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Attention deficit disorder (ADD), also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a condition in which the person has problems of self-regulation behaving in a manner inappropriate to her age. Such people usually becomes distracted, unable to concentrate, and sometimes indulge in excessive physical activity.
The three major types of ADD are inattentive type, hyperactive or impulsive type, and a combination of those two types. Most adults with ADD, both male and female, have inattentive-type ADD. Most men with ADD, however, also exhibit symptoms of the hyperactive or impulsive-type ADD and have a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive ADD.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Alan Cleaver
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ADD usually begins in early childhood and, in about 70 percent of cases, carries on to adulthood.
One clear cause for ADD is genetic or hereditary conditions. People with ADD have excess dopamine, and people with ADD have similar genes for dopamine receptors, transporters, and metabolism. Scientists also suggest that a region on chromosome 16 contain genes that raise the risk of ADD and autism.
Another possible cause for ADD is biological. The frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex in the human brain govern impulse control, organization, and planning. Researchers find this area of the brain of people with ADD as 3 to 4 percent smaller than the corresponding area in the brain of people without ADD. This means that people with ADD have comparatively less gray matter in the brain.
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The symptoms of inattentive-type ADD include procrastination, indecision, poor organizational skills, difficulty to start or finish tasks, poor time management skills, inability to concentrate, and difficulty in doing more things than one at the same time. Such symptoms impede even normal, everyday tasks and cause agony or feelings of failure.
The symptoms of hyperactive or Impulsive-type ADD include seeking highly active or stimulating jobs and avoiding situations with low physical activity or sedentary work, getting bored easily, impatience, making impulsive decisions, indulging in irresponsible behavior, and losing the temper quickly. People with hyperactive or impulsive ADD remain highly stressed and face difficulty in interpersonal relationships.
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Issues Specific to Women
The occurrence of adult ADD is equal among men and women, and much of the symptoms of ADD are equally applicable for men and women. Women with attention deficit disorder usually find their lives out of control and their finances in chaos, like men do. They have trouble in keeping up with the demands of the job and remain disorganized with paperwork, record keeping, or other aspects of work and life. The fact that woman bear more responsibilities related to the house and family such as cleaning the dishes, doing the laundry, making meals, and teaching kids, very often by multitasking, makes them more susceptible to the adverse symptoms of ADD. Women with ADD therefore feel more overwhelmed and exhausted.
Women with attention deficit disorder find themselves unable to complete tasks or apply creativity and as such suffer from stress, frustration, feelings of incompetence, and feelings of failure. People getting angry for their disorganized ways or for forgetting things worsens the situation.
All these negative effects manifests in many ways such as compulsive overeating, alcohol abuse, chronic sleep deprivation, dysphoria or unpleasant mood, major depression, anxiety disorders, and psychological distress such as low self esteem. Women with ADD also suffer from chronic stress and related diseases such as fibromyalgia.
A good understanding of the symptoms of attention deficit disorder in women helps in prompt diagnosis and early treatment.
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- Harvard University. “An update on attention deficit disorder.” Retrieved http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/An_update_on_attention_deficit_disorder.htm on 22 November 2010.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – Introduction” Retrieved http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_attention-deficit_hyperactivity_disorder_000030_1.htm on 22 November 2010
- Johnson, Caitlin A. “Women Suffer In Silence With ADHD.” Retrieved http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/09/earlyshow/health/main2778654.shtml on 22 November 2010
- National Research Center on AD/HD. "Women and ADHD." Retrieved http://www.help4adhd.org/living/womengirls/WWK19 on 22 November 2010.