ADHD: What, Who, Why?

What is ADHD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) “is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/ or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”  This can include difficulty focusing and staying on task, disorganization, constant motion or activity, and hasty or impulsive actions.

People with the symptoms of inattention may frequently miss details or make careless mistakes; have trouble staying focused; seem to not listen; not follow through; have issues organizing and with time management; lose or misplace things; and be forgetful and easily distracted. Those with the symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may frequently fidget or be in constant motion; feel restless; be unable to remain quiet; talk nonstop; blurt things out or have trouble waiting their turn; or interrupt others.

Who is affected by it?
According to the CDC and as published by ADDitudeMag.com, ADHD affects approximately 11 percent of children and almost 5 percent of adults in the U.S. Symptoms can appear as early as age three, and can continue into the teen years through adulthood. In order to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, symptoms must be or have been present prior to age 12. The symptoms may change as a person ages, from struggling in school, to struggling with relationships and having problems in the workplace.

The person with ADHD is not the only person affected, though. According to WebMD, “studies show that when one person in the family has ADHD, it can affect how satisfied parents, siblings, and others in the family feel with their everyday life. For some, that can lead to relationship problems, less family togetherness, and more conflict. Research even shows higher rates of divorce and depression among parents of a child with ADHD, compared with other families.”

Why does it occur?
ADHD is a brain-based biological disorder, but it is unclear exactly what causes it. Studies analyzing brain imagery and others show there are many physiological differences in the brains of those with ADHD. Scientists believe a number of factors may contribute to this, including genetics. Studies have revealed that a child with ADHD is four times as likely to have had a relative also diagnosed, pointing to genetics.

Researchers “are investigating many different genes, especially ones linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine that may play a role in developing ADHD. They believe it likely involves at least two genes, since ADHD is such a complex disorder,” states the ADDitude Magazine article. Dangerous chemicals may also play a role. These can include exposure to cigarette smoking, alcohol, or environmental toxins while in utero; or exposure to environmental toxins at a young age; all which may disrupt brain development. The environmental toxins—everyday toxins that are found in foods, carpeting, cleaning and lawn products, even personal care products—may contribute significantly to ADHD and other disorders like autism and learning disabilities.

With no specific cause and no cure, medical research into ADHD is critical. Meridien Research has several ADHD research studies for children and adults enrolling now throughout Central Florida.. Call 813-563-6009 or visit our individual study pages for more information.