What Causes ADD? What Causes ADHD?
Role of Reticular Activating System
Attention Deficit is a malady of the Reticular Activating System, the area of the brain (via billions of nerve connections) that is important in reinforcing learning and memory.
It also helps support the processing of information and the ability to pay attention.
An insufficient amount of neural building materials can prevent the proper number of neural connections from being made.
With limited neural connections, the existing neural pathways are over-worked and are forced to deal with an extreme amount of information processing (just like an overburdened computer) that may lead to a processing shutdown.
This inadequate connectivity slows down the processing of information and can induce terrible feelings of aggravation, irritation and dissatisfaction in the child with ADD, ADHD or LD.
ADHD is a development disability with neurological roots, estimated to afflict up to 5 percent of the school age group in the country. No studies have placed a direct cause of ADHD, but numerous scientific evidence suggests that ADHD is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that depletes the amount of neurotransmitters which are responsible for helping the brain regulate behavior.
There was a groundbreaking study done by the National Institute of Mental Health that showed glucose levels were lesser in ADHD brains than “regular” brains.
The causes of ADHD are yet unknown, though it is confirmed that ADHD is a medical problem based in the brain. ADHD is not a condition caused by external conditions. There are many ways children can manage their ADHD symptoms. Prior to listing these tips and tricks, it is important to know what ADHD is and how it is diagnosed first.
Natural Help for Chemical Imbalance
Using Attend, by Vaxa, has helped thousands of children and adults with the symptoms caused by this chemical imbalance in the brain.
Along with inattentive and hyperactive symptoms, there are other secondary signs that come into play. Aligning closely with age and the child’s developmental stage, he may explode with temper tantrums, get frustrated easily, have poor self esteem, and have feelings of rejection easily in a social environment, along with poor academic work and poor self application to tasks.
What Causes Natural Attention Deficit Disorder?
If you look at the charts, you will see the brains of a normal children vs. the child with ADD. Brain scans are one of the fundamental ways to study activity.
Z-Score Maps from Quantitative Electroencephalography
Differences in Brain Activity in a Normal versus ADD Child
The brain map on the left shows two normal children, a 9 year old boy and a 14 year old girl. The brain map on the right shows two ADD children of the same age and gender.
The ADD map indicates the two ADD children have more alpha and theta activity in the brain than the normal children. High alpha activity is usually associated with idleness and high theta wave activity is predictive of drowsiness.
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is characterized with inattentiveness and poor reticular activating system stimulation, which is caused by an insufficient number of connections. This shows ADHD and LD children cannot shutout stimuli in their environment as easily as normal children. Low alpha and theta activity always results in sound alertness and attentiveness levels, since there is a good amount of neural connections being made to maneuver all that stimuli traffic in the brain.
The root cause of ADD is a mystery, though it is most probable ADHD has heterogeneous roots, which simply means several causes could be at play. There is an entire laundry list of evidence that suggests that genetics play an overriding role in the condition. Read our article about the Mayo Clinic risk factors for ADHD HERE.
Genetic Link To ADD & ADHD
Research has shown that there are a combo of various genes that brings about ADHD, many of them which affect dopamine transporters directly. Some genes associated with ADHD include the 10 repeat allele of the DAT1 gene and the 7 repeat allele DRD4 gene along with the dopamine beta hydroxylase gene. In addition, SPECT spans have shown less blood circulation to ADHD affected brains along with a larger volume of dopamine transporters in the striatum which is responsible for planning tasks.
There was a landmark study done by collaboration between the US Energy department’s own Brookhaven National Lab and New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine which has raised questions over the role of dopamine transport levels in indicating ADD. According to the study, it’s the brain’s ability to produce dopamine that should come into question. In order to test this, the study called for 20 ADD subjects and 25 control subjects to be injected with a radiotracer that worked alongside dopamine transporters. The results showed that the dopamine was responsible for indicating ADHD, not transporter levels. The ADHD subjects have less levels of dopamine to start, and the amount of brain transporters was never a factor. In addition, plasma homovanillic acid was also attributed to childhood learning problems in the healthier subjects.
PET scan studies conducted earlier show that global cerebral glucose metabolism was almost 9 percent lower in ADHD adults.
Glucose metabolism levels in normal adult brains while performing a specific auditory attention task were studied. Studies showed that an ADHD adult brain with a map of the areas of activity in the brain were different from a child when given the same task. Group level differences are prominent. Along the same line, the pre-motor cortex and the superior prefrontal cortex are the regions of the brain where deficit of activity was most evident in ADHD patients.
A second study using young adults did not find substantial differences in global metabolism levels between controls and ADD patients, but did discover notable deficits in six different areas of the brains of ADD patients in comparison to “normal” brains. One of the most glaring differences was the lower level of metabolic activity in one part of the brain called the left anterior frontal lobe which directly coincides with the severity of symptoms in question. These studies have raised a legitimate argument that lowered activity in different brain areas is responsible for ADHD symptoms. It is important to note that these conclusions are based on ADHD subjects performing assigned tasks. They could be found in ADHD subjects because they were not participating in the task. Thus, the brains of others doing the task would not be show the same activity found in the ADHD subjects.
Non-Genetic Factors of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
According to the studies, non-genetic factors contribute to 20 percent of ADHD cases.
Environmental factors associated with ADHD:
- Consumption of alcohol
- Cigarette smoke
- Exposure to lead and other heavy metals
More cases of ADHD were attributed to lead concentration than tobacco. For this reason, many people are turning to chelation therapy as a possible treatment for ADHD.
Pregnancy and birth complications were also seen as contributing factors, including premature birth. Research has also shown that smoking while pregnant increases the risk of having an ADHD child, since nicotine is known for lowering oxygen in the uterus.
ADD like symptoms can also occur with head injuries, especially when the damage is done to someone’s frontal lobes which are critical. In earlier cases, having ADHD was equivalent to being diagnosed with ‘minimal brain damage.’
Social factors have not been proven significantly enough to cause ADD. The scientific community has lauded attachments and relationships with an ADHD child’s peers and environment as beneficial to fostering a sense of self control. It’s important to note a foster children study revealed a significant number of them shared ADHD symptoms. According to a 2004 editorial in Clinical Psychology magazine, ‘our impression from spending time with young people, their families and indeed colleagues from other disciplines is that a medical diagnosis and medication is not enough. In our clinical experience, without exception, we are finding that the same conduct typically labeled ADHD is shown by children in the context of violence and abuse, impaired parental attachments and other experiences of emotional trauma.’ Complex Post Traumatic Stress disorder can also cause ADHD like attention problems, just like sensory integration disorders.
There is not sufficient evidence to suggest that poor nutrition causes ADD, but studies have shown malnutrition ties into natural attention deficit disorders.
Natural Remedies for ADD
To assure you or your child is getting the proper nutritional supplement for Attention Deficit Disorder it is important to take Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are a building block for the brain. If your child can’t swallow fish oil capsules, we recommend Bright Brain, a chewable Omega 3 supplement.
In addition, ATTEND by Vaxa has been clinically shown to naturally help with ADD and ADHD symptoms.