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What is ADHD? Understanding Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects millions of children and adults worldwide. At Spruce, our providers strive to provide comprehensive care and understanding for individuals with ADHD. This blog will dive into what ADHD is, its symptoms, causes, and how it can be managed effectively.



What is ADHD? How to understand ADHD.


What is ADHD?

ADHD is a condition characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These behaviors often interfere with day to day functioning or development. ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood, but it can continue into adolescence and adulthood.


Types of ADHD

ADHD is categorized into three types based on the predominant symptoms:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Characterized by difficulties in sustaining attention, following through on tasks, and organizing activities.

  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Marked by hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors without significant inattention.

  3. Combined Presentation: Features both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.



Symptoms of ADHD

Inattention

  • Difficulty Sustaining Attention: Struggling to stay focused on tasks or activities.

  • Careless Mistakes: Making mistakes in schoolwork or other activities due to inattention.

  • Avoiding Tasks: Avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort.

  • Losing Things: Frequently losing items needed for tasks and activities.

  • Forgetfulness: Being forgetful in daily activities.

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

  • Fidgeting: Constantly fidgeting or tapping hands and feet.

  • Inability to Stay Seated: Difficulty remaining seated in situations where it is expected.

  • Excessive Talking: Talking excessively and often interrupting others.

  • Impulsive Decisions: Making hasty decisions without considering consequences.



Causes of ADHD

The exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors.

Genetic Factors

ADHD tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component. Studies indicate that certain genes may be involved in the development of ADHD.

Environmental Factors

Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as lead during pregnancy or at a young age, may increase the risk of developing ADHD. 

Neurological Factors

Differences in brain structure and function, particularly in areas that regulate attention and impulse control, are often observed in individuals with ADHD.




What is ADHD?


Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis

Diagnosing ADHD involves a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a nurse practitioner, psychiatrist or psychologist. This evaluation typically includes a thorough medical history, physical examination, and interviews with the individual and family members.


Medication for ADHD

While there is no cure for ADHD, a combination of treatments can help manage symptoms effectively. There are over 20 FDA-approved medications for ADHD, spanning both stimulant and non-stimulant categories. Stimulant medications, which include amphetamine and methylphenidate derivatives, are the most commonly prescribed. Non-stimulant options are available for those who may not tolerate stimulants or for whom stimulants are not effective.

Stimulant medications, such as Adderall, work on the brain by affecting the levels of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that facilitate communication between neurons (nerve cells). Here's a detailed explanation of how these medications exert their effects:


How the Medication Works


Neurotransmitter Release:

Stimulant medications like Adderall increase the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine from nerve terminals in the brain. These neurotransmitters play a crucial role in regulating attention, focus, and executive function.


Blocking Reuptake:

In addition to increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, stimulants block their reuptake into the presynaptic neuron. This means that more of these neurotransmitters remain available in the synaptic cleft (the space between neurons), prolonging their action on the postsynaptic neuron.


Enhanced Neurotransmission:

By increasing the availability and activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, stimulants enhance neurotransmission. This heightened activity helps improve attention, concentration, and impulse control, which are often deficient in individuals with ADHD.



Living with ADHD

Living with ADHD can present challenges, but with the right support and treatment, individuals can lead successful and fulfilling lives. At Spruce, we are dedicated to providing personalized care to help manage ADHD effectively.


Tips for Managing ADHD


  • Create a Routine: Establishing a daily routine can help manage symptoms.

  • Use Tools and Resources: Utilize planners, apps, and reminders to stay organized.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Techniques such as meditation can improve focus and reduce impulsivity.

  • Seek Support: Support groups and counseling can provide emotional support and practical advice.



Conclusion

Understanding ADHD is the first step in managing it effectively. Our providers are more than happy to provide the support and resources needed to navigate life with ADHD. 


To get started at Spruce, fill out our new patient inquiry form linked below.






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