Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Attention deficit disorder is a subtype of an intellectual deficit classified as ADHD, or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Otherwise known simply as ADD, this condition is characterized by a lack of attention, irritability, hyperactivity, procrastination and disorganization. Many millions suffer from this mental disorder and the roots are not yet fully understood. Still, ADD has gained much attention in the news in recent times.

Causes of Attention Deficit Disorder

As stated earlier, the exact causes for this mental impairment are not exactly known. However, recent research points to several potentially determining factors. Genetic research has indicated that altered levels of certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters may have a direct correlation in developing this illness. Should genes fail to operate properly, the brain may not produce enough of these substances. In fact, low levels of a particular chemical called Dopamine in a child's brain can indicate ADD. Issues during pregnancy may play an important role. Smoking, drinking and drug use will increase the likelihood of developing ADD, as do complications during the birthing process such as a lack of oxygen, low birth weight or head trauma. Due to the fact that ADD always begins in childhood, developmental abnormalities in the structure of the brain seem to be a contributing factor.

So, although the exact nature of ADD is not yet fully understood, some of the main causes are thought to include:
  • Altered genetic material.
  • Different levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Gestation issues.
  • Complications during birth.

Available Treatment Options

Due to the fact that ADD is considered a mental disorder with a chemical component, treatment revolves around the administration of medication along with psychotherapeutic counselling. Medications known as stimulants are usually prescribed, although each individual may react differently. Therefore, a number of different medical options are available. Regardless of the drug taken, the intention of the stimulants is to mitigate the outward symptoms of ADD and instead provide the sufferer with the focus needed to perform daily life activities. Nonetheless, is must be noted that such actions are not cures; they merely relieve the symptoms of ADD.

The primary goals of medication are:
  • Normalize levels of certain chemicals in the brain.
  • Lessen the symptoms of ADD.
  • Increase focus and alertness.

The other concern is to address one's behavioural functioning to better adapt to this disease. Psychotherapy is particularly valuable from a feedback point of view as it can provide the patient with tools on how to monitor their own behaviour and how to notice when they may be lapsing back into ADD. This is also invaluable as it can help determine whether a certain medication is functioning as it ought to. Finally, it should be noted that a considerable portion of ADD sufferers will simultaneously exhibit symptoms of bipolar disorder. This is a mental condition defined by periods of extreme hyperactivity followed by bouts of malaise, lethargy and mental depression. Psychotherapy can determine whether bipolar behaviour is another component of ADD and if additional medication may be required.

Some of the main benefits of psychotherapy include:
  • Patient feedback.
  • Monitoring of medication effectiveness.
  • Treatment of coinciding illnesses such as depression.

Finally, parents play an important role in determining their child's ability to cope within society. Youths and adolescents should be encouraged to interact with others, to talk about feelings of inadequacy that they may have and to engage in satisfying activities that can help maintain their attention span. The synergy of parent and child can provide a powerful level of support that doctors and medication cannot.

So, the final facet of ADD treatment includes:
  • Parental encouragement of social interaction.
  • Communication regarding feelings of sorrow or inadequacy.
  • Fostering engaging and exciting activities.