9 Places to Find Help for ADHD


20 Common Symptoms of ADD and ADHD in Women

Not all ADHD presents the same. Some women are hyperactive; others are sluggish. Some love having a lot of commotion and stimuli in their lives; others need to frequently retreat to a quiet space to recharge.

Consider the list of symptoms below that are not often listed in the ADD literature but which are commonly described by women with ADHD. Is it any wonder that your daily activities can be so overwhelming?

1. Hypersensitivity to noise, touch, smell. Women with small children are often overwhelmed by the constant interruptions, the noise level and commotion at home.

2. Feelings of low self-worth. Women may feel they should be able to “do it all” and feel defeated when they can’t keep up. Juggling parenting and work responsibilities can simply be overwhelming.

3. Hypersensitivity to criticism. Again, high expectations since childhood of being a “good girl” can make women with ADHD more vulnerable to these sensitivities.

4. Poor sense of time, often running late.

5. Being emotionally charged and easily upset. This is exacerbated during hormonal changes.

6. Starting projects but seeming unable to finish them. Do you have piles of empty photo books? Heaps of unfinished sewing projects?

7. Taking on too much. On top of work and parenting, there is often the need for women to take on even more, like volunteering, helping out with school-related functions, making meals from scratch, etc.

8. Difficulty remembering names. This often gets worse before, during, and after menopause.

9. Saying things without thinking, often hurting others’ feelings. Women often express themselves much more freely than men. Enter ADHD, and they can often say what first comes to mind, which can inadvertently hurt feelings.

10. Appearing self-absorbed. With ADHD, a person can be so involved in their inner world or dialogue, that it seems to others that she is not invested in the conversation or relationship.

11. Seeming to not want to hear what others are saying. This is especially difficult for women, who often want to connect socially, but have difficulty doing so. Their sensitivity to criticism sometimes indirectly builds a wall and makes intimacy more challenging.

12. Engaging in addictive behaviors. While addiction is associated with ADHD in general, women tend to struggle with addictions like shopping, too much TV (soaps!), and overeating.

13. Problems with word retrieval. This often worsens during menopause.

14. Poor handwriting. This can be an embarrassing issue, as society seems more accepting of poor penmanship in men.

15. Difficulty with boring, repetitive tasks. Examples include laundry and other housekeeping chores.

16. Spending time ruminating. Obsessing is common with ADHD, but women tend to spend even more time ruminating than men with the condition.

17. Difficulty making decisions. Anything that requires many choices, like grocery shopping, can be problematic.

18. Clumsiness and poor coordination.

19. Tiring easily, or conversely, difficulty sitting still.

20. Difficulty falling asleep and difficulty waking up the next morning. Again, made worse during menopause


10 Coping Mechanisms for Thriving With Adult ADHD

Many adults with ADHD have found systems and coping mechanisms to manage the everyday symptoms of ADHD. However, others struggle daily with distraction, lack of organizational skills, and becoming easily overwhelmed. The strategies below can help adults with ADHD develop coping skills:

  1. Make time for exercise every day. Exercise helps increase focus and attention, decrease excess energy, and helps combat symptoms of depression. Including an exercise program in your daily routine will provide you with many benefits.
  2. Accept yourself and your limitations. Remember that ADHD is not a made-up diagnosis. A diagnosis of ADHD can help you to understand why you act in a certain way, but it is not an excuse for inappropriate behaviors.
  3. Find people that accept you. Adults with ADHD may feel that those around them do not understand them, and criticize or judge them for their behaviors. If the people you are spending time with make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate, find other people to be with. Look up local support groups in your area or create your own network of friends that accept you and you feel comfortable around.
  4. Look for time in your day to unwind. Use transitional time between activities to de-stress and unwind. Stop on your way home from work to sit at a park for 10 minutes or let your family know that when you arrive home you need a few minutes of downtime before entering family activities.
  1. Create a system for prioritizing your day. Look over what needs to be accomplished and complete the items that are most important first. Leave those that are less important for later. Should you become distracted, you will know that you still have accomplished the most important items for the day.
  2. Use your own internal clock to your benefit. If you are a morning person and are more productive early in the day, arrange your day for the most important items to be accomplished in the morning. If you find that you do best in afternoons, arrange your day this way. Look for jobs that will allow you to be flexible in your schedule to make the most of your own productive patterns.
  3. Create deadlines for projects. If you find that you constantly procrastinate, outline a project you are going to begin and set deadlines for each step of the project. Even if you are working around the house, give yourself a time limit to complete portions of the task.
  4. Break down all tasks into steps. Adults with ADHD are often overwhelmed with large projects and tasks. Many times, this causes the project to go unfinished and, in some cases, never even started. Instead of looking at the project as one complete task, look at it in steps. For example, if you are going to clean your house, make it a system: first, make the beds; second, straighten the living room; third, dust and vacuum. Don’t worry about any steps other than the one you are currently working on.
  1. Provide your own structure. Develop systems to help you give your day routines such as a daily schedule. Use organizational helpers like to-do lists, PDAs, daily planners, and tape recorders.
  2. Learn about ADHD. The more you learn about your diagnosis, the more prepared you will be to handle the daily difficulties. Read books, ask your doctor questions, or join support groups.

10 Ways to Help Reduce Hyperactivity in Children with ADHD

Not all children with ADHD have hyperactivity, but for those that do, sitting still is an almost impossible feat. The constant physical activity can be frustrating for parents and a nightmare for teachers when hyperactivity causes a child to constantly disrupt the class. But for children with hyperactivity, physical activity is not the only aspect. Their minds often don’t shut down. Thoughts go a million miles an hour and in many different directions. To help a child learn to manage or reduce hyperactivity includes strategies to help lower physical activity levels and to calm thoughts.

The following are 10 ways parents can help reduce hyperactivity.

1. Provide a good breakfast.

If your child’s teacher complains that he is frequently disrupting the class by fidgeting or getting up from his seat, start your child off with a good, healthy breakfast. Hunger and blood-sugar peaks and valleys can make a child more hyperactive.

2. Teach deep breathing/yoga/tai chi/meditation.

While many of the strategies are things a parent can do to help their child, it is also important to teach your child methods for self-regulation. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, or meditation all help a child learn to slow down their thoughts and their bodies. Work with a professional if you aren’t sure how to teach your child these different methods of relaxation.

3. Take a walk.

For moments of high activity at home, taking a walk outside can help your child calm down. Being outside and regular exercise have both been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms. If your child is still young, plan a daily walk around the block into your routine. If he is older, have him take a short walk outside before settling down to do homework or another quiet time activity.

4. Use a boredom box.

Hyperactivity zooms when boredom sets in. Create a box of activities geared toward your child’s interests. The box might contain dress-up clothes, art supplies, Legos, models, or whatever activity tends to hold your child’s interest. To keep the box interesting and novel, switch items once in awhile and once he has lost interest, put the box away until it is needed again.

5. Routine and structure.

Make sure your days, even weekends and vacations, follow a routine. Children with ADHD thrive in structured environments, when they know what to expect. Allow for transitional time in between activities to help your child move from one to another

6. Use music.

Soothing music, such as classical music, can help some children calm down. Experiment with different types of music to find out what works for your child. Use music in the background for times when activity levels should be low, such as homework time, dinner time, or before bedtime.

7. Create a quiet time area.

Create a space in your house for your child to retreat to during “quiet time.” You could use a bean bag chair and have plenty of books, puzzles, and coloring books to keep your child busy and quiet.

8. Exercise every day.

Add exercise to your child’s daily routine. Making sure your child gets at least 20 minutes of exercise each day can help reduce ADHD symptoms all day – and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. Even during the cold winter months or on rainy days, try to find indoor exercises for your child. Many of the video games have an exercise game to help your child keep moving and entertained.

9. Stay calm yourself.

Children react to your reaction. If you get upset, frustrated, or angry, their hyperactivity levels may increase. Take a few deep breaths, go into the other room, and take a short break if you need one. Staying calm and reacting with a neutral voice will help your child remain calm.

10. Provide fidget alternatives.

For children who seem eternally restless or must fidget whenever they are trying to sit still, provide fidgeting alternatives to help them release energy and keep moving without disturbing others. Your child might sit still for longer periods of time if he has a stress ball or other object in his hand he can manipulate. Chewing gum may also help (but usually isn’t allowed in school.)

While hyperactivity can cause inappropriate behavior in some situations, remember, hyperactivity is also seen as a positive trait. Many adults with ADHD appreciate their endless energy and feel they are able to accomplish much more than those without hyperactivity. Help your children learn to harness the excessive energy and use it to help them accomplish their goals.


12 Things High School Students with ADD/ADHD Want Their Teachers to Know

As educators and parents prepare for the upcoming school year, I thought it would be helpful to share the following list that has been compiled by teens with ADHD.

They have kindly shared with me what is important to them and what they find most frustrating in working with teachers and parents. (Editing has been done to improve clarity.) Throughout my son’s high school career, I have copied this list countless times, giving each of his teachers insight into his behaviors and feelings at the beginning of the school year.

Teachers, parents, and administrators around the country have asked numerous times for permission to reprint the list. Please feel free to share it with other parents and teachers that you think may benefit from it.

12 Things Teens with ADHD Would Like Their Teachers to Know

1) I forget things, even important things.

There is a myth that states, “If it is important enough, you will remember it.” Please understand that this is a myth. My memory may not work the same as yours. Just because I forget does not mean that it doesn’t matter. I am not trying to be a smart alec or arrogant when I say “I forgot.” I really do forget.

2) I am not stupid.

I may sometimes lose my place during your class or take a few minutes to get my thoughts together before speaking, but I am not stupid. ADHD does not have anything to do with intellect.

3) Please be patient if I ask the same question many times or ask too many questions.

I am not trying to be arrogant. I am trying to understand. I am trying to comprehend, and I am trying to remember what you have said.

4) I really do want to do good.

For many years, I have struggled with schoolwork. It is frustrating for me. I want to pass your class, I want to do my best, and I want to feel good about the work I have done.

5) I do complete my homework.

I often lose papers, leave my homework at home or in my locker. I often don’t know where my homework is when it is time to hand it in. But I do complete it. Loose papers are the most difficult to keep track of. If it is possible to complete my homework in a notebook, I will be able to keep track of it better.

6) ADHD is not an excuse, I should not use it as one, and neither should you.

ADHD is a real disorder. It causes me to forget things, to be impulsive, to act without thinking, to lose track of my belongings, to be inattentive, and sometimes it causes me to process information a little more slowly. I do not like being different and would very much like to be “normal.” I do not like to be made fun of for being different.

7) I need help to succeed.

This is sometimes very hard for me to accept. I do not like having to ask for help. Sometimes asking for help makes me feel stupid. Please understand this and be patient. Please sometimes offer your help without my having to ask. Please understand that needing help makes me feel inadequate and that I may resent you asking. That doesn’t mean that I do not want or need your help.

8) If you notice me acting in inappropriate ways, please talk with me in private.

Please do not talk to me in front of the class. This is humiliating. Please do not insult me or call attention to my differences or weaknesses in front of other students.

9) I don’t like having “special accommodations” in the classroom.

Sometimes they are needed to help me succeed and do well. But that doesn’t mean that I like it. Please don’t call attention to any special treatment in front of other students. Please do not draw attention to my ADHD.

10) Detailed explanations of your expectations will help me.

I work best when I know exactly what you expect from me. I will do best if your expectations are in writing so that I can refer back to them if needed. The more detailed your classroom and class work plan is, the better I will do. Knowing what to study and how to study will help me when taking tests. Knowing how you expect projects to be completed will help me to do a good job.

11) Learning about ADHD is one of the best ways to help me.

Read about ADHD, how to teach children with ADHD, and talk with parents and other teachers to learn as much as you can. Understanding and learning about ADHD will help me to do better in your class.

12) Although I have ADHD, I am not ADHD.

I am a person. I have feelings, hopes, and expectations. I have needs. I want to be liked and accepted. I want to feel good about myself. All of this is important to me. Sometimes I act out to hide my embarrassment or shame. This does not mean that something is not important. On the contrary, it means that it is very important and I am hiding my disappointment that I failed.


5 Mistakes Adults with ADHD Make at Work

The workplace can be a difficult place for adults with ADHD. Lack of focus, procrastination, lateness, and disorganization are common signs of ADHD in adults. All create problems on a day to day basis at work. According to a study completed in 2003, adults with ADHD were much more apt to have problems than their non-ADHD counterparts. The study showed:

  • About 44 percent of adults with ADHD reported some behavioral problem at work as compared to less than 3 percent of those without ADHD
  • Over 17 percent of adults with ADHD have been fired from a job at some point in their careers as opposed to less than 4 percent of non-ADHDers
  • Approximately one-third of adults with ADHD have quit at least one job because of boredom as compared to 15 percent of those without ADHD
  • A little over 17 percent of adults with ADHD felt compelled to quit a job because of hostility in the workplace, as compared to less than 5 percent of those without ADHD
  • Around 11 percent of adults with ADHD have been disciplined by their boss as compared to less than 1 percent of non-ADHDers

What is an adult with ADHD to do? Many try to work harder, take more work on to prove themselves, or end up sacrificing other areas of their life to focus on their jobs. The following are five mistakes adults with ADHD often make when trying to improve work performance.

1. Trying to conform.

One of the positive traits of ADHD includes thinking outside the box. That means you often have a new or unique way of doing things. Trying to accomplish tasks according to a non-ADHDer’s instructions often doesn’t work. Whenever possible, adapt tasks to your way of learning and accomplishing. Revise procedures to work with your thinking and learning style. If you have a job where tasks must be completed in a certain way, use mnemonics, lists, or other reminder systems to help you follow along with the procedures.

2. Trying to work harder.

From the time you were in grade school, you might have heard things like, “not trying hard,” or “not living up to potential.” You have it ingrained in you that if you just try harder, you can do it. However, working harder isn’t usually the answer. It makes you exhausted and more prone to burn-out.

3. Trying to do it all.

You might believe that you must prove that you can do the work, that you must accomplish just as much, if not more, than your non-ADHD counterparts. You are afraid to ask for help because you think others will say, “See, he can’t do it.” You come in early, stay late, work through lunch, and frustrate yourself trying to keep up. This often makes the situation worse because of the added stress. Instead, talk to your boss, explain exactly what you need help with and why this help is beneficial to you and the company.

4. Giving up other parts of your life to make the job part work.

It might take you longer to complete a project or task than it does for those without ADHD. You want to do a good job and want to focus on your work. You give up other parts of your life, such as your social life or time for yourself. Unfortunately, “all work and no play” frequently ends up with you tired, irritable, and lonely. No matter how demanding your job is, schedule time each week to get together with friends and family, spend quality time with your partner and children, and do something you enjoy. Those with a balance of work and play are usually more satisfied with their lives.

5. Not writing down information.

Deficits in short-term memory are an ongoing problem for adults with ADHD. You think, “I will remember that,” only to forget it a few minutes later. You might worry that you will become distracted or lose your momentum if you stop what you are doing to write down information. But not writing down information often leads to problems later. Instead, keep your phone, tablet, or pen and paper handy at all times to jot down notes and miscellaneous information. You can take time later to put the information in the proper place, such as your calendar, but take the first step and get it written down.

CategoriesADHD,  Narcolepsy

Types of Narcolepsy: What You Might Not Know About The Different Types of Narcolepsy in an Overview

Narcolepsy is an intrusive sleeping disorder that is currently affecting around 200,000 American people. Narcolepsy is one of medical science’s most unique sleeping disorders. Not only is Narcolepsy itself an odd and interesting disorder, it comes as a package deal with various other unique medical problems like Cataplexy, hallucinations, Automatic Behavior, and even Sleep Paralysis. Patients who have been diagnosed with the disorder should learn about all types of Narcolepsy, and undiagnosed patients who may be suffering should study Narcolepsy and its different types.

The Different Types of Narcolepsy

Technically, there are not different types of Narcolepsy. Unlike other sleep disorders like Sleep Apnea, there is not a central and an obstructive classification. Narcolepsy is the same in all patients who suffer from its symptoms. The disorder is defined as the uncontrollable urge to sleep at inappropriate times during the day; this is absolutely true in all patients with Narcolepsy, so technically, there is one medically recognized type of the disorder.

More often than not, however, most Narcolepsy patients experience at least one or more complicated disorders in addition to their Narcolepsy. The majority of narcoleptics also suffer from one of the following four complications: Cataplexy, Hypnagogic Hallucinations, Automatic Behavior, and Sleep Paralysis.

Narcolepsy with Cataplexy

Only three million people in the entire world suffer from some type/degree of Narcolepsy. Out of those three million people, only two percent also suffer from Cataplexy. Cataplexy is thought to be unique to Narcolepsy patients, and is often one of the disorder’s primary identifiers; it is often associated with other Narcolepsy symptoms like Sleep Paralysis and hallucinations.

Cataplexy is defined as the sudden loss of muscle tone and strength coupled with severe daytime sleepiness. The sudden loss of muscle strength can be mild or severe. In mild Cataplexy episodes, there may only be a small portion of muscle on the body that becomes paralyzed. In opposition, severe episodes of Cataplexy can leave the entire body unable to move or speak for several minutes at a time. These sudden changes in muscle tone are often triggered by the patient’s witnessing of a strong emotional response.

Laughter, crying, and shouting are some of the most common triggers in people with this type of Narcolepsy.

Cataplexy is extremely dangerous, and is one the leading causes for accidents, especially automobile accidents. Because Narcolepsy patients are unable to determine when an episode of Cataplexy will occur, there Cataplexy victims often live in constant fear of witnessing a trigger and embarrassing themselves in public.

Narcolepsy with Hallucinations

Unlike the rare Cataplexy, this type of Narcolepsy is extremely common. Patients who suffer from Narcolepsy are at a high risk for experiencing Hypnagogic Hallucinations; in fact, hallucinations are one of the disorder’s most commonly recognizable symptoms. Where Cataplexy is only present in two percent of all Narcolepsy patients across the world, as many as fifty percent of all narcoleptics are thought to suffer from Hypnagogic Hallucinations.

There are two main types of hallucinations: Hypnagogic Hallucinations and Hypnopompic Hallucinations. Hypnagogic Hallucinations occur during the transitional period that takes place when the brain is shifting from a place of wakefulness to one of sleep. Hypnopompic Hallucinations, on the other hand, are the opposite; these hallucinations occur when the body is shifting from a place of sleep to one of wakefulness. Hypnagogic Hallucinations are seen in this type of Narcolepsy, and can be extremely vivid.

Patients who also suffer from Hypnagogic Hallucinations experience intense dream-like visions when they are falling asleep. Many Hypnagogic Hallucinations incorporate various images that actually present in the sleeper’s environment into vivid hallucinations. These hallucinations can involve the manipulation of the patient’s vision, hearing, sense of touch, sense of balance, and even their ability to move. Many Narcolepsy patients who suffer from the hallucinations describe them as bizarre, and even frightening. Because the hallucinations are so realistic, patients become afraid of them; many patients even fear the hallucinations as a sign of mental instability.

Narcolepsy with Automatic Behavior

One of the most interesting, and consequently dangerous, types of Narcolepsy includes symptoms of Automatic Behavior. Often confused with sleep walking, Automatic Behavior refers to the continuation of an activity that was taking place while before falling asleep after falling asleep. In many cases, Automatic Behavior occurs when patients with this type of Narcolepsy attempt to fight off sleepiness in an effort to complete an activity. For example, patients who suffer from this type of Narcolepsy may suddenly fall asleep while washing the dishes. Instead of dropping the plate they were holding when they suddenly fell asleep, patients with Automatic behavior continue washing the plate as if they remained awake.

Although Narcolepsy patients with Automatic Behavior continue performing the activity while unconscious, they have absolutely no memory of the even upon wakening; the event is out of conscious control. Unconscious periods of continued behavior can last anywhere from a few short seconds to as long as half an hour. Patients who experience this unique disorder often wake up in strange places disoriented and frightened. Automatic Behavior becomes a serious and dangerous problem when it occurs during dangerous activities like driving or cooking.

Automatic Behavior, also called automatism, is not unique to Narcolepsy types. It is a common symptom of many different psychiatric and neurological disorders. Schizophrenia and Fugue are common psychiatric disorders that are associated with Automatic behavior.

Narcolepsy with Sleep Paralysis

Although it is possible to see symptoms of Sleep Paralysis in patients plagued with disorders other than Narcolepsy, Sleep Paralysis is most commonly associated with this form of Narcolepsy. In addition to Cataplexy and hallucinations, Sleep Paralysis, which can also be called Isolated Sleep Paralysis, completes the trio of famous Narcolepsy identifiers (in addition to daytime sleepiness, of course).

Narcoleptics who suffer from Sleep Paralysis experience periods on paralysis, either when going to sleep or upon wakening. During an attack of Sleep Paralysis, the victim is completely unable to move voluntarily, and must wait for the attack to pass. Although Sleep Paralysis is passing, and not physically harmful, it can still be terrifying and stressful to try and deal with on top of Narcolepsy’s other problems and complications.

CategoriesADHD,  Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy Treatment and Drugs

Narcolepsy is a sleep illness that affects the lives of over three million people in the world today. This illness knows no color or class. It is found in both the rich and the poor. Some of the aspects of narcolepsy can be dangerous to the patients suffering from it and the people around them. Treatment of narcolepsy is a must for anyone who is plagued by this illness.

Narcolepsy treatments come in many forms. Most people, who have narcolepsy sleep disorder, must undergo a comprehensive treatment plan in order to have a chance at a normal life. Ultimately, this means a very rigid schedule is necessary to keep sleep attacks at a minimum and medications are usually needed to control the symptoms of narcolepsy.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

The symptoms of narcolepsy can range in severity and they can cause a person much stress on a day to day basis. These can be as simple as someone forgetting to take the shopping list to the store with them after they very carefully wrote it. This person may not be a forgetful person, but narcolepsy has a way of causing such small dramas. The following is a list of narcolepsy symptoms and what can stem from them:

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (E.D.S.) – This is when a person has trouble staying awake during the times when they need to be awake. They may fall asleep during a meeting at work, or in worse cases, while driving a vehicle.
  • Cataplexy- This is when a person suddenly a without warning loses muscle control. This can result in falls, which can leave a person seriously injured.
  • Sleep paralysis- This is when a person is aware of their surroundings, but can’t move or speak. This usually happens right when the person is going to sleep, or just as they begin to wake up.
  • Hallucinations- This is when a person sees or hears things that are not there. This is very common in people suffering with sleep paralysis.

Dangerous Aspects of Narcolepsy

Without proper treatment narcolepsy can get out of control and become dangerous to the person suffering with it, as well as the people around them. This can make every day, normal activity a real hassle to those involved, especially if the person with narcolepsy does not involve the people he or she knows by telling them about this condition. A person suffering from narcolepsy may be considered rude or lazy by those not knowing the whole story. This in turn can lead to embarrassment. Here is a list of the life altering aspects associated with narcolepsy symptoms:

  • Cooking can be a real hazard if the person falls asleep even for just a few seconds. This danger includes the stove catching fire and sharp knives causing injury.
  • Driving vehicles and/or operating machinery are already an activity that requires extreme attention in order for it to be safe. Someone with narcolepsy poses an increased risk for fatal injuries, especially if untreated.
  • Schooling can be drastically affected if a person with narcolepsy falls asleep during a lecture. Important information can be lost in just a few seconds.
  • If a person falls asleep on the job, the most likely disciplinary action is termination. A person with narcolepsy risks this situation on a daily basis. If the condition is made known, the employer may be lenient when dealing with situations like this.

Non Medication Narcolepsy Treatments

Treatment for narcolepsy starts at home with the person making a conscious decision to change his or her lifestyle. These changes, in necessity, range from somewhat important to very necessary, depending on the severity of the illness in the person. These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Better sleeping habits
  • Avoid night time work
  • Scheduled naps during the day time
  • Involve friends, family, and co-workers
  • Improved diet
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and over the counter medications that promote drowsiness
  • Keep a sleep journal handy at all times
  • Wear a medical bracelet to alert others of the condition
  • Seek counseling

These lifestyle changes combined with narcolepsy treatment drugs can provide anyone suffering with narcolepsy with a more normal life. These changes all must start with the person saying “I can change for the betterment of my life”.

Medical Treatments for Narcolepsy

Most of the time, narcolepsy is misdiagnosed due to the lack of medical history in a person. This could result in the prescribed medications being the wrong ones. Trial and error is usually the only thing that can be done in the beginning of narcolepsy drug treatment. Here is a list of types of drugs commonly used in the treatments of narcolepsy.

  • Stimulants- These are very common types of drugs used to promote wakefulness. Stimulants should be taken carefully, due to the side effects. Patients suffering from any psychiatric ailments should avoid stimulants.
  • Antidepressants- These are used to treat cataplexy and hallucinations due to sleep paralysis.
  • Sodium Oxybate- This is used to promote very peaceful sleep. This type of drug has to be taken carefully in several doses for it to work properly. It reduces E.D.S. and works to prevent cataplexy attacks.

Usually patients with narcolepsy need more than one of these types of drugs for the effects to be successful in their treatment. Narcolepsy drugs, as with any drugs, need time to build themselves up in the person for the treatment to be of benefit to him or her.

Narcolepsy Drug Treatment-Specific Drugs

Some common stimulants used to stimulate the central nervous system are:

  • Provigil
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta

Some common antidepressants used to treat cataplexy and hallucinations are:

  • Prozac
  • Zoloft
  • Sarafem
  • Effexor

Some older tricyclic antidepressants include:

  • Vivactil
  • Tofranil

These two drugs aren’t as common due to the side effect they produce, although they are considered by doctors to be very effective in controlling cataplexy.

The most common version of sodium oxybate is:

  • Xyrem

Xyrem has to be taken with absolute, extreme care. This drug has been called the “date rape drug” due to the intense deep sleep it can induce. This drug is also not like the other narcolepsy drugs, because it is a liquid instead of a pill. The doses have to be taken in multiples over a period of hours for Xyrem to work properly. Too much at one time can cause coma or even death.

Check with your local clinic for more information on how to manage insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and other hypersomnias.  There may be a guide available with narcolepsy health information or a list of available treatments and drugs.

CategoriesADHD,  Narcolepsy

Challenges and Practices in Narcolepsy Diagnosis

Even though disease, Narcolepsy can be identified positively through physical observation, physicians are still misdiagnosing patients. Misdiagnosis happens especially when dealing with those that have psychological problems.  Clinical evidence suggest that tests on a patient’s cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) can nearly confirm Narcolepsy, as 90% of Narcoleptics tested in studies have shown to have no hypocretin-1 in their CSF.

Often doctors will rely on symptom reporting by patients, questionnaires, testing sleep latencies in patients, and monitoring a patient as he/she sleeps and may not test the patient’s CSF before starting therapy.  Doctors can however be firm in their diagnosis by observing the presence of nearly all Narcolepsy symptoms together in a patient.  The confirmation of cataplexy, for example confirms a patient has Narcolepsy, as it is unique to Narcolepsy.

Diagnosis and treatment of Narcolepsy is somewhat standardized but methods and drugs vary from patient to patient most of the time.  Upon diagnosis doctors usually choose to prescribe two frontline medications (modafinil, sodium oxybate).  Both of these drugs are habit forming and sodium oxybate can be very dangerous.  For this reason the process of diagnosis may take some time because the doctor wants to be sure of his diagnosis before prescribing it.

Most patients do not receive their Narcolepsy diagnosis until ten to fifteen years after the first symptoms start appearing. For a doctor to make a correct narcolepsy diagnosis they must take into consideration the patient’s family and medical history. This includes the medications the patient is taking and any even what the person eats regularly. Diagnosing narcolepsy becomes easy when the patient exhibits all major narcolepsy symptoms listed below:

  1. Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and an urge to take frequent naps during the day. These daytime naps must happen every day for six months at least in order for it to be considered as solid basis for narcolepsy diagnosis. Diagnosing narcolepsy is common in young adults and adolescents; bringing the problem to their attention when they suddenly fall asleep at school or at work. Sometimes, patients also experience insomnia but the majority of time a narcoleptic will have no issue falling asleep and entering almost directly into REM sleep.

  2. Cataplexy or sudden muscle weakness and loss of muscle control and tone, causing the patient to stop motor activity.

  3. Visual or auditory hypnagogic hallucinations that occur right before falling asleep.

  4. The inability to move upon awakening, or sleep paralysis.

However, narcolepsy diagnosis that’s based solely on symptoms can be problematic for several reasons. One reason is that some patients that receive a Narcolepsy diagnosis often seek medical advice for just one symptom (frequently hypnagogic hallucinations or sleep paralysis) which could be caused by other similar disorders; epilepsy in particular. Another reason for the difficulty in the diagnosis of narcolepsy is that the symptoms do not always become apparent to anyone for several years. This is true for the patient himself and even to a skilled observer. In certain cases, a patient is required to consult specialists in the field, or get treated and monitored at a sleep disorder clinic for a more effective treatment for Narcolepsy and to confirm that a patient does indeed have Narcolepsy.

Questionnaires for Diagnosing Narcolepsy

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is one of the questionnaires for sleeping habits that a doctor can administer to get a more reliable narcolepsy diagnosis. The ESS makes use of simple questions in measuring excessive sleepiness; differentiating it from the normal sleepiness we usually feel in the daytime. See figure 02-01a for the test.

Figure 02-01a: The Epworth Sleepiness Scale

*Note this test varies slightly with different results analysis.



Chance of Dozing0-none1-slight chance2-moderate chance3-high chance
Sitting and readingIndicate score (0-3)
Sitting inactively in public placesIndicate score (0-3)
As a car passenger for one whole hour without any breaksIndicate score (0-3)
Watching televisionIndicate score (0-3)
Sitting and talking to someoneIndicate score (0-3)
Sitting quietly after lunch (without alcohol)Indicate score (0-3)
In a car stuck for a few minutes in trafficIndicate score (0-3)
Lying down for an afternoon rest when circumstances allowIndicate score (0-3)
Show Results1 – 6: Getting enough sleep7 – 8: Tends to be sleepy but is average9 – 15: Very sleepy and must seek medical advice. Over 16: Dangerously sleepy

Multiple Sleep Latency Tests

MSLT or multiple sleep latency tests can also help in making an accurate Narcolepsy diagnosis. The MSLT makes use of a device that can measure the time a patient takes to fall completely asleep during the day while lying inside a quiet room. Patients are asked to take 4-5 scheduled naps that are 2 hours apart. People with healthy sleeping habits usually fall asleep in 10-20 minutes. However, patients with a diagnosis of Narcolepsy show a significantly shorter time duration; approximately less than eight minutes, when moving from wakefulness to sleep. At least two of these naps are REM sleeps; the sleep state associated with dreaming. Still, the test has its limitations. There is no clear definition which abnormal results are proven to be basis for diagnosing narcolepsy. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale might be more precise in identifying narcolepsy from regular daytime sleepiness.


Polysomnography is a study of an overnight sleep that can prove valuable in determining the major cause of sleepiness. A patient, without changing any of his daily habits, goes to the sleep centre two hours before bedtime. Various devices are used to monitor the patient while he sleeps:

  1. The ECG or electrocardiogram monitors the patient’s heart
  2. The EEG or electroencephalogram monitors the brain’s electrical activity
  3. The Electrooculogram monitors the eye movements
  4. The Electromyogram monitors muscle movements

With these instruments, doctors can record a patient’s condition, and monitor activity as their patients pass, or fail passing, through the stages of sleep. Neuroimaging methods can also be used in studying or confirming physiological sleep theories and discovering new relevant information about neurobiological aspects of the human sleep, memory and dreams. A few studies in neuroimaging focus on subjects suffering from narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.

Narcolepsy Diagnosis and Narcolepsy Treatments are carefully adapting with new findings.  Newer drugs are replacing older ones and doctors are diagnosing patients with better confidence. With proper diagnosis Narcolepsy symptoms can be treated quickly and nearly all signs and symptoms of the neurological disorder can be substantially reduced.

CategoriesADHD,  Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy Diet and Food Habits Effect on Narcolepsy

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a disease that causes serious sleeping disorders to rise to the surface. At any time (especially during the day) narcolepsy victims experience sleep attack. Irrespective of time and place the sleep attack creates an embarrassing situation. Most Narcolepsy patients are depressed and hesitate to join in at any social or family events. This sleeping disorder can be threat for their professional life too. However, with more improved medical treatments and other therapies it is quite easy to heal diseases like cancer and others. Just a few changes in lifestyle and other practices can dramatically help to restore normalcy in a patient’s life.

Find out if you really suffer from Narcolepsy

A Narcoleptic patient has to go through two different levels of testing. This is the basic diagnosis of Narcolepsis. At the first level you go through a kind of Sonography. Polysogram is the first level. During this test more than two dozen electrodes are attached to different part of the body like nose, hand, abdomen and others. They transfer data to polysonogrph that records all the information. This helps the experienced professionals to diagnose the disease properly.

In the second level, the test will be on MLST or multiple sleep latency. This particular tool is used to record the time gap of daytime naps.

If you experience the effects of a sleeping disorder frequently, don’t ignore those symptoms. Often people consider them as general symptoms and later face severe difficulties in personal and professional life. When you have the option to prevent it, then why not start as soon as possible.

Take care of your food habits

For Narcoleptics, it is not good to drink alcohol. It is kind of depressant that weakens the nervous system and creates feelings of drowsiness. Therefore, for better sleep when it is an appropriate time to do so, it is best to avoid alcohol or any nicotine.

There are several side effects of sleepless nights. If you are not able to sleep properly at night, you won’t be able to work properly or concentrate on anything; this can result in other serious symptoms. Good sleep can enhance the working capacity of your brain. Thus don’t suppress it with alcohol or other intoxicants and try to sleep peacefully at night.

Not only does alcohol or caffeine affect sleep, but there are also specific dietary habits that can have a long-term effect on your sleep. Your food habits require changes if you experience sleeping disorder symptoms on a frequent basis. High protein or high-energy foods are good for those who suffer from the condition. It is also best to avoid junks or spicy food. This type of food affects the metabolism and the digestive system of your body and can result in Narcolepsy attacks. Try to eat a heavy meal at least five hours before you go to sleep. Don’t exercise after a heavy meal. If you can walk for fifteen or twenty minutes after your meals, it would definitely help you to sleep well at night. Drink water after an hour or two of eating food. You can also consult a nutritionist to get suggestions on a better, more helpful diet.

Many Narcoleptic people wake up at night to have something and they can’t sleep again until they eat. This is why majority of Narcoleptics end up gaining weight. When they wake up between sleep cycles, they are totally oblivious what had happened before. Still, a clue from the kitchen can help them to remember the whole scenario. It is not that they are hungry or they have the appetite to eat something. People facing this issue should try to stay away from food when they don’t need it. It won’t be very easy to avoid it at an advanced stage. Often you will fail to control the situation. Still if you try it now, you are bound to succeed once a positive habit has been formed.

Change your sleeping habit

As it is has been said earlier, sleeping disorders are the primary symptom of Narcolepsy. To prevent sleep attacks, a good, deep sleep at night is very important. After a certain time at night, forget all your office works or any other issues, no matter how important they are. If you want a productive morning, utilize the night. Try to sleep and awake at the same time every day. Sleep in dark and quiet room. For better sleep, try something that relaxes you. Drinking lukewarm milk or bathing in a warn tub before going to bed are some things worth mentioning. Narcolepsy patients can’t sleep for a long time at a stretch. In order to sleep properly, take a break of twenty minute. If it still doesn’t work, then read some books or magazines until you feel sleepy.

A daytime nap is good relief for Narcoleptics. Plan your daytime schedule so that you can get at least 15 to 20 minutes to take a nap. To avoid sleeping frequently during office hours, daytime napping is the best alternative, and some work environments may even have areas that would be convenient and discreet for taking a quick catnap while on break.

Regular exercise is good for Narcoleptics

Don’t forget to exercise regularly. It is well known that many Narcoleptics have been helped by yoga and other exercise forms. If you find it difficult to exercise, a brisk walk in the morning can be of great help. Exercise or walking increases the body strength and improves the metabolism of your body. Thus you can remain active during the day and enjoy a sound sleep at night.

Narcolepsy is not an incurable disease. If you can change your lifestyle, you can soon come out of it and you can also go for medication and natural therapies to get added relief. There are several holistic practices available that can help too. No matter what method you follow, practice it properly. Listen to what your doctor or mentor or nutritionist advises you, and don’t try to do it all on your own.

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