Causes of ADHD-like symptoms (from S.A.N.T.A.- Stimulants Are Not The Answer)


Identifying the underlying problems triggering ADHD-like behavior.

· emotional problems

· educational problems

· lifestyle problems

· nutritional problems

· prescription drugs

· drugs taken recreationally (including prescription drugs)

· medical problems


Emotional problems

The range of emotional problems that can produce ADHD-like behavior is vast but often overlooked. For instance, infant trauma, formative though this experience can be in a child`s life, is not usually considered when establishing a diagnosis, due to a widespread but mistaken notion that `babies don`t notice`. Common problems behind dreamy, distracted or hyperactive behavior are listed below.

· Marital difficulties and divorce

· Parenting difficulties (difficulty resolving conflict, explosive reactions to misbehavior, unclear limits and goal-setting, erratic routine, lack of support structure for parent)

· Hyperactive household

· Overscheduled/Stressed out

· Displacement (moving house/school/country)

· Parent trauma, depression or anxiety/panic

· Performance/Results driven

· Parent drug or alcohol abuse

· Abuse (physical or mental)


Educational problems

Many children diagnosed with ADHD are only hyperactive or inattentive at school. This clearly indicates that there is something there that disturbs them. Unfortunately some schools put considerable pressure on parents to put a child on stimulants rather than examine the roots of the problem. Note that a pupils’ prescription for mental illness also gives schools access to additional funds.


Problems in class

· Sitting too far back to pay attention

· Discomfort (e.g. child uncomfortable in the chair/hot/cold/hungry)

· Poor eyesight/hearing

· Boredom (child is too intelligent for the class)

· Lack of discipline and clear guidelines

· Learning difficulties

· Poor teaching

· Disaffection (with learning in general or with specific subjects or teachers)

· Independent spirit

Problems in school

· Unsuitable school environment/ system for “learning type”, i.e., auditory, visual, kinesthetic (see “The Indigo Children”).

· Child is `odd one out` (age, sex, color, background)

· Under eating (missing breakfast/lunch, inadequate nutrition, or sugar slumps).

· Rebellion against `the system`

· Chemical sensitivities to toxic fumes or cleaning agents (Dr. Doris Rapp’s books).


Problems with educational policy

· Curriculum and Test-based teaching fails to inspire teachers and pupils

· Tuition too focused on exam results (SATs, GCSEs, A-levels, MEAP Test)

· Arts subjects squeezed out in favor of point-scoring subjects (reduces vital opportunities for self-expression through music, art and drama)


Lifestyle problems

As the pace of life speeds up, children`s mental health deteriorates. This is thought to be the fastest area of growth in ADHD-like behavior.

· Junk food (see Nutritional Considerations)

· Cramped living conditions

· Abandonment

· Overstretched single parent

· Parents no longer supported by strong communities and extended families

· Rapid-fire lifestyle

· Loss of traditional routines (bed-time, meal-time, variety of organized activities)

· Too much passive and artificial stimulation building up adrenalin that is not released through sport (e.g. TV, computers, video games)

· Lack of exercise

· Chronic tiredness

· Hunger (e.g. from an eating disorder, or from regularly missing breakfast/lunch/dinner)


Nutritional problems and toxic exposure

A growing number of children and adults eat and drink junk foods high in toxins and depleted in nutrients. Routine blood tests, miss more subtle problems.


Nutritional deficiencies

· Iron-deficiency anemia

· Hypoglycemia

· Vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies (most commonly, zinc, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, vitamin B3,5,6,12, vitamin C)

· Other deficiencies: amino acids, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes

· Lack of breast feeding


Additives in prepared foods, fast food and fizzy drinks

· 3000 known food additives

· Colorings

· Flavor enhancers

· Artificial flavorings

· Preservatives

· Salicylates

· Phosphates in soda decrease magnesium levels


Food allergies

· Lactose intolerance

· Yeast intolerance (candidiasis)

· Other intolerance to a specific food


Toxic exposure

· Lead

· Mercury, including vaccinations and some fish

· Carbon monoxide (heating systems)

· Air pollutants (Toxic fumes from new paint/furniture/carpet/household & commercial cleaning agents)

· Radiation (TV, computers, electric blankets, waterbed heaters, clock radios near head, cell phones, microwaves.

· Pesticides (outdoor and indoor including residuals on food)

· Chemicals (50,000) and Chlorine in water


Prescription drugs

Any medication that acts on the central nervous system can provoke ADHD-like symptoms. Note that discontinuing stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall and similar amphetamine-style medications can, ironically, cause hyperactivity and aggression. This leads to the misguided view that the person must stay on medication or `the ADHD comes back`.

· Mood-altering medications (stimulants, narcoleptics, ant psychotics, tranquillizers, sedatives, sleeping pills, barbiturates, mood stabilizers, some drugs used for nausea)

· Antiepileptic medications

· Asthma medications

· Antihistamines

· Over-the-counter cold, allergy and sinus medications

· Some antibiotics


Medical problems

· Bowel problems (constipation or yeast-bacteria imbalance ? see article on candida)

· Poor eyesight and vision disturbances

· Poor hearing

· Kidney disease

· Hormonal disorders (most commonly, thyroid)

· Physical disabilities

· Neurological disorders (e.g. seizures, petit mal, Sydenham`s chorea, drug-induced hyperactivity)

· Learning difficulties

· Inborn metabolic disorders

· Head injury

· Lack of oxygen

· Problems in utero (maternal malnutrition; use or abuse of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs)

· Birth complications



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