What exactly is ADHD and what causes it?

ADHD Assist
3 min readJul 12, 2021
ADHD brain

What do Howie Mandel, Terry Bradshaw, and Woody Harrelson all have in common aside from fame and receding hairlines? If you are an avid inferer of titles then you likely guessed it. They all have been diagnosed with ADHD.

ADHD — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — has been defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder that comprises of a constellation of symptoms including inattention (not being able to keep focused), hyperactivity (restlessness and excessive movement), and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought).

According to DSM-5 (the big official book that defines all mental health conditions), ADHD has three subcategories:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long periods of time (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt, speak at inappropriate times or, grab things from people. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions.
  3. Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

So what causes ADHD?

GENETICS:

  • ADHD without question has a familial link. This means that if your granny, pappy, mom or dad had it, then there is an increased chance that you will have this genetic gift passed down to you.

EMOTIONAL ENVIRONMENT GROWING UP:

  • According the world renowned author and public speaker Dr. Gabor Maté, the ever increasing stressful societal environment that we grow up in over each generation contributes to ADHD in families.
  • One of the hallmarks of ADHD is a difficulty focusing and being easily distracted. It can be compared to constantly “Dissociating”, which is a learned survival mechanism when someone cannot fight or flight, so they freeze or dissociate. This is good news because healing the nervous system is something that can be worked on to help reduce unwanted ADHD symptoms!

ADHD is rooted in multigenerational family stress and in disturbed social conditions in a stressed society.

- Dr. Gabor Maté

DIET AND TOXICANTS:

There have been various foods, food additives and environmental toxicants that have been implicated in worsening and inducing ADHD symptoms. Here are some of top offenders:

  • Phthalates
  • Lead
  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
  • Teflon
  • Artificial Food Colouring (AFCs)
  • Food preservatives
  • Diet high in saturated fat and refined sugar

I will be doing a follow up article going into more detail on the common toxicants, artificial food colouring and additives and how you can reduce and avoid exposure.

Until then, enjoy your day.

References:

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ADHD Assist

160K+ followers on TikTok @adhd_assist. Talking shop about ADHD and natural solutions that can help improve our lives.