Vatsal G. Thakkar treats many adults for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms. As a doctor who treats these cases, he establishes that their symptoms start in childhood. In his recent article to the New York Times, he describes an examination of a new patient with ADHD symptoms and discovers this person has no previous childhood history of ADHD. So Dr. Thakkar probed further the causes of distractibility, proscratination, misplacing of possessions, hyperactivity and lack of focus that plagued his patient – all classic ADHD symptoms.
Turns out that what Dr. Thakkar discovers is an individual with a poor sleep routine, and a new job with different working hours disrupting the patient’s embedded habits and therefore causing him to miss out on the restorative benefits of a full night of sleep. The article goes on to explain that the most important helpful therapy he could recommend to this new patient was to implement unwinding and relaxation time before going to bed.
“The patient didn’t have A.D.H.D., I realized, but a chronic sleep deficit. I suggested some techniques to help him fall asleep at night, like relaxing for 90 minutes before getting in bed at 10 p.m. If necessary, he could take a small amount of melatonin. When he returned to see me two weeks later, his symptoms were almost gone. I suggested he call if they recurred. I never heard from him again.”
It is quite illuminating for adults who may find themselves in situations similar to the one described above. If they do not recall having been diagnosed with ADHD as a child, maybe the pressures of adjusting to a new life situation are the causes of ADHD-like symptoms, so that they are not really ADHD after all!
This can be a relief for many since there is now many more natural avenues to consider before getting the wrong diagnosis and therefore being prescribed medication, or even getting more complicated and expensive therapies.