What is ADHD and why is it so important to understand what it is?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder with a number of likely causes. Available evidence suggests that ADHD is genetic and is passed down from parent to child. Researchers suspect that a gene involved in the creation of dopamine, a chemical that controls the brain’s ability to maintain regular and consistent attention may be to blame. Children and adults with ADHD seem to have low levels of dopamine. This chemical controls neurotransmitter activity in the brain that regulates the following:
- Pre-frontal cortex- impairing executive functioning which controls- focus, concentration, planning, decision making, initiating tasks, completing tasks, sustaining tasks, inhibition or restraint, impulse control, reward systems, anticipating consequences and emotion regulation.
- Limbic system- regulating emotions, restlessness, inattention or emotional volatility.
- Basal ganglia- causing information to “short-circuit,” which results in inattention or impulsivity.
- Reticular activating system- causing inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
Has your child always been more sensitive to criticism, teasing or rejection than their peers? This can often be linked to ADHD and there is a name for it! Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is an extreme emotional sensitivity and emotional pain triggered by the perception, not necessarily the reality, that a person has been rejected, teased, or criticized by important people in their life. RSD may also be triggered by a sense of failure, or falling short, failing to meet either their own high standards or others’ expectations.
When this emotional response is internalized, it can imitate full, major depression complete with suicidal ideation. The sudden change from feeling perfectly fine to feeling depressed that results from RSD is often misdiagnosed as rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
When this emotional response is externalized, it looks like an impressive, instantaneous rage at the person or situation responsible for causing the pain. 50% of people who are assigned court-mandated anger-management treatment have previously unrecognized ADHD.