Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known in short as ADHD, previously known as ADD) is not just a problem in children. If you were diagnosed with childhood ADD or ADHD, there are chances you’ve carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood.
An estimated 6.4 million children in the United States with ages between 4-17 have been diagnosed with this disorder. Furthermore, it is estimated that between 2–5 percent of adults have it. Around 25-50 percent of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder continue to experience the symptoms into adulthood, while the rest experience fewer or no symptoms.
What is ADD/ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurobiological disorder that makes it difficult for children and adults to control their behavior and/or pay attention. Moreover, there may be problems with the child’s social, intellectual, and psychological development as a result of these behaviors.
There are three types of ADHD:
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type – it is characterized by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with non-stop activity.
- Predominantly inattentive type – the majority of ADHD symptoms fall under this category. This type of person lacks persistence, wanders off task, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized.
- Combined type – these children have symptoms of the previous two types.
Many children, particularly those under the age of five, are restless and inattentive. This does not necessarily mean that they have this disorder.
For children to receive a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be long-lasting, impair the children’s functioning, and cause the children to fall behind normal development for their age.
This disorder occurs more frequently in males than in females, and behaviors can be different in girls and boys. For example, girls may tend to be quietly inattentive and boys may be more hyperactive.
ADHD hyperactive/impulsive type symptoms:
- often interrupt others’ activities or conversations;
- are unable to engage in hobbies or play quietly;
- are constantly in motion;
- acting without thinking;
- responding to questions before the questions have been completed;
- run around in inappropriate situations;
- talk nonstop;
- little or no sense of danger;
- excessive impulsivity and activity;
- bounce from one activity to the next.
ADHD inattentive type symptoms:
- become tired with an assignment after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable;
- not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
- difficulty staying focused on a task;
- be easily distracted by stimuli or unrelated thoughts;
- frequently make careless mistakes or fail to give close attention to details in work, schoolwork, or other activities;
- difficulty learning new things;
- lose essential items such as toys, house keys or school books, or are forgetful in daily tasks.
Despite being the most frequently studied and diagnosed disorder in adolescents and children, the exact cause is unknown in the majority of cases.
Genetics – this disorder can run in families and recent studies indicate that genes may play a role. Siblings of children with ADHD are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop ADHD than siblings of children without this mental disorder. Additionally, scientists are studying different genes, especially ones involved with the brain chemical dopamine. As a matter of fact, individuals with the disorder seem to have lower levels of dopamine in the brain.
Antenatal problems – cigarette smoking, consumption of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy can cause many disorders, including ADHD. Furthermore, children born premature or with a low birth weight have a higher risk of having this disorder.
Head injury – may also be a cause of ADHD in some very small minority of children. Numerous studies have documented that children and adolescents who have been diagnosed as having the disorder are more likely to be injured, probably due to an increased risk-taking behavior and poor impulse control.
Heavy metals – there are many toxic heavy metals present in the environment which have negative health effects. Some of the heavy metals include – lead, mercury, arsenic and aluminum.
Parents – too much or too little attention being given to the child. Neither extreme is beneficial to a child’s healthy development.
Research does not support the popularly held views that this mental disorder is caused by watching too much television or eating too much sugar.
From a spiritual perspective, this disorder is caused by the mental body’s inability to make the transition from the spiritual worlds to the Earth plane. The Earth plane of existence is very important. It is the only plane of existence where we can make fast spiritual growth in the shortest period of time.
Stress management methods (such as meditation, breathing exercises or mantra chanting) can benefit the individuals with this disorder. Also, some studies indicate that practicing yoga may be helpful for people with the disorder. More importantly, a study published in 2013 concluded notable improvements in anxiety, hyperactivity, and social problems in boys with this disorder who practiced yoga daily.
Moreover, having a healthy lifestyle can make it easier for your child to deal with the symptoms.
These healthy behaviors include:
- Limiting the amount of daily screen time from computers, TV, tablets, or phones.
- Eating a plant-based diet centered on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. It will be best to avoid foods with certain food preservatives and colorings, artificial sweeteners, foods that contain hormones (all animal products, especially dairy products) because they may increase hyperactive behavior in some children.
- Practicing moderate physical exercise (60 minutes per day).
- Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night based on age. For instance, a 2004 study by the Sleep Laboratory, Rambam Medical Center and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel established that 50 percent of children with the disorder had signs of sleep disordered breathing, compared to only 22 percent of children without it.
- Spending time in nature may benefit children with the disorder. There is research that established that spending even 20 minutes outside during the day can benefit them by increasing mental relaxation and improving their concentration.