woman sitting on couch talks with therapist about an ADHD chemical imbalance

Do ADHD Patients Have a Chemical Imbalance?

For decades, the underlying causes of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) have been heavily examined. While a definitive cause remains undetermined, research points to several potential candidates: from exposure to lead to complications in childbirth. One root cause that has received more consideration in recent years is that of a chemical imbalance—namely, of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Studies show that below-average dopamine transmission has a significant correlation with ADHD diagnoses.

Ultimately, the goal in finding what causes ADHD is to learn how best to treat it, and with each passing year, ADHD treatment programs undergo more revision and fine-tuning. Treatment for all types of neurodevelopmental disorders is readily available at Promises Behavioral Health. Contact us at 844.875.5609 to speak with one of our trained professionals so we can help manage your symptoms and address underlying concerns.

The Facts About ADHD

ADHD is an umbrella term for a number of neurodevelopmental disorders. Different “presentations,” formerly known as subtypes, share a cluster of behavioral traits but vary in the strength or presence of each trait. Some of these traits include:

  • Compulsive fidgeting
  • Poor concentration
  • Interruptive or excessive speech
  • Impatience
  • Inability to remain still for extended periods of time

In cases where a person has difficulty paying attention, completing tasks, or sticking to a routine, it may fall under ADHD-PI (predominantly inattentive). In other cases where the primary traits are fidgeting, restlessness, or impulsivity, could be better described as ADHD-HI (hyperactive-impulsive).

Those with ADHD will usually exhibit the same overall assortment of symptoms. When it comes to an actual diagnosis, both ADHD-PI and ADHD-HI seek the presence of at least six symptoms (ages 16 or under) or five (ages 17 or older) that must have been sustained for six months minimum. Additionally, these symptoms must have been disruptive or atypical for the age range.

ADHD and the Brain

Dopamine is an amino acid involved in regulating movement, thought, and behavior. The neurochemical imbalance caused by either low dopamine production or faulty dopamine receptors means that the brain has difficulty maintaining any of its more secondary faculties. Spotty concentration and minor bodily movements are the most outwardly apparent.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some level of correlation between those with low regular dopamine levels and drug abuse.

One study, conducted by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York State, has found that ADHD sufferers have deficiencies in the way the brain deals with dopamine, “These deficits in the brain’s reward system may help explain clinical symptoms of ADHD, including inattention and reduced motivation, as well as the propensity for complications such as drug abuse and obesity among ADHD patients,” said Nora Volkow, lead author, and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

During the study, brain scans were done on 53 adult ADHD patients who had never received treatment and 44 healthy control subjects. Study co-author Gene-Jack Wang, chair of Brookhaven’s medical department, said: “Other studies from our group suggest that patients who abuse drugs or overeat may be unconsciously attempting to compensate for a deficient reward system by boosting their dopamine levels.” He continues, “understanding how deficits in the dopamine system contributes to ADHD and finding ways to improve the functioning of the reward system could help mitigate these troubling consequences in the ADHD patient population.”

Manage Your Symptoms with Help from Promises

It’s important to remember that there’s nothing inherently wrong with a chemical imbalance in your body. What’s imperative is that if those imbalances are costing you your quality of life, they’re addressed in a meaningful way. It’s up to you whether or not to receive treatment for ADHD, but your well-being should always be your own highest concern.

Diagnosing and treating ADHD might feel like a daunting process, but with professional assistance at Promises Behavioral Health, you can find out what presentation of ADHD fits you best. ADHD treatment is simple, effective, and can be administered either in- or outpatient. Contact us at 844.875.5609 to learn how you can manage your ADHD symptoms for the long term.

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