What actually causes ADHD? Is it too much sugar? Is it genetic? A lot of places in the world, ADHD is still considered to be a controversial diagnosis, many people don't believe it even exists! So what has modern research actually proven or disproven?
Although modern medicine has come a long way in terms of diagnosing, treating, and understanding Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, there still exists a lot of questions regarding the actual causes of the disorder. After the initial shock, when I was first diagnosed three years ago, I started wondering what causes ADHD? Did I simply draw the shortest straw in the genetic lottery? Did I inherit it from my parents? Or was I somehow deprived of oxygen in the womb? There are a lot of theories circulating the internet as to where ADHD comes from. It can be very difficult to navigate through what’s scientifically validated information and what is just people’s carefully worded opinions.
So, here’s what we do know – ADHD is NOT caused by bad parenting, too much sugar, or too many video games. It is a biological disorder that resonates in the brain, based on brain imaging studies. Individuals with ADHD exhibit psychological differences in brain activity. We also know that if one parent has ADHD there is more than a 50% likelihood that his/her child will develop it as well. Other studies have linked AHDH to exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, as well as to head injuries and/or trauma to the brain – but this only accounts for a small amount of ADHD diagnosis.
In my case, it appears to be genetic. Although never properly diagnosed, my Dad exhibits all the tell-tale signs of having ADHD. His level of executive functioning is astonishingly low. He has an uncontrollable spending habit, drug addiction, and a pretty selfish lifestyle. His ADHD rendered him completely incapable of taking care of others, but thankfully, I was adopted by my wonderful step-dad when I was seven, and therefore did not have to rely on my deadbeat biological father while growing up. I still, however, have his blood flowing through my veins.
I would not be surprised if my mother was also diagnosed with ADHD, although her symptoms are significantly less severe. She, like me, is hypersensitive and emotional, has trouble following through, is highly impulsive, and has issues with self-control.
In addition to the high probability of one or both of my parents having ADHD, it should be noted that I was not breastfed as an infant. Non breastfed babies have been shown to increase the likelihood of developing ADHD symptoms later in life. But honestly, for me personally, I am 100% sure it is genetic.
Long story short, my odds weren’t the best. Even though I can’t prove how or what caused my ADHD, I’m starting to understand how to live with it – working towards my ultimate goal of learning how to thrive with it!