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Time out for time outs: Why pediatricians now promote ‘positive parenting’

Canadian Paediatric Society calls for shift away from shaming, blaming and other types of negative discipline

The latest parenting advice from Canada’s pediatricians is to shift away from shaming, blaming and any other types of negative discipline to what they call positive parenting.

Positive parenting is a set of principles to correct children’s misbehaviour with greater empathy and communication and less punishment — and sticking with it at the times when it’s most challenging. Experts say positive parenting fosters loving, predictable and secure relationships between a child and their parent or guardian.

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) said in its latest position statement, released Thursday, that this is the first time it is asking all primary care practitioners to encourage positive parenting. Doing so, the society says, buffers against the effects of stressors and traumatic events.

Gold-standard randomized trials have demonstrated how positive parenting techniques are more effective at reducing negative behaviour in children, said Jenny Jenkins, the Atkinson Chair of Early Child Development and Education at the University of Toronto. Jenkins, a clinical and developmental psychologist, wasn’t involved in the position statement.

“Negative comments, negativity or harshness towards children has been shown to be much more problematic developmentally for kids,” Jenkins said.

‘Pick their battles’

Positive parenting techniques provide a better relationship between parents and children.

“Rather than parents getting mad at kids and being irritable with them and negative with them, the interaction becomes a more positive one,” she said.

If parents ignore the low-level problematic things that kids often do and intervene only when there’s a safety concern or really bad behaviour, then their interactions with a child can shift in a more positive direction.

“The parents are trying to pick their battles,” Jenkins said.

But today’s parents may be at a loss on how to practise positive parenting since many of their parents didn’t use it with them, said Dr. Andrea Feller, a member of the CPS’s early years task force that wrote the position statement.

Past parenting advice was well intentioned and based on what was known at the time, she said. But experts in child brain development no longer recommend discipline that includes punishments like shaming and blaming.

Experts say positive parenting fosters loving, predictable and secure relationships between a child and their parent or guardian. the Canadian Paediatric Society, in a new position statement, is for first time asking all primary care practitioners to encourage positive parenting.

Feller encourages parents who feel conflicted between the way they were raised and adopting positive parenting to trust themselves.

“Parents are a child’s first, best and most important teacher,” said Feller,a pediatrician in the Niagara Region and a mother of two children under 12.

In fact, the CPS said the reason behind the new statement is that while there are many factors that can put kids at risk for developmental problems, parenting is one that can be easily changed. The focus is on children aged zero to six years.

child
Time outs ‘have a place’ but should not be used to discipline children under the age of three, who only understand that a parent or caregiver has turned them away, says Dr. Andrea Feller of the Canadian Paediatric Society. 

 

Recommendations to doctors

One way parents can get guidance is at the doctor’s office. The CPS is encouraging pediatricians and family doctors to be comfortable asking parents about their relationship with a child and how well the family is coping.

At every visit, clinicians should ask questions about a child’s behaviours and family routines, such as “What is your child’s bedtime routine?”

Parents of young children commonly ask doctors for advice on crying, sleep and challenging behaviours, so that could serve as an opening for those types of conversations.

Clinicians are also encouraged to broach difficult and sometimes uncomfortable topics, such as trauma, and ask questions like “Has anything stressful happened to you or your family since I last saw you?”

To promote positive parenting behaviours, the society’s other recommendations to clinicians include:

  • Ask if there is a consistent caregiver, since that is a protective factor.
  • Model communication skills by being open, predictable, kind and curious.
  • Promote shared reading by families.
  • Incorporate family-friendly hours and proactive scheduling into their practice (e.g. “Let’s make an appointment for early next month” versus “Come back if you’re having difficulties.”)

Primary care providers can also direct parents to positive parenting books or free community supports such as local early years centres.

Shift to time ins

The document also included a section on time outs and time ins.

A time out creates a brief break in the child’s behaviours, even if it’s a positive one such as expressing curiosity or reaching for a hug. In a time in, on the other hand, the caregiver invites the child to sit and talk about feelings and behaviour in an age-appropriate way.

“Time outs have a place,” Feller said, but should be considered a “last resort,” since time outs can drift inappropriately into punishment.

What’s more, time outs have no place in disciplining children under the age of three, who only understand that a parent or caregiver has turned them away. Often, Feller added, it is the parent who needs a break.

Feller noted social workers and early childhood educators already encourage positive discipline.

Now medical professionals are making the shift toward helping parents recognize that a young child’s misbehaviour is often a way for them to communicate: “I can’t handle things right now. I need your help.”

Pediatrician Daniel Flanders, founder and director of Kindercare Pediatrics in Toronto, said the position statement is reasonable.

“It’s a positive step in right direction, but it’s a really small one,” Flanders said. What’s missing is practical ways to help parents implement it.

“It’s all fair and good to say this is how parents should parent, but it’s a whole other ball game when a single mom is trying to make it through the day, and she doesn’t really have any resources or any support to really help her parent in all the ways this position statement is encouraging.”

Amina Zafar · CBC News  April 14

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amina Zafar has covered health, medical and science news at CBC since 2000. She has a degree in environmental science and a master’s in journalism.

source: www.cbc.ca

 

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Does sugar make kids hyper? That’s largely a myth

Does sugar make kids hyper? Maybe.

The idea of a link between sugar and hyperactivity in children dates to the 1970s, when the Feingold diet was prescribed by a pediatrician with the same name as an eating plan to alleviate symptoms of ADHD.

“His diet eliminated artificial flavorings, sweeteners and preservatives — and so sugar kind of got lumped in, as well,” King said.

This diet may have led parents to perceive that sugar is a culprit when it comes to kids’ excitable behavior — even if it is not the true cause of one’s hyperactivity.

In one study from the mid-’90s, researchers gave children a drink containing a sugar substitute. One group of moms was told that their kids were drinking a high-sugar drink; the other group was told the truth, that their kids were consuming a sugar substitute. Mothers who were told that their kids consumed sugar rated their kids as more hyperactive, even though they didn’t consume any sugar.

“Just thinking their children were consuming sugar caused moms to perceive their children as being more hyperactive,” King said.

“When children consume sugar, it’s usually around something fun: holidays, birthdays, celebrations; there’s already that excitement there,” she said. “I don’t think you can say the sugar made them run around and play with friends. … That would be very hard to separate out.”

Instead, a release of the hormone adrenaline might explain a child’s overly energetic behavior. “It’s a flight or flight hormone; when you are excited or fearful, it increases heart rate and directs blood flow to the muscles, which may make children more antsy and have the urge to keep moving, so you may be perceiving that as hyperactivity,” King said.

“If you look at the peer-reviewed evidence, we cannot say sugar absolutely makes kids hyper; however, you can’t discount that sugar may have a slight effect” on behavior, said Kristi L. King, senior pediatric dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In the mid-1990s, a meta-analysis reviewed 16 studies on sugar’s effects in children. The research, published in the medical journal JAMA, concluded that sugar does not affect behavior or cognitive performance in children. “However, a small effect of sugar or effects on subsets of children cannot be ruled out,” the article said.
Like adults, some children may be more sensitive to blood sugar spikes than others. This may mean they are more likely to become aroused when consuming sugar.
Notably, a small percentage of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may be extra sensitive to sugar, and their behavior changes when they eat it, according to Jill Castle, a registered dietitian and childhood nutrition expert who teaches a parenting course called the ADHD Diet for Kids. “They may become more aggressive or hyperactive or difficult to parent,” Castle explained. Minimizing sugar in the diet can be beneficial for these children.

According to Castle, lots of sugary foods can also equate to elevated amounts of food dyes, artificial flavors or other additives that could be problematic for a child with ADHD, often making it difficult to tease out whether sugar is the culprit.Complicating the issue is the fact that we don’t have a way to determine whether there is a link. “Is there a biomarker? A hormone level?” King asked. “It’s disheartening for parents. … They want answers. And unfortunately, nutrition is such an individual thing.”

 

Sugar and hyperactivity: Positive link or parent perception?

To try to determine whether your child is truly sugar-sensitive or just excited about a celebration, Castle recommends eliminating sugary foods from the diet for a few weeks and then testing the child with a sugary food like soda, frosted cake or a tablespoon of sugar in 100% juice, and watching the child’s response. “It may be a quick way to determine how sugar may be affecting the child,” Castle said.

Then again, like the parents in that study, you may just think they’re being hyper just because you know that they consumed sugar.

Tips for parents

Even though most kids don’t have a sugar sensitivity, that doesn’t mean sugar is good for their health. Sugary foods and beverages deliver calories without any nutrients. What’s more, eating foods high in added sugars throughout childhood is linked to the development of risk factors for heart disease, such as an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure in children and young adults.

To keep kids healthy, the American Heart Association recommends that children ages 2 to 18 consume less than 6 teaspoons – or 24 grams – of added sugars daily. To put that number in perspective, consider that 24 grams is the amount of sugar in just one 1.55-ounce chocolate bar. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, well over a day’s worth.

If you are looking for ways to cut back on sweets for your children, here are some tips to get started:

Gradually reduce the amount of sweets in your child’s diet. This is good advice for all kids, with and without ADHD. “I teach the 90/10 Rule for the appropriate balance of nourishing foods and sweets and treats, which equates to one to two normal-sized portions of sweets or treats each day, on average,” Castle said. If there seems to be a strong sensitivity to sweets, Castle recommends removing sweets and added sugar from the diet as best as you can.

Establish routine meals and snacks on a predictable schedule. “Anecdotally, this is one of the main things I work on with families, and they tell me they feel their child is calmer and better-behaved. There is something to be said for nourishing the brain and body on predictable, consistent intervals of three to four hours,” Castle said.

When introducing foods with added sugars, pair them with protein, healthy fat or fiber. This helps to blunt the effects of blood sugar surges and drops, and it optimizes satiety.
Castle and King suggest the following combinations:

  • Cookies with milk
  • Candy or chocolate with nut butter on crackers
  • Ice cream with nuts or oatmeal crumble topping
  • Cake with milk or milk alternative

Experts say you can also include your treat as part of a snack or meal. “If you’re at a party, try veggies and hummus and then having some dessert!” King said. “Or eat a small, sensible meal with lean protein, like turkey meat; add some cheese and baby carrots, and then add a fun treat or small sugar-sweetened beverage.”

Don’t eat sugar on an empty stomach. Doing so can lead to a surge in blood sugar, and that itself may alter a child’s behavior, according to Castle.

Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of water. Also, avoid sugar-sweetened beverages on top of eating sugary foods, King advised.

Don’t hype up sugar. If you don’t have sugar and candies in your house often, and you bring sweets home and make a big deal about it, your child may pick up on it and become excited, King explained.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN       Thu April 18, 2019
Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, an author and a CNN health and nutrition contributor.
source: www.cnn.com


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Canada Needs a Comprehensive Mental Health Strategy

Mental illness is the most common illness found in Canada’s children and teens. We all know a young person who struggles with depression, anxiety, an addiction or a behavioural disorder. Mental illness causes high levels of distress in children and can significantly interfere with their lives.

But mental illnesses can often be prevented from developing, or becoming more severe and difficult to treat.

A new report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that 14 per cent of all children and teens in the province were diagnosed by a doctor with at least one mental disorder during the four-year study. These are diagnosed cases, so if we included all children who experienced a mental disorder, the percentage would be higher.

Other provinces report similar findings. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario found that 34 per cent of high school students had a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress and 12 per cent seriously thought about suicide in the past year. A report prepared for the British Columbia government found that 12.6 per cent of four-to-17-year-old children experienced a clinically significant mental disorder at any given time.

What struck us, in completing the Manitoba report, is that mental illness touches children from all corners of the province and across all socio-economic levels.

But children in families with many parenting challenges — like poverty, being a teen mom or being involved with child welfare services — are at greater risk of developing mental illness. Our results also suggest children from rural areas may not have adequate and timely access to mental health services.

Manitoba records over a four-year period show that 74 out of 100,000 teens died by suicide. And these tragic deaths are only a fraction of those with mental illness. For every teen suicide, there are another 200 or more teens who struggle with depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), addictions or schizophrenia.

Suicide most often occurs when mental illness — and the conditions that place children and teens at risk for mental illness — are not addressed. It’s crucial to instil hope in our young people and build awareness of the many solutions to their problems.

mental health

So how can we better support children with mental illness? How do we create hope and better lifelong health and success for this future generation?

It’s essential to develop and invest in a comprehensive child and youth mental health strategy at provincial and national levels. We need strategies to promote positive mental health and provide supports and services early in the illness. Home visiting in early childhood, for example, reduces depression, anxiety and use of substances in children.

Children require a warm, nurturing environment. High levels of stress damage the mental health of children. Prevention programs include positive parenting, home visiting, antibullying initiatives and mental health promotion in schools — all aimed at preventing mental illness from developing.

More than half of mental disorders have their roots in childhood, so increasing resources for children will reduce the burden of mental illness in adulthood.

Our study found that children with mental illnesses are more likely to have lower grades and less likely to graduate. They’re also more likely to be accused of a crime or to be victimized. They’re more likely to be from families living in social housing or receiving income assistance.

Increasing the mental health knowledge and skills of people working with children across education, social services and justice systems would mitigate the untoward effects of mental illness.

Canada spends too little on mental health compared to other developed countries. The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends that nine per cent of health budgets should go to improving mental health services.

Investments in mental health and wellness for children and teens will go a long way toward creating hope and a brighter future.

Jan 17, 2017        Waterloo Region Record       By Mariette Chartier and Marni Brownell

Mariette J. Chartier, RN, PhD, is a research scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Chartier has published in the area of population health, mental health and prevention and early intervention programs for children and their parents. Marni Brownell, PhD, is an expert adviser with EvidenceNetwork.ca and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She is also a senior research scientist with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and a research scientist with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. © 2017 Distributed by Troy Media


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ADHD Commonly Co-Occurs With Other Mental Health Diagnoses

Looking at a Comparative Psychiatry study

It’s common for adults with ADHD to also have another co-occurring mental health diagnosis, according to a study published in Comparative Psychiatry. Rates of mental health disorders are significantly higher among adults with ADHD, suggesting that ADHD itself may be a predictor of other mental health difficulties.

ADHD and Other Comorbidities
For the study, researchers reviewed psychiatric profiles of a sample of adults seeking outpatient psychiatric care. Each of the 1,134 participants participated in a semi-structured diagnostic interview based on DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for various mental health disorders. The study’s findings showed a significant connection between ADHD and other mental health conditions.

Patients who had ADHD were more likely to experience social phobia, impulse control disorders, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, and eating disorders. They were less likely to experience adjustment disorders or major depressive disorder. Patients with ADD—the inattentive type of ADHD without a hyperactivity component—were more likely to have eating disorders and social phobia.

The Connection Between ADHD and Mental Illness
The study did not explore and does not specify why ADHD is a predictor of other mental health issues. A number of factors could be at play, and it is unlikely that just one explanation accounts for the full spectrum of mental health issues associated with ADHD. Some possibilities include:
•    Genetic influences that lead to ADHD are similar to those that lead to other mental health disorders.
•    The challenges of life with ADHD. ADHD makes everyday tasks challenging, and environmental factors can contribute to a number of mental health issues. It’s possible that ADHD triggers environmental changes that in turn trigger further mental health difficulties.
•    ADHD symptoms could accompany some mental health diagnoses. For example, bipolar disorder can impede concentration and contribute to hyperactive behavior, mimicking the symptoms of ADHD.

adhd

The Challenges of Diagnosing Adult ADHD
Many clinicians still treat ADHD as a childhood disorder. Some even tell parents that their children will grow out of their condition. For this reason, adults with ADHD—particularly those for whom symptoms only appeared in adulthood—may experience delays in diagnosis. They may be incorrectly diagnosed with other disorders, such as impulse control issues, depression, or personality disorders. This study makes it clear not only that ADHD can and does persist into adulthood, but that adulthood ADHD is a significant predictor of other mental illnesses.

Common Symptoms of Adult ADHD
Knowing the symptoms of adult ADHD can help you get an accurate diagnosis. Clinicians sometimes focus on behavior in school when diagnosing children, so detecting hyperactivity and inattention in adults may prove challenging. Some signs to monitor for include:
•    An intense need for stimulation; you might find boredom intolerable.
•    Chronic procrastination, even when you commit to completing something on time.
•    Difficulty remembering dates, deadlines, and where you placed familiar objects. Chronic forgetfulness and missed deadlines are a hallmark of ADD and ADHD.
•    Impulsive or aggressive behavior, particularly during times of stress.
•    Substance abuse; while not always a symptom of ADHD, some people with ADHD turn to drugs and alcohol to manage their symptoms.
•    Depression, anxiety, and other symptoms as a result of problems at work or in relationships.
•    Difficulty listening to other people or following a conversation.
•    Frequently fidgeting or interrupting others during conversations.

If you suspect you have adult ADHD, tell your clinician your symptoms, since mentioning ADHD can increase the odds of an accurate diagnosis. Lifestyle remedies, therapy, and stimulant medications can all help symptoms, and a combination of all three typically works best.

References:
ADHD comorbidities revealed in adult patients. (2016, June 29). Retrieved from http://www.clinicalpsychiatrynews.com/specialty-focus/bipolar-disorder/c…|%20ADHD%20Comorbidities%20|
Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (2016, March 31). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/home/ovc-20198864

 Joel Young, M.D    Posted Jul 20, 2016      When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart
Coping with mental illness, substance abuse, and the problems that tear families apart
Joel Young, M.D., teaches psychiatry at Wayne State University, and is the Medical Director of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine.


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Dopamine Deficiency And Your Mental Health

by Deane Alban    ON JULY 11, 2015

If you wake up every morning and feel like “the thrill is gone,” you may have a dopamine deficiency. Dopamine is the main brain chemical responsible for making us feel motivated. Low levels of dopamine can manifest in some very disruptive ways. It can leave you feeling fatigued, apathetic, moody and unable to concentrate. Just as importantly, it plays a role in many mental disorders including depression, addiction of all kinds, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and schizophrenia. Understanding how dopamine affects your life is a key to taking control of this neurotransmitter — instead of letting it take control of you.

What Is Dopamine?

Dopamine is considered one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters, along with serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. It has several distinct major functions. It’s been called the “motivation molecule” for providing the drive and focus you need to be productive. It’s also been called the “reward chemical” since it’s in charge of your brain’s pleasure-reward system. Dopamine plays a role in numerous brain functions involving mood, sleep, learning, the ability to focus and concentrate, motor control, and working memory.

What Does Dopamine Do?

Understanding dopamine’s functions is a work in progress. Over 110,000 research papers have been written about it, yet scientists are still trying to determine exactly what it does. Here are some of the known functions of dopamine: Dopamine is crucial to the feeling of motivation you need to work towards both long-term and short-term goals. It delivers a feeling of satisfaction when you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Dopamine is released when your needs are about to be met .

Dopamine helped our ancestors survive by giving them an energy boost when presented with a great opportunity, such as locating a new source of food. You wouldn’t think we’d need to be motivated to find food, yet alarmingly, lab mice with dopamine deficiency are so unmotivated they starve to death — even when food is readily available. Our modern lifestyle doesn’t provide the same opportunities for dopamine boosts that our ancestors experienced, like hunting down dinner. But we still seek dopamine because of the way it makes us feel — alive and excited.

There are both healthy and unhealthy ways to get a dopamine lift. You can boost your dopamine watching or playing sports, learning something new, finishing a project, or landing a new account at work. Any form of accomplishment that gives you that “Yes, I did it!” feeling will increase dopamine. The unhealthy way to stimulate dopamine production is with addictive substances of all kinds.

Low Dopamine Symptoms

Dopamine deficiency sucks the zest out of life. It can leave you feeling apathetic, hopeless, and joyless. It makes it hard to start things and even harder to finish them. Common low dopamine symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Insomnia
  • Hard time getting going in the morning
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory loss
  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Inability to connect with others
  • Low libido
  • Sugar cravings
  • Caffeine cravings
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Inability to lose weight

 

Dopamine Deficiency Related Disorders

When dopamine levels are out of balance, they can be an important factor in many mental health and other systemic disorders. Here are some of the most common conditions that have a dopamine deficiency connection.

Low Dopamine And Depression

Depression is usually thought of as due to a lack of serotonin, another “feel good” brain chemical. But there’s a growing body of evidence that dopamine deficiency is the underlying cause of depression for many people instead. This explains why selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — depression medications that work by increasing serotonin — work for only 40 percent of those who use them. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is an antidepressant that works by addressing low dopamine for those who have not been helped by SSRIs. There’s a difference in the symptoms of depression experienced by those with serotonin versus dopamine deficiency. Dopamine-based depression expresses itself as lethargy and lack of enjoyment of life, while serotonin-based depression tends to be accompanied by anxiety.

happy-chemicals-dopamine-serotonin-endorphin-oxytocin

The Dopamine Addiction Connection

People low in dopamine are more prone to addictions of all kinds. People with dopamine addictions often rely on caffeine, sugar, smoking, or other stimulants to boost their energy, focus, and drive. What they are really doing is self-medicating to increase their dopamine levels. Using self-destructive behaviors to overcome dopamine deficiency can lead to addictions of all kinds — video games, shopping, gambling, sex, money, power, alcohol, and drugs.

Dopamine And Parkinson’s Disease

When dopamine-generating brain cells in one specific part of the brain die, it leads to Parkinson’s, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Parkinson’s usually starts with a slight tremor in one hand. Patients gradually lose their ability to regulate their movements and emotions. There is no cure but so far the most effective treatment is levodopa, a natural compound that converts into dopamine.

ADHD And Dopamine

The underlying cause of ADHD is still unknown. But it is widely accepted that the root cause of ADHD is probably an abnormality in dopamine function. This seems logical since dopamine is critical for maintaining focus. Most ADHD medications are based on the “dopamine deficiency” theory. Prescription medications used to treat ADHD are believed to work by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine while slowing down their rate of reabsorption.

Schizophrenia And Dopamine

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors are believed to play a role. One prevailing theory is that it’s caused by an overactive dopamine system . Supporting evidence for this theory is that the best drugs to treat schizophrenia symptoms resemble dopamine and block dopamine receptors. However, these medications can take days to work, which indicates that the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood.

Dopamine Deficiency Symptoms In Fibromyalgia And Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Both fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are associated with low dopamine levels. Low dopamine symptoms experienced by FMS and CFS patients include brain fog, achy muscles, poor concentration, tremors, poor balance and coordination, and walking abnormalities.

How To Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

If you experience signs of low dopamine, you don’t have to live with it. There are several lifestyle changes that can increase dopamine naturally.

Dopamine Foods

The amino acid tyrosine is a precursor of dopamine. Tyrosine-rich foods provide the basic building blocks for dopamine production. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that converts into tyrosine.

Virtually all animal products are good sources of both tyrosine and phenylalanine. Here are some other foods known to increase dopamine:

  • Legumes
  • Almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds
  • Apples, avocados, bananas, watermelon
  • Beets, green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee and green tea
  • Oatmeal
  • Turmeric
  • Wheat germ

Dopamine Supplements

Dopamine is a serious medicine used in emergency situations like heart attacks and shock. So while actual dopamine supplements are not available, there are many dopamine boosting supplements you can try. The most obvious dopamine supplement to consider is l-tyrosine. Without it, you can’t make dopamine. Even if you think you get plenty of l-tyrosine in your diet, you may not be converting it effectively.

There are several forms of tyrosine supplements available. Dopamine used by the brain must be produced in the brain, so it’s important that any dopamine enhancing supplement you take gets into the brain. That’s why we recommend acetyl-l-tyrosine, an absorbable form that can readily cross the blood-brain barrier. Next, look into vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Deficiencies of all three are extremely common, and each can contribute to dopamine deficiency. Lastly, you can look into taking a dopamine enhancing supplement. Here are some supplements proven to increase dopamine:

  • Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean or cowhage)
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • L-theanine
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e)
  • Bacopa monnieri
  • Curcumin

Some dopamine supplements contain phenylethylamine, the precursor of tyrosine, but we don’t recommend them. Phenylethylamine is pretty useless for increasing dopamine levels. Once it reaches your brain it has a half-life of only 30 seconds.

Activities That Boost Dopamine Levels

Any activity that makes you feel happy and relaxed increases dopamine. Physical exercise increases dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters and is responsible for what’s known as “runner’s high”. Get a therapeutic massage. It can boost dopamine by over 30 percent. Meditation increases dopamine. So do mind-focusing hobbies like knitting, home repair, gardening, painting, photography, or woodworking. Playing and listening to music you enjoy releases dopamine . Engage in “seeking and finding” activities. This emulates the hunt that provided our ancestors with their dopamine boosts. Take on new challenges and set small milestones. Accomplishing goals, even small ones, trains your brain to release dopamine.

For more information on increasing your levels of dopamine, read this article “How to Increase Dopamine Naturally.”

Overcoming Dopamine Deficiency: The Bottom Line

Dopamine deficiency can sap the joy from life. It also plays a role in many mental health conditions, including depression and addictive behaviors. Make appropriate lifestyle changes to increase your dopamine levels.

  • Eat a diet high in dopamine boosting foods.
  • Get plenty of physical exercise.
  • Engage in stress-reducing activities.
  • Take appropriate dopamine enhancing supplements.

Deane AlbanThis article was brought to you by Deane Alban, a health information researcher, writer and teacher for over 25 years. For more helpful articles about improving your cognitive and mental health, visit BeBrainFit.com today.


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Childhood ADHD linked to secondhand smoking

BY SHEREEN LEHMAN

(Reuters) – Children exposed to tobacco smoke at home are up to three times more likely to have attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) as unexposed kids, according to a new study from Spain.

The association was stronger for kids with one or more hours of secondhand smoke exposure every day, the authors found. And the results held when researchers accounted for parents’ mental health and other factors.

“We showed a significant and substantial dose–response association between (secondhand smoke) exposure in the home and a higher frequency of global mental problems,” the authors write in Tobacco Control.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two of every five children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly.

Alicia Padron of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida and colleagues in Spain analyzed data from the 2011 to 2012 Spanish National Health Interview Survey, in which parents of 2,357 children ages four to 12 reported the amount of time their children were exposed to secondhand smoke every day.

The parents also filled out questionnaires designed to evaluate their children’s mental health. According to the results, about eight percent of the kids had a probable mental disorder.

About seven percent of the kids were exposed to secondhand smoke for less than one hour per day, and 4.5 percent were exposed for an hour or more each day.

After taking the parent’s mental health, family structure and socioeconomic status into consideration, children who were exposed to secondhand smoke for less than one hour per day were 50 percent more likely to have some mental disorder compared to kids not exposed at all.

And children who were habitually exposed to secondhand smoke for an hour or more each day were close to three times more likely to have a mental disorder.

In addition, kids exposed less than one hour per day were twice as likely to have ADHD as kids who weren’t exposed, and children exposed for an hour or more on a daily basis were over three times more likely to have ADHD.

Smoking

“The association between secondhand smoke and global mental problems was mostly due to the impact of secondhand smoke on the attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder,” the authors write.

The study looks at a single point in time and cannot prove that secondhand smoke exposure causes mental health problems, the study team cautions.

Frank Bandiera, a researcher with the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston who was not involved in the study, liked that the researchers “controlled for parents’ mental health in the new study because that could be a confounder.”

But, he added, the study might be limited because, although the questionnaires are thought to be valid, the mental disorders were not actually diagnosed by physicians.

“We’re not sure if it’s causal or not,” Bandiera told Reuters Health. “I think (the research) is still in the early stages and the findings are inconclusive.”

But, he said, since secondhand hand smoke has been related to a lot of physical diseases, parents should avoid smoking around their kids.

“We need to sort it out more, so we’re not sure yet, but just as a precaution, I don’t think parents should smoke at home – they should keep their kids away from secondhand smoke,” Bandiera said.

Lucy Popova, from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said there is a lot of evidence about the harms of secondhand smoke on physical wellbeing.

“But research on effects of secondhand smoke on mental health have been really just emerging and this study really contributes to this growing body of evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke in children might be responsible for cognitive and behavioral problems,” she said.

Popova, who wasn’t involved in the study, said no amount of secondhand smoke is safe – any exposure is bad.

“So parents should not expose their children – the best thing to do is quit,” she said. “And this will not only not expose their children to the secondhand smoke, but will also let them enjoy their life with their children longer.”

SOURCE: bmj.co/1ajZCX4 Tobacco Control, online March 25, 2015           Reuters.com


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Vitamin D Benefits Common Mental Illnesses By Regulating Serotonin

Study reveals how vitamin D benefits mental disorders, as do omega-3 fatty acids.

Serotonin regulation could explain why vitamin D benefits many brain disorders, as do marine omega-3 fatty acids, a new study finds.

Depression, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and even schizophrenia have all been linked to low levels of vitamin D and omega-3.

Low levels of serotonin have been found to impair memory, planning, social behaviour and increase impulsiveness and aggression.

Supplementation with these essential nutrients has shown promise in improving some of these conditions.

Until now, though, scientists have been unsure of the mechanism of how omega-3 and vitamin D benefits such a wide range of conditions.

 vitamin D

Vitamin D benefits

The new study, published in the FASEB Journal, finds that the link could be how they interact with serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter (Patrick & Ames, 2015).

Dr Rhonda P. Patrick, the study’s first author,

“In this paper we explain how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behavior.
We link serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting one way these important micronutrients help the brain function and affect the way we behave.”

Vitamin D is mostly produced in the body when sun strikes the skin, which is why these levels tend to be much lower in the winter.

Along with low levels of vitamin D, many people do not eat enough fish and so have low levels of two critical marine omega-3 fatty acids — Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Dr Patrick said:

“Vitamin D, which is converted to a steroid hormone that controls about 1,000 genes, many in the brain, is a major deficiency in the US and omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies are very common because people don’t eat enough fish,”

The researchers think that the correct intake of both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D benefits many brain disorders.

source: PsyBlog


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Sunny Regions Reflect Lower ADHD Rates: Study

By Brenda Goodman, HealthDay News

TUESDAY, Oct. 29, 2013 (HealthDay News) — Sunny days can be a big distraction for those who are tethered to their desks, but a new study suggests that sunlight may actually lower the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Scientists mapped the number of ADHD diagnoses across the United States and in nine other countries. They compared those rates to the intensity of sunlight those regions receive year-round.

Regions that got the most sun had rates of ADHD diagnoses that were about half as high as regions that got the least, according to the research.

“The maps line up almost perfectly,” said study author Martijn Arns, director of Brainclinics, in the department of experimental psychology at Utrecht University in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

In the United States, the sunniest states were in the Southwest and West and included Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Rates of ADHD diagnoses in those states ranged from 6 percent to 8 percent. In the darkest states, which included a swath of the Northeast, rates of ADHD ranged from 10 percent to 14 percent.

The relationship between ADHD and sunlight held steady even after researchers adjusted their data to control for other factors that might account for differing rates of ADHD diagnoses, such as race, poverty and the male-to-female ratio in each area.

Researchers even considered whether vitamin D, which is produced in the body after exposure to sunlight, might account for the differences, but they said a prior study ruled that out.

They also examined whether more sunlight might be tied to lower rates of other kinds of mental disorders, including depression and autism. It wasn’t.

sun

The researchers admitted that the link could just be a coincidence, and there isn’t necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship between sunny climates and lower rates of ADHD diagnosis. But since some children and adults with ADHD have disrupted body clocks, which are regulated by light, they believe the relationship deserves further investigation.

Arns said about 80 percent of adults and about one-third of children with ADHD have trouble falling asleep at night. Some studies have found that these night-owl tendencies are driven by a delayed peak in the sleep hormone melatonin.

Melatonin seems to be especially disrupted by the blue wavelengths of visible light, Arns said. Energy-saving LED light bulbs, as well as the screens of tablets, smartphones and computers emit blue light. When people use those devices in the evening, it can delay melatonin release and disrupt sleep.

But Arns said people who live in sunny climates may get some natural protection from this sleep upset because they get a healthy dose of bright light in the morning, which keeps their body clocks on track.

He’s currently exploring ways to test his theory.

An expert who was not involved in the study, which was published in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, said he’s not sure melatonin is the best explanation.

Children in sunny climates may spend more time playing outside, for example, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“There’s a small but growing literature talking about exercise as a way to moderate ADHD and hyperactivity,” Adesman said. “There could be other variables that are responsible.”