What is ADHD exactly?

I always hear people comparing ADHD to diabetes or high blood pressure when they say things like, "would you take insulin if you had diabetes or BP meds if you had a cardiovascular problem?".

It's my understanding that ADHD is a brain disorder that seems to affect the motor, emotional, 'executive function', areas of the brain. It seems it affects every function from sleep to how they communicate with others to angry emotional outbursts! 

It also seems the denial people with ADHD have about their disorder affecting others is comparable to a person with a mental illness not wanting to take their meds. because they strongly feel that they are not Manic or ill. (I read this in 'Is it You, Me or Adult ADD' under the section of 'denial')

Am I wrong about this?

It seems more like a mental illness than a physical illness, though I understand it's basis is a brain development issue--right from birth.

I'm also wondering what symptoms can be controlled/managed, which symptoms will just go away completely with which treatments, and which symptoms are just something we will have to live/put up with for life? :/

I know clearly that if a person with Manic Depression takes their meds they will seem pretty even in their emotions, they will be able to live almost "normally" in their every day lives. Take the medicine away and it's a predictable outcome: the mania will start to show in all the eccentric ways they normally do in that specific person. They eventually cannot function, maintain themselves, and it can get to the point where they are a harm to themselves or others because they are no longer 'living' in this world... they're living in a manic world. Therefore hospitalization is necessary at that point to get the person back from that state and into our "realm" again.

With ADHD it's not really that predictable to me.

I was wondering if anyone else has got it figured out where they've found a pattern in ADHD. Like, the perfect formula to get the person acting somewhat "normal" and fully functioning. 

So, is it physical (brain development) that thereby affects the chemical balance in the brain, thereby affecting how the person acts emotionally and physically towards others?

I'm a bit confused.... Help!

You get conflicting stories

You get conflicting stories when you research, but for the most part it isn't fully understood. Some say the frontal lobe of the brain has less function/is slower than 'normal'. Some suggest that the reason stimulant medications work is because they not only speed up the brain (bringing an ADHD person's brain to 'normal function levels') but they also affect neurotransmitter (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine) levels in the brain that are suspected to be low.

The symptoms can vary greatly. Some people have very positive results with medications, some it makes things worse. I honestly do feel that it is probably harder to 'treat' than your run of the mill mental illness type disorders. What I do feel it has in common with mental illness is the denial. When someone's brain chemisty is so out of whack that they don't see the train wreck that is their lives, the relationships left in the dust, the ones they love standing before them begging for things to be different, then I think this is where it ties so heavily in with other disorders. I have often wondered if it wasn't more like addiction than anything else...because some admit to picking fights just to get some stimulation. Other's have addictions that they would have to be given up in order to truly 'heal' and they would rather deny there are issues than to have to give up the addiction (porn, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, etc).

I am not sure why the denial factor is often so strong....but it is a very common (and VERY sad) part of ADHD. I feel so very blessed that my husband started taking responsibility for his actions and holding himself accountable for his behavior BEFORE we even got the ADHD diagnosis. I couldn't live with the denial anymore.

I did a research paper on ADHD in adults and did a LOT of reading last summer. It was very interesting...and very scary.

ebb and flow's picture

"Some suggest that the reason

"Some suggest that the reason stimulant medications work is because they not only speed up the brain (bringing an ADHD person's brain to 'normal function levels') but they also affect neurotransmitter (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine) levels in the brain that are suspected to be low."

So this shows that it's a physical development issue of the brain that DOES affect the chemical balance of the brain chemicals. I can also attest that brain chemicals are affected because my partner has very addictive behaviour traits-- ie: alcohol, possibly fighting/getting angry for the adrenaline rush, he seems to get hooked on things like computer use and/or notebooks, pens, etc... Therefore, possibly denoting low dopamine levels and the need for external stimuli to sort of give him the rush of chemicals lacking in the brain.

This whole thing is really hard to understand.... 

I wish I had some more insight as to what is life long symptom and what is treatable. Then I'd know better what my expectations should be in this whole process...

It isn't so much a physical

It isn't so much a physical DEVELOPMENT issue of the brain as it is a chemical imbalance. (Link removed by admin)

Honestly, there are standard treatments for ADHD and just as with everything else neurological, it is mostly trial and error. My son has seizures...almost daily...I'm used to the 'trial and error' approach in neurology. I think what needs to happen is the symptoms be identified (angry outbursts, impulse control issues, addictive personality) and these things be treated with medication and/or counseling. SSRIs can be helpful with the mood swings for some. There just aren't any clear answers. My approach is that we just deal with each symptom that is a 'deal breaker' for our marriage however possible. My husband doesn't take meds because of any behaviors he has, as a matter of fact, as I've shared here, they made him a LOT worse in the beginning. He became angry and explosive and he's never been that way. I cannot say how or why, but it is under control better now....but my daughter and I have learned to stay away from him in the evenings (sometimes, not always) when his meds are wearing off...the irritability is horrible.

Try not to focus on the 'big picture' and just focus on you, him, and what the specifics are of what you guys need to treat. The more you know, the worse it feels sometimes. I tend to get caught up in the big, scary ADHD web sometimes too...and truth of the matter is I just need to focus on who is here and what our marriage specifically needs.