Facts about ADD and ADHD

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two variations of a medical condition that involves symptoms such as impaired, lowered focus during daily tasks, difficulty ignoring distractions, problems with learning and following commands at work, which may or may not be accompanied by hyperactivity. Mental health expert Pat Murray explains that, in both ADD and ADHD, “the same is the core issue; it just relates to not being able to control the focus or to focus on command”, which may translate into impaired mental functioning because “it interferes with learning, or it interferes in work performance, and it definitely interferes in relationships.  ” Initially, ADHD was studied and diagnosed mostly in children.  But modern research revealed that many children continue to have ADHD signs when they become adults, which translates into the diagnosis of adult ADHD.  People unfamiliar with the diagnosis usually refer to individuals with ADHD as being high-strung, hyperactive, irresponsible, anxious or nervous, depending on which signs they observe in them.  It is estimated that about 4.4 percent of the adult population in the United States suffer from adult ADHD, although estimates may vary between 1 and 6 percent.

What Causes ADD And ADHD?

The underlying causes of ADD and ADHD are insufficiently understood by medical researchers, but most believe that they are a combination of genetic factors and environmental influences. Because adult ADHD can create significant family problems due to the inability to control one’s emotions, impulses and increased forgetfulness, medical professionals tried to identify the approximate brain abnormalities that cause ADHD symptoms.  Through imaging brain scans and analysis of the electric activity of the brain, researchers identified that individuals with ADHD may have insufficiently developed frontal lobes, which is the brain region responsible for controlling emotions, impulses, scheduling, discipline and proper self-control.  Because impulses and distractions are poorly controlled by the individual’s dysfunctional frontal region of the brain, they experience hyperactivity and chaotic behavior causing significant impairment in many aspects of his or her life.

How Can ADHD Impact Marriages?

ADD causes dysfunction in many areas in a marriage.  Failure to remember and accomplish simple tasks, poor money management, poor abstinence from high risks, unhealthy behaviors and impulsivity can irritate one’s husband or wife and cause substantial psychological distress.  The lack of sufficient income due to problems at work caused by lack of discipline and self-control may further aggravate problems in a marriage.  Suffering in silence or blaming the problems on one’s character are not valid solutions, and the couple needs to seek help together for the ADHD sufferer.

How Is ADHD Treated Or Managed?

There are two basic strategies of ADD and ADHD treatment.  The first consists of stimulant medication.  These drugs work by stimulating the neurons in the dysfunctional area to function better, which translates into an improved impulse control and more reasonable behavior.  Once the individual achieves an improvement in emotional and impulse control, he or she can benefit from psychotherapy and educational interventions aimed at changing his or her brain patterns to positively alter the way a person manages thoughts and emotions, resulting in better life management and discipline.  Family support is vital for successful ADD or ADHD management because individuals may not comply with the demands of therapy or medication treatment if they feel alone or frustrated.  ADD does not worsen over time and does not make an individual susceptible to other neurological disorders, but the attention deficit and poor impulse control increase the risk of drug addiction, alcohol abuse or high-risk behavior if left unaddressed.

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Kathleen Mills

Kathleen is a creative and gifted therapist who has extensive experience in helping children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of issues.