“Up to 60% of adults who have childhood ADHD will continue to show symptoms into their adult life” ADHD coaching, 2022.
Words by Alejandra Silva Romero
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a behavioural and cognitive condition that affects people’s daily lives and can make societal integration more difficult. ADHD is a fairly common neurodevelopmental disorder that is frequently identified in children and persists as adults. In reality, inattention and hyperactive or impulsive behaviour are the two main signs that help to identify ADHD disorder. In fact, these two categories are separated into related factors. Examples of behaviours related to inattention are being more prone to distraction, making careless mistakes, forgetting things and having trouble organising tasks. Some behaviours related to hyperactivity are being unable to sit still, excessive talking, having little or no sense of danger and acting on impulse. All of these symptoms are most frequently present during childhood, and they are most typically seen when the child is enrolled in an academic programme with a rigid schedule and set regulations. This sort of environment can be difficult for a child with ADHD to adjust to, and the behaviour problems become apparent.
In addition to the symptoms that affect children, it’s also intriguing to highlight how adults can show ADHD symptoms that are similar to those in children, but they manifest as issues with organisation, procrastination, mood swings, inability to cope with stress, amongst other things. The disorder is typically diagnosed in childhood, with a prevalence rate of 11%, a male-to-female ratio of 3:1, and an adult population prevalence of 4% to 6%. Additionally, it’s critical to draw attention to the difficulties and gender-based disparities that ADHD may bring about. In actuality, women are twice as likely as men to have ADHD, and because their symptoms differ just slightly from those of men, they typically become aware of their condition much later than men do. Internalized signs of ADHD in girls include inattentiveness, low self-esteem, and daydreaming. On the other hand, boys tend to externalize their frustration by being more impulsive in their behaviour. Some adults struggle to balance work, caring for their children, organising the house, and remembering everything on a daily basis. Depression or stress-related symptoms are often a trigger in requiring intervention in adulthood. Though women’s symptoms may be more subtle than men’s, scientific data demonstrates that both sexes are equally impacted by the condition and experience its crippling effects.
Current treatments for ADHD include medication, for example: Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (MPH), Lisdexamfetamine, dexmethylphenidate, dextroamphetamine (DEX), mixed amphetamine salts (MAS), and others. Stimulants are thought to work by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, promoting attention and motivation, whilst preventing hyperactive and impulsive behaviours. Non-stimulating drugs, that include atomoxetine, bupropion, and alpha2-adrenergic agonists, can be prescribed. These benefit from the lack of unwanted side-effects in comparison to stimulants, which can induce agitation, insomnia and lack of appetite. Transcendental meditation (TM) is a form of meditation thought to reduce problematic symptoms with repetitive practise; it should be practised twice daily for at least 10 minutes, as it has been shown to boost blood flow in brain areas of attention during fMRI scanning (Mahone et al., 2018). Both medical and meditative methods work to improve focus, curb impulsive behaviour, and temporarily induce relaxation. However, there is a practice that might be a new suitable long-term treatment to improve ADHD. Neurofeedback is a learning process to train the elasticity of the brain to modify and that regulates its cerebral activity, an interesting alternative to the classic treatments. The electroencephalogram (EEG), which records brain activity, is used for the training. The EEG contains tiny sensors attached to the scalp that it used to capture the electrical signals generated by the brain. The goal is to identify the abnormal brain activity associated with ADHD, as the frontal region of the brain exhibits excessive activity in the form of slow (theta) wave activity in ADHD children. Then, to change the negative habits in the brain, mind positive everyday life activities are introduced into the patients life. The individual can view their brain wave progression on the monitor, providing immediate results that can be verified by the device. For the patient, it is a supportive procedure that inspires confidence and drives them to continue. More specifically, the frontal lobe’s medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, as well as the posterior cingulate cortex, which show poorer EEG activity in people with ADHD, are the targeted brain regions for treatment. These areas have an effect on memory, problem solving, and emotions. In actuality, many who have ADHD find it difficult to cognitively turn off their brain activity when they want to. The late 1950s and early 1960s saw the discovery of this practise by Dr. Kamiya and Dr. Barry. They discovered that training the SMR activity lowers the frequency of epileptic crisis in cats exposed to kerosene. In order to conduct this experiment, an electrode was placed on the top of the brains of many cats. Cats’ brains began to create more of this SMR brainwave as soon as the frequency was increased and a reward mechanism was installed, showing that positive conditioning can truly alter the brain’s activity (Sterman et. al, 1969). The Neurofeedback (NFB) technique was quickly the focus of research in a number of neuropsychiatric specialties, most notably ADHD. Practicians confirm that the success rate of Neurofeedback is from 75% to 80% and the results become notable about 3 to 4 weeks in. This technique represents an incredible improvement in science and more when it comes to a possible way to cure ADHD. NFB is still a treatment that is commonly unknown by the average population compared to other practices. The pharmacological way to prevent ADHD symptoms tend to prevail among disorders but it is important be aware of other possibilities that might be suitable for people that don’t want to be treated by medications. Unfortunately, the practical implementation of neurofeedback as a clinical treatment is currently not regulated. However, the results show a great potential for the future of Neuroscience and alternate treatments for ADHD.