ADHD is a neurological condition where a collection of brain regions collectively called the Executive Function struggle to produce and or retain sufficient levels of a hormone called Dopamine. The hormone Dopamine is used as a neurological transmitter (Neurotransmitter) in our brains, filling the synaptic gap between two neurons effectively acting as an “on” switch for the signal to get through. ADHDers (people with ADHD brains) often need to take medication to help their brains produce or retain enough Dopamine for their Executive Function to focus, concentrate, solve problems, hold on to temporary information, feel confidence, and prioritise tasks.
ADHDers can often also struggle to have the right availability of another hormone called Norepinephrine (or Noradrenaline), a form of adrenaline used as a Neurotransmitter to regulate the Emergency Centre of the brain. A well regulated Emergency Centre is able to quickly determine if a current situations or a soon predicted situation is safe, needs alertness or action. The Emergency Centre presents the answer as a feeling and urge. For example, if you are happy, then you are in a situation where no emergency action is needed, while a dangerous situation might provoke fear or anger, prompting anxiety avoidance or aggressive action. Part of the Emergnecy Centre is the Freeze / Flight / Fight / Fawn response.
If the hormone Norepinephrine is too high it can lead to very odd thinking and bad decisions, while if it is too low it can lead to over reactions that are often seen as anxiety or aggresion. When you run critically low in Norepinephrine you can feel very flat of mood and unable to do anything. Norepinephrine dysregulation is strongly correlated to Self Harm and Suicidal Ideation.
Your brain makes Norepinephrine from unused Dopamine, so a problem making or retaining Dopamine often leads to difficulties with Norepinephrine.
ADHD is very common. International studies using specific standardised testing methods (culture balanced and in native languages) averages around 5% of children. The same tests used on adults seems to be around 2-3%, which is often misconstrued as “growing out of it” rather than “have learned to manage ADHD”. ADHD is a congenital brain difference that is highly herritable.
Here we link to a series of articles we have produced about ADHD.
- ADHD Primer, Part 1 (Medical History of ADHD)
- ADHD Primer, Part 2 (Understanding ADHD, the Neurology behind ADHD and how medication works)
- ADHD Primer, Part 3 (Autism and ADHD, aka AuDHD)
- ADHD Paralysis
- ADHD Symptoms, often mistaken for other things
- ADHD Types, A Better Way to Understand and Categorise ADHD
- ASRS Q6: ADHD and Relaxing