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What’s the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Part II

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder causes

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

How do you know if you have ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? What makes this condition recognizable for an adult?

This is the second in a series of articles on recognizing ADHD in yourself as an adult, its main causes, proper diagnosis, and suggestions regarding how to address it.

As mentioned in our previous article, individuals with the disorder show a consistent pattern of three different categories of symptoms:

  • Inattention (difficulty paying attention)
  • Hyperactivity (being overactive)
  • Impulsiveness (acting without weighing consequences)

In addition to the categories of symptoms, there are also three types of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that some combination of the above symptom categories would designate an individual as: ADHD/Inattentive Type, ADHD/Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and Combined ADHD Type. This article will discuss some causes of the disorder, diagnoses, and treatment. For more information regarding the three types of ADHD, and the primary symptoms of each one, please refer to the previous article in this series.

Causes of ADHD           
The exact cause of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not yet known. Many issues in childhood can lead to difficulty sustaining attention, though that wouldn’t necessarily be considered to be the same as ADHD. For one, sugar consumption has long been suspected of being a cause of inattention and/or hyperactivity, though there’s no research-based evidence that would support this possibility.

Factors that may affect the development of ADHD can be:

  • The mix of genetics that makes the development of ADHD likely can certainly run in a family.
  • Problems in the central nervous system at certain significant moments during development are considered to be likely as a contributive factor.
  • Some environmental factors (e.g., exposure to lead often found in paint and pipes in older buildings) can likely increase the risks.

This list of possible causes of ADHD is not exhaustive, and the study of the condition continues. Maternal drug use, alcohol use, and/or smoking during pregnancy as well as premature birth are considered to be additional possible risk factors.

Additional concerns
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can make life fraught with problems for children, then later as adolescents, and even later as adults. Individuals with ADHD often:

  • Are frequently known to be more accident- and injury-prone than others who do not have ADHD
  • Struggle with poor self-esteem and lack of feeling socially accepted
  • Struggle to pay attention, which may lead to a subpar performance in work and other life endeavors, resulting in subsequent prejudice by other adults
  • Have shown an increased risk for a predisposition to abuse alcohol and/or drugs as well as other antisocial behavior

Other conditions
ADHD doesn’t spark other problems psychological, developmental, or otherwise. But individuals with ADHD are more likely than others to also grapple with conditions such as:

  • Anxiety disorders –which can cause overwhelming worry, insecurity, and/or nervousness
  • Depression – very common for individuals with ADHD
  • Learning disabilities –that include problems with comprehension and communicating confidently
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorderindicated by heightened irritability and problems coping with frustration
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – which is typically recognized as a pattern of negative, defiant, and hostile behavioral patterns toward authority figures
  • Conduct disorder – characterized by antisocial behavior
  • Bipolar disorder – a combination of depression coupled with manic behavior
  • Tourette’s syndromeknown as a neurological disorder reflected by repetitive muscle or vocal tics.

ADHD Diagnosis
No single test exists that can be reliably used to diagnose attention-deficit hyperactive disorder. As mentioned in our previous article, ADHD is typically diagnosed initially when a child consistently exhibits a majority or all of the recognized symptoms consistently for more than six months.

For a reliable diagnosis, you should receive a full physical, including screenings for vision and hearing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System, a non-invasive cerebral scan meant to monitor theta and beta brain waves. The theta/beta ratio will typically be higher for individuals with attention-deficit hyperactive disorder than for those without.

A comprehensive medical history should also be taken into account to screen for additional conditions that could be affecting you. ADHD-like symptoms and behaviors that can help determine whether you have ADHD or something else includes:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Problems sleeping
  • Unrecognized seizures
  • Recent significant life changes (such as the death of someone close to you, death of a long-time pet, divorce, moving)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

As previously mentioned in our last article, even though ADHD symptoms more often than not begin during childhood, hyperactivity will often diminish as a child grows into adolescence. Common symptoms (problems with paying attention, poor impulse control, and disorganization) may persist through an individual’s teens, on through college, and into adulthood. In the next article in the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder series, we will discuss Adult ADHD in more depth.

Do you feel you might have ADHD as an adult? It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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What’s the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

 

What's the Story with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

How do you know if you have ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? What makes this condition recognizable?

This is the first of a series of articles on recognizing ADHD as an adult, the disorder’s backstory, and how to address it.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that makes it difficult for an individual to pay attention, follow the thread of a conversation, and reign in impulsive behaviors. He or she may also be restless, reckless, and virtually always active. Note that even though symptoms of ADHD typically begin during childhood, hyperactivity will often minimize as a child grows into adolescence. However, common symptoms (problems with paying attention, poor impulse control, and disorganization) are also frequently seen to persist through an individual’s teens, on through college, and into adulthood.

Individuals with ADHD show a consistent pattern of three different categories of symptoms:

  • Inattention (difficulty paying attention)
  • Hyperactivity (being overactive)
  • Impulsiveness (acting without thinking)

Three Primary Types of ADHD

ADHD/Inattentive Type (previously known simply as ADD)Individuals with this type the disorder typically get first labeled as children as dreamers, spacy, ditzy, unmotivated, lazy, unambitious, etc. One common trait is repeated forgetfulness (leaving things behind and/or losing them), and frequent “zoning out” in meetings or during conversations. He or she might miss an exit going home and not realize it for quite a while. An ADHD-prone individual may also run out of gas after forgetting to fill up during the work week. Friendships may suffer because the individual forgets get-togethers, or may wander past others without noticing them. Why? Because his or her mind is preoccupied with other things. This type of the disorder is the second most common type.

Maybe you’ve wondered if you have ADHD or perhaps something else. There is no blood or imaging test to diagnose the disorder, though if an individual as a child consistently showed signs of six of the following nine symptoms for more than six months (and on into adulthood), there’s a good chance for an ADHD/inattentive type diagnosis. Here is a frequently used ADHD checklist:

  1. Very easily distracted and sidetracked
  2. “Spacey” and forgetful throughout the day’s activities
  3. Will often avoid activities that take a lot of mental effort for long periods of time
  4. Doesn’t seem to pay attention when spoken to directly
  5. Frequently has a hard time staying on one task until completion
  6. Careless, sloppy, pays little attention to instructions and details
  7. Often loses materials and/or paperwork required for work and/or activities
  8. Typically disregards instructions, and does not follow through on chores or homework (usually because of a lack of comprehension, not out of rebellion).
  9. Has difficulty with organization and tidiness

ADHD/Hyperactive-Impulsive TypeThis type is far less common in children, though this type of the disorder typically manifests the type of behaviors most associated with ADHD. Only about 5 percent of with the disorder are classified as this type, and usually signs of ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive will have been recognized by the time a child is of preschool age. Most of the other ADHD diagnoses will be of the inattentive type, or the combined type.

Hyperactive/Impulsive individuals when children are typically viewed as “bratty,” obnoxious, unruly, wild, ill-behaved, etc. A hyperactive individual may have been very likeable as a child, but may have been considered to be an incorrigible “class clown.” Individuals who grow up with this type of ADHD are often thrill-seekers, restlessly active, etc. As children they may have grabbed toys from other children and/or refused to share long after classmates had learned the concept. Hyperactive child may have frequently continued to play at recess in school after the bell rang to go back inside, and may have frequently pretended not to hear parents and teachers. It would come as no surprise to see them push other children, yell, frighten/intimidate others, etc. Hyperactive-Impulsive children were most often those that would not nap, sit still, or stop disturbing a class by talking to others–they were often seen as “problem children.”

Your child grown into an adult with the hyperactive-impulsive disorder would likely have shown six of the following nine symptoms consistently over six months, many of which would have carried forward into adulthood:

  1. Frequent trouble doing leisure activities quietly
  2. Is ever on the go (think of someone being “driven by a motor”)
  3. Is a “pushy” driver, having difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  4. Talks excessively, rapidly
  5. “Fidgety” or “bouncy” with hands and feet, squirmy while seated
  6. Frequently stands up from sitting
  7. Excessively restless at inappropriate times
  8. Interrupts others/blurts out responses before the other person finishes talking
  9. Intrusive and “pushy” personality

Combined ADHD Type: Inattentive and Hyperactive-impulsiveThis type of ADHD is by far the most common, with obvious symptoms of both types. Keep in mind that not all individuals with ADHD display the full list of symptoms – someone with ADHD may have shown all the symptoms of one type, or several from each.

Some combination of the above symptoms need to have been consistently present for at least six months, symptoms need to have been made manifest before the age of seven years and been more pronouncedly manifest than childhood peers of the same age, and symptoms need to have consistently persisted through adolescence and adulthood.

In the next article in our ADHD series, we will discuss known causes of the condition, diagnoses, and treatment.

Are you concerned about the possibility that you may have ADHD? It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.