What is ADHD?



A health article about ADD fromYour Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

What is ADHD and ADD?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the generic term for all types of the "official" clinical diagnosis called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

We can get a feeling of the effects of ADD on our society, particularly the schooling system, by looking at America where there are fairly accurate records kept and so data is available.

In The USA it affects between 4 percent and 6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. An estimated 2 million children in the United States, or some 3 to 5 percent of children suffer from ADHD with many analysists believing the number to be on the high end of this range.

In short, out of a classroom with about 28 children, the odds are that at least one will have ADHD.

The disorder doesn’t stop there, though. Adults also suffer from the disorder. In fact anywhere from 50 percent to 66 percent of children with ADHD continue on into their adult lives with ADHD issues to face on their jobs and in their relationships.

Signs & Symptoms


ADD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity, as well as forgetfulness, poor impulse control or impulsivity, and distractibility.

ADD is a developmental disorder that is often said to be neurological in nature. The term "developmental" means that certain traits such as impulse control significantly lag in development when compared to the general population. This developmental lag has been estimated to range between 30-40 percent in ADHD sufferers in comparison to their peers; consequently these delayed attributes are considered an impairment. ADHD has also been classified as a behavior disorder and a neurological disorder.

ADD, being a neurobiological disorder, is often seen in others as a hyperactive, impulsive state; i.e. not being able to sit still or pay attention for long periods of time, overactive like “bouncing off walls” and jumping in with inappropriate comments and behaviors sporadically.

ADD in Children

Children exhibit one of three main types of ADD. And although ADD in children seems to exist worldwide, at least in the countries tested thus far, boys have been found to be afflicted with ADD more than girls, 3:1. The three main types with the symptoms of each are:

ADHD predominately inattentive type: (AD/HD-I)5
The sufferer:v -Lacks attention to details, makes careless mistakes.
- Has difficulty with lengthy attention span.
- Does not seem to listen.
- Struggles with instructions.
- Struggles with organization.
- Prefers not to use sustained mental effort.
- Misplaces items.
- Can be easily distracted.
- Can be forgetful during everyday activities.

ADHD predominately hyperactive-impulsive type: (AD/HD-HI)5
The sufferer:
- Exhibits nervousness movements with hands or feet, twists in chair.
- Does not stay seated for long.
- Is in higher gear, running or climbs a lot.
- Has a tough time handling quiet activities.
- Talks a lot.
- Rushes to reply to questions before they’re finished being asked.
- Is impatient.
- Interrupts others.

ADHD combined type: (AD/HD-C)5
The sufferer:
- Meets criteria from both sets above.

Regardless of which type of ADD a child has, parents are NOT to blame


Now let’s take a look at the symptoms or traits characteristic of adults who have ADD. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), adults with ADD most generally:
- Fail to give close attention to details
- Make negligent mistakes at work
- Fidget with hands or feet, twist about in seat
- Have difficulty with attention span during tasks and activities
- Are unable to remain seated in situations where seating is expected
- Don’t appear to listen when spoken to directly
- Feel unable to relax
- Have difficulty following instructions, often failing to finish work
- Express difficulty with quiet participation in leisure activities
- Suffer difficulties with organizational skills and activities
- Feel energized; i.e. “on the go” or “motor-driven”
- Don’t like engaging in lengthy mental effort; i.e. they prefer NOT to engage in anything that asks for sustained mental effort
- Talk a lot (an inordinate amount of time)
- Lose necessary items for tasks and activities
- Rush to supply answers before questions are completed
- Become distracted easily
- Tend to be impatient
- Are forgetful with regards to everyday activities
- Interrupt frequently or intrude upon others

Types of ADD

Formal diagnosis is based on a number of strict criteria, laid down in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV ), 4th edition. These criteria have been created for research purposes. Based on the DSM-IV criteria listed below, three types of ADHD are classified: • 1. ADHD, Combined Type: if both criteria 1A and 1B are met for the past 6 months
• 2. ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type: if criterion 1A is met but criterion 1B is not met for the past six months
• 3. ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion 1B is met but Criterion 1A is not met for the past six months.

What Causes ADD?

Researchers believe that ADD is most probably caused by genetically based biological factors influencing neurotransmitter activity in areas of the brain. In some tests, people with ADD used lower levels of glucose in brain areas dealing with controlling attention and inhibiting impulses, meaning less activity. So a cause-and-effect approach ponders whether lower activity levels might contribute to some ADD symptoms.

What is known, though, is that ADD does appear across family lines. In short, indications suggest it’s hereditary, a possible genetic predisposition within members of the same family. For example, research shows that when a person is diagnosed with ADD, the odds are 25 percent to 35 percent that another family member also has ADD. Compared to the rest of the general public, there is a less than 6 percent chance of someone else having the disorder.

Diagnosis of ADD:

For a diagnosis, people can begin with their healthcare provider or consult an educational psychologist, a behavioral neurologist, a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist.

They would undergo an evaluation that would generally include a complete developmental, medical, psychiatric, educational and work history, interview about any medications used and noted ADD symptoms / characteristics and overall look at personal health, well-being and life in general (relating to social and environmental factors).

Normally more than one person is involved in this diagnostic processing that spans a couple hours time. And main areas of focus are whether or not, and if so, to what extent, the person has the three main ADD traits (hyperactivity, lack of attention and impulsivity).

Adult ADD evaluations also include DSM-IV AD/HD symptom rating scales to go over previous records; for instance, past medical evaluations and test results, past work and school records in order to present a more accurate assessment and diagnosis. Then a program of treatment and coping skills can be put in place and any possible other health issues may be uncovered for further treatment or ruled out.



Studies show that the earlier a child is diagnosed and the earlier treatment begins, the better chance there is for success. In other words, early intervention is KEY.

Treatment traditionally has been based in two areas: Medication or behavior Therapy.

Modern thinking is moving to the use of a combination of both.

A third alternative is in alternate health area. Nutrition programs that give full spectrum nutrition and that help to balance out the body systems often have a pronounced impact on the problem (see Vitamin and Mineral Associations below for suggestions.)


One of the first, and often the most avidly promoted treatment is stimulant. antidepressant or antipsychotic medications. Schools often suggest a referral to a pediatrician for stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, Adderall, Metadate, Strattera, Focalin, or Attenade; antidepressant such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and more recently the antipsychotic Risperdal.

Drugs work quickly and have a very pronounced affect on the behavior problems. This is sometimes a problem because people think the problem is “fixed” and no longer pay attention to it.

In most cases behavioral support leads to better long term results.

Potential side effects: Most side effects of the stimulant medications are minor and are usually related to the dosage of the medication being taken. Higher doses produce more side effects. These may include appetite fluctuation and difficulty in getting to sleep.


This generally involves creating a positive and supporting environment around the child and working with a health professional over an extended period of time.

While this method shows results if enough effort is put into it there is a problem that it takes time to have an effect and the ADD issues can cause a child to be disruptive to the program.

While many parents wish to avoid the use of drugs, in many cases use of a stimulant drug when beginning therapy will normally give a quick response and allow a series of positive experiences to build confidence in the child.

Results of the studies indicate that long-term combination treatments and the medication-management alone were superior to intensive behavioral treatment and routine community treatment.

Diet change strategies:

Many families who wish to avoid the use of medication or who wish to start with medication and then move to alternative treatments find that broad spectrum nutrition programs can have a significant impact on the behavior of many children.

To understand a little better how this process with nutrition can have a direct impacton behavour I suggest you open this link and read the article on getting Nutrition For Your Cells

Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your ADD problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out. We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

More Resources available about ADD :

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