View Full Version : ADHD as an energy dysregulation disorder?


seamstress
02-16-12, 03:02 AM
I am diagnosed with adhd inattentive because I don't have any hyperactivity. But, I did notice that my energy level varies throughout the day and some days I get really agitated and restless. And, if I am forced to sit for long periods of time, my leg will always be twitching, or I'll be playing with something in my hands, etc..

People usually picture hyperactivity as a good thing, as if it's focused energy. But, sometimes I experience scattered energy that comes and goes, randomly. And I move around because I'm bored and sometimes the hyperactivity is in the mind (like fast thoughts), if that makes any sense. With the restlessness comes sleep issues. Or is that just anxiety?

Is it possible that our image of hyperactivity (as in a constant level of energy that is productive), has nothing to do with attention deficits? And hyperactivity is more so linked with a sense of inner restlessness? Not necessarily the need to be physically active?

spunkysmum
02-16-12, 03:06 AM
I am diagnosed with adhd inattentive because I don't have any hyperactivity. But, I did notice that my energy level varies throughout the day and some days I get really agitated and restless. And, if I am forced to sit for long periods of time, my leg will always be twitching, or I'll be playing with something in my hands, etc..

People usually picture hyperactivity as a good thing, as if it's focused energy. But, sometimes I experience scattered energy that comes and goes, randomly. And I move around because I'm bored and sometimes the hyperactivity is in the mind (like fast thoughts), if that makes any sense. With the restlessness comes sleep issues. Or is that just anxiety?

Is it possible that our image of hyperactivity (as in a constant level of energy that is productive), has nothing to do with attention deficits? And hyperactivity is more so linked with a sense of inner restlessness? Not necessarily the need to be physically active?

Yes, all those things are established and documented. And if you are restless and agitated and can't sit still, you do have hyperactivity and shouldn't have been diagnosed as not having it.

seamstress
02-16-12, 03:13 AM
But, isn't that view a little simplistic? Cause sometimes I experience hypoactivitiy, which is the main reason why I'm agitated. I get agitated because I don't have enough energy to focus or I have low frustration tolerance. lol. It's like diffuse electrical energy in the brian!

sarahsweets
02-16-12, 10:39 AM
But, isn't that view a little simplistic? Cause sometimes I experience hypoactivitiy, which is the main reason why I'm agitated. I get agitated because I don't have enough energy to focus or I have low frustration tolerance. lol. It's like diffuse electrical energy in the brian!

My hyperactivity manifests itself in my mind. A million things flying through it with no ability to regulate or sort out which should be addressed first. I am impatient and hate waiting for anything so my physical hyperactivity acts up then.

ginniebean
02-16-12, 10:58 AM
But, isn't that view a little simplistic? Cause sometimes I experience hypoactivitiy, which is the main reason why I'm agitated. I get agitated because I don't have enough energy to focus or I have low frustration tolerance. lol. It's like diffuse electrical energy in the brian!


There are three types of adhd, hyperactive, inattentive, and then there is combined type. I happen to be combined type. In adults, hyperactivity is experienced just as you describe and can be even more extreme.

I experience hyperactivity not just physically but mentally and I'm sure as heck not got focused energy.

Most adults are actually combined type, and unfortunately there are a lot of myths even in the adhd community about hyperactivity.

Get to know the symptoms unique to you, you can't afford to ignore them because they don't fit neatly into some subtype. Adhd can be subtle in our awareness but once you recognize a symptom in yourself, get to know it,and then learn how to deal with it.

You'll short change yourself if you don't.

plank80
02-16-12, 12:12 PM
I am diagnosed with adhd inattentive because I don't have any hyperactivity. But, I did notice that my energy level varies throughout the day and some days I get really agitated and restless. And, if I am forced to sit for long periods of time, my leg will always be twitching, or I'll be playing with something in my hands, etc..

People usually picture hyperactivity as a good thing, as if it's focused energy. But, sometimes I experience scattered energy that comes and goes, randomly. And I move around because I'm bored and sometimes the hyperactivity is in the mind (like fast thoughts), if that makes any sense. With the restlessness comes sleep issues. Or is that just anxiety?

Is it possible that our image of hyperactivity (as in a constant level of energy that is productive), has nothing to do with attention deficits? And hyperactivity is more so linked with a sense of inner restlessness? Not necessarily the need to be physically active?

You just described how I feel, if I have to sit quiet and listen to someone it kills me, I feel like I'm gonna burst out of my skin. I get fluctuating energy.levels through the day as well.

I think inattentives are slow moving, lethargic, daydreamy. Is that right? Maybe I'm wrong.

Fraser_0762
02-16-12, 12:14 PM
You just described how I feel, if I have to sit quiet and listen to someone it kills me, I feel like I'm gonna burst out of my skin.

I think inattentives are slow moving, lethargic, daydreamy. Is that right? Maybe I'm wrong.

No, you're right.

I'm definitley the second one most of the time, although I do feel the top one sometimes. Especially if time just seems to draaaaaag on forever, I just want them to get to the conclusion instead of going into all the nitty gritty details..... its like, who really cares? just get to the damn point! lol

icecreamfiend
02-16-12, 01:13 PM
It does seem a bit confusing doesn't it? I mean as ADD folks, don't we all find our energy levels fluctuating? Or maybe that's only one subtype? I'm combined and I definitely feel that within me throughout the day. It is so frustrating because it is never regular. I will have so much energy one moment, then find myself drained and exhausted the next. I know without a doubt, being on medication and going to long classes in the morning will drain me by mid afternoon since I'm being kept "on" the entire morning, squeezing every available ounce of juice in one sprint. Without medication I definitely have an energy flux, which I guess allows me to last the entire day since my brain "recharges" when my energy dips. Sometimes it'll be right before bed when my mind decides to light up and what do you know, I can't sleep then and stay up for hours.

Not sure if many people experience this, but I notice I tend to be the " slow moving, lethargic, daydreamy" type that Plank80 mentioned, but also with a constant inner restlessness and moderate impatience. Definitely makes for some "interesting" output from me. Slow, processing mind of external information coupled with a "get-up-and-go" attitude. I'm the laid back, chill guy...on a time limit haha.

seamstress
02-16-12, 02:44 PM
It's so good to know that I'm not the only one who is experiencing these energy level fluctuations! I guess then...the energy regulation theory does apply for many people. It would be interesting though to know if there are people out there with an attention deficit, who experience hyperactivity all the time, and fit the stereotype. Haven't met any of them yet! lol.

spunkysmum
02-16-12, 02:47 PM
But, isn't that view a little simplistic? Cause sometimes I experience hypoactivitiy, which is the main reason why I'm agitated. I get agitated because I don't have enough energy to focus or I have low frustration tolerance. lol. It's like diffuse electrical energy in the brian!

I think we all do. That's why it's said to be a regulation disorder.

pechemignonne
02-16-12, 05:19 PM
I was linked an excellent video recently where the doctor explained that hyperactivity and hypoactivity in people with ADD/ADHD is actually not more or less activity or energy than the same person would have without ADHD.

Some people are simply more active, and some more sedentary.

But because of the ADHD, we can't control our activity level.

So, whether you have a little energy or a lot, it's how well you can control it that defines the disorder.

Also, fatigue worsens the ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, because again, it is about how well you can control your activity level to be appropriate to the environment or activity, it isn't about how much energy you have..

plank80
02-16-12, 05:48 PM
I was linked an excellent video recently where the doctor explained that hyperactivity and hypoactivity in people with ADD/ADHD is actually not more or less activity or energy than the same person would have without ADHD.

Some people are simply more active, and some more sedentary.

But because of the ADHD, we can't control our activity level.

So, whether you have a little energy or a lot, it's how well you can control it that defines the disorder.

Also, fatigue worsens the ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, because again, it is about how well you can control your activity level to be appropriate to the environment or activity, it isn't about how much energy you have..

So this is why I can't sleep most times when I want to but sometimes I can sleep when I should be doing something?

Think this also explains why I can't get to sleep when I'm tired, like if I haven't got much sleep for a few nights I lie awake longer trying to get over that night, tossing and turning for hours. Is that right?

This actually explains a lot, thanks. I've never been able to match my energy level to the task.

Have I understood this right?

Anna B
02-16-12, 06:16 PM
This actually explains a lot, thanks. I've never been able to match my energy level to the task.
How do you chose the appropriate amount of energy to life situation???

Fraser_0762
02-16-12, 06:22 PM
Hmm... this has got me thinking now...

If somebody with ADHD-PI begun exercising quite regularly, eating healthy... and so on and so forth.... could we possibley become an ADHD-PH? by increasing our natural energy levels.

Obviously with increased energy levels, our inattentiveness would become more apparent?

Or am I off by thinking this?

pechemignonne
02-16-12, 06:34 PM
It's an executive function. People who don't have executive function problems can "tone down" their high activity levels, or motivate themselves to action when they aren't energetic, because they have to.

The normal day-to-day executive function part of the brain responds to the rational idea that something "just needs to be done" or is "important".

There are other executive function areas of the brain, and these respond when there is an emotional investment/reaction. They are motivated by interest, excitement, passion, etc. They provide strong motivation, but only last as long as the emotion (i.e. not very long).

People with ADHD only have the second kind. So we can stay awake despite being tired to play video games or watch tv, but we might fall asleep (despite not being all that tired) or fidget and move around a lot (despite actually being pretty tired) at work or during a meeting.

People who don't have ADHD can use either. So, they can both slog through daily practice and break out the great performance when it counts.

People with ADHD can only perform when emotionally invested.

This counts for our level of energy as well.

The example the speaker used was how much more often people with ADHD fall asleep at the wheel.

Preventing yourself from falling asleep while driving (because it's important!) is an ability of the part of the brain that is dysfunctional with ADHD.

So, even when no more or less fatigued than someone without ADHD, drivers with ADHD are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.

Self-arousal (staying awake, not the other kind) is an executive function, as is self-calming.

So, people with ADHD have trouble modulating our energy states, no matter how much or how little energy we actually have.

pechemignonne
02-16-12, 06:39 PM
Hmm... this has got me thinking now...

If somebody with ADHD-PI begun exercising quite regularly, eating healthy... and so on and so forth.... could we possibley become an ADHD-PH? by increasing our natural energy levels.

Obviously with increased energy levels, our inattentiveness would become more apparent?

Or am I off by thinking this?
I got the impression that these are more global tendencies across the board for each person than they are things that can be changed by lifestyle modifications.

It also seems like adopting an exercise regiment would be particularly difficult for someone with ADHD-PI. It would probably be better for them, though, but it might not change how energetic of a person they are, or their type of ADHD.

I mean, even those of us with an H in our ADD are less active as adults than we were as kids. So it might just make them less hypo-active.

plank80
02-16-12, 06:47 PM
How do you chose the appropriate amount of energy to life situation???

I meant when I try to relax I usually can't, when it's nighttime and I should be slowing down I'm more active, get ready to lift weights and sometimes can't find the energy, can't get myself going in the mornings some days no matter what I do, try to read a book and can't settle down. It's like I need to go with the flow, can't just say 'right, I've got a couple of hours free here I'll read a book' because my body might not let me, I have to be in the mood at the time. Same with everything I do.

plank80
02-16-12, 06:53 PM
It's an executive function. People who don't have executive function problems can "tone down" their high activity levels, or motivate themselves to action when they aren't energetic, because they have to.

The normal day-to-day executive function part of the brain responds to the rational idea that something "just needs to be done" or is "important".

There are other executive function areas of the brain, and these respond when there is an emotional investment/reaction. They are motivated by interest, excitement, passion, etc. They provide strong motivation, but only last as long as the emotion (i.e. not very long).

People with ADHD only have the second kind. So we can stay awake despite being tired to play video games or watch tv, but we might fall asleep (despite not being all that tired) or fidget and move around a lot (despite actually being pretty tired) at work or during a meeting.

People who don't have ADHD can use either. So, they can both slog through daily practice and break out the great performance when it counts.

People with ADHD can only perform when emotionally invested.

This counts for our level of energy as well.

The example the speaker used was how much more often people with ADHD fall asleep at the wheel.

Preventing yourself from falling asleep while driving (because it's important!) is an ability of the part of the brain that is dysfunctional with ADHD.

So, even when no more or less fatigued than someone without ADHD, drivers with ADHD are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.

Self-arousal (staying awake, not the other kind) is an executive function, as is self-calming.

So, people rwith ADHD have trouble modulating our energy states, no matter how much or how little energy we actually have.

You just explained this far better than I did above.:)

Anna B
02-16-12, 07:19 PM
My hyperactivity manifests itself in my mind. A million things flying through it with no ability to regulate or sort out which should be addressed first. I am impatient and hate waiting for anything so my physical hyperactivity acts up then.If somebody with ADHD-PI begun exercising quite regularly, eating healthy... and so on and so forth.... could we possibly become an ADHD-PH? by increasing our natural energy levels.Sarah I swear sometimes your speaking for me or about me;)

Exercise , diet, schedule, sleep schedule...do it,
have several agendas at once,
and still hit a burnout a can't do it day with zero energy,
and not depression but, a " oh whats the flippen' point- mood " than eventually, demands push me back into action.

does any stimulant self adjust to kick in when power down ?

Fuzzy12
02-16-12, 08:08 PM
Thanks, Peche, that was a pretty amazing explanation!!! :)

pechemignonne
02-17-12, 02:05 PM
http://www.youtube.com/user/GRCCtv?feature=watch#p/search/1/8cRrjJCgRcQ

Skip the first three minutes. All you need to know is that he's a doctor, he specializes in ADHD, and he has ADHD.

At minute 17 or so, he talks about the executive function sections of the brain and how the primary one (the day-to-day "just do it" section) is non-functional in (unmedicated) people with ADHD.

This insight has been very, very useful for me. Now I use emotional motivation to get *anything* done. Even when it's kind of irrelevant, I try to engage an emotional response. Like I start playing music and dance around a bit before doing dishes and cleaning.

Also, while doing dishes and cleaning, which might explain why I tend to tragically lose fragile dishes sometimes.

It seems to be the only way that I can flip the switch to get myself to do chores, though, so it seems worth some collateral damage. This works for me, because I love music and dancing around, remember it is about whatever engages interest, emotion, and passion in each individual with ADHD that will work for them.

icecreamfiend
02-17-12, 02:16 PM
I was linked an excellent video recently where the doctor explained that hyperactivity and hypoactivity in people with ADD/ADHD is actually not more or less activity or energy than the same person would have without ADHD.

Some people are simply more active, and some more sedentary.

But because of the ADHD, we can't control our activity level.

So, whether you have a little energy or a lot, it's how well you can control it that defines the disorder.

Also, fatigue worsens the ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, because again, it is about how well you can control your activity level to be appropriate to the environment or activity, it isn't about how much energy you have..

That's an interesting perspective, and I feel it's so logical too. Just as we may seem highly emotional people, truth is we are no more emotional than the average person, we just express it more so since we cannot hold back whatever emotions we do feel.

If a lack of impulse control means we cannot control our actions why can't it extend to other aspects of our lives such as emotion, activity level, and energy?

Dizfriz
02-17-12, 02:25 PM
In a discussion like this it is important to get a clear idea of what specific terms mean.

In this case, hyperactivity means excessive motor activity. You see this mostly in children and many believe that this is more of an impulsivity issue in this population.

In adults, hyperactivity as such more often refers to feelings of restlessness and fidgeting.

You can look at the proposed criteria for the DSM 5 if you wish.

http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=383

Just throwing in some information.

Dizfriz

daveddd
02-17-12, 02:29 PM
In a discussion like this it is important to get a clear idea of what specific terms mean.

In this case, hyperactivity means excessive motor activity. You see this mostly in children and many believe that this is more of an impulsivity issue in this population.

In adults, hyperactivity as such more often refers to feelings of restlessness and fidgeting.

You can look at the proposed criteria for the DSM 5 if you wish.

http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=383

Just throwing in some information.

Dizfriz

thats me, im not a child but i have a huge excess of motor activity/restlessness

and yes it contributes greatly to impulsivity

pechemignonne
02-17-12, 02:53 PM
In a discussion like this it is important to get a clear idea of what specific terms mean.

In this case, hyperactivity means excessive motor activity. You see this mostly in children and many believe that this is more of an impulsivity issue in this population.

In adults, hyperactivity as such more often refers to feelings of restlessness and fidgeting.

You can look at the proposed criteria for the DSM 5 if you wish.

http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=383

Just throwing in some information.

Dizfriz
Precisely, which is what caused confusion for years in terms of ADHD.

For one thing, ADHD was only viewed in terms of "hyperactive/impulsive/inattentive" children, because these were the most "disruptive" in the classroom, and therefore they were the greasy wheel, if you will.

Since the *hyperactivity* was viewed as the problem, not even the "inattention" but the results of that inattention as it affected others, for one thing children that had strong "inattention" symptoms but no hyperactivity went completely under the radar, and secondly because the most obvious symptom (externally) seemed to go away in adulthood, it was thought that ADHD itself went away.

Therefore, because the problems were defined as lack of attention and too much energy, the picture of ADHD was only "the tip of the iceberg", as it were.

But hyperactive ADHD adults continue to be hyperactive, and continue to have trouble modulating their activity levels, they just somehow learn to/develop the means to stop jumping on chairs.

Their physical activity level, like that of all adults versus when they were children, goes down.

But their ability to modulate their overall (mental included) activity level (stop fidgeting, "calm down", etc.) does not improve significantly.

It just looks different to an outside observer, because they no longer climb everything.

I hope that makes sense.

What I'm saying is that people are mixing up energy level with activity level with hyper-or hypoactivity.

Someone can have a lot of energy and be still. Their being still doesn't mean that they don't have energy, and their having energy doesn't mean that they can't be still.

Someone can be very, very active during an activity where it is appropriate (say while playing a sport), and they are not hyperactive by definition. Because it is not "excessive" motor activity to run around while playing soccer.

Someone who is hyperactive is incapable of not being active when it is not appropriate. Their activity level is excessive in relation to the situation.

Their energy level is neither here nor there.

Anyone who has had a hyperactive child knows that their hyperactivity actually increases when they are particularly fatigued. They run like the Energizer bunny, and then... they pass out. (I did this often as I child, so I'm told).

Someone who is hypoactive is not able to modulate their energy level up. All the other kids are running around, and they are sitting in a corner pulling up flowers. I also did this every gym class.

But many kids with ADHD do predominantly one or the other.

However, it is neither a problem of too much or too little energy, or too much or too little activity, than the inattention is a problem of having too little attention.

Like attention, it is a problem of not being able to control your energy level. Whether it means keeping yourself awake or calming yourself down, those are executive functions. Not necessarily a lack or excess of energy or activity.

mctavish23
02-18-12, 01:02 AM
Sorry, but that's way the hell off base.

Robert

plank80
02-18-12, 06:35 AM
Sorry, but that's way the hell off base.

Robert

Which part?

mctavish23
02-18-12, 03:41 PM
The part where the "theory" neglects to account for the research on the

neurobiological nature of the disorder impacting genetic make up, brain

development, and executive dysfunction; as opposed to what sounds like

indiscriminate excess energy (or lack thereof), from some other as yet un-named

sources.

Anything not related to a neurobioligical base, would be unable to produce the 24/7

level of "always" displaying a history of impairments in major life activities; when

compared with same age/ same gender (non- ADHD) peers.

How's that ?

Robert

pechemignonne
02-18-12, 07:29 PM
The part where the "theory" neglects to account for the research on the

neurobiological nature of the disorder impacting genetic make up, brain

development, and executive dysfunction; as opposed to what sounds like

indiscriminate excess energy (or lack thereof), from some other as yet un-named

sources.
I think you have misunderstood. I am saying the opposite of that.

Anything not related to a neurobioligical base, would be unable to produce the 24/7

level of "always" displaying a history of impairments in major life activities; when

compared with same age/ same gender (non- ADHD) peers.

How's that ?

Robert
I don't know what it is you are arguing against.

As I said, ADHD causes a dysfunction in the self-regulation system of the brain (therefore it is neurobiological), but does not cause excessive energy, or lack of attention.

Therefore, people with ADHD have "normal" (within the spectrum) amounts of energy or activity and "normal" amounts of attention, and "normal" emotions and "normal" amounts of intelligence and creativity.

We simply have a problem in the executive functioning part of the brain that does not allow us to control or modulate those activity levels, attention, emotions, etc., the way that people who don't have ADHD can.

Therefore as symptoms, people with ADHD present with hyper/hypoactivity, or lack of attention/perseveration (hyperfocus), and other impulse control and emotional control issues.

Not because we have less or more energy/focus/emotions/impulses than others.

But because the part of the brain that allows people without ADHD to modulate these functions is not working in people with ADHD.

So, not only is it an energy dysregulation disorder, it is an emotional dysregulation disorder, an impulse dysregulation disorder and an activity level dysregulation disorder. It's even a sleeping and eating dysregulation disorder.

What I am saying is supported by all the current research on ADHD.

I can't tell if you are misunderstanding me or if you disagree with the idea that ADHD is an executive functioning disorder...

mctavish23
02-19-12, 01:55 AM
I wasn't talking to you.

pechemignonne
02-19-12, 09:06 AM
I wasn't talking to you.
Oh, well then maybe you could use quotes next time.

Because your post followed right after mine, so it was kind of confusing.

Dizfriz
02-19-12, 09:18 AM
I wasn't talking to you.




Robert, who were you talking to? I got confused myself on that.

Dizfriz

plank80
02-19-12, 10:04 AM
I'm a bit confused as well:confused:

I thought we were all talking about pretty much the same thing.

mctavish23
02-20-12, 11:58 AM
I was responding to "plank80's" comment.

Either way, it's not important now.

If I missed the point, then I apologize.

tc

Robert

Nautilus
05-05-12, 01:18 PM
I can definitely identify with this. I think "energy dysregulation" is the best way to see it.

This makes a lot more intuitive sense than me saying, "I feel tired, low-energy, much of the time, I wish I had more energy and was more active" AND "sometimes, I have incredible stamina far beyond most people" AND "I'm fidgety and I've been diagnosed hyperactive."

My energy is generally not under my willful control: I can't direct it at what I want to direct it at, I feel "too tired". Extra energy wants to spill over when the situation calls for sitting still. If I am in "flow" then I can fight physical tiredness extremely well.

silivrentoliel
05-05-12, 10:05 PM
I often have those twitchy brain feelings where I just want to get up, mentally, and run around in circles, but the thought leaves my head pretty quickly. I do, however, get bored very very very VERY easily, and drift off somewhere to try and pass the time- or read a book. Sometimes that helps (but I love reading, so maybe I'm just enjoying myself?) Who knows.

I think the hyperactivity bit of ADHD is more an impulsive type behavior that a mental restlessness. I'm ADHD-PI and have never been an impulsive person, but my brain will be pinging off my skull some days- but it's out of boredom, not because I'm hyper (unless I've had too much red dye 40, lol, that stuff is crack to my brain)