The general idea out there is that ADD and ADHD are caused by social problems. Very often, people hear their family members or neighbors telling them that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is caused by: video games, TV, music videos, single parent families, parents who work too much, computers, inexperienced teachers, etc. While many people talk about ADHD being due to many problems in society, they are not only wrong, they are actually doing a real disservice to people with ADHD. Research has proven that these factors do NOT cause Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In fact, it is a real medical condition, and as such, it is found in the body.
The first place to start when talking about what causes ADHD symptoms is the fact that ADHD is a brain disorder. All of the research going into ADHD shows clearly that differences in the ADHD brain are what account for the symptoms.
This means that we can throw out the causes of ADHD which are ‘social’. There is no credibility to these explanations.
Brain research in ADHD is continually improving and progressing. Brain imaging shows that the main area of the brain involved in ADHD symptoms in the prefrontal cortex. This is in the frontal lobe – the part of the brain just behind the forehead. The frontal lobe is the command center of the brain. This is the part that does the planning that we need to do. The frontal lobe tells you to pay attention to one thing and disregard another because it’s a distraction that’s not important. It tells you to plan, it tells you how to adapt your plan when something comes up that’s difficult. It tells you to inhibit your response which helps you to stop yourself from doing something that could get you into trouble (i.e. so you don’t swear at someone, even if you’re angry, if it would get you into serious hot water).
Brain imaging studies that look at the brain chemicals – called neurotransmitters – show that there is a decrease in the brain chemical dopamine in that area. Another brain chemical impacted in ADHD is norepinephrine (or noradrenaline). ADHD medications work on these brain chemicals to improve concentration, hyperactivity and impulsivity. They have this effect by increasing the dopamine and/or noradrenaline in different parts of the brain.
Other brain areas being researched include: The Cerebellum, the basal ganglia, the anterior cingulate gyrus, etc. In other words, the next time someone tries to tell you that ADD or ADHD are due to some problem in society, you let them know that they are wrong – it is a real medical condition which resides in the brain.