Having been exposed to ADHD and the surprising diagnosis in several adults in our circles, we really wonder why this has become such a common illness or malaise amongst youth? Why ADHD ?
Firstly the big truth is that ADHD/ADD syndrome is not a single disease. Rather what is thrown into this diagnostic pot here is a general spectrum of behaviour and personality traits which have several neurological or quite possibly only partially psychological causes.
In fact just as there is a plethora of nuances in what is an ADHD behaviourism, so is it just as likely many underlying causes. What falls into the pattern and how people with the types of affliction are perceived is somewhat subjective, or in a societal norm bias. Underlying this diagnosis by symptom, is a nebulous super nova, there are quite possibly many gametes for ætiologists to uncover.
One general agreement however on the molecular neurological side, is that hyperactivity associated to attention deficiency has ætiological origin as an under stimulation in one or more systems, functional regions or more complex pathways, or circuits if you like, in the brain.
This consensus must have come as a surprising proposition some years ago. You can imagine that many psychologists, physicians and frustrated parents would have concluded from the superficial evidence that it was the hyperactive high's which lead to an out of charge status, the A.D.D. aspect. However the reverse seems to be true: the brain super-stimulates itself with neurotransmitters in an effort to kick start the pathway from the "Low" point.
Our Experiences with Family Members and Close Friends Afflicted
We find ADHD to be classically cyclical. Taking "the grave yard slot" and getting out of bed: A:D:D. A task with many details not being accomplished, nor in fact, that the presentation of the task was actually listened to in the first place. Then being awake long into the night with blinding flashes of insight on the one hand, while mental overload kicking in with random, rambling thought often linked to paranoia or unduly negative outcomes, or the converse, unduly positive outcomes of imagined actions.
One thing we maybe then can agree on with the experts, is that a low time leads to a high time, which is chaotic. Both sides make the ADHD afflicted intolerable at times, and hard to feel comfortable with as a family member or of course as a colleague. Particularily the clash between domineering, overly assertive parents or managers and the ADHD child or employee.
Lows and Highs
We call the low ADD cycle the "glue brain time". Thoughts are difficult to form and gher with cohesion. Assertiveness is often absent, with either a tendency to resentful submission or an emotional defensive stance. Or just an apathetic stance which later is regretted once the situation can be seen in the cold light of day.
The diametric opposite high times are more complex: anger, creativeness, rambling, overly-chatty, poor listening, biased conversations, erratic body language, rapid speech, euphoric episodes, hyper-focus-periods, and most of all insomnia and irritability. These are all that WE have experienced in those around us with both diagnosis ADHD and those who are clearly over the given threshold and in the body of the church of hyperactivity and bubble glue head.
The bipolar nature of the disorder lead to a 15 year misdiagnosis for genetic depression with a large reactive element in two adults near to us. Bipolar depressions are quite probably mostly attributed to having ADHD mechanisms in root cause.To the contrary however, it may be interesting that a reactive depression caused by stressful events, traumatic experiences or long term mental exhaustion shows bipolar symptoms which are easily associated to ADHD. This may help establish causes or predispositions by being an environmentally induced ADHD. Longitudinal studies of patients presenting with such a history, but no previous affliction by deficit-hyper symptoms, could then show how the brain reverts to normal patterns as the patient goes through therapy centered on the environmental cause of the depression. This could lead to the use of shorter term antidepressive therapy for some forms of 'familial' ADHD and coping strategies and self help which can move the brain into positive cycles. An interesting alternative to long term maintenance on Ritalin.
However for those with ADHD who are not unduly unhappy, it would seem that in fact there is little environmental influence at the root. It is either inherited or has become a long term pattern of cyclical brain activity due to some unknown mechanism.
Diet and Conformist Society
Diet can help abate the worst symptoms of ADHD and probably have such a beneficial effect on light-sufferers as to amiliarate the disease to a level which....well which is kind of socially acceptable - nearer the "norm".
The very nomenclature of the syndrome has a clear origin in the cultural norm: "attention-deficit"- this is the symptom that those with supposed authority in society, get ignored by the afflicted. In fact the ADD side is more a general lack of higher level thought and reasoning. It is evident to authority as a lack of paying attention.
Hyper activity too is a subjective label: I was brought up in a very presbyterian epoch where very few young teachers even in the 1970s, dared to diverge from the conventional and sought a quiet and obedient class and were irritated as much by over performance, conversational agility, questioning, creativeness (as in brain waves, or brain storms) as they were by "bad" behaviour. By then we were only metaphorically beaten into submitting to the norms. So hyperactivity is judged in a social context where the boundary to "disease" is blurred by what some call the "liberal permissive society".
Here I go off on two tangents: firstly there is a lot of ADHD false diagnostic here in Norway because the social norm has for a long time been the very laid back, thoughtful, even cold, and most of all conformist person. A mixture of presbyteriansim and not being a "tall-high-poppy" in the field.
So when cultural influences become wider and other influences place an emphasis on seeking personal attention and social gratification for standing out, it is not suprising that many extrovert and intelligent while not academically inclined youth here get diagnosed. Bored at school, influenced by hyper children's media and the culture of the youtube snippit and the facebook platitude.
Many children and youth diagnosed such then, are probably just lower than average intelligence with a high degree of narcissism as a character trait, and resulting attention seeking behaviour is disruptive and self centered.
Sifting Out Bored, Disruptive Attention Seekers from True ADHD Sufferers.
It must be quite difficult to differentiate a patient presenting with these type of ADD/ ADHD symptoms which are long outside the social norm in a culturally conservative land like Norway. Being bored and disruptive at school seems enough to get tagged with both ADHD and Tourette's syndrome. The patient with a biochemical ætiology will benefit from the Ritalin medication, the former disruptive pupil may experience the reverse, where the stimulant only over stimulates the brain and fuels the disruptive behaviour.
The ducking stool approach: if they drown they were not a witch while if they don't they'll be burnt as a witch.
There Was No ADHD in 1976 ....
There was no ADHD when I was a kid. There was remedial, and a nodding smile "aye he'll be a good mechanic, or even a football player maybe ?" On the wider end those with learning difficulties due to an ADHD disease, were placed in remedial and sidelined from ordinary levels of expectation of performance ie task oriented behaviour norms.
Coming full circle from this tangent, as all parallel lines meet in the universe! ADHD is not caused by diet in the long term : ADHD sufferers may even unwittingly seek out or fall into the high sugar, low fibre diet due to their "glue brain" episodes and their hyperness driving instant gratification seeking behaviour. Some studies on statistically significant sample sizes (ok that is the wrong way around) are showing that a high sugar, high salt diet has quite little to do with behaviour as long as there are enough calories and vitamins injested to support lifestyle.
Conclusion; The Over Diagnosis of ADHD - Cry Wolf Dilemas and a Solution
Well how do you sort out the sick from the bums?? The answer is to medicate the lot of them, and get the ones who respond badly to Ritalin type preparations, in becoming much more hyper, get them to drop off the course and do some kind of socialisation such as team sports, self help groups or mentoring, which arrests their disruptive behaviour by engaging them in other forms of socially satisfying activities and trains them in goal oriented behaviour patterns as a route to reward.