ADHD and anxiety

Why does my child hit me?

All humans display anger before the age of 1. This will usually be noted as an angry expression on their face when they are halted from an activity that they wanted to perform. Anger is not aggression. Aggression is where a person acts out in a physical way, as a result of the anger that they feel. Where anger is common for all people of all ages, aggression is not. Only 17% of children display aggression (Perra et al., 2020). A child who feels anxious, is more likely to act aggressively. This anxiety is even higher if the children feel that they are different in some way (Chung et al., 2019).

Abigail dHotman Medical Herbalist

One of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD that all different countries agree on is “impulsivity” (Marangoni et al., 2015). This is where a person acts on an impulse, without thinking of the consequence.

By combining a level of anxiety, a lack of impulse control, and anger (an unavoidable emotion). We have a child that will lash out and hit their parent.

Why does my child suffer from anxiety?

You do everything to give your child a relaxed, happy life. You use an intentional parenting technique where your actions and reactions are thought through. Yet, your child displays that they have anxiety. I know this can be very disheartening and can make you feel very judged and inadequate. ADHD, ADD, ODD and CD are genetic. There is a genetic reason that a child with this diagnosis responds differently. The way they use dopamine is different (Mogavero et al., 2018).

Dopamine the key neurotransmitter.

To best understand the genetic reason behind why people diagnosed with AHDH use dopamine differently, you need to understand how nerves work. To be more specific, how the nerves communicate with each other through the synapse.

Nerve cells don’t touch, but have microscopic gaps, and send chemical messages to each other. These gaps are called a synapse. The nerves communicate in one direction across the synapse, the synapse therefore has 2 sides, the axon terminal and the postsynaptic terminal.

To break it down to as simple terms as possible, I will equate the synapse to a relay race. On the one side of the synapse, we have the start line. This start line is called the axon terminal. When the starter gun is fired, the axon releases the signal (baton, in the relay analogy). Biochemically this is referred to as depolarisation. The signal (baton) is raced across to the postsynaptic terminal (the finish line), where the signal is received, and creates a change. When the signal (baton) is no longer required because the action has taken place, the axon terminal reabsorbs the baton (Marieb & Hoehn, 2012).

Abigail d'Hotman

Dopamine is the signal (neurotransmitter) that helps to keep you alert, focused and happy. This is the signal that is released when this behavior is required. People who have ADHD, genetically have more active dopamine transporters, so use dopamine more quickly (Mogavero et al., 2018). In other words, the baton is reabsorbed quicker than is required to relay the signal.

What has all this got to do with herbal medicine?

Dopamine is not a neurotransmitter that can be supplemented (Stoker, 2012). Herbal medicine is ideal in this instance because it stimulates your body to heal itself. In other words, we stimulate the body to make its own dopamine. The logic behind this is the more dopamine released in a synapse, the more signaling before reabsorption. Most children diagnosed with ADHD, ADD and ODD are already medicated. Herbal medicine such as Passiflora incarnata, and Melissa off. combined with other herbs to reduce anxiety are the better choice. Herbal Medicines prescribed by a registered practitioner will not cause any adverse events with current medication.

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Reference list:

Chung, J. E., Song, G., Kim, K., Yee, J., Kim, J. H., Lee, K. E., & Gwak, H. S. (2019). Association between anxiety and aggression in adolescents: a cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics, 19(1).

Marangoni, C., de Chiara, L., & Faedda, G. L. (2015). Bipolar Disorder and ADHD: Comorbidity and Diagnostic Distinctions. Current Psychiatry Reports, 17(8).

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. N. (2012). Human Anatomy & Physiology (9th Edition) (Marieb, Human Anatomy & Physiology) (9th ed.). Pearson.

Mogavero, F., Jager, A., & Glennon, J. C. (2018). Clock genes, ADHD and aggression. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 91, 51–68.

Perra, O., Paine, A. L., & Hay, D. F. (2020). Continuity and change in anger and aggressiveness from infancy to childhood: The protective effects of positive parenting. Development and Psychopathology, 33(3), 937–956.

Stoker, S. H. (2012). General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry (6th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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