Outside of genetic predisposition, poor diet, and lack of exercise, there are a variety of reasons why ADD symptoms may arise in children, adults, and even the elderly.
Below are 5 of the most common factors that are often overlooked.
1. Head Injury
One of the most common (and most overlooked) causes of ADD symptoms is long-forgotten or unrecognized head injury, especially to the front part of the brain. In our experience, many professionals and parents underestimate the impact of head injuries, assuming that a person needs to have a significant loss of consciousness for a prolonged period of time in order for it to do damage. Our brain imaging work, along with the work of others, is disproving this notion.
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2. Lack of Oxygen or Toxic Exposure
Lack of oxygen causes a decrease in overall brain activity while brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, cause toxic inflammation in the brain, damage tissue, and impair healthy blood flow.
Exposure to mold, pesticides, lead, mercury, intrauterine smoking, and other toxins have also been linked to various neurodevelopmental disorders. This factor is very important to understand and evaluate, as a different approach, including a biomedical evaluation, is often warranted.
3. Medical Problems & Medications
Certain medical problems, such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and thyroid disease can look like ADD. Likewise, certain medications can make people look and feel hyperactive and/or inattentive.
Related: ADHD At Age 76: SPECT Revealed More
4. Depression & Anxiety
Many symptoms of depression and anxiety are also found in ADD, so history is the key to proper diagnosis and treatment. ADD symptoms are generally constant over time, while depression and anxiety tend to fluctuate. Unfortunately, many people with ADD experience chronic anxiety and develop depressive symptoms due to the constant demoralization that goes with having ADD.
Related: When Depression and ADD Intersect
5. Hormonal Factors
Hormones play a major role in ADD, and symptoms are generally worse around the time of puberty in both males and females. In females, ADD symptoms are often worsened during the pre-menstrual period and also around the time of menopause.