Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Reality of Parents Today; Difficulty in Treating Neuro-developmental Disorders.

Writing about the tragedy in Highland Park where a car driven by Carly Rousso hit and killed Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento led me to writing this.  For the past ten years or so I've noticed a detectable increase in the number of cases that have come my way where children, adolescents and young adults have had a history of hard to diagnose or categorize disorders that seemingly have some sort of neuro-developmental origin.  Their histories are full of attempts to treat them for ADHD, Bi-polar Disorders, Anxiety Disorders or other Pervasive Developmental Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.  Some are adopted children whose parental history is either unknown or known and full of drug use stories but many are biological children where no apparent drug use history by either the mother or father is evident.

What I do know is that they show up at my office still looking for an answer.  Their treatment histories are full of information on a variety of medications that have been tried with little to no success.  Common meds include stimulants (Adderall), tranquilizers (Benzodiazepines), various anti-psychotics and anti-epileptics.  Most have developed a history psychoactive substance use and abuse.  Many seem to be hypersensitive to SSRI's and report significant and negative effects when they've been tried.  Some report that small amounts of cocaine seem to make them feel human for once and most call Starbucks or Caribou Coffee their home away from home.

In a nutshell they appear to show a good deal of sensitivity to any substance that alters the biochemistry or neurochemistry of their neurotransmitters and neurotransmission.  All report that their natural physical state is one of discomfort and agitation and all report that various substances whether prescribed or used illicitly remove the discomfort in the exact same way that aspirin removes the pain of a headache.  Unfortunately it is this type of reinforcement paradigm that forms the basis for much of the substance dependence we see today.

For the parents of these kids, even in the best of cases, it's a wild and highly stressful ride.  Just about any impulsive behavior is possible and often becomes a reality.  Even with constant mental health care, nightmare outcomes are possible.  From a treatment point of view there is not much in the way of Evidence Based Treatments. 

Time will tell if growing out of it is a common outcome but until then the parents of these kids live a nightmare and the kids themselves continue to search for a chemical answer that does not contain a downside as far as personal alienation, arrest, dependence and abuse or other negative result.


Anonymous said...

I believe one of the things making a major contribution to the diminished "natural" state you have described in your post is the effect of food additives and overall poor quality of the typical American diet. It is well understood that diet is a direct cause of a number of physical illnesses including Type II diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The growing number of young adults showing early symptoms of heart disease is shocking. Why would it be a far stretch to think it might impact behavior as well?

As an example, there is growing support that artificial sweeteners are contributing to the rise in ADHD among America's youth. Add to that the potential negative impact of artificial colors, high amounts of sugar, low amounts of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (like omega-3's) and you have a compelling case that diet is a major contributor to the problems you describe.

Anecdotally, I can say with absolute certainty that healthy eating helps me be my best. Quality of personal interactions, productivity and general life enjoyment all respond positively to a healthy diet.

Unfortunately for our kids, factors from poor quality school lunches to poor understanding of nutrition by parents to a medical system reliant on pharmaceuticals all contribute to the conditions you describe.

John Conlin said...

Ok but why now and not 40 years ago as far as behavior goes? We had many processed foods back then as well. Neurological system develops in the first 10 weeks after conception yet we have better prenatal care now than ever. I think the neurotoxins are airborne and not ingested.