ADHD (attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) is a common brain disorder. It occurs in childhood and may continue in adulthood. In this, children have difficulty in concentrating in a task and remaining still. Children suffering from this disorder find it difficult to learn. Condition becomes apparent when children are in early school years. And it is generally diagnosed by the teachers. These behaviours of children suffering from this disease affect their social and personal life.It has severe effects in particular parts of the brain and it’s caused due to various reasons. If not treated properly and earlier, this disorder can become chronic and can stay even after entering into adulthood.
ADHD can be very disruptive of a child’s education and that of children of the same classroom. This disorder is marked by various signs and symptoms but, the key behaviours of ADHD includes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Speaking of which, it is normal to have inattention (being unfocused in class or in some other activity) and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviours are very much more severe, secondly prevalence is much higher and thirdly, it severely affects their social and personal life.
- INATTENTION: Difficulty keeping their minds on a task and is easily distracted and hence, miss details and make some careless mistakes in school/job work. Also, they don’t listen to people, don’t follow rules and hence, they keep forgetting or losing things that one needs to complete a task.these people generally don’t like those activities which requires mental effort. They aren’t able to manage time.
- HYPERACTIVITY: A child who cannot sit still and who is constantly moving, roaming, touching/ tapping and fidgeting about things. They leave their seat when expected to staying seated. They aren’t able to stay quiet and that’s why talk non-stop, cannot wait for anyone or anything, gets irritated very easily. They are completely restlessness.
- IMPULSIVITY: It refers to when a person makes hasty actions (that may even harm a person), or speaks and acts without thinking of the consequences of that act (e.g. butts into conversations or games). It resembles the actions done win hyper activeness.
Diagnosis of ADHD includes 6 or more of 9 symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity.
Symptoms in children may vary, i.e., some may only have inattention, while some may suffer from hyperactivity or impulsivity while some may show mixed symptoms. The most common symptom of children (with ADHD) is hyper activeness or hyperactivity. Prevalence of boys having this disorder is much more compared with girls. In adulthood, the ratio is approximately 2:1 which suggests that many females are failed to be diagnose.
Adults with ADHD have trouble managing their time, being organised or giving their best in their respective jobs. They may even have problems with their aggression, conduct disorder, learning disabilities, can have problems in their relationships, and may also suffer from low self-esteem and therefore depression. About half of the children may show symptoms in adulthood during which these people get diagnosed with substance abuse disorder.
One of the major causes of ADHD is heritability. It plays an important role in determining the possibility of a person to have ADHD.Estimated heritability of ADHD ranges from 75%-90%. So, youngsters having ADHD have taken it form their parent or one of their relatives.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter which is responsible for cognitive functions. Dysregulation of it is mainly associated with ADHD. COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase) is the enzyme (in frontal lobes) responsible for inactivation of dopamine in brains and hence causing ADHD. It cleaves catecholamines (including dopamine and norepinephrine) in the extracellular fluid. Though, reuptake is the primary method of removing catecholamine from the synapse.
Other reasons of ADHD include: brain injuries, exposure to environmental toxins, smoking, drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases risk factor of having ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD is caused due to dysfunction or problem in the prefrontal cortex and striatum in brain, the area which is responsible for planning, decision making, personality expression, learning, memory and many more things and therefore dysfunction of it causes forgetfulness, impulsivity, distractibility, etc. Growth of the brain of children with ADHD is like the unaffected children, but the rate is much slower. Cortical thickness of the brain of children with ADHD at the age of 11 years is the same as the brain of unaffected children of the age 8 years.
There are some methods/ techniques available for the treatment of ADHD. One of them is consumption of some drugs/ medications like:
- Amphetamine: is the stimulant used to treat ADHD but, it has different affects on different people. Like, on some it increases positive mood and facilitates performance on cognitive tasks, but in other people it has the opposite effects. A scientist tested amphetamine of 2 different variants on a group of people.
- 1st variant was the “val-val” variant, having lower brain levels of catecholamines, performed better when they were given low doses of amphetamine.
- 2nd variant was the “met-met” variant of amphetamine having higher levels of catecholamine, which actually impaired the performance.
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin), another stimulant used to treat ADHD. It inhibits reuptake of dopamine and hence one of the most common treatment for ADHD. It increases both, the levels of dopamine as well as norepinephrine in the prefrontal cortex. Amphetamine (treatment for ADHD) is used less as compared with methylphenidate.
- Clinicians have found that doses for ADHD when low are ineffective but, when high produce increases in activity level that disrupt children’s attention and cognition.
There are some other treatments available as well, like:
- Behavioural therapy in which therapists help youngsters to develop social, emotional and planning skills.
- Teacher’s support in which teacher help students in their studies and enjoy school more.
- Parent coaching in which parents are taught to how to respond to their children suffering from ADHD.
ADHD in children (which gradually progresses in adulthood)impairs cognitive function of the person, hence lowering his/ her self-esteem to a great level, increasing problems in their relationships, affecting their social and personal life aggressively. So, it is very important and necessary to support that person emotionally and to treat this condition as soon as possible because if not treated, it can become chronic and stay with the person lifelong.
- WebMD – What is Attention Deficit hyperactive disorder? https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd#1
- NIH (National Institute of Mental Health) – Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml
- KidsHealth (from Nemours) – ADHD https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/adhd.html
- PHYSIOLOGY OF BEHAVIOUR (11TH EDITION) BY Neil. R Carlson