Learn More About ADD and Medical Cannabis | cannabisMD

Learn About Attention Deficit Disorder and Cannabis

What Is ADD: All Your ADD Questions Answered Right Here

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is basically ADHD without the hyperactivity. It is characterized by:

  • Excessive
  • Daydreaming
  • Frequent staring
  • Cognitive sluggishness
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Social reticence

Students who suffer from ADD will often blurt out answers to a teacher’s question before the question is completed. They have problems waiting their turn and might frequently interrupt others. The exact cause of ADD and ADHD symptoms are totally unknown but there are some supported claims on likelihood.

Annually in the United States the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) is sent thousands of requests for information about the special needs of children and youth with ADD. Over the past several years, ADD has received more attention from parents, professionals and policymakers across the country and now many folks know about and is educated on the topic of ADD.

Though awareness is helpful to those struggling with the disability such widespread recognition also aids the possibility of improper diagnostic practice and inappropriate treatment. It is critical parents “evaluate information, products and practitioners carefully.”

Adults with ADHD express themselves differently than children with ADHD, but no matter the type of ADHD or ADD or their age, they often struggle in managing their everyday lives and responsibilities. As it stands, there is no cure for ADHD. The disorder itself varies from person to person.

ADD Symptoms

Symptoms of inattention, as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) are:

  • Often fails at paying attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities;
  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools);
  • Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

ADD vs. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADD is officially called Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Although most still call it ADD or ADHD (the names coined in the 80s). The disorder had a name change due to scientific advances that showed researchers AD/HD is not one specific disorder with different variations. ADHD, as a result, is now separated into three subtypes using features definitive of the disorder: inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The three subtypes are:

  1. ADHD Predominantly Combined Type
  2. ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type
  3. ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

These subtypes seek to acknowledge the variety of ADHD in children. Some have little or no trouble sitting, but my be predominantly inattentive and struggle to stay focused on a single task or activity until completion. Others may initially be able to focus on a task but lose focus because of their hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The most prevalent is the combined type which is when children have significant symptoms of all three features: inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. ADHD, meaning all 3 types, is a developmental disability estimated to affect between 3-5% of the school age population.

Current researchers do not know what causes ADHD, or specifically ADD. Some scientific evidence suggests the disorder is genetically transmitted, and often is the result of a chemical imbalance or deficiency in certain neurotransmitters, much like with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or bipolar.

Medical Cannabis and ADD

Research on medical cannabis is still slim. Novel clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests an increasingly popular perception that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD. One study examined internet forums to conduct a qualitative analysis on the participants experiences. Many people with ADHD in the thread self-medicated with cannabis and found success. In particular, it is believed that CBD Oil (a product of medical cannabis) could be a future treatment for ADD.

Scientists have been long seeking the specific brain mechanism that lead to children developing ADHD and ADD. There was a recent rigorous study that showed decreased dopamine activity in those with ADHD. The results revealed a direct link between dopamine levels and ADHD. The study specifically suggested the lower the dopamine levels that the person is a lot more inattentive. Through animal tests, scientists have confirmed cannabis increases dopamine activity.

While much about ADD remains a mystery, there is no arguing that our understanding of this disorder is infinitely more sophisticated than it was in the past. The raised awareness of ADD among the general population mean that life is much easier for patients than it used to be, and the stigma which was for so long attached to ADD has largely subsided. Much more research is needed in order to determine the causes of the disorder because until that happens, the effectiveness of treatments will always be limited. In the meantime, it looks like medical cannabis could be an excellent option for patients with ADD.

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