Living With Attention Deficit Disorder Essay, Research Paper
Living with Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a neurobiological disorder. Recent research shows that the symptoms of ADD are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. (Rebecca Chapman Booth)
With ADD there is a flaw in the way the brain manages the neurotransmitter production, storage or flow, causing imbalances. It has been suggested that as many as 80 percent of ADD cases are the result of genetics with the remainder caused by toxins, trauma or illness introduced during pregnancy, delivery or the newborn period and not,from poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, to much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. It is important for people to understand that ADD is a real disability that effects all aspects of a person’s life, though it does not need to be handicapping.
The difference in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is mostly one of terminology, which can be confusing at times. The “official” clinical diagnosis is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In turn ADHD is broken down into different subtypes: ” Combined type; Predominantly Inattentive Type: and Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulse Type”. (Peter Jaksa, Ph.D.) Many people use the term ADD as a generic term for all types of ADHD. The term ADD has gained popularity among the general public, in the media, and is even commonly used among professionals. We are basically still talking about the same thing however, whether we call it ADD or ADHD. (Peter Jaksa, Ph.D.) Current research shows that there may be as many as 13 different genes that vary from the so-called normal genes that are involved in making up what we call the attention deficits.
According to the epidemiological data, approximately 4 to 6 percent of the U.S. population has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Experts at the National Institute of Mental Health, estimate that ADHD affects 3 to 5 percent of school age children and two to three times as many boys as girls. One child in a classroom of 20, is affected. This is not an epidemic, however the media likes to sensationalize ADHD, as if it were. If one person in a family is diagnosed with ADD, there is about a 25 percent probability that another person in the family also has some form of Attention Deficit Disorder”. (Peter Jaksa, Ph.D.)
Living with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can be complex and no two individuals are exactly alike. Symptoms and problems are often unique and may vary in type, number and intensity from person to person. (Akron General) Some indicators suggestive of ADD are: Being easily distracted, forgetting things, procrastination, difficulties making decisions, verbal impulsiveness, expressing thoughts in speech or in writing, having periods of depression or low self esteem, frequently late or rushed, reading comprehension or retention, emotionally sensitive, easily upset, low frustration tolerance, easily bored, impulsive spending, personal or family history of substance abuse, depression or anxiety, strong need to have things their way and a intense need for excitement.
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD), the most common of the psychiatric disorders that appear in childhood, are often the subject of great concern on the part of the parents and teachers. Children with ADHD are unable to stay focused on a task, cannot sit still, they act without thinking and rarely follow through on projects they start. If untreated, the disorder can have a long term effect on a childs ability to make friends or do well at school or in other activities. Over time, children with ADHD may develop depression, lack of self-esteem and other emotional problems.
Until the last decade, it was believed that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was a disorder limited to childhood which would disappear during adolescence. Through years of research, it is now known that many individuals symptoms continue through to adulthood and can create difficulties in managing the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of everyday life, such as work, school, marriage, running a household, parenting and interpersonal relationships. It is possible that millions of adults have Attention Deficit Disorder which has not yet been identified or treated successfully.
While there seems to be a lot of negativity surrounding the effects of Attention Deficit Disorders, there is also a positive side of ADD. One that is often overlooked. Many people with ADD have a high level of energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and a passionate commitment to things which interest them. These qualities can help them to excel in many occupations. Adults with ADD tend to do well in careers which involve creativity and change, such as sales or marketing and jobs which require troubleshooting skills. (Peter Jaksa Ph.D.)
A thorough evaluation should provide a basis for developing an appropriate and comprehensive treatment program. In the case of treatment for children, a detailed, structured interview with parents will take place. For adults suspected of ADD, the evaluation would include a family, childhood and school history to determine the presence of symptoms and problems commonly experienced by adult with ADD. (Akron General)
Current treatments include a mix of approaches, such as drug therapy, counseling, supportive services in schools and communities, and various combinations of the three. Clinical experience tells us that the most effective treatment is a combination of medication (if necessary, because not every person with ADD requires medication) and counseling or coaching to work on developing coping skills and maintaining productive and healthy behavior. (Peter Jaksa, Ph.D.) Medications alone is not the answer. It is important for any individual with Attention Deficit Disorder to acknowledge that he or she needs to make accommodations for the ADD symptoms , to take responsibility for seeking professional help when necessary, and never to use their ADD symptoms as an excuse for lack of responsibility or relationship problems.
Psychostimulants and anti-depressants are the most frequently used medications. ( Michael Romaniuk, Ph.D.) Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms can be managed by a stimulant/anti-depressant combination, in about 90 percent of adults. (Michael Romaniuk, Ph.D.) Stimulants are usually the first choice because they have a positive effect on almost 90 percent of those who take it and have fewer side effects than with any anti-depressants. Medication is often used to help normalize brain activity, as prescribed by a physician. Stimulant medications such as Ritalin, Dexedrine and Adderal are commonly used. The beneficial effects of Ritalin will peak about two hours after taking it followed by a lessening of benefits until the medicine is out of one’s system. Dexidrine Spansules and Adderal are slower releasing medications that provide a longer “window of benefit” for many people. The length of time someone with ADD will benefit from one of the slower acting medications will vary from different individuals and you can expect an effective therapeutic level to last approximately 5-8 hours per dose. These medications have been shown to be effective for most people with ADHD, however many other medications are also being used at the discretion of a physician.
Therapists, educators and physicians routinely teach children that ADHD is a challenge not an excuse. Medication corrects their underlying chemical imbalance, giving them a fair chance to learn, develop comensatory strategies and face the challenges of growing up to become productive citizens. Stimulant medications were first given to children with ADD symptoms in 1937 and still remains as a gate keeper in the brain which helps the brain to better regulate the manufacture, storage and flow of its own neurotransmitters when needed by the brain. Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed psycho-stimulant medication used for Attention Deficit Disorder for children. Other commonly prescribed medications for children are Dexedrine and now Adderall. There are newer medications being developed and undergoing clinical testing, including a long acting 10-hour formulation of methylphenidate. Medication management of ADHD is a crucial part of a comprehensive treatment plan, weather for a child or an adult.. (John Ratey, M.D.)
The length of time a person takes a medication depends on each individual. Everyone is different. Some people only need a short treatment, for 1 to 2 years, while some people need treatment for years. Regular checkups with your doctor should always be a part of this process.
All medications can have side effects. Medications that are used to treat Attention Deficit Disorders are no different. Psychostimulants may cause a decrease in appetite, stomachache or headaches. Usually, these effects are limited to the initiation of the medications and get better with time. Too strong of a dose may produce jitteriness, increased heart rate or sluggishness. Loss of appetite will result in weight loss for some people. This side effect seems to be more common in children. Adderal may produce greater appetite disturbance compared to those who use Ritalin. Some will suffer from insomnia (trouble sleeping). Some of the ways to reduce these side effects, such as, fast heart beats, chest pain or vomiting, while taking psychostimulants are: Using the lowest possible dose that still controls hyperactivity. Take the medication with food if it bothers your stomach. Ask your doctor about having drug free weekends, which means not taking any medications on Saturdays and Sundays. If weight loss is a problem, have an extra snack during the day, such as peanut butter and crackers, granola bars or a muffin. Also, medications should not be taken with juices that are high in citric acids because this can significantly reduce the absorption of the drugs.
Counseling and support groups can be a most helpful addition to Attention Deficit Disorder treatments. Most experts agree that the state-of-the-art in treatment is a combination of medications and counseling. It is required to educate on the nature of the disorder and how it creates problems for the individual. Counseling to address the emotional fallout of problems of problems resulting from ADD symptoms and skill building to compensate for deficit areas. These groups and one on one sessions help to improve the quality of life for children and adults. The meetings consist of mutual sharing and support, teaching practical techniques to help with common ADD-related difficulties.
Ratey, John. “An Update on Medications Used in the Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder”
Jaksa, Peter. “Attention Deficit Disorders in Adults”
Jaksa, Peter. “Fact Sheet on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD/ADD)
Romaniuk, Michael. “Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults”
National Institute of Mental Health. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD)
Journal of the American Medical Association. “Science News Update”
American Academy of Family Physicians. “ADHD Medicine”