feel better.

Timothy H. Monk, who directs the Human Chronobiology Research Program at Western Psychiatric . . .  is finding that many are helped by standard behavioral treatments for insomnia, like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding late-in-day naps and caffeine, and reducing distractions from light, noise and pets.

See that? Don’t nap late in the day. Stay away from caffeine during the afternoon and sleep in a (metaphorical) cave, far from noise and pets.

Easy enough to say. Now we’ve just got to get it done.

See you dudes on the other side.

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It’s Gotta Be Juuuuusssstttt Right

by Richard

So, there I was, sitting in my chair, facing the television, when I realized I had no idea what was going on up there and I’d reread the same page in the book at least four times. I was tired.

I toddled off to bed, secure in the knowledge that I surely would be getting enough sleep to feel rested and refreshed the next day. That was around midnight and I had to get up before 7 am the next day. Thinking back, no, I wasn’t getting enough sleep.

Turns out, that’s not a good thing. Especially if you do it on a consistent basis. Keep cutting yourself short in the zzzzzz department and you’re going to be no good to yourself, no good to your sigot and definitely no good to the little dudes and dudettes running around the house. And it’s not just about mood, either.

Sleep is the critical element that allows you to attain success in your peak performance, weight loss and longevity goals. No matter how clean you eat or how often you exercise, if you’re chronically sleep-deprived and stressed, or if you’re not getting regular quality sleep, you’re sabotaging your efforts.

Sleep deprivation has profound effects on hormones that control metabolism, appetite, mood, concentration, memory retention, and cravings. It is associated with high blood pressure, elevated stress hormone levels, irregular heartbeat, and compromised immune function, and it drastically increases your risk for obesity and heart disease. Results from the 2004-2006 U.S. National Health Interview Survey indicated that adults who usually slept less than six hours were much more likely to smoke, drink more than five glasses of alcohol, not exercise, and be obese. Interestingly, adults who slept more than nine hours also engaged in these unhealthy behaviors.

But the question rises, then, why is a lack of sleep bad for us? Just as we need to know: Why is too much sleep bad for us?

We’re not really sure about it. Sorry. But here’s a bit about what’s going on. Your body has a lot of cryptochromes, a lot of very ancient proteins concentrated in your eyes and skin. They are sensitive to the blues of dawn and dusk. When stimulated, they signal the body to stop producing serotonin, which has been keeping you going all day, and produce, instead, melatonin, which helps you get a good night’s sleep. In the morning, the pineal gland reverses the process, thanks to the cryptochromes.

That’s your natural sleep rhythm. You know what really disrupts this cycle? Artificial lights. Seems that being exposed to a lot of that will disrupt the way your body balances serotonin and melatonin.

So, here’s a bit of an idea. About 30 minutes or so before you go to bed, try lowering the light levels in your room. Get your body used to the change between daylight and night. Don’t make it as sudden as flicking a switch.

You never know. You might actually feel good in the morning. Sure, that’ll be different, but sometimes different is good.

 

 

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