What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD? The shortest technical definition is that it is a treatable neurodevelopment disorder, which occurs in kids, teenagers, and adults. Now that we have that part out of the way, let's break this down a bit further and discuss the definition of neurology. Neurology is the branch of medicine that studies the treatments of disorders associated with the complex and sophisticated nervous system. This system regulates and coordinates the body's activities. It has two major parts of study; the brain and the spinal cord. When someone has ADHD, their brain has low levels of neurotransmitters. These transmitters (think worker bees) control the processing and sharing of information received from our senses. To put this in layman’s terms, picture yourself walking into a public library. Libraries are organized into sections based on the subject matter and then broken down by age, function, and genre. The brain works in a similar way because when information from our senses comes in, the brain identifies, catalogs, and assigns it to a place. When you have ADHD, you don’t have enough “workers” to properly do the job, so information gets incorrectly processed, jumbled, and categorized wrong.
Now that we know what ADHD is and the effect it can have on a person’s brain, we can move on to the types of symptoms and coexisting conditions that one might experience. As you read through these, keep in mind that you can experience all of them, some of them, or any combination of them. These symptoms represent the most common and they must occur frequently.
- Disorganization and problems with prioritizing tasks
- Excessive (energy) activity or restlessness
- Frequent mood swings
- Low Frustration tolerance
- Poor time management skills
- Poor planning
- Problems focusing on tasks
- Problems following through and completing tasks
- Quick temper
- Trouble doing more than one thing at a time
- Trouble coping with stress
ADHD doesn’t cause other psychological or developmental problems, however, other disorders often occur or are exasperated by attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. These are known as coexisting conditions. These can make the management and treatment of ADHD more challenging. These can include:
- Mood disorders, such as depression, bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, or another mood disorder
- Anxiety (excessive worry) disorders occur fairly often because of the challenges and setbacks often associated with ADHD.
- Learning disabilities or issues with scoring lower on academic testing, problems with communication and comprehension.
Whether or not you have recently received a diagnosis of ADHD, know someone who has, or are wondering if you might need to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor, we hope this post provides you with enough clarifying information to give you a solid head start. Don’t give up hope because a positive diagnosis doesn’t have to mean you can’t be successful in life. While it may make things more challenging and frustrating at times, there are a number of different treatments, such as meditation, medications, certain exercises, or even individual tools and strategies to help you be your best self.