Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
For some, the ability to sit still, pay attention, and control impulsive behaviors may seem difficult or almost impossible to do. Millions of Americans suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and some of those afflicted may not even be aware they have it or the condition exists. Identifying the signs and symptoms ADHD and seeking diagnosis and treatment, are key steps taken to live a more productive and normal lifestyle. The subject of ADHD has undergone intensive research over the past two decades. Initially thought to be a disorder that only affected children, research has shown that not only adolescents suffer from ADHD, but adults do as well. As of late, the causes of ADHD are not fully understood. The signs and symptoms of ADHD fall into three categories, ADHD-inattention, ADHD-hyperactive/ impulse, and a combination of these two criteria (Wender 260-263). The treatments vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the options the patient chooses.
Wender writes, ?Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has had several names in the past. Among the earlier names were ?minimal brain dysfunction,? ?hyperactivity,? and Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD),?(8). The causes of ADHD are not fully understood at this time, although the most likely cause is believed to genetic. Researchers believe that different areas of the brain?s neuro-transmitters may be ?short circuited? causing an inability to transmit impulses vital to normal brain function. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that plays a central role in the modulation of stimulus seeking. When dopaminergic pathways are disrupted, an individual can develop and instability for stimuli. This is what researchers have typically seen in many children identified as ADHD (Lloyd, et al. 36). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is thought to affect 3?5% of school-aged children (McLarty, et al. 1). It is believed that most children with ADHD are born with the disorder and over time, the signs and symptoms become more prevalent until normal cognitive function becomes impaired.
ADHD-inattention, is where an individual fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes, does not appear to listen or follow through with tasks, has difficulty with organization and, is easily distracted and forgetful with daily activities. ADHD-hyperactive/impulsive is characterized as an individual who fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in their chair, has difficulty remaining seated, has difficulty engaging in activities quietly or talks excessively, blurts out answers before questions have been completed, and has difficulty waiting or taking turns. ADHD-combined includes elements of both the attention and the hyperactive/impulsive criteria.
Diagnosis of ADHD requires the subject to take a battery of cognitive and psyhco- motor skills assessment tests .There are various treatment options currently available for individuals suffering from ADHD. Medications such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, Volital, and Stratera (central nervous system stimulants), are commonly prescribed to treat ADHD. As strange as it may seem, the administration of stimulants to patients with ADHD, often has the opposite effect than it does on a non-ADHD patient. Administering these stimulant medications to an ADHD patient actually calms them, or slows them down. Other non-medication treatments are available as well. One of the more popular non-invasive treatments is biofeedback, or neuro-feedback. This is a process where electrodes are placed on the patient?s scalp, and connected to a computer which measures electrical waves in certain areas of the brain. It is thought that by monitoring these waves, the patient can be trained to focus attention in certain areas where it is lacking. The best treatment regimen is thought to be a combination of medication administration, along with biofeedback.
The ability to focus and concentrate, pay attention to detail, and follow through with daily tasks are vital to function normally in society. Research has shown that millions of Americans are suffering from ADHD, and not all of them have received an official diagnosis. Understanding the signs and symptoms of ADHD and the diagnosis and the treatment options available, has given hope to those individuals. Scientists and medical professionals are researching and learning more about ADHD every day. With the current advancements in today?s medical and psychological fields, parents of children with ADHD and adults suffering from ADHD are now able to seek the appropriate means necessary to treat their symptoms and assist them in living a normal and productive life.

Works Cited

Lloyd, Gwynedd, Joan Stead, and David Cohen. Critical New Perspectives On ADHD.
Taylor & Francis Routledge, 2006.