What is ADHD?
ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood and lasts a lifetime. It is a non-visible disability described as a physical, complex brain disorder that affects the parts of the brain that controls executive functions, like helping us plan, focus on, and execute tasks.
What is ADHD “not” ?
ADHD is not a mental illness, nor is it a specific learning disability. It is not about “bad behavior.”
What does ADHD look like?
People with ADHD have difficulty focusing, paying attention and staying on task, can be impulsive and behave as if “driven by a motor.” They also have difficulty with time management, regulation of emotions, executive function (the ability to begin an activity, get organized and manage tasks) and sometimes problems with working memory. Not every person has every symptom.
How common is it?
Approximately 11 percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. Almost five percent (4.4) of Americans meet criteria for the disorder in adulthood. 1
What are the 3 types of ADHD?
The three types of ADHD are: hyperactive-impulsive type, inattentive-passive type and combined type.
What causes it?
Scientists have not yet pinned down one specific cause. Factors which contribute to the risk of developing ADHD include genetics, maternal health, use of alcohol and/or tobacco during pregnancy, low birth weight, premature birth, environmental factors (such as exposure to lead or smoke), and/or brain injury.2
What does NOT cause ADHD?
ADHD is not caused by bad parenting, too many video games or too much sugar — although in a minority of cases, “too much sugar” can indeed exacerbate the symptoms.
What do neurotransmitters have to do with it?
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain, by bridging the gap (synapse) between them.
Research suggests that imbalance of neurotransmitters and structural differences in the brain play a role in the development of ADHD.
Medication targets these transmitters in various ways.
Some neurotransmitters are included in the group called “catecholamines” — hormones produced throughout the brain in the nerve tissues and in the adrenal medullah (the inner part of the adrenal gland).
These hormones, which are produced in response to stress, also function as neurotransmitters.
The neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine (noradrenalin) are included in the catecholamines, (which also include epinephrine / adrenalin).
Researchers believe the neurotransmitter serotonin, produced in the raphe nuclei in the brainstem, may also play a role in ADHD, particularly when emotional dysregulation is involved.
- “Data & Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ed. Center for Disease Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.
- “ADHD Facts.” Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html