ADHD Overview- Attention Deficit Disorder & Discussion on Treatment Options (Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse)

One of the most prevalent childhood neurodevelopmental diseases is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is frequently diagnosed for the first time in school-age children.

Children with ADHD may struggle to control impulsive behaviors, pay attention, or regulate their activity level. They may also act without considering the consequences. We will discuss this disorder and potential therapies in this guide.  

What Is ADD?

The most common neuropsychiatric disorder is ADHD, which affects 5–10% of school-age children. It continues in roughly 30–50% of patients into adolescence and adulthood.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that alters people’s behavior. People with ADHD may appear restless, struggle to concentrate, and act impulsively.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is “a brain condition typified by a continuing pattern of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or growth.”  

The signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are typically first identified at a young age and may worsen as a child’s environment changes, such as when they start school.

The majority of instances are discovered in children under the age of 12, but occasionally, it’s diagnosed later in childhood.

Sometimes, adults who were not diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as children are diagnosed with it later in life.

Although many individuals who were diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to have issues, the symptoms of the disorder typically become better with age. Anxiety and sleep disturbances are among other co-morbid conditions that people with ADHD may experience.

Attention Deficit Disorder Prevalence

Boys are more likely to exhibit signs and symptoms of this illness earlier than girls.

According to the study, on average, the onset age of ADHD is seven years. The prevalence over 12 months is in 4.1% of adult Americans. 

  • Children diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 17: 10.2%
  • Males diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 17: 14.1% 
  • Females diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 17: 6.2%

Attention Deficit Disorder Causes

The precise etiology of ADHD is unclear. However, research into the condition is ongoing. Although there is some evidence that sugar contributes to hyperactivity, there is no solid evidence that it causes attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is not thought to be the cause of the disorder, even if it can contribute to someone’s inability to maintain attention.

The following list contains potential contributing factors:

Genetics: Research suggests that genes are also a factor in ADHD, which can run in families.

Environment: Elements like exposure to lead may raise the risk in the early years of life.

Development: Central nervous system issues at critical developmental stages may be a factor.

Other potential risk factors for ADHD include:

  • Family members with ADD/ADHD or other mental health conditions. 
  • Alcohol or cigarette use by mothers while they are pregnant.
  • Low birth weight and premature birth.

ADHD Pathophysiology

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is linked to resting-state abnormalities, poor brain activity in specific neural networks, and issues with motivation and cognition.

In more recent theoretical frameworks, clinical symptoms and neuropsychological issues are combined. It is hypothesized that cognitive deficits may result from dysfunctions, particularly in frontostriatal or meso-cortical brain networks, while issues with reward processing may be related to dysfunctions in the mesolimbic dopaminergic system.

A more fundamental neuronal network approach suggests that in ADHD, in particular, Default-Mode-Network (DMN) activity, typically more pronounced during rest, may interfere with activity in neuronal networks involved in task processing, resulting in difficulties with state regulation and sporadic attentional lapses.

There is evidence that the neurotransmitters dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) play a role in the pathophysiology of ADHD. Mood, risk-taking, impulsivity, and reward are all influenced by the neurotransmitter dopamine. Attention, arousal, and mood are all modulated by norepinephrine. The dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) receptor gene and dopamine transporter-1 overexpression may be defective, according to studies on people with ADHD (DAT1). To alter attention to and responses to one’s environment, the DRD4 receptor employs DA and NE. 

There may not be enough contact between the postsynaptic receptor and the dopamine transporter protein, DAT1, which transports DA/NE into the presynaptic nerve terminal.

Neurotransmitters are involved, even though further research is needed to understand these consequences fully.

ADHD Disorder Types

Study reveals that:

Inattentive and distractible type ADHD: This form of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder makes it extremely difficult for sufferers to focus, complete tasks, and follow directions.

Impulsive/hyperactive type ADHD: The main characteristic of people with this type is hyperactive-impulsive conduct, such as fidgeting, interrupting others, and being unable to wait their time.

Combined type: Inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors are both displayed by people with this kind of ADHD. This could involve difficulties paying attention, a propensity for impulsivity, and a higher-than-usual level of energy and activity. The most typical form of ADHD is this one.

Attention Deficit Disorder Symptoms

Typically, early childhood is when ADHD symptoms first appear. Several symptoms must be present before the age of 12 in accordance with the DSM-5. Many parents report that their toddlers engage in excessive motor activity.

Still, it can be challenging to tell the difference between ADHD symptoms and the impulsivity, inattentiveness, and energetic behavior characteristic of young children. Children must exhibit six or more symptoms of the illness to be diagnosed; adolescents and adults must be 17 years or older, and adults must show at least five symptoms.

Predominantly Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined are the three forms of ADHD listed in the DSM-5. Below is a modified list of each condition’s symptoms.

ADHD Inattentive Presentation

  • Neglects to pay great attention to details or commits a casual error
  • Lacks the ability to pay attention for long periods
  • Doesn’t seem to be listening
  • Has trouble following directions
  • Struggles with organizing 
  • Avoids or despises work requiring continuous mental effort
  • Easily distracted and loses things
  • Prone to forgetting daily tasks

ADHD Hyperactive-impulsive Presentation

  • Fidgets in a chair move their feet or both 
  • Possesses difficulties staying seated 
  • Frequent running around or climbing. Severe restlessness in adults
  • Having trouble being silent when doing things
  • Acts as though a motor is propelling them. Adults frequently feel this way within
  • Excessive talking
  • Lacks patience or the ability to take turns
  • Blurts out responses before all the questions have been answered
  • Disturbs or interrupts others

Read More: What is OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Combined ADHD Presentation

Both hyperactive-impulsive attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder presentations and inattentive ADHD presentations apply to the person.

  • Children who experience these symptoms may develop varied presentations as they age since they might change over time.

Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment And Medication

Medication for ADHD addresses impulsivity and hyperactivity, two hallmarks of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Finding the best ADHD medicine for you can take some time, but once you do, you’ll probably notice an improvement in your symptoms.

ADHD medicine aids in mental focus for those who suffer from it. The drugs support their ability to focus, pay attention, and regulate their behavior. Medication cannot treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. However, it can assist in reducing ADHD symptoms while you or your child is on medication so you can perform your duties more efficiently. Several distinct types of drugs to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have received FDA approval in the United States. Many drugs are effective in treating ADHD in youngsters as early as six.

Stimulants-Most Commonly Used Medication For ADHD

The most typical class of prescription medicine used by medical professionals to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is stimulants. Contrary to what they sound like, stimulants don’t make you more stimulated. Instead, they function by raising the amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters, in your brain. These neurotransmitters significantly influence motivation, your capacity for concentration and thought. According to studies, after identifying the right stimulant medicine and dose, about 80% of children with ADHD experience a reduction in symptoms.

Due to their status as prohibited substances, stimulants have the potential to be misused or lead to substance use disorders. However, using stimulant medications is safe under your provider’s guidance and care. Here’s the list of some stimulants 

Adderall Stimulant

ADHD is one of the conditions for which Adderall is most frequently prescribed as a stimulant.

  • To treat ADHD and narcolepsy, doctors frequently prescribe Adderall.
  • To make up for dopamine deficiencies that are typical in ADHD patients, Adderall enhances neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
  • To lose weight or sharpen their focus and concentration, many people abuse Adderall.
  • Due to its significant risk of abuse, dependency, and addiction, Adderall is classified as a Schedule II

Ritalin Stimulant

Ritalin is prescribed to people with and without ADHD to treat their symptoms. 

  • Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant, treats ADHD in children and adults.
  • Ritalin lessens impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention, which are some of the signs and symptoms of ADHD.
  • Although Ritalin has addictive qualities, experts believe there is a low risk of addiction when administered as directed.
  • Addiction may result from exceeding recommended doses or using drugs more frequently.
  • Ritalin can still impact those without ADHD, rendering them vulnerable to abuse.

Vyvanse Stimulant

Another central nervous system stimulant is Vyvanse, whose generic name is lisdexamfetamine.

  • The main usage of the once-daily, timed-release stimulant Vyvanse is to treat ADHD in people six years of age and older.
  • Vyvanse affects the chemical equilibrium in your brain and raises norepinephrine and dopamine levels.
  • In addition to physical dependence, Vyvanse can lead to abuse and addiction. Anxiety, sleeplessness, and decreased appetite are the negative effects.
  • Vyvanse is an amphetamine that can lessen impulsive and hyperactive behavior in ADHD patients and help them focus. 

Learn more: ADHD Treatment

Neurofeedback Therapy

In addition to counseling and medicine, neurofeedback is a form of treatment for mental health issues that is efficient, FDA-approved, safe, non-invasive, and non-pharmacological.

The alternative therapy of neurofeedback training helps patients train their brains to enhance focus, impulse control, and executive function.

  • A type of biofeedback is neurofeedback therapy. The connection between the mind and the body can be made using the technique of biofeedback.
  • By giving our brains direct input, neurofeedback can help us better manage how our minds function.
  • This is accomplished by using positive audio or visual feedback for brain activity that is performing correctly and negative audio or visual feedback for brain activity that is not functioning properly.
  • ADHD can be successfully treated with neurofeedback. Recent studies have shown that neurofeedback therapy, even with just 30 sessions, can reduce ADHD symptoms and common stimulants.

CBT Therapy For ADHD

Numerous studies have demonstrated that stimulant and non-stimulant medications are beneficial in treating adult ADHD. Research indicates that CBT can be helpful whether or not a person receives pharmaceutical treatment.

  • Your cognitive distortions and habits that affect your productivity and emotional state are addressed and modified with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for ADHD. 
  • Additionally, this strategy does more than increase your motivation and clarity. It may also result in a general improvement in one’s emotional and mental health.
  • The initial line of treatment for children under six is typically cognitive behavioral therapy.

CBT and Neurofeedback therapies are the most widely used therapies. Stimulants are also used, but they have some side effects. However, it’s still unknown that patients who receive CBT and NF therapies do not need stimulants. 

Read More: Psychedelics and Psilocybin Treatment For Depression

Final Words

Here is our guide to the attention deficit disorder that mainly occurs in children and continues in adults if left untreated. We have also mentioned possible treatments for ADHD, which include stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. 

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