What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common neurodevelopmental disorder, which is usually diagnosed in childhood. Individuals with ADHD often have symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity.
Symptoms of ADHD include:
- Avoids or dislikes tasks needing sustained mental effort
- Difficulty staying focused on tasks or activities
- Does not pay close attention to details
- Is easily distracted
- Forgets daily tasks or loses items
- Squirming or fidgeting
There are two classifications of ADHD: Predominantly Inattentive type and Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive type. Those who present as predominantly inattentive often find it hard to finish tasks, pay attention, follow instructions, or continue conversation. Those who are predominantly hyperactive-impulsive will fidget, may interrupt others, find it hard to sit, and act very impulsively. Some individuals with ADHD may have combined presentations of both types.
American Psychiatric Association webpage: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd
CDC.gov – “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
Medical standard of care
The standard medical approach typically does not consider, or address, dietary, nutrient, and environmental contributors to ADHD.
Conventional treatment for ADHD involves a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.
Medications commonly taken for ADHD include:
- Stimulants (Methylphenidate, Amphetamines)
- Non-stimulants (Atomoxetine, Guanfacine)
Stimulant medications work by increasing activities in areas of the brain that control behavior and attention/concentration. Non-stimulant medications may be used when stimulants are not working. Atomoxetine is an SNRI which increases noradrenaline, which then can help with concentration and impulse control. Guanfacine is an alpha agonist that lowers hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Why consider an orthomolecular approach?
ADHD has numerous biological causes and contributors that have been identified through nutritional research and clinical practice. Each individual may experience ADHD symptoms for different reasons.
An orthomolecular approach:
- Identifies the drivers and causes of ADHD and focuses on understanding them
- Works WITH the body to restore balance and normal function, and considers the person with the ADHD vs. just the ADHD
- Addresses nutrient depletions that promote ADHD whereas medications do not
- Can be done SAFELY in conjunction with most medical interventions
Diet, environment, and genetics play roles in the causation or promotion of ADHD. These factors can cause brain-related deficits and interruptions in neurotransmitter pathways, which then can affect attention, focus, and reward (Greenblatt 2018)