What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD)? It is usually thought that it occurs only in the childhood stage, but it is not like that, is a condition that persists into adolescence and adulthood And if it is not taken care of effectively, people can have problems in the school, family or work environment, and it can be aggravated by problems of anxiety and depression.
Its diagnosis must be interdisciplinary because some symptoms can be confused with other conditions such as anxiety disorders; In addition, there is no test that diagnoses with 100% certainty because it does not appear in MRIs, in PCR tests, or in blood tests.
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What is Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity?
Brenda betancourt, neuropsychologist, emphasizes that ADHD is not a disease, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is related to a genetic component, with areas of the brain involved and the social environment, is a condition with which one is born and if properly cared for, the child, adolescent or adult can have a full life.
“ADHD is characterized by difficulty paying attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity problems. Within the disorder there are different types, those that are predominantly inattentive, those that are predominantly impulsive-hyperactive, and those that are mixed that present these two variants. It can be detected after six years of age, which is when the brain structures related to these symptoms mature ”, according to the expert.
It is estimated that between 5 and 9% of the population has ADHD, in Mexico the estimate is that 1.5 million children and adolescents suffer from it although they are tentative figures because there are overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed.
The teacher in neuropsychology from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla explains that children, adolescents and adults have different modalities.
ADHD in childhood
In childhood, inattention is reflected in details such as that it is difficult for them to copy on the blackboard, they do not finish their tasks or write their notes well, they lose things, which affects their motivation and school success; the hyperactive modality is a more behavioral and motor issue, and they have a need to be moving all the time.
In adolescence, these characteristics diminish, but “we see a hyperactivity associated with stopping during classes to go to the bathroom, go to eat, move in the same chair.”
How is it reflected in adults?
In adulthood, they can dedicate hours to what they like –such as a sport– but “it is very difficult for them to concentrate and stay in an activity for a long time, especially in activities that require great cognitive effort.
This inefficiency in their work or in their schoolwork leads them to abandon what they do. Consequently, they can develop emotional problems such as anxiety or depression due to all these obstacles that they have, such as forgetting appointments or tasks ”.
It is observed that they do not comply with certain social norms: in a conversation they tend to interrupt; They make abrupt decisions that sometimes have negative consequences, they often have an incongruity in their emotions, anger control problems and in severe cases they can present problems of violence.
Nina Manzur, a teacher in Child Neuropsychology from the Complutense University of Madrid, emphasizes that this condition does not have to be disabling, “there are children who have ADHD with or without hyperactivity who are very bright. It is a variation on the way children learn. There are teachers who argue that the child does not adapt to the system but rather it is the child that does not adapt to them ”.
The pediatric neuropsychologist considers that there should be more information because there are myths around such as that they are lazy, rebellious, rude, and rather it should be understood that it is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests itself through alterations or delays in learning, social skills , communication and motor skills.
Areas of the brain involved
Brenda Betancourt points to the brain stem, cerebellum, prefrontal lobe, and basal ganglia as areas of the brain related to attention and executive functions.
“To pay attention we have to be active, oriented and these areas are dedicated to regulating attention and activation. Not being sleepy (hypoactive) in a class or super activated (hyperactive) because they do not help the acquisition of knowledge ”.
The frontal lobe it is related to processes called executive functions.
They are high-level processes that characterize us as human beings, such as setting a goal, developing a plan, making decisions, executing a plan in an orderly manner, ordering, correcting, weighing or measuring the risk / benefit of an action.
Alterations in prefrontal zones alter, in turn, some of these executive functions.
In addition to this, “language has among its functions communication, generating concepts and regulating itself; of the latter, people with ADHD do not develop it properly. The spoken thought like ‘calm down’, ‘relax’, ‘nothing will happen’ or ‘everything will be fine’ ”is a regulatory language that is not fully developed in these people.
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An interdisciplinary treatment
An evaluation and diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder involves psychiatrists, pedopsychiatrists, psychologists and neuropsychologists, highlights the specialist Nina manzur, who in his office located at Hospital Angeles, conducts three interviews with a battery of neuropsychological resources to be sure that it is ADHD.
Once it has been confirmed, a personalized therapy is designed with the idea that the child does not live it in therapy.
“If the child has ADHD, you have to find the right medicine in the right dose. And the medicine does not solve everything, it has to be taken to a psychiatrist for the pharmacological part, to the psychologist for the emotional part and to the neuropsychologist who does the rehabilitation of skills ”.
The drug is efficient in eight out of 10 patients, the two for whom it does not work does not mean that they are abandoned, but that a different strategy is designed for them. There is no cure, the treatment is learning to live with ADHD.
Manzur explains that neuropsychology is the bridge between neurology and psychology.
They deal with aspects of intelligence, memory, learning and have very extensive knowledge of neuroanatomy, pharmacology (although they do not prescribe drugs, they have to know which ones can work) and neuroendocrinology.
“When we connect the neurological information with the psychological or cognitive we have a much broader panorama where we can make a more accurate diagnosis and a faster therapy,” according to Manzur.