These days it seems that everyone is either on a medication or recommending one. NOT ME. I may be in the minority, but I beleive that most problems we face these days are ones of lifestyle that can be reversed through lifestyle choices as well. I especialy get upset when I see young kids being labeled and medicated for behavioral or attention related issues, even at super young ages.
Let's cut to the chase. Meds are cheaper and faster especially in the insurance world. If meds stop the problem immediately, that person doesn't need sessions to work it out. Finding out what the core habit is that supports the symptoms and working it out is rare these days. It takes time to change habits that people get stuck in and sometimes those habits feel safer or people are used to them and don't want to stop doing them so meds feel easier, especially with the promises made on the non stop commercials we see every 2 minutes on tv. Of course, if you listen carefully to the list of side effects, once you stop laughing or crying, as the case may, be from listening to the quivering pile of bleeding jello you can become from their list, you realize the symptoms you are trying to get rid of, are part of that list of side effects, but it is at the end of the list and who can keep up with the fast talking to find that out?
The sad part is that the lifestyle changes I speak of are mostly easy and not as big as people think. Actually the problems I have seen people go through switching meds and dosages have been much more stress and more difficult then making the right lifestyle choices to get the symptoms to stop.
After meeting with literally 100's of families over 30 years of practicing, sleep deprivation/ interruption, food choices and 1 other thing that I will get to shortly are 3 of the top problems in my mind, that cause the very attention, behavioral and anxiety problems parents see and want to help their kids with so intensely. But the super interesting part is that these parents see the problem as some biological issue causing the interruption in sleep rather than the lack of sleep causing the symptoms. Too many people do not know about how to make a child and a room conducive to good sleep and therefore have no other choice but to think that it is biological when it might not be. Did you further realize...
...that food choices and especially at school can cause the symptoms and also the sleep problems. Have you seen the choices for school breakfasts and lunches? I have. There is no doubt in my mind why kids are easily labeled as having attention or anxiety problems when maybe they don't. More later on this...
Here is that 3rd mystery thing I mentioned earlier...Are most kids allowed to exercise and move around like they are supposed to...BUILT FOR... or are they kept in a fluorescent box all day long made to sit still and quiet, and in structured after school activities with the same fluorescent lighting. Lighting that, by the way, can cause attention and behavior problems by itself?
Many say these meds r safe with no dangers. Ok so if that's the case, then why do the names of the meds constantly change and why do you see lawsuit commercials on a daily basis? Do we know for sure that a child's brain goes back to normal chemistry if you try a drug and then go off of it or is there some alteration that stays? Many parents I have met and worked with feel that is enough to steer clear of anyone who recommends meds. All the violent mass acts being committed these days mostly by young people and mostly by young people on lots of meds. Do we know for sure that this is not a causative factor or at least part of it? All questions that parents have brought up to me when they have left the therapist they were with who recommended medication, or worse, refused to work with a child without that child on meds, and those parents wanted no part of it. and came to me, someone who does not do that and instead focuses hard on all the lifestyle things that could be changed to get symptom reduction.
The truth is there are 2 kinds of parents out there and I don't judge either kind, but truly think that one needs to know more about what ELSE is happening. The first parent is one who trusts in meds and wants a super fast and cheaper alternative to taking the time to change the lifestyle habits and the second parent is the one who wants to do it through lifestyle changes. I happen to be about the 2nd option and always have been. Some parents would get angry at me for saying this and would tell me that I don't understand the lifetime of stress the child has created for them and how it is the last option they have and they have to use it.
To them I would say, that as a mom of 3 with one of mine being on the spectrum and also having an everyday education into researching lifestyle habits and how they effect these kinds of symptoms, I DO know and I have helped many people to change that perspective too. Maybe they have just not looked at an option that educates them on how to change the lifestyle the right way for results.
For example, did you know that most kids are not sleeping long enough hours and that some of the food they eat can keep them awake at night or not in deep sleep which by itself can create really nasty symptoms? Just that for 1 night can create horrible symptoms that would send any parent running for the hills. Did you also know that if you feed a child the wrong kinds of foods in the morning for breakfast, let's say for school breakfast, that this child can have a severe blood sugar drop afterwards that can look a heck of a lot like an attention problem? Adults get the drop too when they eat cake for breakfast. Whoops did I say cake? I meant, a waffle or pancakes. Same thing ya know! The difference between the adult and the kid is that the adult is not strapped into a chair in school, forbidden to move and being watched and scrutinized for any hint of biological disorder to pop on meds. Unfortunately these days the adults are doing it to themselves.
I'm not railing against all meds and I am certainly not advocating or recommending to take or not take meds. I am also not suggesting that those with a verified biological condition stop taking them. People on heart or diabetes meds need them to survive. That's different. I just think that for kids, behavioral, anxiety or attention based issues, medication should not be the first thought, the first action or the rush to judgement before doing a thorough examination of all lifestyle habits to see what can be changed, especially just bc it is the shorter term or cheaper option.
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