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ADHD

8 Ways to Beat ADHD (Without Medicine)

WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children diagnosed with ADHD often display impulsive behaviors that are interruptive and inappropriate for the setting (e.g. the classroom.) Boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as girls. The average age of diagnosis is around 7 years. (1)

It is estimated that ADHD affects 1 in every 20 people under the age of 18. Of this population, approximately two-thirds continue to experience ADHD symptoms into adulthood. Adult ADHD is characterized by difficulties remembering information, following directions, concentrating, organizing tasks, and planning.

THE ADHD CONTROVERSY

Few conditions are as provocative as ADHD. For as long as the condition has been around, there have been countless debates surrounding the existence or non-existence of ADHD. Professionals also discuss the complications of ADHD medication, and whether the disorder is over-diagnosed.

While ADHD is highly contentious, most medical experts accept that enough evidence exists to treat it as a valid condition. For example, all three of the largest, most prestigious U.S. medical bodies – the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institutes of Health – recognize ADHD as a true disorder. (2)

Researchers point to the differences in the brain scans of ADHD and non-ADHD people, the length of time since symptoms were first uncovered (over 110 years ago), and the tangible differences brought about by treatments as sufficient proof.

Indeed, while sufficient evidence may show the reality of ADHD, plenty of other sources point to a diagnosis that is both pervasive and disturbing. Let’s talk more about the recent trends in ADHD numbers.

ADHD NUMBERS SWELL

“Production of the medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder … has skyrocketed in recent decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … says that ADHD diagnoses … increased by about 41 percent between 2003 and 2011.” – Colleen M. Story, Ana Gotter, Rena Goldman: “6 Natural Remedies for ADHD” (source)

Medical statisticians cite the upper-limit of ADHD diagnosis at a maximum 5 percent of school-aged children. In some U.S. communities – where by far the most ADHD patients reside – up to 33 percent of children are diagnosed with the condition. In some states, over 11 percent of the school-age population is diagnosed with ADHD – more than doubling the number of plausible cases. (3) Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of ADHD diagnoses rose an astonishing 41 percent in just eight years (2003-2011). (4)

Also contributing to the rising numbers of ADHD patients – and ADHD medications – is the fact that there has been a dramatic shift in the market segmentation of ADHD drugs. Whereas in prior years children were the dominant demographic because of their age, adults are now the majority of the population taking prescription stimulants. In other words, adults are the fastest growing segment of the ADHD medication market.

What could possibly explain such a dramatic shift? Some critics point to the pharmaceutical industry and their aggressive marketing and profit-seeking schemes. For example, Shire Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of popular ADHD drugs Adderall and Adderall XR, reported over 15 billion USD in operating revenue for the year 2017. (5)

THE DANGERS OF ADHD DRUGS

“It takes about 40 minutes to kick in, and you can feel it. I start to sweat. My heart accelerates very rapidly.” – Introduction to the Netflix documentary “Take Your Pills.”

On May 1, 1971, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) became the law of the land in the United States. The law created five classifications (or ‘Schedules’) in which each prescription drug was to be placed, depending on the drug’s potential for abuse. (6)

Amphetamine, a powerful nervous system stimulant, is labeled as a Schedule II drug in the U.S. (a Schedule I in Canada). Schedule II drugs are those that display high potential for abuse while carrying the possibility of severe physical or psychological dependence (Vicodin and OxyContin are also in this category.) Amphetamine is simply a longer name for speed, a major component of the street drugs cocaine and methamphetamine. It is also the primary ingredient in Adderall and other ADHD medications.

The effects of amphetamine use can be classified into three categories: immediate, coming down, and long-term. (7)

IMMEDIATE EFFECTS:

– a sense of wellbeing

– high levels of confidence

– feelings of motivation

– faster reaction times

– anxiety and nervousness

– dizziness

– headaches

– increased heart rate

– stomach cramps

– irregular heartbeat

– hallucinations

– paranoia

IMMEDIATE EFFECTS (HIGHER DOSES/OVERDOSE):

– blurred vision

– collapse

– irregular breathing

– hallucinations

– seizures

– stroke

– coma

COMING DOWN

– feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and irritability

– depression

– lethargy

– extreme exhaustion

– mood swings

– tension

– paranoia

LONG-TERM EFFECTS

– anxiety disorders (e.g., panic attacks)

– feeling out of breath

– dental problems such as cracked teeth

– insomnia

– malnutrition

– compromised immune system

– high blood pressure

– higher risk of stroke

– risk of kidney failure

– psychological problems

– paranoia

– propensity for violence

 

HOW TO BEAT ADHD WITHOUT MEDICATION

Given the nasty short- and long-term dangers of ADHD medications, it may be worthwhile to consider other, more natural alternatives. Here are eight ways to overcome ADHD without the use of prescription meds.

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ADHD

ADHD Medications for Adults and Children

Vyvanse. Ritalin. Concerta. Adderall. Strattera. And myriad others. The number of ADHD medication options is staggering, and finding the right treatment feels overwhelming at times. Here, an ADHD specialist explains the treatment options for adults and children in terms we can all understand.

ADHD Medications for Adults and Children: Which Are Best?

The number of medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is overwhelming at best, and the process for selecting the best ADHD medication for you or your child is incredibly personal.

The ADHD medications prescribed to both children and adults are categorized as stimulant — amphetamine or methylphenidate — or non-stimulant. Stimulants are considered the treatment of choice for ADHD. Non-stimulants are prescribed to patients who don’t tolerate or see benefits from stimulants. Certain non-stimulants, particularly alpha agonists, are prescribed with medication to treat symptoms that stimulants do not alleviate. The most popular ADHD medications among ADDitude readers include (in alphabetical order):

  1. Adderall XR (amphetamine)
  2. Concerta (methylphenidate)
  3. Dexedrine (amphetamine)
  4. Evekeo (amphetamine)
  5. Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
  6. Quillivant XR (methylphenidate)
  7. Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  8. Strattera (atomoxetine hydrochloride)
  9. Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate)

Many parents and adults are similarly confused by these and other treatment choices for ADHD. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a medication be given a different name according to its form (capsule, tablet, liquid, patch) or release mechanism (released immediately or over an extended period of time).1 Here’s an example: The ADHD medication Ritalin is a tablet that is released immediately into the bloodstream and works for four hours. Ritalin LA, on the other hand, is a capsule that releases over a longer period of time and works for eight hours. Different names, even though both contain the same medicine — methylphenidate.

How Do Stimulant Medications Treat ADHD?

ADHD is a neurologically based disorder, resulting from the deficiency of a neurotransmitter, or a group of neurotransmitters, in specific areas of the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells by bridging the synapse (or gap) between them.2

The key neurotransmitter involved is norepinephrine, along with its building blocks, dopa and dopamine. In theory, the primary medications used to treat ADHD stimulate specific cells within the brain to produce more of the deficient neurotransmitter. That’s why these medications are called stimulants — though it’s unknown exactly how they work to relieve ADHD symptoms.

 

The two main classes of stimulant medications, methylphenidate and dextro-amphetamine — both are generic names — have been used since the 1930s.3 All brand-name stimulants are variations of these two medications. The ADHD medication Adderall is a modification of dextro-amphetamine, for instance, while methylphenidate comes as an immediate-release tablet, a chewable tablet, a liquid, a skin patch, an intermediate-acting (extended-release) tablet, a long-acting (extended-release) capsule, and a long-acting (extended-release) tablet. Each variation has its own name, but the medicine that treats symptoms is the same — methylphenidate.

How is ADHD Medication Dosed?

Parents of children with ADHD ask me: “My child was on Adderall 10 mg, and my doctor changed her prescription to Vyvanse 60 mg. Why was the dose increased?” The reasons for the numbers have to do with target dose and release mechanism.

Target dose: Each product releases a specific amount of medication into the blood over a given period of time. The FDA requires that the number value for each product represent the total amount of the medication in the tablet/liquid/capsule/patch, not the amount in the blood at any one time. Thus, if the medication, let’s say methylphenidate, is in the form of a four-hour tablet, and it releases 5 mg over that time, it is called methylphenidate 5 mg. A capsule of Adderall that releases 10 mg immediately and 10 mg four hours later is called Adderall XR 20. The number is not based on the amount released at any one time, but on the total amount of the medication in the capsule.

Release mechanism: This indicates the length of time a medication will remain available and active. Stimulants come in a variety of forms — tablet, capsule, liquid, skin patch — and release medication in an hour, four hours, or over eight or 12 hours.

How Does Concerta Work? How Is It Different From Other ADHD Medications?

Many people are confused about the ADHD medication Concerta. Designed to last 12 hours, Concerta has a “sponge” on the bottom of the capsule, medication on top, and a tiny hole above the medication. As the capsule passes through the gastrointestinal tract and absorbs moisture, the sponge expands and pushes the medication out of the hole.

 

The number value assigned to each dose is confusing. Take Concerta 18 mg. If the goal is to release 5 mg consistently every four hours over a 12-hour period, then there needs to be 15 mg in the capsule. However, it takes time for the sponge to become moist enough to start to expand. So an initial release of medication is needed until the sponge starts working. Researchers figured out that it should be 3 mg. Thus, to release 5 mg over 12 hours, one needs the initial 3 mg, plus 5 mg every four hours during the 12 hours. The total amount of medication is 18 mg. That’s why the medication is called Concerta 18.

RELATED: Vyvanse vs. Adderall for ADHD Symptom Control

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ADHD

Adhansia XR For ADHD

Adhansia XR is an extended release methylphenidate medicine used to treat ADHD in children in adults. Learn about its dosages, side effects, and usage, along with how it differs from other stimulant medications like Concerta or Ritalin.
Generic name: methylphenidate hydrochloride

What Is the ADHD Medication Adhansia XR?

Adhansia XR (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a once-daily, extended release ADHD medication approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) in patients six years and older. The medication is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, which may aid in increasing attention and decreasing impulsiveness and hyperactivity in people with ADHD.

According to the FDA, Adhansia XR is a controlled substance because it contains methylphenidate, which can be a target for people who abuse prescription medicines or street drugs. The stimulant has not been tested in children under six years of age.

How Does Adhansia XR Work to Treat ADHD Symptoms?

Adhansia XR capsules are made up of beads with immediate-release and controlled-released layers. The immediate-release layer carries about 20 percent of the methylphenidate dose, while the controlled-release layer contains the rest. The extended-release medication begins to act one hour after administration and lasts for approximately 16 hours post-dose.

Your healthcare provider may temporarily halt Adhansia XR treatment to check ADHD symptoms.

How Do You Use Adhansia XR to Treat ADHD?

Before starting or refilling an Adhansia XR prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.

This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.

What Dosage of Adhansia XR Is Used to Treat ADHD?

As with all medications, follow your Adhansia XR prescription instructions exactly. The capsule is taken orally in the morning, with or without food, and is available in six dosage strengths: 25 mg, 35 mg, 45 mg, 55 mg, 70 mg, and 85 mg. Purdue Pharmaceuticals L.P., the medication’s manufacturer, recommends 25 mg once daily as the starting dose for patients.

The capsule may be taken whole, or its contents may be sprinkled onto a tablespoon of applesauce or yogurt. The entire mixture should be consumed by swallowing, not chewing, within 10 minutes, and cannot be stored afterward.

Do not administer Adhansia XR later in the day in the event of a missed dose.

Avoid alcohol while taking Adhansia XR, as consuming alcohol may result in a more rapid release of the methylphenidate dose.

What Are the Side Effects of Adhansia XR?

The most common side effects of Adhansia XR include trouble sleeping, dry mouth, decreased appetite, and decreased weight.

Other serious side effects include circulation problems in fingers and toes, priapism, slowing of growth in children, and allergic-type reactions if consuming the 45 mg capsules. Adhansia XR can also cause heart-related problems, including increased blood pressure, sudden death, stroke, and heart attacks. Your healthcare provider should check you or your child’s blood pressure and heart rate regularly during treatment.

Adhansia XR can also cause mental (psychiatric) problems including new or worse behavior and thought problems, new or worse bipolar illness, and new psychotic or manic symptoms. Tell your healthcare provider about any mental problems you or your child have, or about a family history of suicide, bipolar illness, or depression.

The medication, as is the case with other methylphenidate-containing medicines, has a high chance for abuse and can cause physical and psychological dependence. Your healthcare provider should check you or your child for signs of abuse and dependence before and during treatment.

What Precautions Are Associated with Adhansia XR?

Store Adhansia XR at room temperature and in a secure place out of the reach of children. Do not use the medication for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not share your Adhansia XR prescription with anyone, even if they have the same symptoms. Sharing prescription medication is unlawful and can cause harm.

Do not take Adhansia XR if you are allergic to methylphenidate hydrochloride or any of the ingredients in the medication. You should not take Adhansia XR if you are taking, or have stopped taking within the past two weeks, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) used to treat depression.

If you are thinking of having a child, discuss the use of Adhansia XR with your doctor. It is not known if the medication presents a potential risk of fetal harm. The National Pregnancy Registry for Psychosis has opened a registry for Adhansia XR to collect information about the health of females and babies exposed to the medication. Talk to your healthcare provider about registering.

Adhansia XR does pass into breast milk, so talk to your doctor about the best way to feed the baby during treatment if you are breastfeeding or plan to.

What Interactions Are Associated with Adhansia XR?

Discuss all other active medications with your doctor before taking Adhansia XR, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you or your child take an MAOI, as Adhansia XR can have a dangerous, possibly fatal interaction with it. Do not start any new medicine during treatments with Adhansia XR without consulting with your healthcare provider first.

The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.

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ADHD

Vyvanse vs. Adderall for ADHD Symptom Control

Introduction

Today, there are several options to treat ADHD. Stimulant medications, for example, increase levels of certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) to improve concentration and focus and to reduce hyperactive and impulsive behavior.

Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) and mixed salts amphetamine (Adderall) are two popular stimulants used to treat ADHD. Both drugs can be effective, but the differences in some of their features may make one of them a more appealing choice for you.

Vyvanse vs. Adderall

Adderall has been around longer than Vyvanse. The FDA approved Adderall in 1996, and Vyvanse has been available since 2007. Still, Vyvanse and Adderall are both amphetamines (a type of stimulant medication), so they work in much the same way. They stimulate the nervous system and increase the amount of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

 

Use

Vyvanse and Adderall are both approved to treat ADHD in people 6 years and older. In fact, they’re both included in the group of drugs used as first-line treatments for children with ADHD to focus their attention in the classroom and studying.

That said, Adderall and Vyvanse are both considered controlled substances. They carry the risk of addiction if they’re taken for a long time.

However, Vyvanse is less likely to be abused than Adderall. This is because the body needs to break Vyvanse down before it can start to work. With amphetamines, there is also a concern about the potential for misuse to get a sense of euphoria­ — in other words, to get high. Unlike other stimulants, Vyvanse can’t be injected or inhaled to get high. This may help to make it less likely than Adderall to be misused.

Dosage

The way you take these drugs and the way they’re released into your body can lead to the significant differences between them.

Adderall comes in two forms:

Immediate-release tablet: You take this form two or three times per day. The effects of each tablet last three to four hours.

Extended-release capsule (Adderall XR): You take this form only once per day, and the effects last 10 to 12 hours. The capsule is filled with beads. Half of the beads work right away, and the other half start to work later. In this way, the extended-release capsule provides two doses in one pill.

On the other hand, Vyvanse only comes in a delayed-release capsule that you take each morning. The form is inactive as it enters your body. As you digest it, your body slowly converts the drug into its active form. Once it becomes active, the effects can last up to 14 hours.

Effectiveness

Adderall and Vyvanse are both effective in improving ADHD symptoms. Yet it’s hard to tell whether one of these drugs works better than the other. Few head-to-head studies have compared Adderall XR and Vyvanse.

It may come down to the fact that everyone reacts differently to medication. Vyvanse may work well for one person, while another may respond better to Adderall.

Cost

The brand-name versions of both drugs are similar in cost. Adderall is also available as a generic drug, but Vyvanse is not. Generic drugs are often much less expensive than brand-name drugs.

Many factors can affect prescription drug prices, including insurance coverage and coupon discounts. It’s usually best to take a drug based on how it works for you rather than what it costs, though. Changing to another drug to save costs may require dosage changes and adjustments, which can affect costs in the end, anyway.

Stimulant side effects

Because Adderall and Vyvanse are both stimulant drugs, they share similar side effects. These include:

  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • trouble sleeping
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Less common side effects of both drugs include:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing something that isn’t really there)
  • increased heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • mania (periods of intense excitement)
  • paranoia (a feeling as though someone is out to get you)
  • shortness of breath

In rare cases, both of these drugs can increase the risk for heart problems such as high blood pressure and increased heart rate, heart attack, stroke, and even death. Before starting Vyvanse or Adderall, get a heart checkup and tell your doctor about any history of high blood pressure or heart problems.

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ADHD

8 Things I Wish People Knew About Parenting a Child With ADHD

From the minute we entered the restaurant with my 6-year-old son, I knew we were in for a tough time. The room was packed and noisy. It wasn’t kid-friendly, and my son has ADHD.

We sat down at a table, and within minutes, he was fidgeting in his seat. He grabbed the salt and pepper shakers and started playing with them, pretending they were race cars. I kept taking them away, explaining quietly but firmly that they weren’t toys and he needed to leave them alone.

But the second I turned away to look at the menu, I heard a sharp voice from another table. It was another mom, scolding my son for “driving” the pepper shaker into her daughter’s arm.

I instantly felt ashamed, and under attack. I tensed up, turned back to my son, and barked, “What are you doing? I told you to put those away!”

As the mom and a few other patrons glared at me, my shame was joined by a familiar feeling of guilt and fear. I’d had this experience before, and I would go on to have it many times again. And every time it happened, it hurt.

Eventually, I realized something that made it a little easier to handle: Most people who judge do it because they just don’t know.

So here’s what I’d like them to understand about me, my son, and ADHD:

1. It’s not his fault he behaves this way.

My son’s brain works differently than other kids—it’s a neurological issue. He’s not doing these things on purpose. Believe me, if he could have more self-control and focus, he would. It’s no fun for him to struggle with these things.

2. It’s not my fault he behaves this way.

I may not always do the right thing as a parent, but my parenting isn’t the cause of his challenges. Yes, I discipline him. And when he acts out, I give him consequences. But what works with other kids often doesn’t work with him. Or it doesn’t work every time. Sometimes I blame myself, even though I’m not sure what I’m blaming myself for.

3. ADHD is complicated.

It’s not just about being “hyper” or not listening. What you see isn’t even the half of it. He struggles in all sorts of ways you may not even notice—with things you may take for granted in your own kids. Turning in homework. Keeping track of time. Organizing his things and his thoughts. Applying what he knows one day to what he needs to do the next.

4. He’s not being rude or defiant.

Well, he can be those things from time to time, just like any kid. But the behavior you may see as disrespectful (to me, or to other people) isn’t really that. Once my son realizes he’s been hurtful or made others unhappy, he feels terrible. He doesn’t mean it.

5. We’re both trying as hard as we can.

We make schedules and checklists to try to keep things on track. We role-play ways he could have handled things differently. He works hard every day to keep it together at school, even if it means losing it when he comes home. I work hard not to lose it when he does. It’s exhausting.

6. Putting my young child on ADHD medication wasn’t easy.

He gagged the first time he tried to swallow a pill. He cried the first time he couldn’t finish his pancakes because he had less of an appetite in the morning. I wanted to cry, too. But the medication truly changed his life. It’s not everyone’s choice, but it was our family’s choice. I just don’t want people to think I did it lightly.

7. Feeling judged makes everything worse.

It isolates us, when what we need most is support.

8. He’s so much more than his ADHD.

If people could look beyond the challenges, they’d see the person I see. He’s funny and smart. He’s loyal, almost to a fault. He picks himself up when he falls, and he tries again. Most important, he has tremendous empathy. And unlike many people, he shows it all the time.

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ADHD

20 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with ADD/ADHD

It’s a fact; a person with ADD is hard to love. You never know what to say. It’s like walking through a minefield. You tiptoe around; unsure which step (or word) will be the one that sets off an explosion of emotion. It’s something you try to avoid.

People who have ADD/ADHD are suffering. Life is more difficult for them than the average person. Everything is intense and magnified. Their brilliant minds are constantly in gear creating, designing, thinking and never resting. Imagine what it would feel like to have a merry-go-round in your mind that never stops spinning.

From emotional outbursts to polar opposite extremes; ADD presents several behaviors that can be harmful to relationships. ADD is a mysterious condition of opposites and extremes. For instance, when it comes to concentration, people with ADD cannot concentrate when they are emotional or when their thoughts are distracted. However, when they are interested in a specific topic, they zone in so deep that it’s hard to pull them out of that zone. Starting a project is a challenge; but stopping it is an even bigger challenge.

True love is unconditional, but ADD presents situations that test your limits of love. Whether it’s your child, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or soon-to-be spouse, ADD tests every relationship. The best way to bring peace into both your lives is to learn a new mindset to deal with the emotional roller-coaster that ADD brings all-day-every-day.

Understanding what a person with ADD feels like will help you become more patient, tolerant, compassionate, and loving. Your relationships will become more enjoyable and peaceful. This is what goes on in the mind of a person with ADD/ADHD:

1. They have an active mind

The ADD brain doesn’t stop. There’s no on/off switch. There are no brakes that bring it to a halt. It is a burden that one must learn to manage.

2. They listen but don’t absorb what is being said

A person with ADD will look at you, hear your words, watch your lips move, but after the first five words their mind is on a journey. They can still hear you speak, but their thoughts are in outer space. They are thinking about how your lips are moving or how your hair is out of place.

3. They have difficulty staying on task

Instead of keeping the focus on what’s in front of them, people with ADD are staring at the colors in the painting on the wall. Like walking through a labyrinth, they start moving in one direction, but keep changing directions to find the way out.

4. They become anxious easily

As deep thinkers, they are sensitive to whatever is going on around them. Being in a noisy restaurant can sound like you are standing in the front row at a Metallica concert. A depressing news snippet can set them into end-of-the-world mode.

5. They can’t concentrate when they are emotional

If there is something worrisome going on, or if they are upset, a person with ADD cannot think of anything else. This makes concentration on work, conversation, and social situations almost impossible.

6. They concentrate too intensely

When the doors of their mind open, the person with ADD dives in like a scuba diver jumping into the deep ocean.

7. They have difficulty stopping a task when they are in the zone

And under the deep ocean is where they stay for hours. Even when their oxygen is running low, if they are enjoying the view, they won’t come up for air until they’re almost out of oxygen.

8. They are unable to regulate their emotions

For a person with ADD, their emotions are flying wild, out of proportion and cannot be contained. The tangled wires in their brilliant brains make thought and feelings difficult to process. They need extra time to get their systems up and running properly.

9. They have verbal outbursts

Their intense emotions are hard to regulate. Since they impulsively say whatever they think, they often say things they later regret. It’s almost impossible for them to edit their words before they release them.

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