Mental health diagnoses differ from other physical diagnoses in that the diagnosis itself is not the cause of the symptoms, it’s a category that includes a list of symptoms. For example, depression is a category of symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, changes in weight, loss of concentration. The word “depression” is not the cause and researchers do not yet know what is the actual cause. Similarly, ADHD is a category of symptoms we are experiencing, not the cause. Unfortunately, these diagnoses can leave the person suffering feeling as though they are permanently broken.
While medical research does point to differences in the brain of people with ADD/ADHD, and by definition we function based on our physical makeup, pharmaceutical commercials have led us to believe that the ONLY way to influence neuropathways and chemical-release in the brain is by administering chemical solutions. But the simple example of a “runners high” and the release of endorphins shows us there are other mechanisms that can physically and safely affect our brain.
Thankfully, more clinical research has emerged over the years that illustrates that chemical solutions are not the only thing that affects our brains. In fact, our behavior, thoughts, sleep, nutrition all influence the brain in remarkable ways. While you can’t just think your way out of a mental illness and medication is both helpful and necessary for many people, YOU can also directly influence your symptoms (for the better or worse). Addressing each symptom one at a time can be hugely beneficial to the person suffering. Something as straight-forward as controlling your sleep habits and seeing how your body and brain heal from that one action can set you up for success to take the next action. What will you choose to take control of first?