ADHD and Your Brain
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The American Psychiatric Association defines ADHD as one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, resulting from a deficiency of the neurotransmitters known as norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. According to Larry Silver, M.D. in ADHD Neuroscience 101, “ADHD seems to involve impaired neurotransmitter activity in four functional regions of the brain: frontal cortex, limbic system, basal ganglia, [and] reticular activating system”. ADHD is hard to pinpoint to one region of the brain, as “these four regions interact with one another, so a deficiency in one region may cause a problem in one or more of the other regions”.
This “four way partnership” is what makes medically treating ADHD so hard, as medications (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse) in production right now focus on raising the levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine primarily in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain “associated with attention, decision-making and an individual’s expression of personality”(University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Study Reveals How ADHD Drugs Work in Brain”). For many people diagnosed with ADHD, the problem may lie within any of the other three regions of the brain, making these medications somewhat useless. This lack of understanding of how ADHD medications work is detrimental to our growing population, as many people in our society have been diagnosed with ADHD.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that “5% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD”. ADHD is especially hard for children as there are a multitude of stimuli occurring in their everyday lives. These constant stimuli paired with ADHD often lead to disruption in class and problems with everyday tasks like doing laundry, putting things away, or finishing errands.