What is ADHD?
Many people asks us “what does ADHD stand for?”. The ADHD meaning is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a disorder that usually develops during childhood, but is sometimes not even diagnosed until adolescence or adulthood.
ADHD is characterized by an individual’s inability to focus or pay attention. Sufferers exhibit restlessness, impulsiveness and a sense of disorganization. They are also extremely impatient and easily distracted, even when doing something that interests them. The condition is often viewed as a learning disorder because it can interfere with the learning process in a dramatic way.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD. Some individuals find the addition of “hyperactivity” to the diagnosis inaccurate, superfluous, inappropriate and even offensive. Because the disorder is often seen in children first, many believe that it is over-diagnosed or a fraud perpetuated by the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries on families trying to understand their excitable child. There is little that is understood about this condition from a scientific perspective.
ADHD causes: what causes ADHD?
The question that pop up in most people’s minds when they come across a somebody affected by this disorder is “what causes ADHD?”. Most people are ignorant about what the ADHD causes or ADHD symptoms are. This is why, the rate of people affected by this disorder, is increasing day by day. For recognizing the symptoms of this disease and treating it properly, people need to be aware of what causes ADHD. That may give rise to this disorder.
In this section, we present the factors that lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adults and children as identified by the researchers.
Causes of ADHD in adults
The exact cause of ADHD is yet to be discovered. However, lots of research has examined different possible explanations.
- Genetic and neurological
The condition seems to be partly caused by your genetic makeup. The disorder is more common in relatives of people with it than people without, and a twin is much more likely again to have this disorder if their twin brother/sister has it. However, it is important to understand that having someone in your family with ADHD does not mean you will definitely have ADHD. Having the genes for ADHD does not cause you to have the disorder; it just means that you may have it.
People with ADHD have been shown to have different levels of activity in certain areas of the brain, such as the areas at the front of the brain which are involved in planning and control of behaviour. Also, the areas of the brain that are involved in controlling movement show differences. This may be why children with ADHD seem to fidget and move uncontrollably.
Researchers also come up with models of how the core symptoms of ADHD affect the other areas of someone’s life. It shows how problems of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity may cascade to affect their life.
Causes of ADHD in children
ADHD is a common behavioural disorder that affects an estimated 8% to 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it’s not yet understood why.
Children with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what’s expected of them but have trouble following through because they can’t sit still, pay attention, or attend to details.
Of course, all children (especially younger ones) act this way at times, particularly when they’re anxious or excited. But the difference with ADHD is that symptoms are present over a longer period of time and occur in different settings. They impair a child’s ability to function socially, academically, and at home.
The real cause?
There is more than one cause for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children, most of which are found to originate from biological aspects. In few cases, parents are to be blamed for such a condition, but it is believed that the change in the structure of the brain might be one of the dominant reasons. Further, there are certain environmental agents that could possibly modify a child’s behaviour.
- Modified anatomy and brain routine
Children who are diagnosed to have ADHD have notable differences in the function of the brain as compared to their counterparts. The chemicals present in the brain, namely neurotransmitters, are responsible for such a behaviour. These chemicals are essential for the interaction of the cells present in the brain. The neurotransmitter associated with this disorder, called as dopamine, tends to malfunction and thus results in unfavourable consequences that include impulsivity, lack of concentration and hyperactivity. Further, it has been scientifically proved that a child with ADHD disorder has significantly smaller volume of brain as compared to a normal child. Such children are found to be less sensitive in situations where they are either complimented or punished.
The ADHD disorder is also believed to be transferred from parents who are diagnosed of hypertension. Every fourth child that suffers from this disorder has a relative with ADHD. This disorder is also more commonly found in identical twins. There are also possibilities of a child to acquire ADHD if the parents tend to have psychiatric disturbance.
- Maternal factors
Pregnant mothers who have a habit of smoking pose a threat of having a child with ADHD. Likewise, using alcohol or other drugs during the gestation period can effectively retard the activity of neurons that produce dopamine. One of the bleak factors is that a pregnant woman getting exposed to a chemical poison like polychlorinated biphenyls. Such a chemical is widely used in a pesticide industry.
Consumption of drugs like cocaine has been proved to hinder the normal growth of the brain receptors.
Also, there are cases where the mothers are less affectionate and are very critical towards their own children. They also tend to severely punish the child for literally a tiny reason. Such a situation could possibly show symptoms of ADHD in the behaviour of the child.
- Exposure of a child to environmental poisons
Children, when exposed to environmental toxins such as lead and polychlorinated biphenyls, are feared of acquiring this disorder. Increased exposure to lead levels might even result in violent behaviour of a child. Lead is even found in sand, dust and also in water pipes. Other possible environmental factors include pollution, food stuffs that have artificial colours and exposure to fluorescent light. Interestingly, even sugar has been proved to shoot up the hyperactive behaviour in certain cases.
There are few other risk factors that seem to cause ADHD. They include watching television for a longer period that could possibly make the brain to want a constant stimulation.
Deficiencies in the child’s daily diet that account for poor nutrition could result in its modified behaviour.
Children who are devoid of love and security realize that their needs are not met and develop symptoms similar to those of ADHD.
Whatever may be the causes of ADHD in your child, finding it and treating it at the right time is the best thing you can do, to get your child back to normal life. Though it may take some time and appropriate medication, to bring the child back to a normal state, one should be patient and careful enough, throughout the treatment period.
Symptoms of ADHD: what are the signs of ADHD?
Dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is far from easy. Making this situation worse is not knowing if you are afflicted with this disorder.
For the most part, the symptoms of ADHD occur as a child develops. And even adults may have periods of time where they feel unfocused or distracted. It is also very easy to confuse ADHD symptoms with a wide variety of other problems such as learning disabilities and other types of emotional issues. This is why it is important to have a suspected case of ADHD diagnosed by a health care professional.
Many people ask themselves “Do I have ADHD?”. Well, there is not just one simple physical or medical test that can be used to determine if someone has the condition. For parents who suspect that their child may have this condition it is important to speak with the child’s physician about their concerns. They will have a checklist of different symptoms and can make sure that the child is not exhibiting symptoms of similar conditions.
Although consulting with a medical professional is always recommended, some signs of ADHD are clearly apparent even to untrained individuals. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), these symptoms of ADD are classified into three designations – inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
- Struggling with Instruction
One of the pillar stones of the inattention category is struggling with instructions. This includes issues with directions on work assignments, as well as failing to properly focus on school projects. Confusion and the inability to focus on single tasks are also related to issues with following instructions.
- Fidgeting and Squirming
Hyperactive movements, like fidgeting and squirming, may be signs of ADHD. If you are unable to stop moving while seated, or constantly tap or shake an appendage, consider speaking with your doctor about ADHD or other serious issues, like Parkinson’s disease or Tourette syndrome.
- Trouble with Quiet Work
Although similar to struggling with instructions, having trouble with quiet work is a different, but common, Attention Deficit Disorder Symptoms according to the NIHM. This sign of ADHD often goes hand in hand with hyperactive movements or vocalizations. Quiet settings, like libraries or hospitals, often serve as prime locations to expose this symptom.
The top of the impulsivity category belongs to impatience. Many individuals suffer with normal levels of impatience on a daily basis. However, when this lack of patience ventures into extreme territory, it becomes a sign of ADHD. Compare your ability to remain calm and composed to those around you to help illuminate this potential issue.
- Talking Nonstop
There is nothing wrong with having a bubbly or talkative personality. For many people, this is pleasing and enjoyable. However, those who speak habitually, excessively, and without reason may be struggling with one of the most prevalent symptoms of ADHD – talking nonstop.
- Daydreaming and Confusion
Similar to a lack of concentration, falling into daydream sessions often is associated with this disorder. Additionally, becoming confused when you are regaining focus from these daydreams are signs of ADHD. Everyone enjoys reliving a wistful memory or letting their mind wander from time to time, but when this activity becomes uncontrollable, it might be time to consider help.
- Interrupting Others and Trouble with Conversations
Even the most sociable individuals can stutter and stumble through a conversation from time to time, making many faux pas along the way. When these issues become uncontrollable or occur far too often, the issue switches to a potential case. If you interrupt others often or fail to adhere to normal conversational standards, these actions may underscore a bigger mental issue. This is one of the symptoms of ADHD in children.
- Reckless Driving
Did you know that one of the symptoms of ADHD in adults is reckless driving? When you have ADHD, it can be very difficult to keep your focus on the road. You can easily get distracted, which may result in road accidents. Traffic can make you very restless too. What’s even worse is that you are more likely to get into arguments and fights on the road.
- Relationship Problems
Believe it or not, one of the common symptoms of ADHD in adults is relationship problems. This is due to the fact that those with adult ADHD find it hard to listen and respond effectively, resulting in poor communication. Honouring commitments also becomes problematic. Furthermore, individuals who have ADHD tend to have sudden angry outbursts which are detrimental to a marriage, friendship, or other relationship.
Many other symptoms are also associated with ADHD. Inability to sit still at dinner, dashing about in inappropriate settings, and learning hindrances all feed into a positive case of this disorder. However, they all funnel into these seven larger signs or augment them in some shape or form. If you are experiencing problems with any of these symptoms, or a combination of several, consider scheduling an appointment for ADHD diagnosis with your primary caregiver or any psychologist to discuss further action.
ADHD diagnosis: how is ADHD diagnosed?
Common signs or symptoms of ADHD include: impulsivity, fidgeting, being easily distracted, and an inability to finish tasks. While children are more commonly diagnosed, ADHD is a disorder afflicting many adults as well. There have been several tests developed to help diagnose ADHD in children, with some of the most trusted listed below.
The Stanford-Binet Test
The Stanford-Binet Test is the most popular cognitive ability assessment, also known as an IQ test. It consists of sixty questions that the individual is asked to answer. These answers are then assessed to give an estimated cognitive ability, or IQ of the patient. This test can be taken online as well as through a doctor.
The Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children
A popular test for children is the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV). The test is conducted on children between the ages of 6 and 16 and takes between 48-65 minutes to determine the patient’s general intellectual ability. The test is comprised of fifteen subtests, which are measured by five main indexes. These are: the verbal compression index, visual spatial index, the fluid reasoning index, the working memory index, and the processing speed index. These indexes are assessed along with the fifteen subtests to determine the intellectual ability of the individual tested, which can in turn help to diagnose ADHD.
The Kaufman Battery for Children
Another popular test to diagnose ADHD in children is the Kaufman Battery for Children (KABC). The KABC is a psychological diagnosis test for assessing cognitive development that was developed in 1983 and revised in 2004. This test utilizes new developments in psychological theory and statistical methodology, making it popular among patients and doctors. The KABC also gives special attention to handicapped groups and groups suffering from learning disabilities, as well as cultural minorities.
Interview with a doctor and rating scales
In addition to these tests, a patient suspected of suffering from the condition can conduct an interview with a doctor, during which a physical examination will also be performed. A behavior and rating scale checklist will be given to the patient’s parents and teachers to fill out while monitoring the individual to determine if certain factors and symptoms occur. These rating lists combined with any of the tests previously mentioned have been determined to be efficient ways to diagnose it.
ADHD treatment: ADHD medication vs therapy
As parents, you always want to find the best treatment for your child to help him/her get out of the problem fast and easily. The fact is, there is no best treatment for ADHD and another fact is, currently, there is no cure for ADHD. However, you don’t need to be disappointed. Available treatments can still help your kid have a successful life.
Medication for ADHD
Prescription ADHD medications for kids
This treatment option is widely used and brings fast effects.
The first ADHD medications that are prescribed are usually stimulants. These stimulants increase activity in the brain, particularly in the areas responsible for attention, impulse control, and focus. Stimulants do have positive effects when it comes to improving focus and self-control. However, when it comes to social skills and achievement in the academics, these are still dependent on the child himself. Stimulant medications actually contain one of both: methylphenidate and amphetamines.
The first choice of the two is methylphenidate because it has been found to have fewer side effects. Methylphenidate actually comes in short, medium, and long durations. If the child does not respond to methylphenidate, then he is prescribed amphetamines. For short durations that last 6 hours, Dextrostat and Dexedrine are prescribed. For medium and long durations, Adderall is prescribed.
If stimulants are not effective on the child, then Atomoxetine and Antidepressants are prescribed. When two treatments involving stimulants have failed, then Atomoxetine is the next step in the process.
One important thing to note about ADHD medications is the fact that there is no single drug that is recommended for all children. The medications are actually given out on a trial-and-error basis. These are all dependent on how the child would react to a particular medication. Nonetheless, when the right medication is determined, the symptoms of the disorder can then be managed easily already.
If there is one other thing you should know about ADHD medications, it’s the fact that they do not really cure the causes of the disorder. All they can do is alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. Also, when these medications are meshed with counselling or behavioural therapy, this can actually help a great deal.
Prescription ADHD medications for adults
The condition is not just a disorder in children. It occurs in adults as well! Although it may seem hard to manage, there is hope and excellent benefits using ADHD medication for adults.
There are many options of choosing which ADHD medication is right for you. You can either take prescription ADHD medication or try natural remedies for ADHD.
In order to obtain a prescription for ADHD, you must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or neuropsychologist first. This involves a serious of questions and tests to determine which subtype of ADHD you may have. This will help determine which ADHD medication is right for you.
There are several prescription drug classes for adults with ADHD. These range from stimulants to other drug classes that have indirect effects of helping ADHD symptoms.
- Adderall: is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This is a common choice of ADHD medication for adults. Adderall acts on the central nervous system to help ease hyperactivity and impulse control. Your doctor will change your dose until you form a treatment plan that is right for you.
- Ritalin (Methylphenidate): is a central nervous system stimulant similar to Adderall. It helps ease symptoms of hyperactivity and impulse control. Ritalin is a medication that targets both ADHD and ADD symptoms. It is recommended that this drug is part of a supportive treatment program involving counseling and other therapies to maximize ADHD treatment.
- Concerta (Methylphenidate): acts just like Ritalin as a central nervous system stimulant. Concerta is another brand name for this drug class, as well as Metadate.
- Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine) is a newer ADHD medication for adults. Vyvanse can also be safely used in children with ADHD over the age of 6. It is a central nervous system stimulant that eases symptoms of hyperactivity, impulse control, and helps ADHD adults who have binge eating problems due to their impulsivity. The reason why Vyvanse is a better choice of ADHD medication for adults is because it does not have as severe of side effects as an immediate release timing other ADHD medications have.
- Straterra: this drug is not a stimulant, unlike other ADHD medication for adults. Straterra is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which is a similar mechanism of action to some antidepressants. The actual mechanism of action of treating ADHD with this drug is unknown. However, it is thought to be from the increase of norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine plays an important role in attention span and behavior. Straterra is recommended to be part of a treatment program involving psychological, educational, and social measures to treat the condition.
As you can see there are several alternatives for ADHD medications for adults. To know more about what medication is most suitable for you, you will need to seek advice from your doctor when studying all your options to find out what you can take for your condition.
Difference between IR and XR prescription ADHD medications for adults
Everyone responds differently to ADHD medications. It may take a trial of trying a few different medications that may work best for you.
The difference between IR and XR formulations are the time frame they work. In ADHD medications for adults, the time medication is released can play a critical role in ADHD treatment.
IR formulations are known as immediate release formulations. These formulations will work immediately once they are ingested. Depending on the needs of an adult with ADHD, IR formulations may need to be administered more frequently to avoid the medication wearing off.
ER formulations are released overtime. They provide a much smoother onset of action and have an increased duration of time they work in the body. This option can be a great choice to diminish the side effects some adults with ADHD experience on IR formulations. Furthermore, ER formulations are a great choice with people who forget to take their medications on a timely basis.
Natural ADHD medications for adults
Along with, or even without prescription ADHD medication for adults, there are natural products out there that can be an excellent choice to treating adult ADHD. Before considering a natural ADHD medication, be sure to discuss options with your doctor.
- Fish oil: omega 3 fatty acids have proven to increase mental health skills in adults with the condition. Fish oil can improve hyperactivity, improve attention span, and decrease unclear thinking. You can either take fish oil as a capsule or from foods such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines. Capsule forms are very convenient. The highest recommended fish oil for ADHD is by Nordic Naturals.
- Zinc: several studies have shown a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsivity with taking zinc supplements in people with ADHD. Studies mention adult ADHD patients have lower levels of zinc compared to people without the condition. You can take zinc in capsule form or obtain it from foods such as nuts, dairy products, beans, whole grains, and fortified cereals. If you are considering zinc as a medication supplement, the best supplement brand to choose is by NOW Foods.
- Melatonin: this medication doesn’t necessarily help with ADHD directly. For those with trouble sleeping, melatonin is a natural remedy to help adults go to sleep at night. People with ADHD who lack sleep wreaks havoc on ADHD symptoms.
ADHD medication for adults can be beneficial to improve one’s quality of life. If you feel someone, or even yourself has ADHD symptoms, don’t be afraid to get diagnosed. ADHD medication for adults have been available for years. They are proven to help manage the disorder effectively. Many adults who have gone on ADHD medication do not regret their decision.
Behavioural therapy can take a lot of time and effort but the outcome can be very rewarding. IN addition, if parents don’t want the kids to take ADHD drugs, behavioural therapy is a good choice. Behavioural therapy involves in enforcing the kids with the encouragement when they do good things and also punishment when they do things wrong (however, punishment should not be used frequently). The cognitive behavioural therapy helps the kids to recognize the negative thoughts and how to avoid them. Different from medication therapy, the effects of behavioural therapy is permanent. With the right approach, behavioural therapy can do wonders to help the kids manage and overcome the condition.
What is the best treatment for ADHD?
As mentioned above, there is no best treatment for ADHD. However, parents can make decision based on their opinion toward drugs. If parents don’t want their kids to use drugs, the behavioural therapy can be a good choice. Different from medication, behavioural therapy alone can help the kids manage ADHD symptoms very well if parents apply it properly. However, through practices, doctors recommended that parents should use the behavioural therapy in combination with medication for the maximum effects.
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