Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a behavioral condition experienced by many different types of people that causes hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Due to the symptoms caused by ADHD, everyday routines and responsibilities are often more difficult than normal.
Some theorists hold that there lies a significant difference between childhood ADHD and adulthood ADHD. Most medical professionals would agree that ADHD always begins in childhood and progresses into adulthood. (Jacobs; Wendel 2014) In general, the symptoms that are prominent during childhood can gradually intensify into adulthood. However, there are exceptions to this research, as it’s important to consider the variations of maturity that can strengthen as a child grows, with or without ADHD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD in 2003 was 7.8 percent, in 2007 the percentage increased to 9.5 percent and in 2011 the percentage grew to 11 percent. Signs that a loved one is dealing with ADHD will come from a mixture of symptoms of inattention (being easily distracted or bored), symptoms of hyperactivity (fidgeting, squirming or being in constant motion) and symptoms of impulsivity (impatience, unrestrained emotions).
Three subtypes of ADHD
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD has three subtypes, which cause a variation of symptoms ranging from more predominantly hyperactive, or more inattention, or both.
- If the predominant subtype is hyperactivity, the patient has six or more symptoms of hyperactivity. If this patient experiences inattention, the patient must exhibit five or less symptoms of inattention
- If the predominant subtype is inattention, the patient has six or more symptoms of inattention. If the patient also experiences hyperactivity and impulse control, the patient must have five or less hyperactivity and impulse control symptoms
- If the patient has both, there are six or more symptoms of both hyperactivity and inattention present
Imbalances that lead to ADHD
Norepinephrine helps promote concentration and is different from dopamine in that it can have a greater influence on cognition because it helps the heart pump at a faster speed, increasing energy and blood flow. An imbalance of norepinephrine can promote development of mood disorders as well as an increase or decrease of energy levels.
Patients that have predominantly inattentive ADHD also have experienced changes to their norepinephrine transporter gene, affecting the norepinephrine levels in their brains. Medications such as Adderall or other ADHD medications will help alter the levels of norepinephrine, resulting in balanced amounts of the neurotransmitter. As a result, a person with ADHD who is predominantly inattentive will have an easier time concentrating.
People with ADHD who are predominantly hyperactive and impulsive have had more changes to their dopamine transporter gene, affecting the dopamine levels in the brain. ADHD medications will increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin in a person that is predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, which will result in their ability to remain calm during times they usually wouldn’t.
Different levels of neurotransmitters and transporter genes will alter a patient’s behavior in different ways, depending on the patient’s brain chemistry. In reducing ADHD symptoms, the key function of Adderall and other ADHD medications is to block the reuptake of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin into the presynaptic neuron and increase the release of these neurotransmitters into the brain (Campo, Chamberlain, Sahakian, Robbins 2011).
Psychotherapy for ADHD: Dialectical behavior therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been extremely effective in preventing adult ADHD. Adults can face various issues due to ADHD at work, home and interpersonal relationships. DBT was originally designed as an outpatient treatment for people with borderline personality disorder but it can also remedy the impulsivity, hyperactivity and social disruption often experienced by people with ADHD.
Core elements of DBT include biosocial theory, stages of treatment, guidelines on identifying treatment targets, acceptance, change and dialectical treatment strategies. The main skills taught through DBT are mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation.
If you or a loved one would like more information on how to find treatment for mental health issues such as ADHD, you can call the Mental Health Helpline at 855-653-8178 to speak to a member of our team and start the journey to recovery today.