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ADHD and Food
June 6, 2011 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Here are a few articles discussing Dr. Pessler's new study (.pdf). The researcher says that “food is the main cause of ADHD.”
posted by aniola (108 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm on a university campus, so I'm not sure if that .pdf will work for everybody....
posted by aniola at 12:25 PM on June 6, 2011


Worked for me, but the publishers might not like it too much.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 PM on June 6, 2011


So, what's the evil nutrient today? Carbs? Fats? Protein's due to be hated.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:33 PM on June 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Who would have thought that the chemical soup of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives we call "food" would have any negative consequences?
posted by rocket88 at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Beans must be the culprit!
posted by white_devil at 12:37 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"restricted elimination diet" consisting of foods with the least possible risk of allergic reaction – a combination of rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water

That sounds like a really nasty shake.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:37 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


“food is the main cause of ADHD.”

But if that's true, we won't be able to monetize its treatment! Therefore, it's not true! QED

Love,

Big Pharma (with an assist from the USDA)
posted by mondo dentro at 12:38 PM on June 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Geez, I wonder why children won't sit still at their desks in an artificially-lit room for 6 hours a day, doing everything at the same time as everyone else, until a bell rings setting them free to play outside?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:40 PM on June 6, 2011 [46 favorites]


It all makes so much sense! Adderall, Ritalin and Dexedrine work by taking away your appetite, causing you not to eat, giving you super-human concentration powers!
posted by nathancaswell at 12:40 PM on June 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


Well, food, and also making children sit on their asses eight hours a day.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:41 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


PDF's down for me.

That said, the BBC and Guardian articles make this seem like an irresponsibly sloppy study. There's no indication that it was a double-blind study, and seems to imply that any change to the children's diet was correlated with a positive improvement.

Also, publishing results 5 weeks into the experiment (particularly one on a high-profile topic involving children)? That seems extraordinarily reckless.

Most of the articles refer to Ritalin when referring the "evils" of prescription drugs. I'll very enthusiastically jump on the "Ritalin is bad" boat. However, I'd also caution that there are many ADD/ADHD (yes, they are different disorders) treatments available today. Almost all of them are better than Ritalin, which is rarely prescribed.

Saying that prescription ADHD meds are bad because Ritalin is bad is like saying that antidepressants are bad because Heroin was once prescribed for that purpose.

I haven't read the entire paper yet, but I'm far from impressed, especially since it's going to prompt parents to act as the doctor, and adjust their children's diets to whatever they happen to think is healthy this year. Prepare to see a sharp uptick in pear sales! It's not as bad as the antivax panic, but it's not good either.
posted by schmod at 12:41 PM on June 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Mc.carty.Tim- the article says the mechanism isn't clear and needs more replication. This seems more cautiously worded as far as results go. The samples are small enough that they could not test for much. They note no Placebo for instance.

Do they define what a "few foods" diet is? I read the article and didn't see it, but as I have ADD-PI I figure I probably missed it.
posted by scunning at 12:42 PM on June 6, 2011


Scientifically, I think this paper offers excellent evidence about another possible underlying cause of ADHD...

They clearly need a guy who randomly leaps form concept to concept all willy nilly to look over their statements and pick out little things like the fact that an "underlying cause" probably ought to be mechanistic, like maybe involving a hormone or enzyme or something and not just blah blah blah correlation blah blah foods blah blah blah allergies.

If you put me on a restriction diet I'm lible to focus more, but I'm going to be focusing on ways I can subdue you, and go out and get a pizza.

Be careful what you wish for.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


This actually a follow-up to his previous groundbreaking work, "Being Alive a Direct Precursor to Death."
posted by Panjandrum at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


So some authors find a neat effect in a tiny study with serious methodological problems and everyone loses their shit again?

So, the study itself attempted to determine whether their reasonably oppressive diet can treat ADHD. Unfortunately none of the outcome assessments were blind to treatment status; they did not include a single objective, independent assessment of impulsivity, attention or activity level. They did not look at the inattentive subtype (mine incidentally) separately, and this subtype comprised a minuscule subset of their cohort, yet the authors say “dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD”. They even admit that in their “heterogeneous sample”, “representative of the general population of children with ADHD”, only 12% were girls and only 6% had ADHD, inattentive type and 98% had behaviour problems by age 4 years. Especially with such a small (n) this is pathetic. They also only looked at children under 8, it makes sense as you can't really conduct elimination diets on older kids without a hell of a lot of effort, but they sure as hell can't say this their findings generalize to older kids.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


In conclusion, this study confirms the results of
earlier studies, that a strictly
supervised and restricted elimination diet can affect
the behaviour of some children with ADHD and may
be a valuable instrument in testing young children
with ADHD on whether dietary factors may contribute
to the manifestation of the disorder.


Short version: diet appears to be a piece of the puzzle for some kids. But don't let the actual research get in the way of your axe-grinding!
posted by Mister_A at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the journal article's discussion section:
Recent additive trials have shown that some degree
of hyperactivity, when exposed to artificial food colours
and benzoate preservatives,may be applied to all 3-year old
children, not exclusively to hyperactive children [4,
20]. This might imply that there is a general adverse
effect of additives or preservatives on the behaviour of
all young children, with a small effect size (0.18).
It makes sense, I suppose. This seems like it will be unpopular with corporate interests 1) because it's harder to market and brand basic food items that haven't been preserved and colored to hell and back, and 2) because you can sell a pill, but selling a common-sense diet is a lot harder to monetize.
posted by codacorolla at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guarrantee that if you take food away from them long enough, all of their ADHD symptoms will disappear.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:46 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm interested to see where further research on the notion that diet is behind the rise of ADHD cases, because it does seem to make sense. And didn't I read recently about a hypothesis (possibly with associated studies) that artificial colors specifically were correlated with behavioral disorders? [on preview, codacorolla has it]
posted by statolith at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2011


I'm reading the Guardian article now. It says 50 were given the treatment and 50 weren't (controls), but the article shows them starting with 79 and after selection criteria and attrition, it's 13 treated and 11 untreated. This just seems really different than what is reported.

Not going to make a big deal, but the observations strike me as far too small to act like we now know pharmacogical treatments should be avoided. This seems like the start or continuation of a research agenda, not the final word at all.
posted by scunning at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2011


For those of you without the benefit of University access, here's the abstract from the paper:

Abstract The aim of this study is to assess the efficacy of a restricted elimination diet in reducing symptoms in an unselected group of children with Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dietary studies have already shown evidence of efficacy in selected subgroups.

Twenty-seven children (mean age 6.2) who all met the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD, were assigned randomly to either an intervention group (15/27) or a waiting-list control group (12/27). Primary endpoint was the clinical response, i.e. a decrease in the symptom scores by 50% or more, at week 9 based on parent and teacher ratings on the abbreviated ten-item Conners Scale and the ADHDDSM-IV Rating Scale.

The intention-to-treat analysis showed that the number of clinical responders in the intervention group was significantly larger than that in the control group [parent ratings 11/15 (73%) versus 0/12 (0%); teacher ratings, 7/10 (70%) versus 0/7 (0%)]. The Number of ADHD criteria on the ADHD Rating Scale showed an effect size of 2.1 (cohen’s d) and a scale reduction of 69.4%. Comorbid symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder also showed a significantly greater decrease in the intervention group than it did in the control group
(cohens’s d 1.1, scale reduction 45.3%).

A strictly supervised elimination diet may be a valuable instrument in testing young children with ADHD on whether dietary factors may contribute to the manifestation of the disorder and may have a beneficial effect on the children’s behaviour.

posted by Panjandrum at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The parents and teachers who filled in the questionnaires could not be blinded as they had to
supervise the food intake of the child and knew whether the child was following an elimination diet


Uh-oh.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:49 PM on June 6, 2011 [22 favorites]


Who is Dr. Pessler? I can google and/or read the links, but a bit more context framing the post would be nice.
posted by Barking Frog at 12:50 PM on June 6, 2011


rocket88: "Who would have thought that the chemical soup of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives we call "food" would have any negative consequences?"

Until you can find scientific evidence linking specific colors, flavors, and preservatives (and mixtures thereof) to any specific health condition, comments like this are nothing more than pseudoscientific fearmongering.

Also, where do you draw the line at what's "processed" versus "natural"? It's not at all an easy distinction to make. "Processed food" has no actual definable meaning outside of vague notions of factories and laboratories. If I chop my carrots before cooking them, does that mean that they're processed? What about salt? A fairly complicated industrial process is required to produce table salt, although the end product is chemically pure and well-established as being safe to eat.

If you want to make a case against food colorings or specific preservatives, I'd love for you to do it (and do it in a specific, scientific, and controlled manner). I wholeheartedly agree that we should be doing this research, and sharply denouncing vague poorly-constructed studies such as this one.
posted by schmod at 12:50 PM on June 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


Oh, and *NODOBY* in the control group showed improvement or regression? That's enough to set off my bullshit detector right there.
posted by schmod at 12:51 PM on June 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


By the way, other things that totally help peoples' kids include homeopathy and chiropracty.

Also irritating that they didn't take out the kids with oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, presumably because they would have no kids left. Which is kinda bullshit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:51 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, other things that totally help peoples' kids include homeopathy and chiropracty.

In case I'm not being clear, I mean that according to some parents these things improve their childrens' symptoms. I can see an elimination diet having an equivalent placebo-by-proxy effect.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


> "...the article shows them starting with 79..."

The paper has an enrollment breakdown (with totals): That explains the wonky numbers.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:54 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Being Alive a Direct Precursor to Death."

Hey, how about a spoiler warning next time‽
posted by cjorgensen at 12:58 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Until you can find scientific evidence linking specific colors, flavors, and preservatives (and mixtures thereof) to any specific health condition, comments like this are nothing more than pseudoscientific fearmongering."

OO OO I can do this! (PDF) I can send you the papers it cites if you memail me an email address I can send PDFs to.

Also if you are interested in this subject, this would be a good paper to read, I'm on campus at the moment and can't tell if you would have access, but if you don't just memail me with an email address
posted by Blasdelb at 12:58 PM on June 6, 2011


Until you can find scientific evidence linking specific colors, flavors, and preservatives (and mixtures thereof) to any specific health condition, comments like this are nothing more than pseudoscientific fearmongering.

The International Journal of Toxicology seems to have one paper on the issue (for benzoic acid/YFCI Benzoate, though it only seems to address morphological changes and not behavioral ones. Haven't had any luck finding a behavioral paper, though I could have sworn there was one in a big name journal a few years back that everyone tried to ignore for some reason.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:01 PM on June 6, 2011


OO OO I can do this! (PDF) I can send you the papers it cites if you memail me an email address I can send PDFs to.

Also if you are interested in this subject, this would be a good paper to read, I'm on campus at the moment and can't tell if you would have access, but if you don't just memail me with an email address


Lovely start, but it all seems like correlation with no nitty-gritty biochemical back up. If we could regulate things based solely on very solid correlations most of the pesticides we use today would be banned. Well, most of everything we use everywhere in modern society would be scrutinized a lot more before being banned.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:04 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


“food is the main cause of ADHD.”

What, food in general, or...? Like, should I just stop eating? 'Cause I think there might be a slight chance that there could maybe be some unwanted side-effects to that course of treatment, y'know?

Or is there some specific piece of information that might make such a declaration somewhat non-worthless?

It's that I'm not eating enough Ritalin, isn't it?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2011


I'd probably cut down on a child's time spent in front of a television even with a purely rice-and-turkey diet, but that's just me.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 1:13 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Lovely start, but it all seems like correlation with no nitty-gritty biochemical back up. If we could regulate things based solely on very solid correlations most of the pesticides we use today would be banned. Well, most of everything we use everywhere in modern society would be scrutinized a lot more before being banned."

Well the challenge was specific evidence of a link, which exists, but so long as we are moving the goal posts, there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that two food color additives and sodium benzoate generate an effect while the variability we see on an epidemiological scale is due to histamine degradation gene polymorphisms.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:13 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also there are a lot of pesticides that should have been banned in the US decades ago like they are in Europe
posted by Blasdelb at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've heard about this since the 1990s, mothers who change their kids diets to include more whole unprocessed foods reporting improvements in childrens ADHD problems. See Weston A Price.
posted by stbalbach at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You will pry my Dexedrine IR from my cold, dead hands.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:16 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feeding kids less unprocessed foods seems like a no-brainer.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:18 PM on June 6, 2011


KokuRyu: "Geez, I wonder why children won't sit still at their desks in an artificially-lit room for 6 hours a day, doing everything at the same time as everyone else, until a bell rings setting them free to play outside"

Totally agreed. School (AKA "Prison for kids so parents can go to work") is a totally alien environment for children. And then we diagnose them with disorders when things don't go to plan.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:18 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


We wouldn't have this problem if they were out working the fields from dawn to dusk and eating a diet of watery gruel like the good lord intended.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Whoops, hit post too early.

The challenge is that for many families (especially during the Great Recession), healthy food choices are too expensive. For other families where parents are perhaps both working long hours to make ends meet, it can be difficult to make time to create healthy meals; it's easier to rely on processed foods.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also believe that school is training for children to get them used to spending their time indoors, doing what they're told. These are vital skills they will need later in life, when they're (a) working a crappy job or (b) in prison.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:20 PM on June 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ah, now that histidine thing is getting somewhere. Getting closer and closer to something the FDA of the 1970's/1980's might consider regulating. Nowadays? You'll need to pull a Wakefield to get anything through Congress before the science is 100% knock out, drop dead convincing to people who are paid not to be convinced by us sciencey types. And I say Congress as thats who's going to be yanking on the FDA reigns when certain companies' profits start dropping.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:22 PM on June 6, 2011


Ain't it just lovely? Especially since in the meantime we can all snark at those ignorant parents seeing what is looking like might actually be right in front of all of our faces.

I just love how when it comes to the science behind psychology and childhood development WE'RE ALL EXPERTS!! Because, of course, we're all crazy and we were all once kids
posted by Blasdelb at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2011


We wouldn't have this problem if they were out working the fields from dawn to dusk and eating a diet of watery gruel like the good lord intended.

Pfft, quit being so old-fashioned and get with the Modern Times, ya filthy luddite.

The New Way is to form them into labor gangs where they can work for our benefit in the brutal antarctic copper-smelting facilities from dawn to dusk, eating a diet comprised largely of their fallen comrades who have been forced through a fine sieve under very high pressure.
posted by aramaic at 1:26 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe global warming has something to do with it?
posted by Postroad at 1:27 PM on June 6, 2011


> Beans must be the culprit!

Hell, no. An early diet rich in beans certainly prevented me from being bullied. It may have contravened the Chemical Weapons Convention, however, and certainly would be outlawed by the Clean Air Act — but no-one took on El Skunko more than once ...
posted by scruss at 1:29 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Geez, I wonder why children won't sit still at their desks in an artificially-lit room for 6 hours a day, doing everything at the same time as everyone else, until a bell rings setting them free to play outside?

True enough, but "common sense" thinking doesn't explain why I still have ADD as an adult in my 40s, and why I had to undergo years of therapy to get myself used to the idea and able to take advantage of the positive qualities (which I would not want to give up). I have tried many different remedies to lift the fog from my brain, including diet. Nothing worked as well as Adderall, period (and a little Gabapentin). It's not ideal, but for most of us it just plain works to the point where we can be functional in less than ideal situations for us (i.e., most work environments). I have tried with and without. Right now without. It's better and it's worse, but the longer I'm on Adderall the worse the side effects get, so I need a break at the least. There is no silver bullet, but there are at least options. Please don't minimize the reality of this by pretending like it's something invented out of whole cloth. Don't I wish ...
posted by krinklyfig at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


Food causes ADHD? This is easily solved through genetic modification.

A tomato that can tap dance would definitely hold my attention.
posted by storybored at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmm, lots of words. Can't focus and read it all. Can somebody please just tell me what I should eat less of and what I should eat more of?
posted by chillmost at 1:46 PM on June 6, 2011


A personal anecdote, neither stridently pro nor con the research in question:

In the early 80s, when I was about five years old, my mother switched the family to the Feingold diet as an alternative to medicating me for ADHD . The diet focused heavily on eliminating artificial colors and flavors, as well as some preservatives and salicylates.

It presumably made a real difference to my ability to focus and control my behavior, as I made it unmedicated all the way through high school and was a high-achieving student. I'm grateful for that and for the time she spent buying and preparing unprocessed or less processed food. I took a lot of crap from other kids who found out I wasn't supposed to eat certain things, and my special diet confused and exasperated most adults who had to cook for me, but overall the benefits of the diet seemed to outweigh the various costs.

On the other hand, the aversion to medication and psychiatry that probably led my mother to the diet also served me poorly in the long run. I internalized her wariness and wouldn't admit until a couple years ago that I was clinically depressed and had been at least since I was fifteen.
posted by Idler King at 1:47 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


A tomato that can tap dance would definitely hold my attention.

Is that some sort of metaphor, or are you just happy to see me?

Anyway, what's this I hear about tap dancing produce? Can I get some veggies that will start knocking on the fridge door when they're about to mold up? Because I can never remember what's in there ...
posted by krinklyfig at 1:48 PM on June 6, 2011


Doesn't wheat make you sleepy too? You could give overactive kids bread rolls in class to quieten them down. Though wheat has no effect on my, I don't think. But then again, neither did Concerta when I was on it.
posted by choppyes at 1:50 PM on June 6, 2011


Geez, I wonder why children won't sit still at their desks in an artificially-lit room for 6 hours a day, doing everything at the same time as everyone else, until a bell rings setting them free to play outside?

This is awesomely ironic when you consider that probably most of the people posting in this thread are sitting in an artificially-lit room for more than 6 hours per day, and we can't focus on our work so we're posting on mefi instead. (Note: I do not have ADD/ADHD, I'm just lazy.)
posted by desjardins at 1:52 PM on June 6, 2011


Bring on the leeches. The problem is these kids humors are out of balance. Beat them if they can't sit still. P < 0
posted by humanfont at 1:57 PM on June 6, 2011


I have a friend who is highly intelligent, highly successful, and has been "diagnosed" with ADHD. When he gets his teeth into something, it's like lazer-guided focus, a human smart bomb, and he is someone that no one wants to mess with professionally at nearly any level of power. He did not do well in school.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:06 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on the Guardian article: what a shabby study.

I disagree with the poster above who said Ritalin is rarely prescribed. Not at all the case - although many kids (and adults) take an extended-release version of the drug now since Ritilin itself is so short acting.

A fundamental challenge in studying ADHD treatments and causes is that the defining criteria of the "disorder" are not well defined and assessing people for ADHD is highly subjective. How can you accurately study treatments without a simple and widely agreed on definition of what you are treating?
posted by serazin at 2:06 PM on June 6, 2011


My own one-rat experience suggests that processed foods, additives, and even sugar have nothing to do with my ADD. I don't know why no one realized I had a serious, serious focus problem in elementary, middle, or high school. They could have helped me, rather than give me about 10 different complexes by constantly lecturing me that if I'd just "buckle down" I could "do something with my potential." I'm not bitter.

So where this relates: my mother could possibly be said to be fanatic about healthy food. She made everything from scratch, whole grains, honey not sugar, etc etc--or what she couldn't make, she bought "natural" and without colors, sugar, preservatives, etc. I still hate carob. I was fed this way before I even entered school, and through all of elementary school. I think this was about as basic and unprocessed a diet as one could get in the modern world. I still had ADD that basically made it impossible for me to complete anything or maintain focus while the teacher was talking.

Later, after my parents' divorce, my diet dramatically changed to include a lot more pre-made and processed stuff. I also eventually learned how to hide the attention problems, so it's hard to say if they improved or stayed the same; they did not get worse. They were less of an *obvious* problem. They are, however, still with me decades later. I finally heard about ADD and got treatment, and boy is my life different on meds. Foods, not so much.

Maybe food can help some kids, but it's not an across-the-board magic bullet.
posted by galadriel at 2:17 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Students who watch their parents bend over backwards to help them are reported, by said parents, to improve behaviorally. Nothing but Red 5 could explain this.

What they should do is a double blind study in which all children are put on a strictly controlled diet of pre-prepared "unprocessed" (by whatever standard is rumored to matter) food containing none of the suspect additives. A control group is given placebo pills, the trial group receives a cocktail of additives representative of what an average kid eats anyway.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 2:19 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The parents and teachers who filled in the questionnaires
could not be blinded as they had to
supervise the food intake of the child and knew
whether the child was following an elimination diet.


As noted above, this is the fatal flaw. Parents seem inclined to attritube behavioral problems to food even when such connections can't be replicated double blind.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 2:26 PM on June 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I did a similar study with rats when I was younger, and it showed the exact opposite of this. Every time I fed a rat to my friend's Boa Constrictor, the rat and the snake both became sluggish.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:29 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who is highly intelligent, highly successful, and has been "diagnosed" with ADHD.

Why the quotation marks?
posted by Zozo at 2:36 PM on June 6, 2011


I am allergic to MSG (No, I really am - I get asthma and bad rashes, even from a drop of soya sauce, but getting to this knowledge was tough because it was a fad at the time I figured it out and the doctors were tired of patients who thought they were allergic to MSG).
This allergy means that we only ever get homemade food here, and since I'm not going to spend hours cooking with no respect in response, we sit around a table and have conversations while we eat. For some of my daughters' friends, this is a strange and unusual lifestyle. And for some of those who have ADHD diagnoses, it is good. Not for all, at all. I have the feeling that ADHD covers a lot of different ailments, some of which need medical treatment, and some of which need human care. Maybe some of my daughters' friends need better nutrition, but even though they are often here for days on end, I'm not certain it works that rapidly.
Is it the nutritional contents or the care that works? I have no idea.
Medically, we're not ready to figure out which patients need what.

At my job as a teacher, I have a reputation for being able to deal with students who have serious mental health problems. Again, this is not a universal truth, there are definitely students who need a completely different treatment, and sometimes even those I can deal with need a trip to the hospital. I would never, ever claim to be an expert on this subject. But for the small subset I can help, and for those who return from hospitalization: normal human care is a good thing. (And yeah, hospitals, I do deal with some serious problems at work).
posted by mumimor at 2:36 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Geez, I wonder why children won't sit still at their desks in an artificially-lit room for 6 hours a day, doing everything at the same time as everyone else, until a bell rings setting them free to play outside?


I have a friend who is highly intelligent, highly successful, and has been "diagnosed" with ADHD.

Hi. I have ADHD. I was officially diagnosed last month and began treatment (i.e., meds to start, therapy coming shortly), and I have never felt better. Instead of constantly mentally berating myself for being such a lazy, useless piece of shit who can't accomplish anything and should just give up even trying to make anything of myself, I'm thriving. I'm getting things done. I'm able to focus for more than a few minutes at a time, I don't have a secret panic attack when I'm given a task to do because the meds that I'm on help balance out my brain's tendency to sort of short-circuit my executive functions. And in my life outside my job, I'm finally getting IDEAS again. I'm working on short stories I started years ago and could never finish. I'm writing down new ideas all day long, and actually following through on them.

Thanks to the meds I am on and the therapy I am undertaking, I probably won't lose my job. I was in danger of that just a few short weeks ago. That's how much things have improved for me.

Attitudes like the ones exhibited in the quoted comments above (both from KokuRyu) are part of what contributed to my not seeking help for over twenty years. I listened to misinformed people who insisted ADHD is just an excuse for bad behavior. I listened to misinformed people who told me going on Adderall would make me a drooling, soulless zombie with no creative drive whatsoever. I listened to people who insisted I just needed more exercise, or fewer processed foods, or more discipline, and on and on and on. I listened, and I believed I was just a bad person who would never amount to anything.

Please, think about the damage you can do to people when you disregard the legitimacy of this disorder.
posted by palomar at 2:54 PM on June 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


The study has flaws and therefore the results are not only wrong but the opposite of the results is proven to be true. That's how SCIENCE!! works, doncha know.
Any suggestion that the results of the flawed study might still have merit is fear-mongering.
MeFi SCIENCE!! experts are awesome. Enjoy your food in all its bright primary-colored goodness.

posted by rocket88 at 3:08 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Forgot to close the tags...obviously due to the artificial lighting in my primary school.
posted by rocket88 at 3:09 PM on June 6, 2011


"Students who watch their parents bend over backwards to help them are reported, by said parents, to improve behaviorally. Nothing but Red 5 could explain this.

What they should do is a double blind study in which all children are put on a strictly controlled diet of pre-prepared "unprocessed" (by whatever standard is rumored to matter) food containing none of the suspect additives. A control group is given placebo pills, the trial group receives a cocktail of additives representative of what an average kid eats anyway.
"

This has been done, in fact its been done a few times with clear replicated results,

"Do Artificial Food Colors Promote Hyperactivity in Children with Hyperactive Syndromes? A Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials (PDF)"

The shitty study that is the focus of this FPP would not have qualified for this meta-analysis because of several of its more central flaws, but it does validate its results even if it doesn't validate all of its irresponsible conclusions. The ScienceTM is pretty damn clear that indeed at least some food additives and/or preservatives have significant neurobehavioral toxicity in a significant number of children. There are even promising models of why some children are affected while others are not which posit verifiable pathways,

Food Additives and Behavior: First Genetic Insights

This leaves only the tomato effect to explain why people still reject food additives as a viable consideration in the etiology of many children's ADD/ADHD, but even that is wearing thin,

The Role of Histamine Degradation Gene Polymorphisms in Moderating the Effects of Food Additives on Children's ADHD Symptoms

on preview, rocket88 totally has it
posted by Blasdelb at 3:10 PM on June 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


KokuRyu: "I have a friend who is highly intelligent, highly successful, and has been "diagnosed" with ADHD. When he gets his teeth into something, it's like lazer-guided focus, a human smart bomb, and he is someone that no one wants to mess with professionally at nearly any level of power. He did not do well in school"

Hyperfocus is a common trait in people with ADHD.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:22 PM on June 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Im highly intelligent and professionally successful but I have severe ADHD. I managed to stumble through school ad find a job that let me mask my problems. Ultimately it took a very significant toll on my career progress and personal relationships. Medicine has dramatically improved my life. Being diagnosed in my late 30s made a huge difference for me and probably kept me from flaming out in divorce, depression and career burnout. AdHD is treatable and the medicine is cheap. The stigmatism of giving people medicine because there should be some natural balance annoys the crap out of me.
posted by humanfont at 3:55 PM on June 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


The behaviour of 78% of the 41 children who completed the five-week restricted diet phase improved

Fantastic! Research continues to reveal that environment is more and more implicated in many of the ills we suffer. This concept was almost unheard of a few decades ago.

Now, if we could take a "meta" step upward to a broader view ... and recognize that much of what we do to our environment rebounds on us physically and emotionally (somewhat like that old 'karma' idea) ... because we and our environment are one ... maybe just maybe we'll survive the awkward stage we've been going through.

That's be nice.
posted by Twang at 4:05 PM on June 6, 2011


One thing that always annoys me in these discussions (as a member of a family with more than it's share of bats in the belfry) is how polarized it gets with everyone championing their own silver-bullet solution and attacking everyone else for relying on silver-bullet solutions.

Personally, I have no doubt that medical/dietary/behavioral/environmental/diagnostic solutions have the potential to help a great number of people. But I get edgy when something like this gets presented along with the claims that everyone else muddling their way through these real problems are doing it wrong.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:39 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I cry bullshit. I am past the midpoint of life and have had ADHD all my life. Now I did not get diagnosed until my 40s but I knew even when I was a kid that there was definitely something different about the way my brain functioned as opposed to the rest of the kids. I was no idiot - I had the highest SAT in my class. But I was perpetually the kid whose teachers told my parents "has a good mind but he doesn't use it."

I grew up in a small farm community in the upper Midwest and the amount of processed food and additives that I was exposed to what quite minimal. But I still staggered through school with a vast indifference, negligible attention span, and a hyperfocus that scared the shit out of my teachers on the rare occasion that a subject interested me. Even as an adult, healthy or non-healthy diet made no effect. The only thing that has ever made me feel "normal" was Adderall (which I had to give up because of the side effects) and copious amounts of caffeine. And now I will drink my fifth can of diet Coke and try to get some work done. This novel would be fucking brilliant if I could ever just stop being distracted.
posted by Ber at 4:52 PM on June 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


It could also be that some people are just different. It used to be something that worked, maybe it was even advantageous, but now we demand that everyone be in the same uniform headspace as everybody else.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:57 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ber,

ADD/ADHD is, like most things in the DSM-IV, a disorder defined by symptoms not etiology. What this means is that like meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain) it can have fundamentally different causes, in this case a variety of different viruses and bacteria. In fact, while mumbling excuses about why the one they study is most important, just about the only thing that ADD/ADHD focused researchers can agree on is that there are almost certainly multiple and fundamentally different, causes. I was diagnosed with ADD, and then with EFD which I think is ADD again, I still have it and its only ever been affected by Concerta. However, the fact that whatever we maybe both have is unaffected by either of our diets does not disprove the large amount of double-blind and placebo controlled data which shows that many children (specifically ones with histamine degradation gene polymorphisms) are affected by symptoms similar to ours when exposed to specific compounds found in much of our food.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:37 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We know ADHD represents a certain set of characteristics. We don't know it's a "disorder" in any old-fashioned sense of the word.

I am probably like many of you who were diagnosed with ADHD as adults. I had a terrible time in school and dropped out of high school because of it. My last therapist told me she thought I should explore the ADHD diagnosis. But I'm not interested in seeking a diagnosis because I'm not interested in treating it. I've found strategies that I feel comfortable with and at this point I don't feel comfortable taking amphetamines on a daily basis.

On the other hand, my kid is like some kind of textbook (but extreme) study in ADHD and after literally several years of trying other things (diet included), she and I together decided to try meds for her. They are the main thing that make it possible for her to go to school, so she takes them on week days and occasionally on a weekend if she has something important to accomplish that day. There's no question, taking a daily stimulant can help focus you. A million coffee drinkers can tell you that. Do I feel good about giving my daughter amphatamines every day? No I do not. I do not think we have enough long term research to be medicating the number of kids we medicate in this society. But I decided it the cost/benefit (daily misery in school vs. potential unknown physical or emotional harm) was worth it. For now.

But I still don't believe the final "D" in ADHD is appropriate because like dunkadunc said, I don't see the evidence that this is not a normal human variation that has become dis-adventagous in our current (highly problematic) society.
posted by serazin at 5:47 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh, lots of interesting discussion in this thread - it seems like ADHD is a difficult subject to pin down. The comments here definitely beat out much so-called science journalism.
posted by codacorolla at 6:17 PM on June 6, 2011


I'm waiting for ADHD to be lumped in as a form of autism. There's so much overlap with Asperger's that it seems like just a matter of time.

And then its cause will be obvious! ASPERGER
posted by Sys Rq at 7:15 PM on June 6, 2011


It could also be that some people are just different.

That's NOT what we're talking about.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:24 PM on June 6, 2011


I'm waiting for ADHD to be lumped in as a form of autism. There's so much overlap with Asperger's that it seems like just a matter of time.

ADHD is already considered as being within the autism spectrum.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:25 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing that bothers me about this study is not that these kinds of studies are being done, but that it is such an incredibly poorly done study in so many ways, and yet the lead researcher seems fine with making broad statements like "food causes ADHD".

The harm that comes from badly done and yet well-publicized studies like this is people putting their children on incredibly restrictive and unhealthy diets based on shitty studies. These kids aren't getting "nutrients" or "whole foods" or "decent sit-down meals". They're eating a diet that is incredibly unpleasant to stick to and deficient in variety and nutrition.

To encourage this kind of extreme elimination diet as a solution for ADHD based on a bad study is very irresponsible.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:25 PM on June 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've found strategies that I feel comfortable with and at this point I don't feel comfortable taking amphetamines on a daily basis.

That's OK. A good psychiatrist wouldn't insist you take medication. A diagnosis isn't a life without choices.

The diagnosis is real. The disorder is real. There isn't anything wrong with being diagnosed as ADHD. Some people do fine on their own. Some people need more help. Don't stumble on the word "disorder." It's a clinical term. We all know that we're not diseased and that the disorder has its advantages. I'm trying to live with it without further help, but this is after years of getting some help. It helped get me to this point. You may not need it but I did.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:28 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


ADHD is already considered as being within the autism spectrum.

Oh. Hooray?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:31 PM on June 6, 2011


We know ADHD represents a certain set of characteristics. We don't know it's a "disorder" in any old-fashioned sense of the word.

Please do me a favor and stop spreading this sort of misinformation. You may not need any help, but this anti-intellectual BS does your cause no good. Pretending like the doctors all are clueless and have invented a disorder when none exists is satisfying to you maybe but helps nobody else. It doesn't help the rest of us who have a diagnosis and are getting help and who get this sort of backlash from other people who have no clue.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh. Hooray?

Well?

What would satisfy you?
posted by krinklyfig at 7:34 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I started to write something long and typically rife with absurd family details, but I ended my work day with a broken axle in front of a waste transfer station, with buzzards wheeling overhead in a poetic end to the long, busy life of my car. Had I taken the interstate home instead of the B road, I might have been late, as in the late Joe Wall, so I'm a bit jangled. That's significant because the hyperfocus that lets me write my sprawling epics of oversharing is fickle, a glittering spark that is either there or not there. Right now, it's not there, so I'll be brief.

I had the misfortune to grow up in the crossroads of diagnoses, starting out as merely a difficult child, then progressing through the various psychiatric fad pronouncements. Dyslexia, dysgraphic, hyperactivity, ADD, LD, from one alphabetic thing to another. My parents did the best they could, but you get caught up in these things and end up giving life to monsters, in a sort of Cronenbergian way. We did Ritalin, we did Feingold (there's a great story in that about me, a toilet tank, and a jar of honey that I'll have to relate sometime), we did allergies, we did everything.

Nothing "fixed" the way I learn because I don't have a "disorder," any more than my affection for men is "heterosexuality deficit disorder." The food "solutions" didn't work because I grew up with back-to-the-land parents who kept a huge subsistence garden, a yard full of chickens, and a sneering distaste for sugar and red dye #40. Processed food was an alien and rare experience for me as a kid, but I still chased that spark.

I spent two stretches in special education. First time was a way of getting me away from an abusive teacher, but the second, well, the second was good. It was middle school, and I ended up in a small, quiet room off the library with unlimited books, a tape recorder and some Bach, and time to find my own way. I taught myself in a great books curriculum without even knowing I was doing it, and I learned amazing, wonderful things.

Your mileage may vary, but I'm 43, living a comfortable, if occasionally predictable, existence, and I've fine-tuned how to tap the spark. Sometimes I let it run wild, and just let the currents carry me. Sometimes, I use my externals—little systems of self-regulation where I run my life from paper, calendars, and spreadsheets. When I need to merge into the busy traffic of the normal world, I hit the diet Mountain Dew. Drugs can be useful, after a fashion, but to me they feel like recirculated air, or the kind of plastic bliss you get with Valium. To each their own, I suppose.

I wish more kids had access to spaces where they could find their own way without being told that they need to adapt, like the Jemicy School, an amazing group of kids who consistently kick ass in the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Baltimore. In adulthood, I'm always learning, always confronting the complications of being someone like me in a culture geared towards people with a different spark. I slip, I slide, I end up with my desk in chaos, but my externals, my increasingly finely tuned systems for building structures outside my head to do the things that I don't do well inside my head, fill the gaps nicely.

The medicalization just gets me, though. I know it's probably well-intentioned, but can't we proceed from a different angle, looking more to why these differences set some of us out, and how to work around that? As long as the diagnostics take place in the realm of science instead of the realms of poetry, wonder, and curiosity, it doesn't seem like we'll ever get anywhere.

In the meantime, I just do the best I can.
posted by sonascope at 8:20 PM on June 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


ADHD is already considered as being within the autism spectrum.

Nope, it's not.
posted by serazin at 8:59 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please do me a favor and stop spreading this sort of misinformation. You may not need any help, but this anti-intellectual BS does your cause no good. Pretending like the doctors all are clueless and have invented a disorder when none exists is satisfying to you maybe but helps nobody else. It doesn't help the rest of us who have a diagnosis and are getting help and who get this sort of backlash from other people who have no clue.

I find the personal stories here compelling and important. Perhaps a story of finding medication as an adult will aid others who will then be helped themselves. But I don't think those stories should serve to silence descenting voices or other, also valid personal experiences.

I'm a medical researcher and writer for a living and I'm also in nursing school. Along with that I have an interested lay person's habit of reading and thinking quite bit about sociological aspects of medicine and health. Given my knowledge and background, I feel qualified to say that at different points in history and in different parts of the world, smart people have had and do have diverse and divergent ideas about what is disease and what is not. This is particularly true in the realm of mental health, where states that were at one point considered disordered (homosexuality is the obvious example) are now considered variations of normal. And in all of medicine, there are dozens of examples of medications and therapies previously thought to be 100% safe which time showed to be more problematic. I don't seek to harm anyone by expressing my own perspective on the current ideas and expectations about attention. But we're in all here together in a forum where the expectation is that we can openly and respectfully share our views. So that's what I'm doing.
posted by serazin at 9:07 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We know ADHD represents a certain set of characteristics. We don't know it's a "disorder" in any old-fashioned sense of the word.

Please do me a favor and stop spreading this sort of misinformation.


Huh? I don't see that as misinformation, or a slam at all. Psychology exists at the very uncomfortable intersection of social science and physical science/medicine. The ugly truth is that concrete causal relationships have not been established for the vast majority of psychological phenomena. For now, the best we can do is to lump specific diagnostic criteria together.

Thanks to prevailing attitudes in the early days of the field, any deviation from what was considered to be "normal" was labeled as a disorder. Remember how long it took to remove homosexuality as a "disease" from the DSM? Psychology has a somewhat checkered history, and it's important to note the pitfalls of the way that the scientific method is applied in this field.

For many people, ADHD is a part of their very being, and for some milder cases, it's one that they can very easily live with. Labeling it as a disorder can very legitimately be degrading and insulting to these people. We don't go around labeling yellow-haired people as having "Blonde disorder," especially when it's a fairly trivial process to dye it if it bothers you that much.

I'm not sure I agree with the rest of the original comment or the poster's philosophical angle, but we can very seriously have this conversation about treating psychological conditions that exist along a spectrum and do not have a clear causal relationship established. As others here have alluded, ADD is almost certainly a *symptom* with several underlying causes. Until we figure what those are, we throw shit against the wall, see what sticks for each individual, and hope for the best.
posted by schmod at 9:30 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


They also only looked at children under 8, it makes sense as you can't really conduct elimination diets on older kids without a hell of a lot of effort

If you think about why this is, you can add ethics and a lack of patient consent to the laundry list of problems with this study.

I suppose that the consent issue comes up fairly frequently in studies involving children. However, when no adult in their right mind would choose to participate, I think that we can say that there might be some underlying ethical problems with administering the study to involuntary subjects.
posted by schmod at 9:33 PM on June 6, 2011


For many people, ADHD is a part of their very being, and for some milder cases, it's one that they can very easily live with.

The same is true of Down's Syndrome, visual impairment, and polydactyly. It really doesn't mean much.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:34 PM on June 6, 2011


However, when no adult in their right mind would choose to participate, I think that we can say that there might be some underlying ethical problems with administering the study to involuntary subjects.

Whuh? Adults participate in far more extreme studies all the damn time.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 PM on June 6, 2011


For many people, ADHD is a part of their very being, and for some milder cases, it's one that they can very easily live with. Labeling it as a disorder can very legitimately be degrading and insulting to these people.

Then they need to get over it. You are fixated on the label, which is not meant as a personal insult. This is medical science.

I realize the stigma associated with the label, but that is the wrong thing to focus on. That you'd dismiss the diagnosis because of your personal feelings about the label is not at all helpful. My life is much better for my diagnosis and treatment, and if some people want to think there's something wrong with me because I have a "disorder" or if I actually chose to seek treatment, that's their issue.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:48 PM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your mileage may vary, but I'm 43, living a comfortable, if occasionally predictable, existence, and I've fine-tuned how to tap the spark.

Hey, me too! And I've been diagnosed with a disorder! Imagine!

I had to go through treatment to get to this point. It was the best decision I ever made.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:50 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look at it this way. What if you were diagnosed with a learning disorder? Would you rail against the word "disorder," or would you try to take steps to improve your life based on this information?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:52 PM on June 6, 2011


Sorry for the multiple posts ... ADD thing.

For many people, ADHD is a part of their very being

Yes, ADD is essentially who I am, good and bad. It's also considered a disorder. The two are not mutually exclusive. Learning to live with who you are can take some work, especially if you've been in a fog most of your life and were told you wasted your potential and would never amount to anything. Some people get there on their own. Some people - like myself - find diagnosis and treatment not only helpful but essential to becoming whole people. Not sure why you'd want to deny others this potential, even if you made it there on your own.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:56 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nope, it's not.

Then I will have to go back and discuss this with my psychiatrist who discussed this with me.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:03 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


schmod, you keep using the words psychological disorder to describe ADHD.

ADHD is a neurological disorder.
posted by palomar at 11:06 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given my knowledge and background, I feel qualified to say that at different points in history and in different parts of the world, smart people have had and do have diverse and divergent ideas about what is disease and what is not.

That is true. But just because this is true does not mean there is no value in mental health treatment. Without my diagnosis I don't think I'd be better off. We can discuss these things, but ADD in particular is singled out as a matter of much discussion by laypeople. The result is that many people are mistrustful of the very idea of such a diagnosis. This really isn't helpful to people who are diagnosed and who receive treatment. You get a lot of people saying things like kids are just like that, and we should let them play outside more. Or it's diet. Or it's just modern life with all its distractions. Well. I still have this problem with focus (sometimes not enough and sometimes too much), concentration, etc., and no amount of philosophy is going to help me with my problem.

It is the case that there are plenty of people who would be diagnosed with ADHD but who are doing fine managing these issues on their own - I personally know quite a few, as we tend to get along and sort of understand each other in a way a lot of other people can't. But for most of us that simply isn't enough. If you encounter problems due to your ADHD, without a medical diagnosis, you're sort of flying by the seat of your pants and willing to try anything to help focus without going to a doctor- trying diets that may or may not work, fish oil, tyrosine, exercise, finding the right job, and all these things may help to some degree. But for a lot of us it usually amounts to a lot of running around in circles until we get some professional help, meaning therapy, which may OR MAY NOT include medication. At no time in my own process was I told to take this or that, or do this or that, although my psychiatrist did make some suggestions - in the end it was all my decision. In fact I chose my medication and tried a few different kinds. My psychiatrist was always supportive of my decisions, including my decision to stop taking certain medications, and recently all medication. In fact she told me not to think of it as a disorder but rather as a condition, and one which could even be advantageous to me if I could tap into it. These are just words, condition, disorder. What is the result?

I encourage skepticism. I was personally not convinced there was such a thing as ADHD until I had to face it myself, in my 30s. When I finally sought out a bona-fide medical diagnosis is when I finally turned the corner. By that point I had done a lot of research and pretty much knew anyway, but medical treatment was at least an option when nothing else worked for me to help with the problems I had in my life because of trying to live undiagnosed and untreated for so long.

I am not sure it's helpful to people like myself to keep dragging up the skepticism in the face of real life people who have benefited by treatment. It brings to mind the skepticism surrounding vaccines - yes, we can discuss it, but do I have to take any skepticism of medical science seriously? I don't think it's fair to bring up homosexuality in these situations, because clearly the thinking at the time was that it could be cured somehow. There is no such illusion with ADHD, and in fact most psychiatrists who treat it these days recognize that it has benefits of its own, and that many people can live without medication (and if so probably should try to do so). That is typically the long-term goal, learning to live with it harmoniously, arranging your life in a way where it helps rather than hurts you ... but if you need additional tools they are available and should not be a matter of shame or thought of as a crutch. This often means living an unconventional life, but finding the courage and the means to get there and be happy often involves more than simply diet or medication. It's a process getting there, especially if you've been diagnosed as an adult, although not everyone will need to go through it. I wish that were me, but the fact that it is recognized as an actual treatable disorder allowed me to find the tools that worked for me.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:43 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


But just because this is true does not mean there is no value in mental health treatment.

The thing is krinklyfig, I never said there is no value in mental health treatment. If your read my first comment, you'll see that I medicate my own child for this very set of symptoms (condition, if you will). I also have sought for myself various treatments and therapies (which I alluded to as well) that feel right to me.

It seems that the way I'm expressing my thoughts is not helpful to you. But respectfully, there are other people, people in this very thread, who also have a similar pattern of behavior, neural activity, or whatever else that would group them under the same diagnosis as you, but who do feel skeptical about this issue, and are interested in talking about it in different terms from you. I support your choice to embrace this diagnosis and use meds. And I have made another choice for myself.

And in a public forum like this, there is room to express my concerns about this from a larger, social perspective. That is kind of the point of a forum like this. Or one point.

By the way, I feel no shame about myself or my daughter. I don't eschew the label ADHD because of any potential feelings of shame. I have a critique of the concept that is honestly more about examining socio cultural norms than about what anyone thinks of me personally. Please take my word that I long ago gave up giving a fuck about the various judgements of the world.
posted by serazin at 12:22 AM on June 7, 2011


I have a critique of the concept that is honestly more about examining socio cultural norms than about what anyone thinks of me personally

That's fine. That was my tack for most of my life, and I've always been mistrustful of psychiatrists, that is until I really needed one. I have since discovered that it's easier to deal with the problem at hand rather than think if the world were different then maybe things wouldn't be the same for me. I have little doubt that if I were raised by artists for example I wouldn't have the same problems, although there is no accounting for the other problems I might have if that were the case. Trying to change the world so people with ADD can life well is a tall order. I can barely manage my own life. It's useful to think of these things, but be careful about what sort of impression you give other people who know nothing about this and who are only seeking validation for their own pet theories. I don't really discuss my diagnosis with most people because of the expected negative reactions. It's not that I'm ashamed but am not responsible for educating everyone on accepting an aspect of who I am that doesn't require explanation IMO.

I guess I get defensive about this because all my life I've been told I had all this wasted potential. After I got treatment and my life improved I encountered people who thought the whole idea was nonsense - this is a very popular notion, one I once harbored and would share with nearly anyone (feel pretty stupid now). It was once popular to dismiss a diagnosis of clinical depression along the same lines, but now we know depression can be treated effectively and in chronic cases needs to be. Even now, try telling a random stranger you're getting psychiatric treatment for depression- even if it saved your life there is a good chance someone will think negatively of you. There is a stigma in the US about mental health to begin with. Often the edges of these discussions leave a lot of people with the impression that ADHD is a bogus diagnosis and there is something wrong with people who go along with it, as if it were a charade. That is really what is unhelpful, and whether you intend to give people this impression or not please be aware that this is what some people will take away from it.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:43 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with you there is an unfair stigma around mental health, and I support any measure that brings ease into this difficult life we all live in. I'll do my best to show the empathy I feel.

I'm afraid I cant' - or I suppose wont - turn off my critiques about our world. It's an important thing too, I think.

Thanks for talking honestly about this stuff. It can be hard to do.
posted by serazin at 12:55 AM on June 7, 2011


we can very seriously have this conversation about treating psychological conditions that exist along a spectrum and do not have a clear causal relationship established.

By the way, this isn't entirely true. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been linked with ADHD. It is often considered a secondary diagnosis but is very common (60% from a quick search). One of my relatives adopted a child from Russia with this dual diagnosis.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:56 AM on June 7, 2011


I'm afraid I cant' - or I suppose wont - turn off my critiques about our world. It's an important thing too, I think.

I agree, although IMO it is a lot of pie in the sky, if you know what I mean. Until we have clear causal links between our world as it were and ADHD, it's entirely speculative. Interesting, true. My psychiatrist has concentrated on this in her study and feels that many people with the diagnosis would have found roles in historical societies which worked for them, such as hunter, scribe, merchant, etc. But those roles were not necessarily freely chosen by people living in those cultures, so while it's interesting to think that maybe people with ADHD would find their place in a sort of idealized past, it's likely that many more did not, and that their options were few to zero - certainly no medical help would be available. When survival was more of a factor, if you couldn't contribute enough, in some cultures you would have been discarded quickly. On the other hand, today we have options and a much better understanding of human behavior and mental health in general, and given the choice I'd go with having options every time.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:04 AM on June 7, 2011


ADHD is already considered as being within the autism spectrum.
Whoo-hoo! Now I have an excuse for being terrible with people!
posted by Karmakaze at 9:49 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


aniola : The CNRS is France's NSF. PEER itself is an E.U. funded project. Academic "publishers" cannot tell them what not to publish on their preprint servers because, unlike the publishers, these organizations probably paid the academics creating the work. Actually, all these authors work in the Netherlands, but most likely their work was supported by an E.U. grant, which might require publishing results using PEER.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:12 AM on June 7, 2011


A study of the effects of diet and ADHD that only includes kids? Hmm...
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 11:54 PM on June 7, 2011


I'm not sure if this is clearly expressed in the popular press and it most certainly is not at all expressed in the Pelsser study linked above, so:

The idea is that ADHD might be (partially) the result of an "allergic" response. So by limiting foods that provoke such a response (the elimination diet) he found very significant reductions in symptoms.

However, if these results are real, they aren't due to an allergic reaction, at least as defined as IgE or IgG mediated-- so one should not try to create a diet based on IgG levels.

So starting from the simple diet (elimination diet: turkey, rice, vegetables) and adding in foodstuffs from there (up until the kid gets worse) is a good way to proceed.

But it may not be the food at all: poor sleep is a far more substantial contributor to ADHD symptoms than food items, and if the food is affecting the quality of the sleep... and I can only speculate that a kid who never eats turkey except as sandwiches, and now is forced to eat it as his main source of protein, may experience better sleep. I don't know. I also don't know what the Dutch eat ordinarily to compare it to. Isn't their country underwater?
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 3:22 PM on June 8, 2011


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