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What lifestyle changes can improve family life?

In a couple words: Sleep and diet

Samuele Cortese, MD, PhD talks about lifestyle changes that can help improve ADHD symptoms for children. Good sleep practice has an impact on daytime executive function. And nutrition is related to weight gain problems and other physical conditions. So sharing healthy meals can also help parents address some of their children’s symptoms and make family life go a little more smoothly.

Transcription follows this 3:30 minute video

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Lightly Edited Transcription

ADHD Awareness Month
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Well, I think based on my experience as a researcher, in particular as a clinician who sees and treats these patients and families, I think that probably I would start from sleep because this is very important – and arguably it’s a very important component of the life of somebody and these families. And many, many families really struggle with the sleep of their children – also adults with ADHD.

So before considering a specific pharmacological approach, it’s really what used to be called sleep hygiene or good sleep practice is really important because it does have an impact on executive functioning and other components of daytime behavior.

Definitely, then, I think that the management of emotional dysregulation is another important aspect and, so far, techniques which we may think might be helpful such as mindfulness and other similar approaches still need to be assessed better in quality studies, but it’s something that I think will come more and more in the future. And alongside, sleep, of course, the other vital function – nutrition [and] eating – is really important because it’s related, for instance, to weight gain problems and other physical conditions.

I think that more generally, I would like to highlight that nowadays we are aware of clear and important links between ADHD as a traditionally considered mental condition and physical conditions and medical disorders such as obesity, asthma and so on and so forth. So I would say that it’s really important to go beyond the use of medication to target the core symptoms and to implement all these approaches which address not only ADHD, per se, but also the disorders, the conditions which are oftentimes associated with ADHD.

About the Speaker

Samuele Cortese

Samuele Cortese, MD, PhD, is currently professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Southampton (UK) and Honorary Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for Solent NHS Trust. Professor Cortese contributes to the editorial management of the systematic reviews/meta-analyses submitted to CAMH. In 2020, he ranked No. 2 worldwide in terms of expertise on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) according to Expertscape.