Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD (ADD in past descriptions) is perhaps one of the most controversial disorders of the 20th century. Millions of children and adults across the world are diagnosed with ADHD and no doctor or expert can pinpoint a clear origin, cause, or cure for ADHD. The definition of ADHD even changes as new scientific discoveries are made. So what exactly is ADHD?
Although doctors and experts on the disorder have their own opinions on how ADHD or attention deficit hyperactive disorder emerges and how it should be treated, there are two main schools of thought on how to manage this condition.
Traditional Western medicine’s perspective is the one most commonly used. A traditional medical doctor will likely tell you that ADHD is a developmental disorder caused by an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain. When an individual does not have the right number of neurotransmitters, he or she will experience uncontrollable hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention – the three core symptoms of ADHD. For a child or adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, he or she must meet at least 12 out of 18 criteria. Once the individual receives a diagnosis, he or she will be given ADHD medications to help manage the symptoms.
The second school of thought goes beyond traditional Western medicine’s narrow approach to ADHD. Instead of viewing the disorder as merely an imbalance in brain chemicals, the holistic approach sees the condition as the result of imbalances in the individual’s body and mind. In this view, ADHD is a “spectrum disorder”, which means that it affects every person in different ways. No two people with ADHD will experience the exact same combination of symptoms. Some children with ADHD run around and never stay still, while other children with ADHD daydream too much and have problems concentrating. ADHD also comes with a host of other health and mental problems beyond the 18 diagnostic criteria, such as insomnia, oppositional behavior, and anxiety problems. Although the holistic approach does acknowledge that an imbalance in neurotransmitters does in fact play a factor in causing ADHD, it is by no mean the only explanation. Rather, a chemical imbalance makes an individual predisposed to ADHD. Once that individual encounters certain environmental factors, the condition gets triggered and the person experiences the three core symptoms.
The holistic school of thought also believes that medication is an inadequate treatment for ADHD. Medications only treat the symptoms and ignore the environmental factors that trigger the disorder in the first place. Instead of merely dispensing medication, the holistic perspective focuses its attention on understanding the individual’s medical history, symptoms, and environment, before creating a treatment plan based on natural alternatives to ADHD. Your understanding of ADHD depends entirely on what school of thought you agree with. But if you view ADHD as a body-mind imbalance caused by environmental triggers instead of a disease that can be cured with a pill, it is easier to come up with a natural treatment that brings lots of benefits without the damaging side effects of ADHD medication.