From the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
ADHD is one of the "most common" childhood disorders. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 11% of all children have ADHD.
Twin studies and genetic research point to a genetic basis for the disorder. Brain injuries, nutrition, and environmental factors might turn those genes on. Sometimes allergies to sugar, food coloring, or the body's inability to methylate (convert to a useful state) folic acid can mimic the symptoms of ADHD. My clients usually report having a parent with symptoms of OCD or ADHD.
The majority of people diagnosed with ADHD have the combined type: They are both "impulsive or hyperactive" AND "inattentive."
After in depth conversations with my clients, I see "impulsivity" as an inability of a person's brain to refer to past experience -- when they think about doing something, the past doesn't show up as a reference source.
Inattentiveness is another term that seems to blame people for not paying attention. Again, it's not the personality, but a brain malfunction that is delivering everything in the environment (and also the stream of self-talk) with the same intensity. What if you had headphones that made conversation, mechanical noise, your own thoughts, and environmental sounds all equally loud? The ADHD brain delivers information just like that.
Adults seeking a valid and reliable test for ADHD can contact a testing psychologist for The Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scale (CAARS). Unfortunately there is no statistically valid and reliable testing instrument for children -- every argument for such a test is countered by other experts who argue against it. Currently, my clients find comfort in Robert's checklist located on the tab "You have ADHD?"
We will be running a study to validate Robert's Inventory in the near future. Would you like to participate?
ADHD MEDICATIONS ARE NOT BENIGN
In 2007, the FDA found a "slight" risk (1 in 1,000) for serious psychiatric problems induced by ADHD medications (hallucinations, paranoia, and mania). This is about 6,000 families per year whose ADHD prescription treatment caused psychiatric disorders that didn't exist prior to medication.
Can you imagine what would happen if a health food supplement caused that?
The NIMH funded a study of school-aged children in a large-scale, long-term study called the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA study). Follow-up showed that after a 10-year period, treatment of ADHD with methylphenidate had, on average, caused elevated heart rates. This effect on heart rate could be detected even after years of use. In other words, the heart does not get completely used to stimulants. It is easy to see this, when looking at other side-effects of use of methamphetamines.
Other side-effects of ADHD medication can include sleep problems, growth problems, social anxiety, rage, depression (from sleep loss and over-stimulation), self-medication with recreational drugs to manage the rage and anxiety. It is still unknown what a decade or two (or a lifetime) on methamphetamines will do to a person's life quality or life expectancy. It makes sense to think that sleep problems, anxiety, and anger would affect health, safety, work quality, and relationships. Studies confirm this.
ADHD medications do not "fix" ADHD. They are a temporary solution for one set of symptoms only -- focus and attention. When the medication is stopped, the symptoms return.
Is this the best we can do? Many studies argue not, as does the American Pediatric Association which supports EEG neurofeedback as a level one treatment for ADHD.