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A Definition of ADHD

written by: Kristina Dems • edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • updated: 4/20/2011

What is ADHD? To define ADHD is to understand a condition that brings with it serious symptoms that can effect not only personal relationships, but also careers.

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    When you Define ADHD, you Raise the Awareness that is Needed in the World

    Child 

    ADHD or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also medically termed as Hyperkinetic Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is considered as one of the most prevalent neurobehavioral conditions diagnosed in children, but it may still be present throughout their adult stage. If not dealt with, this chronic condition can lead to problems with school performance, self-esteem, and relationships.

    To define ADHD is more than just giving meaning to the term. We have to understand its causes and symptoms as well. When this condition is ignored or misunderstood, it only compounds the problems that the children suffering from it already have.

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    Causes of ADHD

    The exact cause of the development of ADHD is not known, but according to the ADHD familial genetic studies of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), occurrences of ADHD developing in children is related to genetics and abnormalities with neurotransmitters. A child with ADHD siblings is 300-500 percent more likely to have this disorder and a child diagnosed with this disorder is four times as likely to have ADHD diagnosed relative. This suggests that ADHD is hereditary.

    It has also been observed that people suffering from ADHD have abnormalities regarding their neurotransmitters specifically the Dopamine, which is responsible in controlling movements, assists in concentration, and regulates memory, and attention-seeking behavior. ADHD cases present low dopamine levels in the brain which is manifested by a child with low attention span and uncontrollable restlessness. In some cases, entire parts of the brain do not function as well compared to the same brain part in people who do not have this condition. Parts of the brain that are abnormally smaller are also observed to be present in some people with ADHD.

    Another abnormality found in other patients is a mutated version of the DRD4 gene, which is involved in receiving signals carried between brain nerves. However, in some cases, genetics do not play a part in the development of ADHD. Some people with ADHD even have normally functioning brains that aren't smaller, which is the case in many ADHD individuals. Whatever the exact causes for ADHD are, they always cause the condition to develop during childhood. It may not be obvious for some children, but they will eventually be diagnosed with the condition once the symptoms start to become more and more apparent.

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    Symptoms of ADHD

    The main symptoms of ADHD are inattention and hyperactiveness. These may be a common behavior in a lot of kids, but only those who display these symptoms for more than six months on a level that is more intense than that of other children are diagnosed with ADHD. Other symptoms include forgetfulness, shifting from one activity to another quickly, lack of focus, becoming bored easily, organizational problems, constantly absent-minded, easily confused, difficulty in following instructions, constant daydreaming, non-stop talking, fidgeting and squirming when sitting down, always being impatient, unrestrained emotional outbursts, and constant movement. With these symptoms present, it is clear that it would be difficult for someone with ADHD to build relationships especially if they bring the condition to adulthood.

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    Impact of ADHD

    To define ADHD is to understand what it's like for the person who is afflicted by it. The effects of ADHD are not just about the small instances of hyperactivity or attention loss. If the condition is not treated during childhood, it can be brought into the teenage years where everything will be heightened, including emotional stress, psychological threats and peer pressure. If not eliminated or at least if the symptoms are not dialed down, adult relationships and even careers may be affected.

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    References

    Web MD ADHD Guide: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-overview

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/

    National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml

    Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275

    New Ideas: http://newideas.net/adhd/research/genetic-studies

    Psych Central: http://psychcentral.com/disorders/adhd/

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    Image Credit

    Photo Courtesy of Free Digital Photos / Supplied by Bill Longshaw / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Children_g112-Impish_Child_p16896.html