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Causes and Diagnosis for Attention Deficit Disorder

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.

Causes of ADHD

The precise cause of ADHD development has not been thoroughly studied yet. One of the studies found a link between the low dopamine level and ADHD. Dopamine is a chemical compound in the brain that helps transmit signals from one neuron to another. It is dopamine that prompts a person to act and emotional reactions.

Another study suggests that the reason for ADHD lies in the structural differences in the brain. Results show that people with ADHD have a smaller grey matter volume.  The grey matter affects the activity of some brain areas, which are responsible for:

  • speech
  • self-control
  • decision making
  • muscle control

This article explains the difference in structure and chemical composition of the brain in people suffering from ADHD.

It is also known that there are some risk factors for ADHD development.


ADHD is a hereditary disease. Studies show that ADHD is often seen in twins, as well as in siblings. The risk of genetically related development of ADHD is approximately 30%.

Functional Disruptions of The Brain Activity

The activity of some brain areas in patients with ADHD may be lower than in healthy people. Disruptions can be related to intrauterine malformations, trauma during labor, oxygen starvation (hypoxia), or severe brain trauma later.

Supporting Factors for ADHD Development

  • premature birth before 37 weeks of gestation
  • rhesus-conflict between the mother and the child
  • smoking, alcohol and drug addictions, emotional trauma in pregnant women
  • epilepsy in the anamnesis
  • chronic effect of lead (and other hard metals) on the person

Problems of Diagnosis: Is ADHD Considered a Mental Illness?

One of the problems with the syndrome diagnosis is that it sometimes clashes with other psychological disorders (for example bipolar disease). Hyperactivity can be mixed with other psychological disorders. With this, there is a big chance of getting both, making the diagnosis challenging.

Other ADHD symptoms can be related to non-psychiatric diseases (for example, severe head injury or poisoning). Therefore, physicians in the Buckhead clinic recommend those who suspect they have attention deficit disorder undergo a routine physical examination before contacting a psychiatrist.

Gender features. Earlier, The Atlantic published an article that ADHD in women is manifested differently from men. According to the research published in this article, women with this disorder show less impulsivity and hyperactivity but more disorganization, forgetfulness, anxiety, and introversion.

A general practitioner cannot officially diagnose ADHD. Still, the primary care doctor can discuss your concerns with you and, when needed, direct you to a specialist. When you visit your physician presenting ADHD symptoms, the doctor will ask you about the following things.

  • What are the symptoms you are suffering from?
  • When do these symptoms appear?
  • Where do these symptoms often manifest: at home or school?
  • Do these symptoms affect your (child’s) daily life?
  • Have there been any critical events in your life or the life of your child recently (death of loved ones, divorce, bullying)?
  • Are there people in your family diagnosed with ADHD?
  • Any other problems or symptoms of other diseases you or your child may have.

Then, if the physician thinks that you or your child might have ADHD, the doctor will propose «watchful waiting,» which lasts approximately ten weeks. This time allows to understand the symptoms and their severity. The patient’s state may improve/deteriorate/remain the same. If the patient’s state does not improve, the physician will direct you (your child) to a specialist for a formal assessment.

ADHD Formal Assessment

There is a series of specialists you or your child can talk to for a formal assessment.

  • psychotherapist
  • pediatrician
  • specialist in learning difficulties, a social worker, or a psychologist
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