Currently viewing the tag: "mental health"

One of the biggest messages I try to put forth in this blog is that human beings are amazing self-healing, self-regulating life forms.  We operate under the laws of the universe, and as such, by obeying some very fundamental principles regarding life, our ability to experience great physical health and well-being is magnified.  It doesn’t matter whether you have any particular genetic, anatomic or physiologic disposition–you can experience great health, as well as a fulfilling life, by observing basic principles.

This is as true for the “normal” individual as it is for the ADD-labeled person.  Whenever somebody comes to me with this or that problem, my first investigation as a doctor is to find out if they are observing the basics.  So that’s what I want to finish off with regarding ADD.  It’s of mega-importance that your ADD-labeled child is practicing the healthiest lifestyle possible.  But take note, and do not mistake this very crucial point: What I discuss here is NOT a treatment regimen for ADD.  I do NOT believe that an attention deficit is a disorder, therefore nothing needs treating, especially as we would think in a mechanistic sense.  Instead, what I put forth here will allow any child to thrive physically and mentally, because these are fundamental health principles.

There are no absolutes when it comes to health.  No one practice is more important than another–let’s just get that straight right from the beginning.  Instead, health is like a puzzle, and each practice is a piece to that puzzle.  I will for brevity’s sake only touch upon each puzzle piece.  If you want more, then I highly recommend reading my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health.  In it you will find most of these points discussed in full detail, along with tips on how to best implement and maximize each practice.

First and foremost is diet and nutrition.  It should go without saying that good nutrition is paramount to a healthy functioning body, but I wonder sometimes.  Too many parents feed their children foods that are, well…suspect.  Here is a basic: foods should be whole and natural.  I’m not saying organic or hormone free or anything like that.  If that’s what you prefer, awesome!  But what I mean is “not processed”.  Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats and dairy, wholesome grains, minimal sugar, minimal fast food (or none at all, like my kids), and definitely, with no exception: NO SODA!

Soda consumption should be the biggest no-no for an ADD-labeled child.  No, I don’t think soda causes ADD.  Soda is garbage for anybody, and that much sugar consistently cannot be conducive to mental sharpness.  Sad fact is that many parents will have to kick their own liquid garbage habit, too, if they want to keep their kids off it.

Next is exercise*.  Kids need to spend time playing and moving!  Period.  It is a standard recommendation for ADD-labeled kids to exercise often, and I couldn’t agree more.  Get your kids moving everyday–that’s what our bodies (and all life forms) are meant to do.  Don’t try operating outside of universal laws and then also expect good health. *Check out this interesting article on children, exercise balls, and focus.

Next, bodywork.  If you haven’t taken your ADD-labeled child to see a chiropractor, then you are doing them a great disservice.  Subluxations (misaligned and stuck vertebrae) are extremely disruptive to the nervous system and the mind.  I have seen hundreds of children go into a state of ease and calm following a chiropractic adjustment.  Time to learn more about chiropractic and give it a try if your knowledge and experience are limited.

**Throughout these posts, a regular reader and friend, has been kind enough to share her understanding and insight of primitive movement patterns and neurological development.  I am so fascinated and intrigued by this field of study that I intend to investigate it further.  She swears by its benefits, and I respect her knowledge and judgment.  I will keep you informed as I learn more.  Thank you K.O.

Sleep is next.  But we could just as well call this rest and recuperation.  If your child is not sleeping properly, then they are aging faster and breaking down more quickly.  Sleep is essential to life.  Many metabolic and regenerative processes occur while we sleep.

And don’t discount dreaming.  Although we still understand little about this ubiquitous function, I believe it has an important role in our mental brain states (no, I do not think dreams are symbolic).

If your ADD-labeled child is on Ritalin, then I would expect his or her sleep to be disrupted, particularly deep and REM sleep.  Think about that–it’s just another way that these dangerous drugs can hurt your child.  If they are also hopped-up on soda…(sigh) heaven help them.

Next is minimizing toxins.  Lot’s of things are toxins, but the ones I find most prevalent and damaging are…drum roll pleaseprescription and over-the-counter drugs.  Nothing wrong these meds periodically when needed, but as a society, Americans are way too over-medicated.  Just look at the Ritalin numbers: 90% consumed in the U.S.  Sad.

Finally is the mental health.  When it comes to your ADD-labeled child, they want what every child (and every person, for that matter) wants–love and acceptance for who they are.  So, again, help them find what they love–they know what it is, because they do it all the time.

Be it sports, be it music, be it socializing, be it fashion–find it, nurture it, and help them be inspired by it.  Pressuring your kid–directly or passively–is not going to help.  When a child senses that you are worried, frustrated, or disappointed, they know it; and trust me this only will add to their stress and inability to perform.  Let them know you love, honor and support them in whatever they love doing, and they will reward you by excelling.  No, they may never excel in school, but plenty of people live amazing lives that were not the result of traditional schooling.

There you have it–like pieces to a puzzle.  Each one important, but neither more-so than any of the others.  In fact, they work synergistically, but I’ll leave that topic for you to read in my book.

Once again, I sincerely hope I’ve helped people facing some tough decisions regarding their own ADD-labeled child.  If I can have helped you see your beautifully unique and gifted genius in a new light, then I am pleased.  If I’ve influenced you to reject the dangerous chemical poisons that the ADD establishment wants to numb your child on, then I am honored.  If I’ve given you some ideas on how to inspire your child to be all that they can be, then I am utterly grateful that I could contribute.

Thank you for reading.

Adversity in life is necessary to build resilience and adaptation, so says a recent study published in the October issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  According to the study, people that experienced some adverse events reported better mental health and well-being than those exposed to high levels of adversity or no adversity at all.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo looked at 2,398 people who took part in a national survey each year from 2001 to 2004, and found that people with a history of some lifetime adversity appeared to weather recent adverse events better than other people.

“Our findings revealed that a history of some lifetime adversity–relative to both no adversity or high adversity–predicted lower global distress, lower functional impairment, lower [post-traumatic stress] symptoms and higher life satisfaction,” said study author Mark Seery, an assistant professor of psychology at the university.

The study looked at “major lifetime adversity,” but the authors note that even relatively mundane challenges may increase overall resilience.

Well no surprises here, as I know how important challenges are to our physical, mental and spiritual growth.  Sure we can call it resilience, although I’d just call it evolution.  Avoiding or resisting challenges and having others provide constant protective support does not allow for maximal growth.  Neither does an overload of stress for that matter, so these results would be expected.  I’m just pleased to see that they’ve now put a study to what appears to me a experiential-truth.


Some people are driven by their bodies, and others by their mind. Despite the age-old argument of whether the two entities are separate and distinct, we know one thing for sure–working out the body does wonders for mental health. Take that, Descartes!

A recent study out of Duke University showed that regular moderate exercise and healthy diet together can improve scores on cognition tests. The four-month study conducted by Duke’s nueropsychology department looked at 124 fifty-two year old men and women with high blood pressure (HBP) who were a minimum of 15 pounds overweight, on average. The study was originally designed to look at diet, exercise, and HBP; but the researchers decided to throw in cognitive function as an interesting side investigation.

One third of the participants followed the DASH–Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension–diet, which emphasizes low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, in combination with regular exercise. One third, followed the DASH diet along with a weight-management program and aerobic exercise. The final third went about on their regular dietary and exercise regimens.

The exercise conducted was moderate–30 minutes three to four times a week, “enough to put the heart up to 75 to 80 percent of its maximum rate,” as one of the researchers said. The weight-management programs were split between two strategies–one centered on reducing portion size and cutting the snacking habit, while the other focused on appetite awareness training, which provided guidelines on food quantity (how much one ate) as well as food quality (types of food). The cognitive tests focused on executive function, learning and psychomotor speed.

Researchers found that the group that exercised regularly and ate well had an overall 30 percent improvement in mental function by the end of the four-month period. They also lost an average of 19 pounds and lowered systolic blood pressure (the higher of the 120/80 reading) by 16 points and diastolic pressure by 10 points. Shazam! All by diet and exercise.

As one of the researchers concluded, “There are neurochemical changes that happen with exercise. There is increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates connection with other brain cells, but also there is some evidence that it helps grow new brain cells.”

On top of that, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, regular exercise increases circulation, oxygen and nutrient transport to the brain; it reduces depression and anxiety; and it leads to increased production of phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the body’s natural opiates…so it FEELS GOOD! Oh yeah, give it to me, baby!

There you have it: Another study showing the enormous benefits of diet and exercise. Now, before you say, “Big deal, tell me something I don’t know,” understand that these finding should shed some light on the notion of mass use of nootropic drugs, otherwise known as smart drugs. When 7% of all college students and 20% of polled scientists using them to enhance memory, problem solving, attention, and mental endurance, I think it’s time to start discussing alternatives.

No drugs are free of side effects, and the notion of the world’s scientists being tweaked out on designer speed is, well….scary (think Norman Osbourne). So that’s why I post these seemingly obvious studies. Yes, we all know that diet and exercise have wide-ranging benefits. But then why isn’t everybody doing them?

mother_child_baby 4 17 09More on the mental health front today as new research shows breastfeeding may be linked to better mental health for kids. I’ll say, it’s always worked for me.

An Australian study showed that children who are breastfed for longer than six months could be at lower risk of mental health problems later in life. Breastfeeding could help babies cope better with stress, and may also signal a stronger mother-child attachment, benefits which may last, say researchers at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in West Perth.

The study looked at over 2,300 children, each undergoing a mental health assessment at 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years of age. Eleven percent were never breastfed, 38 percent were breastfed for less than six months, and just over half were breastfed for six months or longer.

Mothers who breastfed for less than six months were younger, less educated, poorer, and more stressed, and were also more likely to be smokers, than the moms who breastfed for longer. They were also more likely to suffer from postpartum depression, and their babies were more likely to have growth problems.

The children who were breastfed for the shortest amount of time had the worst behavior. This was qualified as internalizing behavior, in which negativity is directed inwards, for example depression; and in externalizing behaviors, such as aggression.

Behavior improved successively for every additional month of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for six months or longer had the most positive behavioral results with regard to mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. The results were adjusted for social, economic and psychological factors as well as early life events.

I like this study as I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding. My eldest daughter was breastfed for two years, and my 15-month-old is still on the breast. And I’m certain of the many health benefits attached to the practice. It doesn’t surprise me that breastfed children feel more secure, I mean, think about it: The suckling/oxytocin response is as much security blanket as it is food cart. It allows baby to know that there is a nurturing protector there when they need support. And it’s instinctual. Deny that to Junior and I’d expect him or her to be…well…unsure.

No guilt trip on moms who have opted out early, really. It’s just that breastfeeding provides one more benefit to those who choose it for their young, that’s all. However, if you are a mom to be and on the fence about it–just know that mental well-being and self-assuredness later in life is one more thing you can help provide your kid with a year at the boob.


Are life’s modern-day challenges harder to tackle than those of yesteryear? That’s the question mental health experts are asking, as a recent study shows that five times more high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues than youth of the same age decades ago.

The study did a comparative analysis of a popular psychological questionnaire used as far back as 1938 and found that more students today struggle with the stresses of school and life in general. Researchers at five universities analyzed the responses of 77,576 high school and college students who, from 1938 through 2007, took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Overall, an average of five times as many students in 2007 surpassed thresholds in one or more mental health categories, compared with those who did so in 1938. Some of the increases were even higher in some categories:

  • hypomania,” a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism (from 5 percent of students in 1938 to 31 percent in 2007)
  • depression (from 1 percent to 6 percent)
  • and “psychopathic deviation,” which is loosely related to psychopathic behavior and is defined as having trouble with authority and feeling as though the rules don’t apply to you (from 5 percent in 1938 to 24 percent in 2007).

Lead author of the study, Jean Twenge, who wrote a book on the influence of pop culture on the mental health of young people titled, “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” believes that the growing interest in being rich amongst the nation’s youth has a big part to play in the study’s findings.

Experts say that such high expectations only lead to disappointments. They also note that some well-meaning but overprotective parents have left their children with few real-world coping skills, like handling emotional challenges or even balancing their checkbooks. Says Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Motefiore Medical Center in New York City, “If you don’t have these skills, then it’s very normal to become anxious.”

Students themselves put the blame on everything from pressure to succeed–self-imposed and otherwise–to keeping up with technology as the causes of increased mental stress. Sarah Ann Slater, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Miami stated, “The unrealistic feelings that are ingrained in us from a young age–that we need to have massive amounts of money to be considered a success–not only lead us to a higher likelihood of feeling inadequate, anxious or depressed, but also make us think that the only value in getting an education is to make a lot of money.”

A New Jersey mother whose daughter is being treated for depression said, “I don’t remember it being this hard. We all wanted to be popular, but there wasn’t this emphasis on being perfect and being super skinny.”

The study’s findings, however, do not prove any correlation between pop culture pressures and mental stress. And it is not without its critics, either: Richard Shadick, a psychologist who directs the counseling center at Pace University in New York states that the sample data weren’t necessarily representative of all college students (Many who answered the MMPI questionnaire were students in introductory psychology courses at four-year institutions). Also, the increased numbers may simply reflect a heightened awareness of mental health services and treatments–like pharmaceuticals–available.

I believe that today’s youth are facing challenges that earlier generations didn’t have to contend with. That’s certainly no surprise to me. Young people of the 1950s were dealing with very different–and I’m certain perceptively greater–challenges than the youth of 1776. Things change, the world changes, and it happens faster every generation. It seems only natural, then, that the faster things evolve, the harder it will be for everyone to deal with these rapid changes. I’m not trying to minimize things here–I just think that it sounds fairly logical that new generations will have their hands full with the world of their era. Whether or not these challenges lead to increased mental health stresses over previous generations is debatable, especially since the mental health field has evolved along with everything else.

What it really says to me is two things. One, mental health is as important as it always will be, since our minds are integral to every aspect of our being. If we don’t have our perceptions in balance, havoc will wreak on our health and our lives. Therefore, obtaining mental balance is critical. If you or your child are having trouble finding this balance, contact me, I can help.

And two, it really brings up the point of having realistic goals and expectations. College does not ensure financial success. Nor does what you see on T.V. constitute reality (despite the moniker as such). If you can’t explain to your kids that success–financial or otherwise–requires a marketable product or service and super-hard work, not a four day work week, not six weeks vacation, not a French-style social system (go ahead, ask your French friends their opportunity for financial freedom and wealth), then, really, it’s your burden to bear when they can’t hack the pressure.


Driving under the influence is a crime, but some researchers think we should make an exception…for the ADHD driver. Doh! According to research recently present to the American Psychiatric Association, adults with ADHD are more prone to auto accidents. So to combat this phenomenon, researcher recommend ADHD drivers to be cranked out on speed. Nice.

The study showed that adult ADHD drivers had significantly more auto collisions than the general public and received more citations. ADHD teens and adults have also been shown to be nearly twice as likely to having their licenses suspended. According to UC Berkeley psychologist Nadine Lambert, Ph.D., “People with ADHD have serious difficulties planning ahead, following through, and staying on task—things you need to do to drive safely.”

Apparently ADHD drivers are more likely to be convicted of speeding, not obeying signs and signals, following too closely, improper passing, and not following road markings. Additionally they’re somewhat more likely than non-ADHDers to participate in reckless driving, drunk driving, and poor lane placement.

So what’s the solution? Give ‘em speed. Now that’s responsibility in the psychiatric research profession–recommend drugging our drivers, yeah! I’m never for the drugging solution, especially when it comes to mental health. Instead of encouraging our unfocused fellow citizens to develop good driving skills, we resort to the simple solution—drugs. I’m not anti-drug, but giving legalized speed, and that’s essentially what these ADHD drugs like Ritalin are, is foolish. It’s not going to make one a more attentive driver. Why don’t we just put a kilo of coke in their trunk—that’ll make them pay attention–guaranteed. But no one would seriously suggest that because it’s nonsensical. And so is drugging our drivers.

I deal with a lot of auto accident victims in my Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood chiropractic office. Accidents caused by people under the influence are some of the worst I see. If the general public is considered impaired even under the influence of cold medications, why recommend speed for ADHDers? The use of drugs to treat mental “disorders” will remain somewhat controversial for years to come; but let’s hope cranking out our ADHD drivers won’t cause more problems than they fix.

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