ADHD is a big thing in America. It affects 3-5% of the population (way more than ten years ago!) and affects both children and adults. So, with such a problem as widespread as this, there’s bound to be a cure, no?
Well, not quite. There’s no cure for it quite just yet, but there are ways to control it. Namely, through various drugs and medicines, as well as certain kinds of therapy. Which doesn’t sound bad, until one goes through the common side-effects of these popular drugs and medicines: nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, and even insomnia. These medicines do help treat the disorder, but it’s still not quite a win-win.
Scientists still aren’t sure about the workings behind ADHD and how it directly affects the human body, and because the disorder is affecting more and more people every day, action is being taken. As a result, new methods of ADHD research and treatment are being looked into and implemented.
No longer are scientists solely concerned about the effects of ADHD in single cases. As the disorder spreads far and wide among the public, scientists now look into the future effects on the population. According to Everyday Health, scientists are looking into the following questions with their research: “How do children with ADHD turn out, compared to brothers and sisters without the disorder? As adults, how do they handle their own children?” Still other studies seek to better understand ADHD in adults. Such studies give insights into what types of treatment or services make a difference in helping an ADHD child grow into a caring parent and a well-functioning adult.
A note should be said about how these scientists are testing to procure such research. In keeping with Everyday Health, scientists are using both humans and animals to gain these ends. The article states that “animal research allows the safety and effectiveness of experimental new drugs to be tested long before they can be given to humans.”
However, animal testing is a hotly debated subject in the scientific community, as is the subject of ADHD itself, so this practice has been privy to both negative and positive criticism. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure, should these practices be successful, the psychology world may be turned inside out.
Brain imaging has lately become a very popular practice when viewing how ADHD affects the brain. According to Everyday Health, new research is going into pregnancy studies and how childhood and upbringing plays a role with how ADHD manifests in children.
The aforementioned drugs and medicines that have such colorful side effects are also undergoing testing. This is where, again, animals come in. In developing new drugs, animals are often test subjects, and the effects monitored can be used to emulate that of humans.
Ethical or not, the research will uncover more of the mystery that is ADHD.
On the word of Everyday Health, “NIMH and the U.S. Department of Education are cosponsoring a large national study — the first of its kind — to see which combinations of ADHD treatment work best for different types of children. During this 5-year study, scientists at research clinics across the country will work together in gathering data to answer such questions as: Is combining stimulant medication with behavior modification more effective than either alone? Do boys and girls respond differently to treatment? How do family stresses, income, and environment affect the severity of ADHD and long-term outcomes? How does needing medicine affect children's sense of competence, self-control, and self-esteem?”
This is sort of reiterating the last point made. But now, scientists are taking this one step further by questioning the “oneness” of ADHD. What if there are different varieties? Anybody familiar with ADHD (or psychology, for that matter) knows that the disorder is often grouped with other conditions such as depression and anxiety. But now scientists can check to see if there are any differences (or similarities) in those who have ADHD, or one of these conditions. Finding any key links between ADHD and other conditions may mean an extra push to curing the disorder for all.
Why is this important?
It seems that the new research being implemented has to do with society as a whole. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, take this for instance: now that ADHD is affecting more and more people every day, any information that can be used for its prevention and control would be embraced.
In the scientific community, that is. ADHD has always been seen as a troublesome thing to deal with among psychologists, parents, teachers, and even those who have it. But at the same time, ADHD is also embraced in society for its “creative benefits”, often lauded by geniuses, athletes, Nobel laureates, and others who have it.
Thus, even if a cure was found through these means somehow, its benefits would start up another debate in society, maybe one bigger than the current ADHD one right now.
For now, ADHD treatment remains an imperfect art. Doctors continue to push medicines and drugs as answers, as well as constructive therapy, especially in children. While these methods are not completely useless, and many who partake in these methods find their ADHD under control (so much so that ADHD medicines such as Adderall is used by college students who just can’t seem to concentrate), many suffer the grave side-effects these medicines unfortunately bring with them. With new-found scientists’ efforts to locate, treat, and control ADHD in fetuses, infants, children, adults, and society as a whole with research and experimentation, a cure for ADHD may be coming much sooner than the rest of us expect.