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Is ADHD over-diagnosed or even misdiagnosed? What causes ADHD? Is it caused by emotional or disciplinary issues in the family unit? Is the label of ADHD given because of intolerance to childhood playfulness?

Questions to ponder…  As a seasoned professional on this topic working with providers in the mental healthcare field, I can tell you it has been proposed that sometimes children are needlessly medicated by parents who are looking for some classroom advantage, whether it is additional time for testing, or some other classroom accommodations in a competitive educational environment. I do think many kids are misdiagnosed, and over-diagnosed.

What causes ADHD, you ask? According to multiple sources—i.e., Radiological Society of North America, the American Psychiatric Association, and a list of other sources—ADHD is a real anatomical and physical dysfunction in certain regions of the brain.

ADHDbrain

A three-dimensional, high-resolution MRI image of the brain of a patient with ADHD shows reductions (in yellow and red) in the size of specific areas within the frontal and temporal lobes. (UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging)

For more info on these studies: http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/39/1/26.full

These studies have found that individuals with ADHD have abnormal brain anatomy, as well as low levels of brain chemistry (neurotransmitters). The study found abnormalities in the “fiber (nerve) pathways in the frontal cortex, basal ganglia, brain stem and cerebellum,” which are the areas that control things like attention span, impulsive behavior, and motor activity. As stated in a previous post, ADD/ADHD is also characterized by abnormal levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, and GABA.

Chemical Imbalance?

According to the Official Journal of the Society of Biological Psychology, ADHD is also caused by an alteration in a specific gene. There is a gene in our DNA that is faulty. This gene is responsible for converting dopamine to norepinephrine. These two neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are responsible for focus, attention, movement, impulse control, etc. When dopamine is not converted to norepinephrine, certain regions of the brain malfunction, leading to symptoms of ADHD.

Genes are not our fate; they just give us risk for developing illnesses and issues with our health. What is it in a child’s environment that turns those genes on to cause ADHD? Perhaps it is some environmental issue, nutrient deficiency, or a toxin?

Is ADHD diagnosed through a teacher’s observation? How about a web-based quiz? What about a pediatrician who has only minutes to ask questions about you or your child, and then given a diagnosis followed by psychotropic drugs?

Get real answers and real information regarding ADHD on the next posting of Attention Deficit Disorder