As Peter Chappell rightly points out in his book Emotional Healing with Homeopathy: Treating the Effects of Trauma – ‘homeopathic medicine now represents a virtually complete set of healing remedies appropriate to the psychophysical traumatized states and ego compensations commonly found in humanity’.
Homeopaths seek to understand the emotional trauma a patient has been through and how it affects ones life and creation of disease. Often we restrict ourselves by suppressing and denying our feelings of fear, anger, grief and loss. By resolving these feelings we can heal disease.
“A homeopathic consultation often gets right to the Achilles’ heal of the trauma or drama of a life”. – Peter Chappell
What is the Link Between ADHD and Trauma?
A number of researchers believe that symptoms of child traumatic stress could be mistaken for ADHD and that the risk of misdiagnosis is high. This is because there is an overlap between ADHD symptoms and the effects of experiencing trauma.
According to the report ‘Misdiagnosis can have catastrophic consequences…popular concern lies in the notion that a child’s physical health is being put at risk whenever they are wrongfully diagnosed with ADHD and given medication when they do not need it’ and ‘that no amount of medication is going to heal any previous trauma that the child may have been through. To miss a case of past or ongoing child maltreatment in favour of a wrongful ADHD diagnosis will affect the way an individual relates to the people around them and could create a higher risk for the child to develop further psychiatric difficulties in the future (McMillen et al, 2005)’.
Stimulant medications may help some ADHD patients by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain associated with pleasure, movement, and attention, but some clinicians worry about how they affect a child with PTSD, or a similar anxiety disorder, who already feels hyper-vigilant or agitated.
Without appropriate identification and treatment, a child who has ADHD can experience serious consequences, including school failure, depression, conduct problems, failed relationships, and substance abuse. And, if left untreated, childhood trauma may also have far-reaching impacts, derailing the course of healthy development. Child traumatic stress can adversely affect a child’s memory, attention, behavior, and emotional and social life. It can also change the structure of the child’s brain, alter the nervous system, and deplete a child’s capacity to bear ordinary life stresses.
Much importance has been placed on the importance of conventional practitioners being able to distinguish between the two presenting conditions and treat accordingly.
This is not an issue for us homeopaths as we simply treat the whole and look at all traits, symptoms, conditions and possible root causes – everything is connected!
Is Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) a Possible Root Cause of ADHD?
Gabor Mate, a physician with a special interest in childhood development and trauma, believes the environmental roots of AD/HD are to be found in the tension and internal/ external stress within families. Mate states ‘ what research data exists also supports this view, even if not all researchers or scholars have drawn the same conclusion from the evidence before them’.
Nicola Brown, a pediatrician from the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) had a theory that ‘inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behavior may in fact mirror the effects of adversity’. She undertook research titled “Associations Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and ADHD Diagnosis and Severity” to test the hypothesis.
Brown analyzed the results of a national survey about the health and well-being of more than 65,000 children and found that ‘children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD medication’.
Other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) include neglect or abandonment, unexpected death of a loved one, physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, life-threatening disasters, parental depression/ mental health disorder, parental absence/ incarceration.
Gabor Mate cites one study in his book ‘Scattered Minds’ where they found that over an 8-year follow-up period, families of AD/HD children are three times more likely to experience separation/ or divorce of the biological parents…mothers of ADD children rated themselves as more depressed and their marriages as more distressed than mothers of neurotypical children’.
Apparently, there is no convincing evidence that trauma or chronic stress lead to the development of AD/HD!. Conventional understanding is holding onto the view for now that AD/HD is a genetic condition and that family stress is not a known cause of ADHD but can worsen ADHD or exacerbate traits in some children.
Conventional vs. Homeopathic Approach
There is no brain scan or DNA test that can give a definitive diagnosis of ADHD. A proper diagnosis is dependent on clinicians having the time to follow exhaustive guidelines and using personal and reported observations of a child’s behaviour. This poses a problem and enhances the risk of misdiagnosis because time is not a commodity many clinician’s have. “In our 15-minute visits—maybe 30 minutes at the most—we don’t really have the time to go deeper,” Brown says.
Fortunately, this is not a problem encountered by homeopaths as we take ample time (60-90 min appointments) to understand a child’s behaviour, underlying causes, past trauma and background feelings of loss, grief, fear, terror, resentment, rejection, abandonment, and much more. A homeopathic consultation involves an in-depth exploration into a patients history and life story in order to understand their disease in the context of their lifestyles.
In conventional medicine, diagnosing the physical signs and then opposing symptoms with drugs allows the inner trauma to grow and possibly fester. “Homeopathic remedies by comparison ‘mimic’ inner traumas; they remind the body to ‘unstick and resolve’ them so that they can naturally dissolve themselves. In releasing the inner trauma, the outer effects (the so-called disease) disappear, resolved naturally by the inner healing intelligence, says Chappell.
If you haven’t made a connection before between ADHD and ACE’s you might be asking yourself – ‘Am I or are we as parents to blame?’. Gabor Mate who has ADD himself, and is father to three children diagnosed with ADD puts it into perspective – ‘Judgement and blame is not the point. Understanding is.’
We may not be able to turn back the clock and reverse the stress and tension but we can heal the resulting trauma, pain and hurt.