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What Is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?

By T Thompson
Updated Oct 10, 2023
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Attention Deficit Disorder, commonly referred to as ADD, is a neurological disorder that can affect all ages. The major symptoms of the disorder are distractibility, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, poor attention span and impulsiveness. While the underlying cause of this disorder has not been officially determined, it is presumed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder may lack specific chemicals called neurotransmitters that control certain behavioral responses.

Attention Deficit Disorder may be either inherited or acquired, and research in genetics has proven that Attention Deficit Disorder runs in families. Attention Deficit Disorder also may be caused by an illness or accident that caused damage to the brain. This includes complications from the use of drugs during pregnancy to prevent infectious diseases, overexposure to radiation, or complicated delivery. Other causes of brain trauma include meningitis, encephalitis, seizures from fever, head injury and lead toxicity. Symptoms are not always readily apparent to physicians or patients, and are often not diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder.

If you suspect that you or your child may be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, it's important to obtain a physical exam from a health care provider to rule out any health condition that might be causing the symptoms. An evaluation by a trusted counselor or psychiatrist is also a good idea, to determine whether or not the symptoms are related to stress or a more serious mental illness. Once these causes have been ruled out, a treatment plan should be put in place.

Treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder include things such as medication, psychotherapy, a specialized nutrition plan, or a combination of the three.

Medications that treat Attention Deficit Disorder stimulate various areas of the brain to be more active so that the attention and concentration functions and the self-control functions work better. The most common of these medications is Ritalin and Dexedrine. These medications often have side effects, though, so it is important to discuss any treatments with a medical health care provider.

While we have explored the core characteristics and potential impacts of ADD, it is crucial to remember that an accurate ADHD diagnosis is the first step towards tailoring effective interventions and treatment plans. Beyond the diagnosis, it's equally important to foster an environment of empathy and accommodation, recognizing the unique strengths and challenges that individuals with ADD bring to the table.

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Discussion Comments

By bear78 — On Apr 22, 2014

There are alternative treatments for attention deficit disorder. Medications and psychotherapy are not the only options. There are herbs like pine bark, green tea and ginkgo biloba that can be used to improve focus. Hypnosis and brainwave music are also options.

Of course, relaxation methods like exercise, yoga and meditation, and a balanced diet make a difference too. I think every individual with ADD needs to try a variety of different treatments and find the right combination for them.

By SarahGen — On Apr 21, 2014

@fify-- I don't think so. I think it develops in childhood and sometimes continues into adulthood. Some children do overcome it before adulthood but that's not always the case. It's also possible that someone may not be officially diagnosed with the condition until adulthood.

Before ADD was fully understood, doctors assumed it to be a temporary childhood issue that a child would eventually grow out of. But now it is known that that's not the case.

By fify — On Apr 21, 2014

Is it possible to acquire attention deficiency disorder as an adult?

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