attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
The cause of ADHD is unknown, although there appears to be a genetic component in some cases. Intake of sugars is no longer considered to be a factor. Some studies suggest that although food additives, such as colorings, do not cause symptoms in the general population, they may aggravate hyperactivity in some susceptible individuals. It has been shown that people with ADHD have less activity in areas of the brain that control attention. Treatment usually includes behavioral therapy and emotional counseling combined with medications such as methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), or a combination drug called Adderall that correct neurochemical imbalances in the brain; over the long term, however, such medications do not appear to offer any benefits. Although symptoms may decrease after adolescence, they often persist into adulthood.
See A. Schwarz, ADHD Nation (2016).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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