Tag Archives: cure

Believing in a cure for ADD, ADHD, and depression

This isn’t a post to deny that depression, ADD, and ADHD exist. They do and many people have a terrible time dealing with them, but that doesn’t mean they are permanently debilitating. It is possible to live with them, indeed thrive with them, and not need drugs or any special treatments.

Now, before, I pontificate any further let me say I am not a doctor, nor an expert. I’m just a person with a decent amount of experience with both.

I want to talk about this because I’ve noticed a trend over the last decade to marginalize any cure for either problem. The majority of help is focused on how to cope in the moment. To fix the issue for a day or get through the week. Everything has become about those moments of panic.

Which is very strange. The moments of panic do offer the most acute pain and suffering, but they don’t offer any solution. It is the moments after and before where the learning occurs. Those off-days when you can focus on the cure, overcoming any problems the conditions create for you.

There is no specific solution for this, rather it is a building process. It starts with being aware when the condition manifests itself. Am I starting to feel down? Has this problem troubled me in the past? Am I feeling distracted or unable to stay seated?

I used to be a public school teacher with tons of restless students. Without knowing if they were ADD or ADHD, I would ask them to try to stay focused for an extra minute each time it happened.  Also, to let me know when they were done. This was extremely effective because it taught them to become aware of when it was happening.

It also created an idea in their minds that this can be controlled. When I noticed they were starting to understand that I would approach them with the next step. I called it strengths and weaknesses. This involves pairing the problem with something the person likes, usually a hobby. The hobby serves as the strength and place of safety to rely upon during the moments of panic. It also frames the problem as a weakness to improve upon, instead of a permanent problem to accept.

For an attention example, one student loved reading skateboarding magazines. While every other teacher banned them in the classroom, I told the  student to keep one handy at all times. Whenever the symptoms came on (weakness) he was to pull out the magazine and read (strength). At first, he struggled a bit with it, often getting this dazed look in his eye. He continued to make progress and eventually was able to master his focus. He even became adept at reading the magazine while paying attention. I wasn’t sure this was possible until he answered questions correctly, completed homework, and all that. I think it even turned his weakness into a strength.

For a depression example, I knew someone who would feel slightly down before major episodes. He was aware that these slightly down moments were happening (weakness) and so I asked him to write down (strength) whatever was on his mind. He liked the idea of a diary, though, at first, was a little ashamed to write down his depressed thoughts. Then the depression would hit, he would recover, and be left with those writings. He soon became aware that a lot of what was troubling him in those writings were real issues. He then had a pre-written set of issues to work through on the good days. Nothing happened overnight, but gradually his depression has been lessening and maybe, one day, he will turn it into normal sad/down days.

The one thing you will notice in each of these examples is something I call a “trusted friend”. This is the last step, finding someone to help you through these issues. The strange thing is that most people with ADD, ADHD, and depression aren’t aware they have these problems. This is just the way they are and when it happens there is no alarm sounded. The role of the trusted friend is to identify for the person when it is happening. Sometimes they can give advice, like in the examples above, but most of the time all they have to do is alert the person.

One thing to be aware of with depression, there is something about the down attitude that hates being told it is down. There is also a high level of shame attached to it. This doesn’t mean the person should not be aware of what’s happening, it just means to be much more cautious and patient when dealing with it. Give them some time to get used to it.

There you have my theory (non-expert, non-medical) on how to help people work toward a cure for ADD, ADHD, and depression. I understand that many, more qualified than I, consider these to be lifelong problems and offering a cure is just false hope. It may be true, but these experiences I pass along have worked in every situation. Perhaps, becoming self-aware, building on one’s strengths and weaknesses, and having a trusted friend are just great ways to build character. If so, I am still happy to pass them along as one quiet voice for a cure in a sea of  “survive the panic” writings.

 

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Depression: keep in mind that they can't "snap out of it"

Keep in mind that they can’t “snap out of it.” Remember that the other person has a real illness. Like someone with cancer, they can’t simply “get over it.” Try not to express your frustration or anger in ways you’ll regret, but don’t suppress your own feelings either. You can say for example, “I know that you can’t help feeling down, but I feel frustrated.”

If the person is an unrelenting pessimist, as so many people with depression are, try to point out the positive things that are happening. The negative childhood programming–the “inner saboteur”–will probably prevent them from seeing these for himself. The depressive illness has a vested interest in the lie that nothing will go right.

via Dr. Bob

The depressed mind…is curable, needs boundaries, and is often involved in a relationship
 
 
// photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Depression: keep in mind that they can’t “snap out of it”

Keep in mind that they can’t “snap out of it.” Remember that the other person has a real illness. Like someone with cancer, they can’t simply “get over it.” Try not to express your frustration or anger in ways you’ll regret, but don’t suppress your own feelings either. You can say for example, “I know that you can’t help feeling down, but I feel frustrated.”

If the person is an unrelenting pessimist, as so many people with depression are, try to point out the positive things that are happening. The negative childhood programming–the “inner saboteur”–will probably prevent them from seeing these for himself. The depressive illness has a vested interest in the lie that nothing will go right.

via Dr. Bob

The depressed mind…is curable, needs boundaries, and is often involved in a relationship
 
 
// photo by D Sharon Pruitt

AIDS is cured, here’s why

It’s the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic and the world agrees we are at a turning point.

The disease that affects 34 million people around the world (1.2 million in the US) can be cured. The drug cocktail that virtually erases the effect of HIV and allows folks to live a long life is coming down in price. What once used to be $15-30,000/year is now around $3-4,000/year.

A dramatic drop and still not low enough, but as the Economist reports, some rich African nations are starting to purchase them en masse. Especially after new studies are showing that transmission of HIV while on the drugs is reduced by 98%. Meaning that with a coordinated effort a country can stop the spread of the disease, prevent death, and begin the arduous process of removing it from society.

This puts AIDS in the same realm as TB, Measles, Tetanus, Diptheria. All diseases cured by coordinated massive efforts to remove the outbreaks from society. Yes, those use a vaccination but the process is the same and both require a mobilized, organized effort.

That is the turning point. The problem is no longer a disease raging out of control that will kill anyone who contracts it. Now, it is more like diabetes where life is definitely harder for those who have it but imminent death.

For more details and research, plus learn how countries are responding to this, check out the Economist Podcast (search in iTunes), listen to the audio version below, or read the feature article linked below.

The 30 Years War
Hard pounding is gradually bringing AIDS under control

AIDS is cured, here's why

It’s the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic and the world agrees we are at a turning point.

The disease that affects 34 million people around the world (1.2 million in the US) can be cured. The drug cocktail that virtually erases the effect of HIV and allows folks to live a long life is coming down in price. What once used to be $15-30,000/year is now around $3-4,000/year.

A dramatic drop and still not low enough, but as the Economist reports, some rich African nations are starting to purchase them en masse. Especially after new studies are showing that transmission of HIV while on the drugs is reduced by 98%. Meaning that with a coordinated effort a country can stop the spread of the disease, prevent death, and begin the arduous process of removing it from society.

This puts AIDS in the same realm as TB, Measles, Tetanus, Diptheria. All diseases cured by coordinated massive efforts to remove the outbreaks from society. Yes, those use a vaccination but the process is the same and both require a mobilized, organized effort.

That is the turning point. The problem is no longer a disease raging out of control that will kill anyone who contracts it. Now, it is more like diabetes where life is definitely harder for those who have it but imminent death.

For more details and research, plus learn how countries are responding to this, check out the Economist Podcast (search in iTunes), listen to the audio version below, or read the feature article linked below.

The 30 Years War
Hard pounding is gradually bringing AIDS under control

Can I Be Your Trusted Friend?

The following is an un-edited letter I sent to a friend, similar to the one on Processed Foods. It represents a set of personal beliefs developed through experience, failure, and success. While I believe much of this to be dead-on there is much to disagree with. I welcome an open debate:)

—-

For thousands of years humans lived easily without ADD and ADHD “diseases.” It’s not that these symptoms didn’t exist rather it is that our lifestyles have changed. There is an increasing focus of daily life on controlled seated conditions for an ever increasing amount of people. This is a relatively new environment for humans and our culture has not yet learned how to function in it.

There are basic skills one can learn to alleviate the symptoms of ADD and ADHD, that if not taught by adulthood lead to destructive habits. The foundation of these skills is helping the individual to become self aware. Creating a sense of when things are normal and when they are not. Once that recognition can happen a series of coping mechanisms can be put into play. More on that later, but first some more background.

ADD as a problem (and not a disease) has been studied and worked on for decades in the field of education. The Montessori school system has developed a method of teaching that they believe is superior to public education, while also helping to alleviate the problems of ADHD. Of course their schools are only as effective as the parents allow it to be. Parents are a major problem in education because they often endured harsh conditions without learning these skills and expect their children to endure as well, though for much longer (college and graduate school).

The real battle in our public schools is not over testing but over new teaching styles. To improve the quality of our education we need to teach our students better. School testing is only a measure of how effective these new styles are. The most effective styles to date ironically focus on alleviating the root causes of ADHD, things like group work, outdoor activities, large projects with structured tasks, etc.

Understanding this history in American education helps explain some key issues involved with ADHD, namely culture, environment, and adults. For a child we can help to control all three and make the process of dealing with ADHD easier. For an adult the process is like hardened cement, only making progress through blasting old concrete and recasting new pieces.

Back to the original “cure.” The first step is to become self aware. Doing this often requires a trusted friend. One who can tell the person that they are exhibiting the behavior. It is hard on both parties to develop this routine since ADHD manifests itself in many ways, through boredom, anxiety, depression, over-excitement, and most importantly the individual is unaware of their own behavior. With practice and experience this becomes easily explained and noticed.

The second step is to develop a range of support tactics to employ when suffering an attack. This involves the individual being self aware of the issue and then selecting the right tactic, or trying several until one helps. The tactics can be anything from taking a long walk to reading a magazine. They are entirely situational and often require a fair amount of practice. They act like a bridge where one side is normal and the other side is normal. ADHD acts like the river in the middle always ready to sidetrack and take you away through panic, anxiety, or whatever. Having a bridge allows one to cope during the attack, let it subside, and then safely arrive at normal again.

ADHD is not the scourge of the modern world. It is a problem in our society that only a few truly understand, the rest suffer from it. To fix it requires a simple yet focused set of skills applied over time with another trusted individual. For children this trusted individual is often the parents or a teacher. For an adult it is a boyfriend, friend, or coworker. For those without any of these people it is a drug addiction.