Stress depletes the brain’s chemicals. As a result, the brain becomes sluggish and inefficient. The impact on the ADD/ADHD brain is even more significant.
How does stress affect you when you have ADD/ADHD?
Besides the feeling of your own overwhelm and exhaustion, ADD/ADHD and stress has a powerful impact on your family.
So many things in our overly stimulating life cause stress today, and where there’s stress, chaos follows.
When you have ADD/ADHD, the effects of stress on the brain can be even more heightened and intense.
The Effects Of Stress
A few years ago, Psychology Today published an article about the effect that stress has on the human brain.
Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Integrative Biology, discovered that chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that can lead to a constant state of fight-or-flight) can generate an overproduction of myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than normal.
Kaufer et al published their findings in the February 11, 2014 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry. She writes (emphasis mine):
‘We studied only one part of the brain, the hippocampus, but our findings could provide insight into how white matter is changing in conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, depression, suicide, ADHD and PTSD,’ Kaufer said.
The hippocampus regulates memory and emotions, and plays a role in various emotional disorders and has been known to shrink under extended periods of acute stress.”
Additionally, chronic stress can turn stem cells into a type of cell that inhibits the prefrontal cortex, further limiting both memory and learning.
Knowing this, it stands to reason that when exposed to high amounts of stress, those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD would become increasingly forgetful during or after bouts of high stress.
They may also respond to those around them in a negative way quicker than they would otherwise.
Health Risks For Those With ADD/ADHD
WebMD tells us that a lot of unmanaged stress for a person with ADD/ADHD can raise the risks of various health problems and worsen symptoms of others.
For example: Tics or Tourette’s syndrome, depression or anxiety attacks, and fibromyalgia or chronic pain syndrome might all surface or worsen.
What To Do
The effects of stress on those with ADD/ADHD affect their families and loved ones, without intention.
It is so important for anyone – especially those with ADD/ADHD – to manage their stress. Some simple stress reducing ideas are:
Exercise. Yes you’ve heard this before – because it’s true. Evidence shows that the effect that exercise has on the body helps to reduce stress and can help improve focus for some individuals.
Medication. There is obviously no magic pill for stress reduction. However, for those struggling with ADHD, stimulating medications that improve focus can help with productivity. When someone with ADHD is able to be productive, the weight of stress can be lifted.
Sleep. You cannot minimize the negative impact lack of sleep has on brain function. Get some!
Need more information or help? Contact me at The Taylor Solution. I’ll find the solution that’s right for you.