Updated: Feb 13
Written by: Lauren Pearson
We all struggle with paying attention or sitting still sometimes but imagine living alongside the continuous feeling of restlessness every day.
This is what most individuals with ADHD experience daily. Obviously, symptoms can improve and lessen with treatment and medications.
ADHD is known as a neuro-developmental disorder that affects one’s ability to perform concentration-based tasks.
Those with ADHD also tend to struggle with psychosocial connections and impulsivity.
I can't focus, does that mean I have ADHD?
I'm not a doctor so I cannot diagnose anyone, but this misconception is that ADHD is environmentally based.
Researchers are still looking for the exact cause of ADHD; however, scientists have determined that ADHD has both a genetic and hereditary link.
In simpler terms, this means that all environmental factors aren’t correlated with ADHD diagnoses. Bad parenting or too much sugar intake doesn’t cause ADHD.
Common ADHD Misconceptions
CAN I GET ADHD FROM JUST NOT BEING ABLE TO FOCUS?
Researchers are still looking for the exact cause of ADHD; however, scientists have determined that ADHD has both a genetic and hereditary link. In simpler terms, this means that all environmental factors aren’t correlated with ADHD diagnoses. Bad parenting or too much sugar intake doesn’t cause ADHD.
ADHD occurs due to the lack of Those with ADHD typically experience a variety of hyper and inattentive symptoms throughout all aspects of life (ex. work, school, home, social settings etc.)
MYTH: ADHD IS JUST A CHILDHOOD CONDITION.
People with ADHD may not show obvious symptoms till adulthood, where their behaviours suffer among the general public. Many think ADHD will also disappear in adulthood; the hyperactivity may disappear alongside puberty, and some patients will continue to have these symptoms in their adult years. However, in most cases, the attentional deficits remain throughout a patient’s entire lifespan.
MYTH: PEOPLE WITH ADHD CAN’T FOCUS AT ALL.
One of the greatest misconceptions of ADHD is “People with ADHD cannot focus”, this is incorrect as those with ADHD can focus to a certain extent. Those who have ADHD have issues regarding the regulation of attention, therefore often resulting in a lower attention span.
Boys are more commonly diagnosed with ADHD when in comparison to girls. This accusation is justified as girls mainly fall under the inattentive type. Girls show symptoms differently, and may not appear to stand apart from the crowd.
To help narrow down common ADHD characteristics, doctors differentiate ADHD between three main subtype categories.
Three main types of ADHD are known as Inattentive, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity and the combined type.
The Inattentive Type
Often associated with having poor organization skills
Difficulty adhering to details.
The Hyperactive Type
Cannot sit still (Often leaves seat during designated times of sitting)
The Combined Type
Doctors will diagnose patients with the combined type if they exhibit 6 of the 9 total symptoms under the two main subtypes.
A quote from Lauren, the Founder and President of DiverseNeuro:
"It’s not that we are inadequate by being different from the norm, we just require different approaches to the task at hand."
What is the Reticular Activating System (RAS)?
The reticular activating system is known as the complex network of neurons in the brain stem which is responsible for the connection between the cerebrum, and cerebellum.
The reticular activating system works to perform crucial functions of sleep and arousal states, in addition to this RAS participates in the fight-or-flight responses. Which would result in responses to sudden alerting nerves will be abnormal. The correlation among ADHD becomes relevant when a deficiency in the RAS occurs. This can cause all factors surrounding inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity-based ADHD symptoms.
Neurotransmitters and ADHD
Norepinephrine is known as an organic chemical in the catecholamine family that functions in the brain and body as a hormone and neurotransmitter. Norepinephrine (NE) is a neurochemical that is related to dopamine. Lower than normal levels of norepinephrine in ADHD brains are found to create difficulty with focusing, processing, and controlling impulsive behaviours.
Dopamine (DA) is a neurochemical that directly corresponds with our perception of pleasure and reward. Dopamine helps motivate us as the brain perceives rewards linked to our success and survival. Those with ADHD appear to have low levels of dopamine which adhere to many ADHD symptoms.
Parts of the Brain Affected
The frontal cortex region is responsible for high-level functioning related tasks such as: regulating attention, and organization. ADHD is found in this region due to a deficiency of norepinephrine chemicals. The lack of norepinephrine neurons in the frontal cortex can cause inattention, problems with organization, and impaired cognitive inhibition.
These circuits are known to regulate communication systems within the brain. Information from all regions of the brain is obtained with the basal ganglia. This data is shortly transferred towards various iatrical sites throughout the brain. A deficiency located in the basal ganglia can cause the information to become lost, therefore resulting in inattention or impulsivity-like behaviours.
I hope you learned a little bit more about ADHD through reading this article. Follow us for more neurodiversity content.
All the best,