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Today we have brain scans, genetic studies, twin studies that show that this is a highly inherited neurobiological disorder, not some made-up condition. If the filter is too porous, too many stimuli get through. Scans show that those brain regions in children with ADHD are smaller than they are in children in the general population. In one study done jointly by the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health and McGill University in Montreal, brain scans of children with ADHD showed that the thickening of cortical tissue was delayed by about three years compared to scans of a control group of equal numbers of normally developing youngsters.

The ultimate source of these brain differences is likely genes—perhaps thousands of them. The heritability of ADHD is striking. But this chemical that carries information between nerve cells plays a far more important function in human life than providing us with a cocaine or cupcake high. It uses reward—the pleasurable feelings it supplies—to motivate us to pay attention, avoid distraction, to pick out the most relevant information circulating in short-term memory when solving a problem or completing a task.

It also governs motion. There are dopamine receptors on certain neurons nerve cells to which dopamine delivers its various messages, such as pay attention, control yourself, feel good, and do that thing that made you feel good again, the latter reflecting its role in promoting both addiction and learning. Dopamine transporters also protrude from the neurons that produce dopamine. One particular gene, DAT-1, has been implicated in both ADHD and bi-polar disorder and is very active in the basal ganglia and pre-frontal cortex, the brain regions that are smaller in people with ADHD.

Other genes recently linked to the disorder strengthen the idea that ADHD is a fundamental communication system gone awry, a short-circuiting of the transmission between cells. There are some non-genetic risk factors for ADHD: premature birth, maternal smoking and alcohol use, lead exposure, frequent maternal infections during pregnancy, and brain injuries.

A German study found a significant link between having eczema, a rash caused by allergies, and developing ADHD symptoms, giving more credence to a controversial theory that at least some ADHD is the result of allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, food additives, or other environmental chemicals. Organophosphate pesticides—the kind used on most of the U.

Living with ADHD

The takeaway: eat organic produce or at least wash your veggies. See other approaches to try. He made it to the front office before he was stopped. He recently graduated from Penn with a degree in physics. One of the clues that lead researchers to look at the dopamine genes as possible markers of ADHD is the effect of methylphenidate—the drug known as Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant and one of the early drugs used to treat ADHD.

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But the drugs work so well on symptoms that sales barely slowed in when the FDA—briefly—required them to carry a black box warning because of a small number less than 50 over 10 years of reported deaths, mostly related to heart damage. Another FDA panel withdrew the black box warning within a month.

So why does stimulant medication given to high-energy kids calm them down? Today we know that stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse, like other drugs, have the opposite effect on children than the one they have on adults. Diet, exercise, parenting techniques and therapy are extremely important as well. Yet the majority of children with ADHD are getting only medication. Drug Guide: Choosing the Right Medication. Parents turn to drugs alone for a number of reasons.

Experts such as Pelham, Koplewicz, Hallowell, and Barkley are all proponents of medication, but not necessarily as a first-line treatment. He laments that the takeaway from the MTA research has been that pills alone work. Research has produced evidence that good parenting can even trump bad genes. They also learn how to give instructions to a child whose short-term working memory is impaired and who finds it tougher than normal to keep distractions at bay.

Parents practice ways to minimize their responses to minor annoyances—like a year-old who repeatedly puts her feet on the dining room table. This does not help. Friedman, director of the psychopharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, drew on the Kenya study, to suggest that many children with the genetic version of ADHD might benefit from education plans tailored to their needs for hands-on, fast-paced experiences high in novelty that, while unlikely to reduce their need for medication, could turn their disability into an asset. Kerri Meenagh was fortunate. That, she said, changed some of the expectations she and her husband have for their daughter—and themselves.

While most kids can find something to occupy them for 45 minutes at Mass, Saorla has to go to the bathroom at least three times. So we go to Mass and Saorla has to go to the bathroom three times. If I know that happens because she has a brain disorder, why would I get upset? And Saorla seems to gravitate towards activities that channel some of her risk taking and her copious energy, particularly performing.

And she was a hit.

23 Times Tumblr Nailed What It's Like To Have ADHD

When it comes to Irish dancing or performing, Saorla is an audience magnet. Her energy and expression make her a delight to watch. Performing makes her feel proud of herself and very confident. Scheffler PhD, to drill down into the statistics. For one thing, a diagnosis can lead to treatment that could help underachieving students do better in the classroom and, as a result, increase mean test scores.

Having a lot of students diagnosed with ADHD allows the districts to simply drop the scores of their lowest achievers and not lose any funding. However, Medicaid covers ADHD assessments and medication, but not other therapies which may also explain why rates of drug treatment are also on the rise. Parents often go through a period of trial and error as they and their doctor try to find the right medication for their child. Here are some of the pros and cons of the most popular ADHD drugs.

How they work: Increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, stimulating cognition, attention and focus. Pros: Effective in of the people who take it.

How You Know You Have ADHD: Funny Symptoms

The drug can be safely used in preschoolers. Cons: May be habit-forming; can cause slowed growth, loss of appetite and weight, irritability, and surge of ADHD symptoms called rebound symptoms as it wears off.


Ritalin and generics must be taken 2 to 3 times a day. They can increase anxiety and tics and are not as effective in toddlers as they are in older children; greater risk of side effects for younger children. Very rare side effects include sudden death. Pros: Effective in individuals who need a stronger drug than Ritalin, particularly teens and adults.

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Adderall XR and Vyvanse wear off more slowly with fewer rebound symptoms. Vyvanse is a once-daily pill for children 6 years and older. Cons: May be habit-forming; can cause slowed growth, loss of appetite and weight, irritability, and restlessness. Duration: hours Dexedrine, Dextrostat to hours Dexedrine Spansul.

Pros: Approved for children under six, slightly longer-acting than Ritalin. Dexedrine Spansul can eliminate mid-day doses in young children. Cons: May be habit-forming and has the same potential side effects as other stimulants see above. How they work: Increases dopamine circulating in the blood by decreasing blood pressure. Intuniv and Tenex may be combined with a stimulant for children who are very hyperactive, aggressive, and emotionally explosive.

Duration: Up to 24 hours. They target specific symptoms like extreme hyperactivity and aggressiveness. Blood pressure drugs can also help children sleep and may treat anxiety, nervous habits and tics, and bedwetting. Good talk. I will make you a deal: I will agree to stop having ADHD if you agree to stop having skin or feet or your current eye color?

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