• Category: Psychology
  • Words: 1356
  • Grade: 100
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a neurobiological disorder. Recent research shows that the symptoms of ADD are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. With ADD there is a flaw in the way the brain manages the neurotransmitter production, storage or flow, causing imbalances. (Rebecca Chapman Booth, 1998) It has been suggested that as many as 80 percent of ADD cases are the result of genetics with the remainder caused by toxins, trauma or illness introduced during pregnancy, not from poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or excess sugar. It is important for people to understand that ADD is a real disability that affects all aspects of a person's life, though it does not need to be handicapping. I can personally relate to this topic because I feel that I have suffered undiagnosed with ADD for many years. Only now am I taking steps to determine if I might have ADD and make the decision to do anything about it. I hope to use this paper as a tool in educating myself and possibly others, not solely about Ritalin and it's usage but about the disease ADD itself.
According to the epidemiological data provided by the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 4 to 6 percent of the U.S. population has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Experts at the Institute, estimate that ADHD affects 3 to 5 percent of school age children and two to three times as many boys as girls. One child in a classroom of 20 is affected. "If one person in a family is diagnosed with ADD, there is about a 25 percent probability that another person in the family also has some form of Attention Deficit Disorder". (David West, Ph.D., 1999) This is not an epidemic, however I've found that the media likes to sensationalize ADHD, as if it were. Such sensationalisms can be found in stories like the one pertaining to Stephanie Hall, a young girl who overdosed on Ritalin while trying to battle ADD.
Until the last decade, it was believed that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was a disorder limited to childhood, which would disappear during adolescence. I know this to be false. My ADD type behavior has in my opinion gotten worse with age. Through years of research, it is now known that many individuals symptoms continue through to adulthood and can create difficulties in managing the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of everyday life, such as work, school, marriage, running a household, parenting and interpersonal relationships. It is possible that millions of adults have Attention Deficit Disorder, which has not yet been identified or treated successfully. I strongly agree with what research has found pertaining to ADD lasting through adulthood and the problems that can occur from it. I find most of my difficulty comes while in the classroom. I find myself bored before I even enter the classroom, doodling constantly, daydreaming and shuffling my feet or hands. I also have a real problem sitting still, I can't. I also notice that this behavior affects my relationships as well. I have a girlfriend that attends Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA and she says that I drive her crazy sometimes when I can't stay focused, get bored or have an energy spurt. However, I also reap certain benefits from this behavior as well, such as massive amounts of energy. I find that I can play sports or do physical activity for long periods of time and never want to stop. I keep going and going and going! Also I find it helping my creativity, I am an avid writer and enjoy this added tool for my work. Such benefits may seem small compared to the possible problems but to an active person in search of new ideas it is invaluable.
While there seems to be a lot of negativity surrounding the effects of Attention Deficit Disorders, there is also a positive side of ADD. One that is often overlooked. Many people with ADD have a high level of energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and a passionate commitment to things that interest them. These qualities can help them to excel in many occupations. Adults with ADD tend to do well in careers, which involve creativity and change, such as sales or marketing and jobs, which require troubleshooting skills. (Janet Armstrong, Ph.D., 1999) This is particularly comforting to me because I am very interested in a career, which would allow me to use my creativity. I am particularly interested in advertising, like with a big company like Nike or Tommy Hilfinger. I'm not sure if an interest in money is part of my possible ADD traits or if that's just me.
Current treatments include a mix of approaches, such as drug therapy, counseling, supportive services in schools and communities, and various combinations of the three. Clinical experience tells us that the most effective treatment is a combination of medication (if necessary, because not every person with ADD requires medication) and counseling or coaching to work on developing coping skills and maintaining productive and healthy behavior. (Peter Jaksa, Ph.D.,1998) Medications alone are not the answer. It is important for any individual with Attention Deficit Disorder to acknowledge that he or she needs to make accommodations for the ADD symptoms, to take responsibility for seeking professional help when necessary, and never to use their ADD symptoms as an excuse for lack of responsibility or relationship problems. This is where I have my dilemma, I'm not sure I want to go check if I have ADD. My grades are above average I enjoy having lots of energy and I have lots of fun. Do I want to have to take pills that might jeopardize that? I'm not so sure I do! Psycho stimulants and anti-depressants are the most frequently used medications. Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms can be managed by a stimulant/anti-depressant combination, in about 90 percent of adults. (Michael Romaniuk, Ph.D., 1997) Stimulants are usually the first choice because they have a positive effect on almost 90 percent of those who take it and have fewer side effects than with any anti-depressants. Medication is often used to help normalize brain activity, as prescribed by a physician. Stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Dexedrine are commonly used. The beneficial effects of Ritalin will peak about two hours after taking it followed by a lessening of benefits until the medicine is out of one's system. Dexedrine is slower releasing medications that provide a longer "window of benefit" for many people. The length of time someone with ADD will benefit from one of the slower acting medications will vary from different individuals and you can expect an effective therapeutic level to last approximately 5-8 hours per dose. These medications have been shown to be effective for most people with ADD and ADHD, however many other medications are also being used at the discretion of a physician.
Counseling and support groups can be a most helpful addition to Attention Deficit Disorder treatments. Most experts agree that the state-of-the-art in treatment is a combination of medications and counseling. It is required to educate on the nature of the disorder and how it creates problems for the individual. Counseling to address the emotional fallout of problems of problems resulting from ADD symptoms and skill building to compensate for deficit areas. These groups and one on one sessions help to improve the quality of life for children and adults. The meetings consist of mutual sharing and support, teaching practical techniques to help with common ADD-related difficulties. I learned a lot about a possible illness that I might have suffered from my entire life. I still don't know if I will seek answers as to my diagnosis. As for now I'll leave that up to tests such as the one I took online (attached to paper) to determine my ADDness.
Reference Page

Armstrong, Janet. (1999). How to tell if you're ADD. Chicago, IL: Commonwealth Publishers
Booth, Rebecca Chapman. (1998). ADD, A Children's Disease?. New York, NY: Addler & Murphy
Jaksa, Peter. (1998). Living with ADD/ADHD. (On-line)
Romaniuk, Michael. (1997). What is ADD?. Philadelphia, PA: Hudson Publishing Inc.
West, David. (1999). Ritalin, The Solution or the problem?. Reader's Digest, 56-62.

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