Sunday, May 24, 2009

Similarites between ADHD, seizure disorders and other conditions

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a relatively harmless neurological and psychological disorder that inhibits the rate at which a child learns to focus his or her attention on a subject matter.

This usually manifests in irritating but “natural” childish behavior, like hyperactivity and getting bored easily, along with other problems like a short attention span and very short memory retention. ADHD is never fatal, and while it has been diagnosed as incurable, it DOES fade over time as the child grows.

It is simply that the child’s discipline and focus takes longer to develop than it normally would for his or her peers. However, a number of other mental and physical disorders have symptoms that can easily be shrugged off as ADHD, so parents should keep an eye out for the additional symptoms of these other problems instead of shrugging a child’s behavior off as ADHD and “something to grow out of“.

Psychological Shock Trauma

Whether due to verbal, physical, or even sexual abuse, a child can exhibit the “spaced out” short attention span often connected to ADHD. This inability to focus, however, will NOT be accompanied with hyperactivity and boundless curiosity and energy. Rather, abused children will often be withdrawn, shy, and afraid of being touched. In the case of physical abuse, also look for bruises, or monitor if the child has a tendency to stay bundled up in long pants and jackets that may hide constant bruising.

Manic Depression

In it’s manic phase, a manic depressive will exhibit all the hallmarks of ADHD - a short attention span, an inability to stop moving, poorly thought out logic, single-synapse reactions, constant happiness or energy, and getting bored easily. However, the depressive side will do a total 180-degree turn and the child will become brooding, grumpy, angry, and withdrawn. These sudden mood swings are the hallmark of manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid problems lead almost exactly to all the behavioral symptoms of ADHD. The only real indicator of difference between the two is that thyroid problems will also be accompanied by an irregular physical growth pattern, whether stunted growth or getting too tall/heavy too fast. The hormonal imbalances that accompany thyroid problems cause nerve impulses that lead to ADHD-like behavior.

Anxiety and Stress Disorder

Anxiety and stress tends to lead to a short attention span, “jittery” nerves, and an over abundance of adrenalin in the system which leads to hyperactivity just like ADHD. The best way to differentiate the two is that anxiety and stress are often accompanied by paranoia and fear, whereas a child with ADHD will often be almost fearless (due to lack of forethought and consideration of any consequences of actions taken).

Substance Abuse

Substance AbuseAlcohol, nicotine, and especially illegal drugs can take a heavy toll on a child’s body. Each of the three major types of substance abuse have their own unique symptoms that parents should familiarize themselves with to be sure that their child just has ADHD and isn’t indulging in any bad habits. An addict will exhibit almost all the ADHD symptoms, but will have others depending on the type of substance being taken. Common behavioral symptoms to watch out for are aggressive behavior and minor theft from family members (to sell things for money to support the habit).

Subtle Seizures

For a variety of reasons, there are also different physical ailments that can cause subtle, almost imperceptible seizures in a child. These seizures don’t start out as major shakes, instead taking the form of minor trembling that’s almost undetectable unless you’re watching out for it. These manifest as hyperactivity, clumsiness, and the low attention span that’s most commonly taken for ADHD. The symptoms are due to the fact that seizures affect a person’s nervous system, reflexes, and coordination.

Sleep Disorders

Lastly, a child suffering from a sleep disorder like narcolepsy or insomnia will often exhibit the absent minded lack of attention that it shares as a common symptom with ADHD. However, in ADHD the lack of attention span is accompanied by restless energy and hyperactivity, and these will not be present if your child has a sleeping disorder. Instead, the absent mindedness will be accompanied by a tendency to be tired, drowsy, and dozing off suddenly.


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