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My friend and I were discussing the possibility that ADD and ADHD aren't caused by an organic/biological/chemical imbalance, but are instead coping and defense mechanisms brought to play by a traumatic experience in childhood, or just a traumatic childhood in general. For example, it's a way for a child to mentally escape the situation (divorce, alcoholism, abuse, witnessing abuse, etc.).

I was wondering if anyone else has given this any thought, or if you think you possibly fall into this category. I don't know much about attention deficit disorders, but I thought the idea had some merit. Thoughts?

Thanks!!

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Good question. I think your theory has some merit. I haven't been formally dx, but several people have told me they think I have ADD. There is enough of it in my family that the genetic theory makes sense, but families pass down behaviors and coping mechanisms too. Most of the symptoms are behaviors that exist on a continuum. They are simply personality traits until they become problematic. And some of them are definitely adaptive/maladaptive. I've often wondered about the very question you posed, but I haven't come to any real conclusion. Maybe, like so many things, it's a mixture of medical, psychological and sociological causes. ;)

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They pretty much have the genes isolated. There's DRD4-exonIII in particular.

What you are describing is true of many dissaciative disorders though.

An ADD diagnosis requires that symptoms be present before the age of 6 btw. The implication is that if you have not had it since birth, it's not ADD, it's something else.

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You ask people who were around you when you were six.

I vividly remember when I was 6 (2nd grade). Specifically, my teachers whining that I was "irresponsible" if I ever lost something or forgot an assignment. If only I were one of the "hyper" ones, then they wouldn't have hesitated to medicate me into proper functioning.

and hmm... "irresponsible"... that's just such a stupid and nonspecific word. anyways.

Also, VE, I'm going to have to look up this DRD4 gene. I'm sure my uncle would go and attempt to characterize it (most of his work is on CNS catecholamine transporters and receptors), but unfortunately he's out of grant money due to being completely unable to fiscally manage a lab beyond methods used in 1985. EDIT: DRD4 is already well-characterized. Now explaining part of lithium's effects on bipolar and SZ on its ability to change shuttling your endorphins around, that's something I could mock him about.

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in AD(H)D you can lose track and your mind can wander around, but that doesn't make it a dissociative disorder. it isn't listed as one in the DSM.

i don't personally believe my ADD was caused by any childhood trauma (my early childhood was actually nice). i believe it is genetic and just something i was born with. i was born bipolar, and born with ADD. the PTSD happened later in life from trauma, but the ADD didn't.

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I had the world's most un-traumatic childhood ever, very "Beaver Cleaver"--but I was being a bit AD/HD by 2nd grade, I think,. My teachers and my parents just told me I needed to concentrate, they thought I was really smart (I am) and bored (I was) and no one had ever even heard of ADD, so I got put in the "accellerated" classes till I got to highschool and decided only nerds did that.

Gotta be genetic--my poor son has 2 ADD parents, and he got a shit-load of that gene!!

china

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I almost failed kindergarten because I could not lay still and stop talking during nap time. I think every report card I ever got has the comment "Does not pay attention" or "Doesn't live up to potential" written on it somewhere. At 43 I still have the attention span of a 2 year old on pixie stix. But I did not have any early childhood trauma. Teenager trauma...yeah. But I was already bouncing off the walls long before that.

(I really am not helping my "I am not crazy" argument, am I?)

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Yeah I was always the GT/AG/etc. "nerd" type. Even though I couldn't pay atten.... OOOH LOOK A SHINY!!!!!!!

(I really am not helping my "I am not crazy" argument, am I?)

...er... forgot you had that argument ever. ;)

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I'm sure its caused by [watching] Sesame Street

Nah. A hallmark of ADHD is having an internal time management system as orchestrated by the Animaniacs.

When *I* was that age, I could read the clock well enough to know when Sesame Street was supposed to be on. Come to

think of, that was the ONLY time I was in synch with the rest of the world's clock time...

Oh well, back then most ADD symptoms were classified under "Boys will be boys" and/or "You can certainly tell which family

THAT kid's from!"

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Oh well, back then most ADD symptoms were classified under "Boys will be boys"

This is interesting because I read an article (god knows where or when, so no I am afraid I can't site the reference) that suggested that girls frequently go undiagnosed with ADD inattentive type, because they are chalked up as being "daydreamers," which for some reason is acceptable for girls. I have no recollection of "having ADD symptoms" as a young child, and fiercely fought with my pdoc everytime she asked me "are you sure you're not ADD?" siting the lack of childhood symptoms as being evidence enough to say that I am not ADD. but then, if the symptoms were simply overlooked as "daydreamer" stuff -- which i CAN site the report cards using that very word -- then who knows.

here's an Article the covers essentially what the article i read said.

all i know for sure is that now that i have been medicated to eradicate my obsessive, ruminating behaviors, i can't focus long enough to read a book, and reading used to be my passion.

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Unless it's extremely deeply buried, I experienced no childhood trauma (though some would argue that being placed for adoption at birth would qualify). Like chinacat, I had the typical "Beaver Cleaver" childhood. And like Tenebrae, I don't recall having ADD symptoms as a child. I definitely have inattentive-type ADD, so I was never hyper or otherwise disruptive. An above-average IQ certainly also masked any symptoms I might have exhibited (so says the psychologist who diagnosed me and several books I've read). It was also the 70s, which even further reduced the chances that I might have been diagnosed then (I don't even remember hearing about the disorder in any form until at least the late 80s).

I'm a chronic underachiever. That dates back to at least middle school. In elementary school, however, I was a serious overachiever. Not sure what that means... other than elementary school was a lot easier than middle or high school! I think the main reason I went undiagnosed until my late 20s was a combination of intelligence and the ability to unwittingly developing a lot of coping mechanisms.

Then, as I got older and life became more demanding, things started falling apart. Specifically, a marriage. It's the marriage counselor who suggested ADD, which completely flabbergasted me because at the time I believed only boys "got" ADD and that it was something even they outgrew. The diagnosis changed my life (but didn't save the marriage in case you were wondering).

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Nah. A hallmark of ADHD is having an internal time management system as orchestrated by the Animaniacs.
NOW I know why I <3 the Animaniacs! hee hee. Thanks for that description, suits me quite well.

I personally don't think that it would be caused by a traumatic childhood since I've known plenty of people who were traumatized as children and were not ADD/ADHD. However I've known plenty of BP's that were ADD/ADHD.

Just my thoughts.

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  • 2 months later...

My friend and I were discussing the possibility that ADD and ADHD aren't caused by an organic/biological/chemical imbalance, but are instead coping and defense mechanisms brought to play by a traumatic experience in childhood, or just a traumatic childhood in general. For example, it's a way for a child to mentally escape the situation (divorce, alcoholism, abuse, witnessing abuse, etc.).

I was wondering if anyone else has given this any thought, or if you think you possibly fall into this category. I don't know much about attention deficit disorders, but I thought the idea had some merit. Thoughts?

Thanks!!

I forget (guess why) the guy's name, but there are shrinks out there (hmm, first name Gabor?) who think it's environmental. Or at least the did thing so. But as I understand it, it's been shown to be mostly genetic. My poor brother. Only normal one in crazy family.

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  • 3 months later...

I'd have to disagree with this theory. Like Sunshine, I had a very calm and happy childhood. I think I've done enough "inner work" to know if something was traumatic and repressed. Having been diagnosed with depression, lots of pdocs have searched long and hard for some sort of complicated issue from my childhood, they've come up empty, except for your typical family dynamics. Although I've had ADD symptoms as early as I can remember being a child, it wasn't really a diagnosis back then. Personally, I always thought ADD is genetic, here's why: my mom was diagnosed at age 52 (10 years before me - and I was dumb enough to think hers wasn't "real"), my grandfather absolutely had the same symptoms but in grandpa's days, there was no such thing as mental illness, let alone ADD.

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