#1 Cause of Environmentally-related ADHD and ADHD-like symptoms

June 22nd, 2010 by Victoria Dunckley, M.D. Leave a reply »

Video game player

Just let me finish!

If I were asked to list the top 10 environmental reasons for ADHD and ADHD-like symptoms, numbers 1-7 would be electronic over-stimulation.

This is an insidious and pervasive culprit poisoning our children’s developing brains and minds, and is easily remediedNearly every patient I see presents with attention problems (concentration, organization, execution of tasks), irritable mood, and/or being “revved up”, which can look like hyperactivity, no matter what the underlying diagnosis is!

Changes that occur due to “electronic pollution”:
  • hormonal disturbance (melatonin, and fight or flight hormones)
  • neurochemical dysfunction (release and then depletion and withdrawal of dopamine)
  • disorganization of circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycle)
  • electromagnetic radiation due to screens, downloading, and electricity
  • shunting of blood flow away from the frontal lobe and cortex, which govern executive functioning and higher order thought processes.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study on thousands of children aged 8-18, from 2005-2009, the average child spends 10+ hours EVERY DAY on media.  (if using 2 media systems at once, they counted that separately.)  “Media” included computer time at school and at home, video games, handheld games, listening to music online and watching TV.

If your child is easily upset, can’t sleep, can’t focus on school work, is falling behind, or is extremely irritable, before you spend a million dollars getting them evaluated, simply eliminate all video games.   That means no handheld, no playstation, no games on the computer, and no TV watching on the computer.   Small amounts of TV where a child is at least 8 feet away from the screen is less harmful.  There is some evidence that cartoons can also trigger central nervous system irritability, so minimize or eliminate these.

Seriously.  What have you got to lose?

Do you have any insights into your child’s behavior after playing video games?  Please share!

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