What is ADHD?
We often hear the term ADHD or ADD but don’t really know what it means.
Think back to elementary school and the kid who just couldn’t sit still, always out of his seat, or talking over the teacher.
He was always up doing something other than what he was told to do. That fidgety kid was always interrupting, and not waiting his turn.
Remember those “wiggle worms”?
Now we know it’s a real disorder.
Types of ADHD
There are three categories or types of ADHD:
- Predominantly Inattentive
- People with this type have extreme difficulty focusing, finishing tasks, and following instructions. They may not receive a proper diagnosis because they don’t disrupt the classroom. They find more girls than boys in this category.
- Predominantly Hyperactivity-Impulsive
- People with this type have more problems with fidgeting, interrupting people, and not being able to wait their turn. People with this type may also have trouble paying attention. But the main problem is impulsivity and above-normal levels of activity and energy.
- Combination of both
- People with both types display both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms.
Causes of ADHD
Healthline states that genetics play a role in the cause of ADHD, a neurological disorder. But currently, a specific cause has not been discovered. Some evidence suggests smoking during pregnancy could contribute.
A reduction in dopamine, a chemical in the brain that helps move signals from one nerve to another and triggers emotional responses, also seems to increase symptoms.
Still, other research suggests a structural difference in the brain. The ADHD brain appears to have less gray matter volume.
The gray matter assists with:
- Muscle control
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder which can cause:
- Above-normal levels of hyperactivity
- Problems regulating emotions
- Trouble focusing attention on a single task
- Sitting still for long periods of time
- Sleep problems
- Racing brain
- Difficulty following instructions and completing tasks
- Easily distracted
- Interrupting others
ADHD vs. ADD
You may have heard the term ADD, a term which is now outdated. Originally, it referred to people who had problems paying attention, but who were not classified as hyperactive. The term Inattentive is now used instead of ADD.
How Boys and Girls With ADHD Differ
It has recently been determined that one in 10 children between the ages of 5 and 17 receive the ADHD diagnosis making this one of the most common childhood disorders in the United States. It has been determined that boys are twice as likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis as girls. But, this may be because boys tend to be more active than girls.
Girls display different ADHD symptoms than boys:
- Frequently daydreaming
- Hyper-talkative instead of hyperactive
- Overly emotional
Statistics show that 60% of children still exhibit ADHD Symptoms as adults, but for many, symptoms tend to decrease with age.
The US National Library of Medicine states that children who do not receive any treatment as children often develop other personality disorders as adults, such as, mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and personality disorders.
Adults With ADHD
Untreated ADHD symptoms in adults negatively impact different aspects of their lives, such as:
- Trouble Managing Time
- Impatience with problems
ADDitudemag.com states that people with ADHD act before they think. They are unable to control their initial response to a situation. The ability to “self-regulate” is compromised; they can’t modify their behavior with future consequences in mind.
Lack of ability to see the cause and effect aspect of their behavior.
The lack of impulse control is perhaps the most difficult symptom of ADHD to modify.
On the flip side, a high number of people with ADHD are more creative than the average.
Treatment for ADHD typically includes behavioral therapy, medication or both. The medication enables the individual to exercise better impulse control. The most commonly prescribed medications are stimulants which increase the dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, such as Ritalin and Adderall.
If stimulates don’t work well, doctors prescribe Strattera or Pamelor, an antidepressant, which increases the levels of norepinephrine in the brain.
Natural remedies for ADHD include:
- A healthy, balanced diet
- Minimum of 60 minutes of physical exercise per day
- Plenty of sleep
- Limit daily screen time from phones, computers, and TV
Studies show that Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi and plenty of time outside can also help calm the overactive mind.
Research shows that for adults using memory devices, such as lists, calendars, setting reminders also work to keep the person organized and lessen the ADHD symptoms.
Up Close and Personal
When my husband and I met, I was intrigued by our differences, which I attributed to different cultures. True, our cultures are different, but it didn’t take long to realize that culture wasn’t the problem,
If you recall from, “My Bucket’s About Full“, I said my husband has ADHD.
My first introduction to ADHD Symptoms and behavior left me stunned, to say the least.
After a few months of being together, I began noticing behaviors that caused me to pause in amazement. At times his behavior was totally baffling – “off-the-chain.”
One day, a car alarm went off in the apartment complex parking lot. Instantly, he reached for the doorknob without even a second to think about it. I stepped in front of him to keep him from going outside because he really wasn’t dressed for the occasion, but he pushed me aside and started out.
I witnessed numerous events that left me totally baffled. He told me about the ADHD. Knowing didn’t help. I had no idea how to survive in this new world.
Often, I had to go to extreme measures to get his attention.
For example, shortly after getting married we took a job driving a truck delivering “Little Houses”. We were on the road for a year driving the 48 states. Living in the cab of a Freightliner day and night, with a person with strange behavior, really pushed my buttons. One of his ADHD symptoms was nonstop talking, always being right, with no room for questioning or a different opinion.
One day, we were on the New York Thruway doing 70 mph, I had been sick for months and he kept going full steam on one of his logical and emphatic presentations of how he was right and I was wrong about some subject. His insensitivity, impulsiveness, and incessant talking without listening had reached a breaking point, My Bucket Was Full. So, I reached for the door handle of the Freightliner and said, “I’d rather jump than listen to you anymore.”
He was shocked and speechless. I finally had his attention. His talking stopped! I relished the quiet – the fact that he didn’t know what to say was awesome.
The first real turning point!
He began listening more, not a lot, but more. He also began reading and studying material to help understand my relationship needs and agreed to attend a Christ-Centered long term training program, ChristQuest, for couples, that focused on the man’s Christ-like behavior.
Not long afterward I went back to school and got a Master’s Degree in Psychology. I needed some understanding and tools for survival.
As I learned and began to understand, we started a Quest to find ways to “work-around” the quirkiness of ADHD, similar to what I mentioned above.
I will explain our Workarounds in subsequent posts.
Read more of my articles on Medium.