Stress Can Create Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder

Stress can affect virtually any part of the body and produce physical, mental and emotional symptoms weakening the immune system and impairing coordination and thinking ability. Stress comes from relationships, from school or work situations, and from our own expectations. How we learn to deal with stress makes a huge difference in how healthy we are. Continual stress eventually wears out our body and mind. Studies by the American Medical Association have shown stress to be a factor in over 75% of all illnesses today.

Stress is a reaction to a perceived threat. Our stress response helps us prepare mentally and physically to take protective action. These survival instincts are needed when we have real danger. Our muscle strength increases during stress by raising blood supply and oxygen to our muscles. When the blood is directed to the muscles during stress, the brain and digestive system do not get what they need to function. Under stress, electrolytes contained in the blood are dispersed throughout the body, reducing cell membrane potential in the nervous system. This makes us more hypersensitive, or alert to everything that is happening around us. This can increase the sensation of pain, making chronic pain worse. It can also make it more difficult to focus since too many stimuli are affecting us, so learning becomes more difficult.

Not all children who are overly energetic or exceptionally curious have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Neither do all busy, disorganized adults have Attention Deficit Disorder. What classifies real Attention Deficit Disorder over just being too busy is a high level of frustration. Adults and children with Attention Deficit Disorder are overly impatient to get things done, and are totally overwhelmed with anything in the environment. The whole world is too loud, too bright, too fast for them. They cannot filter out background noise, and so are affected by everything going on around them.

Many parents do not believe their child can be stressed. But children, especially infants, are highly sensitive to the emotions of their parents and caregivers. They sense fear, anger, and other emotions, and become stressed themselves, holding these emotions inside. Their young nervous systems get stressed more quickly than our adult systems, and they do not have a way of recognizing or reducing these stresses other than by crying or acting out.

We tell our children to "be tough", essentially telling them to suppress the stress or emotions they are experiencing. This causes their brain to have more trouble processing other events. They then tend to be overly disorganized with their time and their environment. They skip from one task to another, continuously finding other things that need to be done, and forgetting the current task. In children, we see this as constantly moving and getting into everything. In adults we see it as being easily distracted, forgetting to pay bills, missing appointments, always in a hurry but being late anyway. When they get too frustrated and overwhelmed, eventually they can get angry.

When we consistently suppress emotions, internal chronic stress levels grow, and various physical symptoms will appear. Sources of stress in our lives that inhibit learning come from many areas. School or work environments that lack sensory stimulation, lack movement or touch, lack communication opportunities, and lack creative play opportunities, slows the brain communication. Also TV, computer, and video games stimulate the nervous system but do not have enough physical movement included to reduce the stress that they cause. These sources of entertainment also decrease creativity and interactive communication, and increase violent tendencies. Other external sources of stress come from a lack of good nutrition, lack of water, and excess electrical fields. Stress comes from our perceptions, our mental and emotional responses to life experiences.

Stress happens when our perceptions don't meet our expectations and we don't manage our reactions. We can't change events but we can change our perceptions. Stressful symptoms include feeling rushed, bored, depressed, irritated, frustrated, anxious, short-tempered, angered, unloved, unfulfilled, and disheartened. Any of these mental and emotional symptoms are feedback to you that hormones and neurotransmitters are out of balance. When you shift your perceptions you can affect your stress reactions, thereby changing many of your physical and emotional symptoms.

Dr. Jane Oelke, N.D., Ph.D. is Naturopath and Doctor of Homeopathy in Southwest Michigan. She is the author of "Natural Choices for Fibromyalgia" and "Natural Choices for Attention Deficit Disorder". She is a professional speaker on a variety of natural health topics, and can be reached at [email protected] and

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