ADHD is a serious concern. Looking at the symptoms, it’s easy to see how it wreaks havoc in your child’s life and challenges any parent’s nerves. Irritability, distractibility, disconnection from learning, and to top it off the crippling effects it has on your child’s self-esteem as they suffer through the emotional backlash of adults and role models who can barely tolerate this crippling symptom list. It can feel like the cards are stacked against you and your child and others don’t have enough patience to offer the help you legitimately need.
The number of children and adults diagnosed with ADHD is increasing every year. Thankfully, a fair amount of stigma surrounding mental health has been lifted so we can catch these cases sooner. Adderall and Ritalin are effective in reducing symptoms. Therapy helps repair the emotional damage done and offers a context to build the necessary skills to manage life better… but that’s assuming your kid has ADHD.
Take any child into a psychiatrist with this list of symptoms, without a doubt, you’ll receive an ADHD diagnosis. Unfortunately, what most psychiatrists aren’t aware of is these same symptoms perfectly match another common problem – sleep disorders. If that’s the issue, the last thing you want are amphetamines like Adderall running through your system making it harder to fall asleep and completely upending the quality of sleep you do manage to get.
Research shows more than 50% of children diagnosed with ADHD actually suffer from a sleep disorder but only a tiny fraction receives the proper diagnosis. Compounding the problem, most parents don’t realize their children (and themselves included) aren’t getting enough sleep. A recent study found over 70% of parents think their kids get enough sleep when a mere 25% make the cut.
So, what can you do? If you believe your child is suffering from ADHD it’s worthwhile having them assessed by a sleep specialist. If sleep is the problem don’t run to your doctor just yet. Sleeping pills can be a huge mistake merely sedating your child (interfering with actual sleep) and are linked to a long list of life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease. While highlighting these side effects, the American Medical Association added pills have almost no effect in adding hours to sleep anyway. What has proven extremely effective is Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia. Within 12 sessions the vast majority of people end up logging in the eight hours of sleep they need to have the happy, calm, and productive life they’ve been missing.
Rabbi Yonasan Bender LCSW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He works with adults, couples, and children from his private therapy practice in Jerusalem. He holds several semichos from Rav Yitzchok Berkovits, shlita. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Rabbi Yonasan Bender LCSW at 053-808-0435 and at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his website at www.jerusalemtherapy.org.