Many people, even very intelligent people ask, "Does ADD exist?" Diet, poor schools, shoddy education, or even bad parenting have been blamed for ADD. Research has shown that ADD does exist and can be seen on SPECT and PET scans. Yet it has been hard to convince the general public that childhood ADD existed. Many think it is outgrown by the time children are teenagers.
ADD is now known as a genetic condition. People are born with ADD. Erratic attention span, boredom, low tolerance of frustration and disorganization are some of the textbook signs of ADD. Adults, though intelligent and motivated, have trouble with time management, follow-through and making simple decisions. Many of these adults choose careers that are intense and keep one "on-edge".
Scientifically, ADD can be viewed as a problem with the blood flow on the prefrontal cortex. When someone with ADD is relaxed, such as listening to calm music, the blood flows normally. But under a little more stress, such as balancing a simple checkbook, the blood flows less unlike other brains. When the ADD brain is under more stress, such as taking a test, it gets even less blood, gets confused, or sometimes shuts down. These individuals have been known to complain that the harder they try something, the harder the task gets.
All is not bad with ADD. Some famous and talented people have had ADD. These people include Ansel Adams, Beethoven, Mozart, Emily Bronte, Napoleon, Isaac Newton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Vincent Van Gogh, Howard Hughes and Virginia Woolf, among others. People with ADD are often highly intelligent, imaginative and creative. The crucial point is that once a person is diagnosed with ADD, he learns to cope and it is as if an untapped part of the brain is revealed. Some say this allows them to embrace their true nature and see ADD as a healthy state of the brain.
A checklist cannot diagnose ADD. Even people who have a high amount of positive answers in these checklists do not have ADD. These same answers can point to other conditions. Individuals who have typical features of ADD and who have a sole diagnosis of ADD, can be fairly easily identified. But individuals who have a bigger pattern or health problem and ADD exists need a professional with experience, sound judgment and knowledge of this condition. Studies have shown that by mid to late adolescence, ADD is often complicated by a related condition such as depression, OCD, alcohol or drug abuse, Tourettes, or rage reactions.
Not so long ago a generation of psychiatrists viewed that there was no adult ADD. This view was shared by almost everyone else. These adults with ADD were diagnosed with panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, eating additions or disorders as if these were their only condition. These psychiatrists did not recognize that substance abuse also played a part in self-medication of ADD.
It took so long to find adult ADD because we are just recently learning about the brain. It has been a mystery as to how the brain works. There are new found breakthroughs in molecular biology and genetics and we are now beginning to understand the brain. We have tools that help to see thoughts and emotions. In the last ten years, we have learned much more than in all of previous history. It is widely believed that we will double our knowledge base every ten years.
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