Fish Oil Reduces Symptoms of ADHD

Dealing with ADHD is a challenge for the best of parents and overwhelming for a child. The impact on a family, a school and a community cannot be overestimated in time, stress and expense. The child is the most damaged, because he cannot comprehend his situation. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can devastate the life of a child and continue its devastating effects into adulthood. The disorder has serious social and health implications as well depending on the treatment provided. This threat to both the health of individuals and society has focused much psychiatric research on this one disorder. As a result, there is good professional capacity to treat the disorder and significantly reduce its consequences for those affected. Numerous studies have indicated that fish oils can benefit ADHD patients and give them more control over their lives. This essay will explain the impact of ADHD, the treatment regimes that are commonly used and the improvements in medications, especially the use of fish oils. The impact of fish oil supplements has been a major important in social, economic, and quality of life by all measures.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition that inhibits focus and concentration for even the slightest mental activity. Children are especially sensitive to the disorder because it effects their development and learning. Inability to focus greatly retards learning. The lack of focus means that distraction is always present, even for adults. Distraction leads to impulsive behavior which in turn creates additional problems especially in a school environment. Hyperactivity can also be a factor. The combination of all these traits in one person complicates that person’s ability to learn and socialize. As the individual ages, ADHD characteristics can manifest in normal developmental challenges that come with puberty and adult relationships. ADHD in effect becomes even more difficult to diagnose as well as treat. For all these reasons ADHD has received considerable attention in the psychiatric community for a number of years resulting in effective courses of treatments. Treatments regimes are normally a combination of medication and psychotherapy that vary with each individual. Treatment often depends on other issues that may complicate diagnosis and influence the choice of therapies and medications.

Common conditions that include alongside ADHD are learning disabilities, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder. Learning disabilities come from imperfect understanding or imperfect reception of information that creates learning obstacles by affecting understanding. A child will comprehend something incorrectly and then apply that lesson in the learning process. This corruption degrades proper education by undermining learning. Many ADHD patients demonstrate high intelligence, but their ability to properly process information works against this inherent intelligence. Teachers not trained to deal with these issues cannot identify ADHD soon enough or react to it well enough to mitigate damage and maintain order in the classroom.

Oppositional defiance disorder is manifest with stubbornness and defiance even with adults. Patients exhibit a great deal of resistance to authority when it goes against their desires. This creates disciplinary situations in school and at home that put the recipient in jeopardy of attending school or other personal activities. In adults, this constant source of friction affects employment stability.

Conduct disorder includes acting out, lying, stealing or bullying. The obvious affront to the rules of order, place these patients in direct confrontation with rules as well as the law and in opposition with the best interests of other students or individuals. Expulsion from school is a common remedy when school authorities have exhausted other options to maintain the balance of a single student’s interests and the rest of the student body. This negative impact alone has tremendous social implications in later life.

Any of these conditions that are carried into adulthood create serious relationship issues that affect both family life and employment. The inability to learn coupled with erratic, impulsive behavior and a lack of concentration causes accidents and poor performance that makes keeping a job difficult. Personal relationships suffer from an apparent inability to balance responsibilities. Marriages often fail and parenting also suffers and perhaps propagates the issues into another generation. Further serious, accompanying disorders can include depression and other bipolar disorders with obvious serious implications, and even Tourette syndrome. Some of these disorders come from the stress and mental inadequacies of the disorder. Others come from the treatments themselves, especially the medications.

ADHD comes in three major classes: predominantly hyperactive- impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and a combination of the other two. The hyperactive-impulsive type is most disruptive to a class of students or even within the home. The ADHD patient becomes the object of attention which disrupts the good order required in a functional situation. The inattentive class is less dangerous to the social fabric, but more dangerous to the individual who does not draw attention to himself and may well be overlooked. The combination is most devastating because the individual multiplies his challenges at least twofold. The diagnosis of the extent of the disorder is an important factor in treating the disorder.

The personal, social, and psychological characteristics of the individual involved is vitally important in determining the particular treatment provided which underlines the requirements that treatment be constantly and consistently monitored by a physician. ADHD can be caused by physical, environmental and social factors that are different in every case. Medications are a major part of most treatment regimes. Currently in the United States there are more than 17 approved drugs and medications for use with ADHD cases. The strength and effects must be considered on an individual basis. Most of the medications are stimulants such as the familiar Ritalin. In some cases anti-depressants, especially in adults, are required to lessen the impact of the disorder. Needless to say, the use of these medications can have inconvenient side effects.

The more common side effects of current medications include loss of appetite, loss of sleep, and more rarely, tics or repetitive movements that appear suddenly as sounds or movements. More serious side effects include a lack of emotion and even hallucinations and suicide. ADHD is a mental issue. The brain is the center of attention in any treatment regime which explains the wide range of symptoms and complications.

Impact of Fish Oil on ADHD

ADHD has been linked to a number of social ills including academic failure, school exclusion, truancy and drug abuse, dysfunctional family relationships, and crime. In many of these cases the development of treatments has seen progress in psychotherapy and medications. One the most significant developments has been the use of nutritional options or supplements in normal treatment regimes. One of the most effective supplements is fish oil, specifically, omega 3 fatty acids.

Numerous school studies have indicated that regular doses of fish oil enhance concentration, lowers hyperactivity, and improves learning. One significant test in England resulted in the 66% reduction of severe ADHD and impulsive behavior along with a 72% reduction in attention disorders. Not only did test scores improve but the intervention opened a door to preventing disciplinary expulsions and exclusions for many students. This is a particularly sensitive issue in the United Kingdom that has experienced a 19% increase in expulsions in the last few years.
In another test, teenagers in another United Kingdom district demonstrated a 7% improvement in test scores of behaviorally challenged students after only 12 weeks of treatment with fish oils. Improvements in reading tests were especially pronounced. Girls were even more affected by the treatment than boys.
In studies of prison populations, violent behavior was significantly reduced. In Singapore, use of fish oil reduced violent behavior in the prison population by 33%. These studies indicated that more research should be made to determine the true causes of the effectiveness and the effects of the fish oil on treatment regimes and the use of other less natural medications.

The Magic of Fish Oil

Fish oil contains two fatty acids that are essential to brain development. In short, the absence or shortage of these two acids does not allow the brain to function properly. The standard American diet does not include adequate amounts of these acids. This may well account for the increasing incidence of ADHD in the population. These two omega 3 acids are a part of a group of long chain acids that are distinguished from short chain omega 3 acids found sources other than fish. The distinction must be explained in terms of human metabolism.

Fatty acids are biochemically important to metabolism and health in critical functions of the body. The body uses the nutrients in our food to produce the various building blocks that make us who we are. Metabolism requires certain substances to react in certain pathways and create chemical systems that help run our bodily functions. The brain is critical in many of these tasks especially the mental components dealing with intelligence, emotion and control. Sometime the body runs out of materials. This is the case with ADHD.

The two acids, DHA (ducosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are very important for the proper function of the heart, nervous system, kidney, liver, and brain. DHA is especially important as a constituent of cell membranes in the brain. In ADHD patients, the density of the cell membranes and the brain in areas controlling attention are especially less than normal brains. The long chain fatty acids DHA and EPA provide the substance materials for these critical areas. Providing them directly is the easier and natural process. However, diet sometime shorts the process. Short chain omega 3 acids available in non-fish sources can be converted to DHA and EPA but this is an additional and statistically inefficient biochemical process. It is much simpler for an individual to supplement his diet through the direct inclusion of fish in the diet or omega 3 fish oil supplements.

Increased consumption of fish is good, but complicated. Certain fish are better sources of DHA and EPA than others which may limit the direct dietary approach. Some fish have little of these acids in their oils at all. Fresh fish are also more likely to be contaminated with heavy metals. These impurities are health hazards in themselves and will negate the positive impact of the increased fish oil. The best options for adequate concentrations of fish oil are found in supplements.

Supplements will provide purified fish oils. This means that the oil is made from the proper fish and cleansed of its impurities. The oil is often enhanced with vitamins that would normally be depleted by excessive use if fish oils and this becomes another attraction for the oil itself. The manufacturing process allows a strictly supervised process that provides superior products in large quantities and lower prices. This gives supplements an economic appeal when compared to standard medications for ADHD. In short, manufactured supplements give all the benefits of fish oil without the dangers.

The Benefits of Fish Oil

In numerous tests, fish oil has contributed to alleviation of ADHD symptoms in a benign manner. The alleviation is benign in the sense that the fish oil regimes reduce the requirements for some of stimulants and anti-depressants that create such strong side effects. The use of fish oils facilitate diagnosis and treatment by simplifying the symptoms to be dealt with. Taken properly, fish oils eliminate serious side effects like depression, anxiety and suicide while reducing the loss of sleep and appetite. Good rest and good eating keep an individual free from other complicating health issues that further complicate treatments. Medicines get in each other’s way. In special cases, consumers should consult a physician regarding dosage, but fish oil supplements do not require prescriptions and doctor monitoring. The fish oil is a natural dietary option that demonstrates significant results in relatively short time. And there are other important benefits.

Many of the social problems that result from ADHD are significantly reduced or eliminated. Conduct and behavior that would have had children excluded from school and or sent to jail are reduced significantly. These tests reinforce many other experiences that show fish oil’s positive effect on memory, concentration, and language skills.

In Sweden studies have shown that children aged 8-18 taking fish oils displayed 50% of less ADHD activity. These test also reinforced the test score improvements and effects on concentration and memory found in many other test. More and more doctors are recommending fish oils and see that it is more effective with ADHD than Ritalin. Some schools have reported the effects of fish oil as elevating scores by as much as two grade levels between students taking fish oil and those who do not. For the individual this success alleviates a large amount of the stress and frustration that comes with the disorder. The improved attention spans and concentration allows for better learning and focus that not only enhances success empirically, but also provides confidence that reinforces that success psychologically. Success breeds success. Social affairs are better all around, and even adults become more productive.

Medically, fish oils containing DHA and EPA are very safe. The FDA had concluded that there are some side effects if too much of the oil is taken or if it is not pure. Fish oil thins the blood slightly and can magnify the effects of other any anti-coagulants an individual may take. The oil also may increase the production of bad cholesterol in some patients, so when these conditions are an important current health factor, it would be advisable to consult a physician about dosage. Generally speaking, however, normal does are safe and may cause only minor gas and incontinence symptoms in a few people.

All in all the benefits of fish oil, especially DHA and EPA, come in its simplicity. First, there is the simplicity of its source. Fish are a natural part of people’s diets and familiar foods. The fact that manufacturing is easy and purifying adds value to fish oil supplements. Second, the short time to effectiveness, usually around 12 weeks, as well as its long term effectiveness and safety recommend fish oil as a major supplement, if not replacement, for standard medications. Third, Fish oil is much less expensive than other ADHD medications, but this is insignificant when compared to the costs of treatment over long periods of time that must also cope with extenuating circumstances of side effects. Fourth, the implications of recent studies and applications throughout the public systems worldwide indicate that fish oil has the potential for major social impact especially in areas where behavior is most required for good order and discipline.

Fish oil may not be the cure for ADHD, but it has taken an important place in the treatment of the disorder. The alleviation of worry in the minds of parents coping with not only the conduct but the implications of treatment for ADHD is significant in itself. It is one of the social benefits of fish oil therapies. Health wise, socially and economically fish oil has a range of benefits that are well documented. The minuscule cautions that must be applied in the use of fish oil pale in insignificance.