What is ADHD and how common is it?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric disorder most frequently diagnosed in young children and teenagers. In the USA a 5% increase in cases diagnosed was indicated each year between 2003-2011. There has also been a 35% increase in the number of prescriptions for ADHD drugs in the USA from 2008-2012. While these numbers are high, not children in all parts of the world are diagnosed.
What is different?
It is believed that patients with ADHD often have fewer dopamine DRD4 receptors in their brain. The DRD4 receptor is linked with a lot of phenotypes including the spit attention character of people affected with ADHD. Individuals with ADHD have a smaller pre frontal cortex, according to one study carried out in Africa.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that makes us feel good and triggers the reward center in the brain. It does so by binding to specific receptor proteins, such as the DRD4, and triggering a pathway referred to as the reward pathway. This ends up in the pre frontal cortex of the brain and gives one the feeling of satisfaction and achievement.
How to combat ADHD?
There is no cure for ADHD. There is, however, treatment and management of symptoms that can help one live a near normal life.
These act by raising the amount of Dopamine in the brain. This then allows more of the few expressed DRD4 receptors to be stimulated thus resulting in better concentration and attention by reducing hyperactivity in the brain. Known to act relatively quickly.
Methylphenidate and dexamphetamine are common example of a stimulant used to treat ADHD.
- Non Stimulants.
These include drugs such as anti-depressants. These drugs increase Dopamine and norepinephrine levels as well having similar effects as the stimulants do, but with fewer side effects. They work over a long term plan before any results can be felt. Atomoxetin is an example of a selective norepinephrine uptake inhibitor drug used to treat ADHD.
The psychological approach to this disorder is targeted at making people more aware of their thoughts and training them how to control what direction their thought process goes in. It basically teaches them how to channel all this energy in the right direction so as to enhance their performance. This may require input from their parents and teachers more than anyone else.
- Management of diet.
Certain foods may not agree with the absorption and proper action of the drugs to help manage this disorder. For example, Zinc may be associated with lowering the minimum effective dose of amphetamines when used in conjunction. This will mean that lower levels will be needed to avoid toxicity. Always check how different nutrients affect drug absorption in the body.
- Peer Encouragement.
Considering the fact that most patients affected with ADHD often have very low self-esteem and poor peer interactions, teaching our children to help such people will make it easier for them to exist among us. Although this may be difficult in the short term.
It is important to note that although it may seem like it, the learning ability of patients with ADHD is not impaired. They just need extra support from their family and friends to channel their energy correctly and realize their self-worth. It is very possible to lead a normal, content, life.