Hope Timm

What Is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is a mental disorder or neurobehavioral disorder, its characterized by difficulties or inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness or a combination of the two. It is a disorder that appears in early childhood.
ADHD and the Brain

Symptoms & Signs (Inattentive )

  • Doesn't pay attention to details
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Has trouble staying focused or easily distracted
  • Appears not to listen when spoken to
  • Has difficulty has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
  • Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
  • Gets bored with a task before it is completed
  • Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items


Hyperactivity is contractions of the muscle. Muscle contraction happens when the brain sends a signal down a nerve cell telling your biceps muscle to contract.

Symptoms & Signs (Hyperactive)

  • Constantly Fidgets and Squirms
  • Often leaves their seats in situations where sitting quietly is expected
  • Moves round constantly, often runs or climbs inappropriately
  • Talks excessively
  • Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
  • Is always "on the go" as to be driven by a motor
  • May have a quick temper or "short fuse"

Symptoms of impulsivity in children

  • Acts without thinking
  • Blurts out answers in class without waiting to be called on or hear the whole question
  • Can't wait for their turn in line or games
  • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Often Interrupts others
  • Intrudes on other people's conversations or games
  • Inability to keep power emotions in check, resulting in angry outburst or temper tantrums
  • Guesses, rather than taking time to solve a problem

Risk Factors of ADHD

  1. Altered anatomy or function of the brain, brain scans have shown that some areas of the brain, especially those related to activity and attention spans are different among children and adults with ADHD. Some studies show that the frontal lobe of the brain is different among people with ADHD. This area is related to decision making. There may be disarrangement of the neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers of the brain.
  2. Genetics- ADHD may sometimes be inherited.
  3. Being Male- boys and men are more at risk than girls and women. This may be due to genetic factors or hormonal factors. studies suggest that ADHD is commonly associated with violent and hyperactive symptoms
  4. Maternal drug abuse , alcohol intake and smoking - Some studies have shown that pregnant women who smoke, take alcohol or use recreational drugs are at a higher risk of giving birth to children who go on to develop ADHD. The exact pathology behind this association is not well known. However, it is speculated that this type of abuse in utero, or within the womb, reduces the neuronal activity and alters the nerve messenger chemicals neurotransmitters. Pregnant women who are exposed to environmental toxins are also at risk of giving birth to babies who may develop ADHD
  5. Exposure to toxins - Toddlers and preschoolers who are exposed to environmental poisons and toxins are also at higher risk of behavioral problems. Notable among these is lead exposure from paint and pipes in old buildings that has been linked to short attention spans and violent behavior in some children.
  6. Traumatic brain injury- has also been linked with ADHD in some studies. But the number of children that has suffered brain injuries is too small to explain the rising prevalence of ADHD.
  7. Additives- Some food additives such as preservatives and artificial coloring have been linked to aggravation and increased risk of ADHD.
  8. Sugar- studies show that excess sugar in children's diet can often lead to behavioral problems.
  9. Food Intolerance- Certain intolerance, like milk, wheat, and nuts, has been linked to a raised risk in ADHD.
  10. Exposure to television- There is no studies that actually prove this association, there is evidence that exposure to excessive T.V. may lead to inattentiveness and risk of ADHD later in life.
  11. Other risk factors- being born prematurely before 37 weeks of gestation and being born with a low birth weight. Brain damage in utero, or in the first few years of life, or having impaired hearing is also linked to ADHD.

Diagnosis of ADHD

  • History of child's behavior- how the child's behavior is at home, school, etc.
  • Ruling out other conditions- the pyshican consulted first and mental health specialist will rule out any other condition that may have the same symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, or inattention.
  • Official Diagnosis-
A. Predominantly inattentive – Six or more symptoms of inattention present over six months at a point that is “inappropriate for developmental level”.
  1. Lack of close attention
  2. Lack of attention to tasks and play activities
  3. Does not listen when spoken to
  4. Does not follow instructions
  5. Cannot organize activities
  6. Lack of interest in activities that require mental effort
  7. Losing things needed for activities and tasks
  8. Easily distracted
  9. Forgetful

B. Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive – Six or more symptoms of hyperactive-impulsivity present over six months at a point that is “disruptive inappropriate for developmental level”.

  1. Hyperactive –
    1. Fidgets or squirms
    2. Often gets up when asked to sit
    3. Excessive running, climbing and movements
    4. Trouble with play and leisurely activities
    5. Often “on the go” as if “driven by a motor”
    6. Excessive talking
  2. Impulsive -
    1. Blurting out comments and answers before question is finished
    2. Trouble waiting for one’s turn
    3. Habit of interrupting conversation

Treatment of ADHD

There is no cure for ADHD. Therapy is used to try and reduce the symptoms to allow for normal learning and growth of the child. Basic tenets of therapy include medication and counseling. Other parts of the therapy include watching the child in regular classrooms.

  • Types of ADHD Medication- Medications used for ADHD are commonly known as psychostimulants and non-stimulants such as Atomoxetine. These come in oral forms (tablets, capsules, liquids and skin patches).
Some stimulants are Methylphenidate (Brand names: Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana)

Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (Adderall) and Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat).

These stimulants imporve deranged balance of nerve messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters). They help to improve the major symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention.

ADHD Drug Warning

Prognosis of ADHD

Many children with ADHD grow into adult with ADHD. ADHD is a long term, chronic condition. About half of children with ADHD will continue to have troublesome symptoms of inattention or impulsivity as adults. Adults are often more capable of controlling behavior and masking difficulties.

Recent Research

  • Breast Feeding can help prevent against ADHD.
  • They have found that men with ADHD as children are twice as likely to be obese.
  • There is a possible link between cell phone use and ADHD, the research though is still not clear.