ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)
ADHD is a disorder involving the nervous system that creates challenges in information processing to those affected by it which is very common during childhood and that at times continue to adulthood. The adult version differs a little from the childhood version, and not all children who had ADHD in their childhood will have this adult version. (mentalhelp.net) Symptoms of the disorder include difficulty in behavior control, hyperactivity, many difficulties in focusing and paying attention and forgetfulness. In adults, symptoms may include low-stress tolerance, continuous procrastination, and disorganization. According to (nimh.nih.gov), there are always three subtypes that include, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. Individuals experiencing hyperactivity are always restless and in constant motion. Impulsive individuals usually act without prior thought and may be involved in very dangerous acts e.g. stepping onto a huge fire without thinking of the consequences.
ADHD affects children of seven years and above. According to mentalhelp.net, males are around four times more at risk than females. The disorder affects around nine percent of children in America aged thirteen to eighteen years. The disorder also affects around four percent of American adults aged over eighteen years in a given year (nimh.nih.gov). Recent studies showed that the number of children affected by this disorder is increasing yet the cause of this situation has not been established.
Causes of the Disorder
It remains unclear as to the exact cause of this disorder even after many studies on this have been carried out. According to mentalhelp.net, researchers have been of the view that the disease is usually present at birth after being transferred genetically or develops early during childhood (mentalhelp.net). Various environmental factors are also given as the causes of the disorder. Studies are still ongoing on how brain injuries, the social environment, and nutrition may contribute to ADHD.
Genes have been regarded as having a great role in the development of the disorder. Studies on twins have established that ADHD has a genetic basis, and so the disorder is transferred from one person to their relatives. The heritability percentage ranges from around seventy-five to about ninety percent (mentalhelp.net). Similar traits occurrence is higher among identical twins than fraternal twin pairs. Researchers have suggested that multiple genes are the cause of the disorder as it has not been possible to establish which gene is the cause of the disorder
Environmental factors are known to have an impact on the disorder progression. According to nimh.nih.gov, researchers have linked drinking alcohol and cigarette smoking when pregnant and ADHD existence in children. Those children who are exposed to high lead levels may be at a higher risk of developing ADHD according to research.
Research has shown that reduction in the size of the brain could impair one’s ability to manage his/her behavior and emotions. The reduction could increase an individual’s spontaneous, irate and hyperactive behavior (mentalhelp.net). The decrease in the anterior temporal areas of the brain could affect memory and learning as it will influence language and hearing and the ability to understand the message in a communication discussion. The ability to communicate verbally will also be affected. Having less gray matter in the brain is usually one of the reasons children find it hard to pay attention than those with more gray matter (mentalhelp.net)
According to nimh.nih.gov, research has shown that certain additives in food such as food colors and preservatives may lead to hyperactivity; however research is still ongoing to confirm these findings and establish beyond doubt the link between food additives and increased activity.
ADHD has no cure, so the various treatments are intended to reduce the symptoms and lead to better brain functioning. Research is continuously being carried out to understand ADHD better and find more effective treatment methods for it. According to nimh.nih.gov, the various treatments may include medication, training, psychotherapy or a combination of these treatments.
Stimulants are the major and most common types of medication. There are however other types of medication. Stimulants are usually used to give a calming effect on the affected individuals. Medication is very important to children as it usually reduce hyperactivity and also improves their focusing ability, ability to learn and work and improve the concentration of children in the class (nimh.nih.gov). Before medication, a dosage that works for a child has to be thoroughly searched as different children may react differently to different medications. The side effects of a certain dosage are experienced differently by different individuals. According to mentalhelp.net, parents and school personnel’ cooperation must be considered before making a medication decision as a child or adult under medication must be continuously monitored. There are various forms of medication such as capsule, pills, and liquid. Various medications take different times to react; there are long-acting and short-acting types. A child under long-acting form medication can take the medication every morning before school hence does not require to see his/her doctor every day for a dose. The various stimulants include methylphenidates e.g. Concerta, Focalin, and Ritalin, dextroamphetamine, amphetamines and pemoline that is usually used to treat dementia, ADHD, and depression. (nimh.nih.gov)
There are various side effects of medication that include difficulty in falling asleep, a decreased appetite, irritability, and anxiety. Others may include mild stomachaches and headaches. For one with sleep problems, it may be advisable to give medication earlier in the day or have a continuous sleep routine.
Psychotherapy is another way of medication used in ADHD treatment. Therapy may serve to make a child learn how to control his behavior. According to nimh.nih.gov, one goal of psychotherapy is teaching a child how to praise himself for acting in a certain way. Behavioral therapy may involve assistance that may involve being helped to organize his tasks or to do his assignments. The therapy may assist children in coping with difficult events that may overstress the child. A child can be given a list of duties and tasks to accomplish in a day and some rules to be followed. It may be necessary to impact social skills on children e.g. how to ask for assistance, share items with others, being courteous and how to respond to different discussions.
A research that was carried out by over three hundred scientists from in twenty countries determined that there is an overlap in genetic variations between five major mental illnesses, i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, depression, and autism. The research found that this overlap was lowest between autism and schizophrenia i.e. three percent, moderate for depression and bipolar disorder i.e. ten percent and depression and ADHD. The overlap was highest between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia i.e. fifteen percent. The research identified similarities in genetic variation among thousands of people and compared these to the extent to which disorders pairs were linked to same genetic variation. The genetic evidence that link these disorders may have important implications for future diagnostics. (nimh.nih.gov)
A research carried out among teens showed that among illicit drug users, those with hyperactivity disorder started using them earlier than those who are not affected by the disorder. The study looked at questionnaires given to over nine hundred adults who had earlier used illicit drugs six months prior. Of the respondents, thirteen percent had been diagnosed with ADHD. Those with ADHD on average started using alcohol at age thirteen. Cocaine users began doing so at age twenty-two. Drug use can, therefore, be concluded as increasing the chance of ADHD. (mentalhelp.net)
According to nimh.nih.gov, continuous stimulant medication use to treat ADHD in children may have had some little effects on heart rate. This is according to a published study by NIMH. The study took fourteen months where five hundred and seventy-nine children were involved in the study. Examination of data was made by the M.D of NIMH and MTA to determine the relationship between chronic stimulant medication use and changes in heart rate and blood pressure. It was determined that after the period of study, children who were under stimulant treatment had higher heart rates than those were under community care or no medication. This study may be significant to children with underlying medical conditions as continuous stimulants use may lead to heart attacks. Children using stimulants for a longer period should be continuously monitored according to the study.
This assignment has totally changed my view regarding the disorder and more so about those who suffer from the disorder. I did not understand before why people with the disorder acted differently. I will from time to time assist children who suffer from the disorder to cope with the various difficulties associated with it and not just ignore them as I used to.
Mentalhelp.net,. ‘ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
Nimh.nih.gov,. ‘NIMH » Continued Use Of Stimulants For ADHD Likely Does Not Increase Risk For Hypertension, But May Affect Heart Rate’. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.