ADD and ADHD are slightly different acronyms describing almost the same condition: Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Although the disorder ADD or ADHD is comprised of a variety of behavioral symptoms, some may appear more prominently than others. For this reason, experts have broken down the condition into three subtypes, which describe the condition’s foremost signs.
Types and Definitions
Predominantly Inattentive – Attention Deficit Disorder
- Difficulty staying focused and on task
- Procrastinating, especially with tasks that require mental effort
- Inability to follow instructions and tendency to make careless mistakes
- Difficulty staying organized, forgetfulness and propensity to lose things
Predominantly Hyperactive, Impulsive – ADHD
- Difficulty waiting in lines and remaining seated for prolonged periods
- Excessive talking and fidgeting
- Tendency to interrupt others and failure to listen when spoken to
Combined Type – ADD and ADHD
This type encompasses a combination of the other subtypes and is the most common type of ADHD.
Although most people suffer with at least a few of these symptoms, a diagnosis of ADHD requires the signs be present long-term and in excess. For many ADHD sufferers, the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Is It a Childhood Disorder?
Although Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are commonly thought of as a childhood disorder, it can continue throughout adulthood in some individuals. Adult sufferers experience slightly different symptoms, which include:
- Impulsive behaviors
- Difficulty maintaining a job or staying organized
- Outbursts of anger
- Substance abuse problems
- Relationship problems
Causes of ADD / ADHD
Although many have speculated as to the causes of ADHD, experts have not definitively determined a true cause. Many doctors feel heredity is one of the biggest factors. Other doctors feel that factors that influence the development of the brain may also be a partial cause. Most doctors feel, even though some children are helped by dietary changes, that different parenting styles are also not to blamed as the cause.
ADD / ADHD Treatments
The effectiveness of diets for Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD continues to be debatable. Experts feel that only a small percent of people are significantly affected by food additives and allergens, and are therefore helped by elimination diets. If you feel you may have food sensitivities or allergies, you can start by omitting one or all of the top three food sensitivities such as dairy, wheat/gluten, food coloring and additives. I feel everyone should omit food coloring and additives right away and then try dairy, then wheat/gluten for 30 to 60 days each and see if you notice improvement.
On the other hand, most experts agree that a balanced diet that is low in sugar and contains healthy fats helps the brain work better and increases your overall health. So it might be a great idea to limit processed foods high in sugar, including soda. It might also be a good idea to make sure to start each day eating protein for breakfast as well a foods high in fiber may also be helpful.
The most common prescription medications for ADD / ADHD are stimulant drugs. Stimulant drugs are used by both children and adults. These medicines are shown to improve symptoms in approximately 70 percent of users, although they include a variety of side effects, some of which are severe. For this reason, many people and parents choose to explore alternative options before turning to these harsh medicines.
A number of supplements are purported to ease ADD / ADHD symptoms. Herbal stimulants can work to increase attention and focus. The B vitamins, multi vitamins and minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids also help to nourish the brain and do support normal brain functioning. Many also have found probiotics to be very helpful. Remember, our gut is our second brain.
Additional Tips and Tools
For many ADD / ADHD sufferers, managing the symptoms requires a combination of methods. These methods may include dietary changes, restricting foods you may be sensitive to, medicines (whether herbal or synthetic) and self-help strategies to improve daily habits and increase organization. Through trial and error, you too can create a recipe for success.
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