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Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The Basic Information in a Nutshell Essay

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Updated: Jun 13th, 2019

Defining the phenomena that are related to human psychology is not an easy task; even though there are certain ways to define the existing psychological disorders, with most of their symptoms, as well as their consequences, some of the aspects of the disorder will still be left out.

As Gregg and Deshler explain, “A major problem […] involves the eligibility criteria used to operationalize disability definitions” (Gregg & Deshler, 2011, 39). The above-mentioned is especially characteristic of such a phenomenon as ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Robin and Barkley were two of the psychologists who managed to pinpoint the specifics of the ADHD:

“Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a heterogeneous disorder of unknown etiology.” This is the opening line of a major review of the literature medication for treating ADHD by one of the leading child psychiatry research teams in the country […].To this line, we could easily add the phrase “and of highly changeable definition.” (Robin & Barkley, 1998, 13)

Therefore, to properly represent the specifics of the ADHD disorder and to define the phenomenon, one will have to incorporate several definitions. Once the disorder is described from several viewpoints, it will be represented in a more adequate way. To put it the way Gregg and Deshler did, “professional institutions should provide the specific definitions used to construct their documentation guidelines and eligibility criteria” (Gregg & Deshler, 2011, 39).

Therefore, as the authors claim, “no definitions […] are included in the regulations for these statuses, unlike the definition of ‘specific learning disabilities’” (Gregg & Deshler, 2011, 39). However, it would be a far stretch to claim that ADHD cannot be defined – the phenomenon still has a lot of characteristic symptoms. Moreover, it is also worth mentioning that not only children, but adults as well can have ADHD.

In the case with adults, however, the definition of the disorder will be quite different from the one which is provided for a child ADHD. Speaking of a more or less traditional definition of ADHD, the one offered by Echeverri can be considered rather precise: “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurobiological condition involving behavior dysfunctions and cognitive distortions” (Echeverri, 2008).

When it comes to defining neurological diseases, psychological disorders, or other health issues which influence the work of a human brain rather than any other part of body, finding the appropriate definition for the phenomenon in question is rather hard. Likewise, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder is quite hard to define.

Since its symptoms have not been studied well enough yet and the factors of its development have not been fully discovered, it is not simple to define the disorder. One of the key problems, thus, is that the people who research the issue in question are not quite sure what they are exploring. Moreover, some of the researchers argue that ADHD, in fact, does not exist. With that in mind, one can see why ADHD does not have a full-fledged definition yet.

ADHD is mostly known for affecting children; however, adults can also display the symptoms of ADHD, according to the existing evidence concerning the issue. Since the issue of child ADHD and the instances of ADHD symptoms among students have been strongly emphasized in the media quite recently, one might have thought that there is a relation between the age of a person and his/her age.

According to the data provided by Buitelaar, Kan and Anderson, with a person getting older, the risks of his/her developing an ADHD syndrome decrease. As Buitelaar, Kan and Anderson explain, the peak of an ADHD threat in women appears at the age of 6; the same goes for men, while at the age of 18-20 for men and 16-18 for women, the threat of developing ADHD shrinks rapidly. Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention that adults can also develop ADHD, though not as rapidly as children do.

Another essential detail about ADHD which is worth bringing up is the statistics on the ADHD records and the patients’ gender. In the given case, it is not as easy to figure out the relations between the two issues as in the previous one. As Buitelaar, Kan and Anderson explain,

Although there is a general agreement that gender-related differences exist in comorbid conditions, these differences have been described in clusters: boys have been found to have more “externalizing” disorders, and girls have been described as tending to have more “internalizing” disorders such as anxiety and depression. (Buitelaar, Kan & Anderson, 2011, 18)

Therefore, judging by the existing evidence, there is little to no correlation between the gender and the possibility of developing ADHD among adults. However, when considering the instances of children developing an ADHD syndrome, one will discover a completely different picture. As the research says, boys are subjected to the risks of developing an ADHD syndrome to a much higher degree than girls. Mostly explained by the specifics of boys’ psychological development, this is an inevitable scientific fact:

In childhood, boys are three times as likely as girls to have A.D.H.D. Boys with the disorder tend to be more hyperactive and impulsive and are more likely to develop oppositional behavior, conduct problems and later delinquency than girls, though girls, too, can develop these problems. (Barkley, 2011)

According to the authors, the fact that boys are more subject to the ADHD syndrome can be explained by the specifics of upbringing and the emotional development, namely, the fact that boys are not encouraged to express their feelings in the open and, hence, are under much more strain than girls are.

Therefore, when boys set their emotions loose, the consequences are much bigger and the boys’ hyperactivity level is much higher than the one of the girls. “With ADHD represent a more significant proportion of adults with ADHD than has been previously recognized. (Buitelaar, Kan & Anderson, 2011, 18).Therefore, it can be considered that the chances of men developing ADHD are only slightly higher than the ones of women.

As it has been stated above, the symptoms of ADHD have not been fully explored or described yet; there are only vague assumptions as for what a person with ADHD might behave like and in what way his/her behavior might differ from the rest of people.

However, one can hardly demand more in the case when even doctors are not quite sure whether ADHD exists or it is another excuse for the lack of willingness to concentrate. Nevertheless, some of the specifics of behavioral problems which people with ADHD display have been described in a rather exhaustive manner, which gives another reason to reconsider these symptoms.

However, in the given case, it is necessary to keep in mind that there is a child ADHD syndrome and an adult one. Since the two groups are on different levels of psychological development and have different emotional specifics, the symptoms of the ADHD development in each group are going to vary. To start with, as the research results say, the key symptoms of ADHD in adults are:

  • Problems with becoming organized
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Family issues
  • Problems with relaxation
  • Inability to find a way to start working on something
  • Constantly being late on something
  • Outbursts of rage
  • Troubles with priorities (Tuckman, 2007).

As for children, ADHD symptoms are quite similar. According to Everett and Everett, there are two key signs that a child is developing an ADHD syndrome:

  • The child is hyperactive and cannot focus;
  • The child is dreamy and cannot focus (Everett & Everett, 2001).

As it can be easily spotted, the two symptoms are quite opposite to each other; the child can be either too active or, on the contrary, lack activeness. However, in both cases, the inability to focus is represented. Therefore, the key symptom of ADHD is the inability to concentrate.

However, when diving deeper into the specifics of ADHD development in children, one will see that there is more than just the inability to pay attention that children with ADHD suffer. As Everett & Everett explain, the problem is even more complicated – children with ADHD often fail to understand, start and/or complete the task which they are offered, disregarding the task complexity.

Therefore, it can be assumed that the problem goes beyond lacking focus; ADHD obviously decreases the students’ motivation, leaving them lacking any interest in the activities which they used to enjoy (Everett & Everett, 2001). Therein lies the difficulty of the problem – incorporating the biological and the psychological issues, it needs a complex solution that will help defeat the disorder not solely on the neurological level, but also on the physiological one.

Like any other disorder, ADHD can be explained from a biological point of view. Since there are several perspectives from which the given phenomenon can be explained, it is most reasonable to consider each. To start with, there is a neurological theory concerning where the ADHD syndrome comes from and what factors it is induced by.

As Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann and Weiss explain, “Neurological dysfunction or damage has always been considered an important determinant of ADHD” (Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann & Weiss, 2010, 28). Indeed, there are sufficient reasons to consider ADHD primarily a brain dysfunction, since people with ADHD display obvious differences from the rest of the people in their behavior and process of thinking.

As it has been stated before, the key symptoms of an ADHD syndrome are memory malfunction and the inability to concentrate, which serve as strong indicators of something going wrong on a neurological level. However, calling ADHD a “minimal brain damage” (Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann & Weiss, 2010, 28) would also mean defining it from a strictly neurological point of view, since it is not only the brain, but also the nervous system that suffers.

Therefore, apart from a neurological one, there must be another explanation of the ADHD phenomenon. Despite the fact that the phenomenon of ADHD is rather well-known and often researched, its true origins are still a mystery. As Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann and Weiss claim, there is a reason why the neurological theory of ADHD is so popular among most doctors:

Many of these theories are used to support treatments that are profitable to providers, but costly to patients in terms of both delaying effective treatment and of unnecessary dollars spent. More recently, researchers have tended to put more of their effort into investigating causes of ADHD that are supported by empirical data. (Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann & Weiss, 2010, 29)

Therefore, there are reasons to search for some explanations of ADHD other than the neurological one. As Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann and Weiss assert, the factors which enhance development of ADHD are much more diverse than most researchers used to think and involve not only neurological, but also social aspects and the aspects of genetics: “Our knowledge of ADHD has increased through study of genetics, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, risk factors associated with pregnancy, and other environmental influences” (Weiss, Trokenberg-Hentchmann & Weiss, 2010, 29).Hence, it can be considered that the factors inducing the development of ADHD are not only neurological, but also environmental.

As it has been mentioned previously, not only children suffer from ADHD – adults are also disposed to developing the given psychological disorder. However, it is worth mentioning that, in case of an adult developing the symptoms of ADHD, the treatment methods are going to be considerably different from the ones which are usually offered for curing ADHD in children.

As a rule, adults are usually prescribed with specific medicine, such as stimulants. If considering some of the most advanced strategies of curing ADHD, one will find out that MAO inhibitors are the most popular medicine for adults. Buitelaar, Kan and Anderson claim that there are several ways of pharmacological treatment acceptable for adults.

One of the most common methods is prescribing the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. However, when it is necessary to cause an agonist effect in the patient, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, such as Buropropin, can be chosen for an efficient treatment (Buitelaar, Kan & Anderson, 2011). In certain cases, however, combined therapy is used. Still, medicine alone will not help – it is only with efficient therapy that one will be able to return to one’s normal state.

Speaking of the medicine which is typically prescribed for the children who were diagnosed with an ADHD disorder, one has to mention a comparatively recent scandal concerning Ritalin, its use and its actual effect on children. There are serious concerns that Ritalin is overprescribed and that, when overused, Ritalin can cause even more problems than ADHD disorder, making children more passive.

The medicine could actually seem rather innocent and efficient – as a matter of fact, it does have a positive effect on the patients; however, it is still necessary to check whether the game is worth the candles and whether the positive effects of Ritalin are more numerous than the negative ones.

If considering the properties of Ritalin as they are listed in the instruction for the medicine, one will not find anything suspicious about Ritalin at all. To paraphrase Palank, Ritalin, the medicine is best known for its ability to make the patients focus (Palank, 2000, 60). Enhancing people’s ability to pay attention and making their memory work in a proper way, Ritalin can be considered a rather decent medicine for curing ADHD.

As Palank explains, there has been a record of positive effects of Ritalin: “The medication Ritalin is known to enhance a person’s ability to focus” (Palank, 2000, 60). As Palank explains, Ritalin “is helpful for many people with this disorder” (Palank, 2000, 60). It seems that Ritalin has stood the test of time, which means that doctors have the right to make Ritalin a number one medicine for ADHD.

However, what seemed to be an obvious solution might actually turn out another misconception. As Palank confesses, “There is no evidence that this medication will enhance concentration or focus in individuals without ADD who have normal chemistries” (Palank, 2000, 60). Hence, the question concerning how exactly Ritalin makes the children with ADHD return back to their normal state remains open.

Geographically, one can hardly draw any pattern of ADHD development – it seems that the disease cannot be referred to specific regions and affects children and adults disregarding their nationality. It is rather the environment that matters for developing ADHD symptoms.

Therefore, UAE should not have any outstanding records on the number of ADHD instances in the state. However, checking on the statistics of the ADHD instances will help understand the way the UAE handle the problem of ADHD among children and adults. According to the results of the 2011 research conducted by Khamis,

Results indicated that 12.5 % of the children had ADHD symptomatology, and that the prevalence ratio varied across the three ADHD subtypes, with the following rates; 1.5 % for the combined type, 7.5 % for the inattentive type, and 3.5 % for the hyperactive-impulsive type. (Khamis, 2011, 28)

Judging by the statistical data offered above, the rates of ADHD among the UAE children are quite high. Therefore, it can be considered that the given type of disorder is rather common in the United Arab Emirates.

Determining the key causes of ADHD among the UAE children, Khamis suggested that the family background must be the key factor: “Research in the Arab world […] has recently indicated that family environment and parental style of influence may be a key cause of ADHD” (Khamis, 2011, 29). Therefore, it can be considered that for UAE, ADHD is quite a topical issue.

Reference List

Barkley, Dr. (2011, February 11). Men, women and ADHD. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Buitelaar, J. K., Kan, C. C., & Anderson, P. (2011). ADHD in adults: characterization, diagnosis, and treatment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Echeverri, L. E. V. (2008). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Web.

Everett, C. A., & Everett, S. V. (2001). Family therapy for ADHD: Treating children, adolescents and adults. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Gregg, N. & Deshler, D. D. (2011). Adolescents and adults with learning disabilities and ADHD: Assessment and accommodation. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Khamis, V. (2011). Attention-deficit and hyperactivity among school-age United Arab Emirates children. International Journal of Special Education, 26(3), 28-35.

Palank, E. (2000). The god doc: Health, humor and insight to improve your game. Toronto, CA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Robin, A. L. & Barkley, R. A. (1998). ADHD in adolescents: Diagnosis and treatment. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Tuckman, A. (2007). Integrative treatment for adult ADHD: A practical, easy-to-use guide for clinicians. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Weiss, M., Trokenberg-Hentchmann, L., & Weiss, G. (2010). ADHD in adulthood: A guide to current theory, diagnosis, and treatment. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press.

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