western medicine:

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide. From childhood to adulthood, it can significantly impact various aspects of life, including academic and professional performance, personal relationships, and overall well-being. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of ADD/ADHD from a Western medical perspective, exploring its definition, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.


Defining ADD/ADHD

ADD/ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Although the terms ADD and ADHD have historically been used separately, they are now generally referred to as ADHD, with three primary subtypes:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Individuals with this subtype struggle primarily with inattention and have difficulty sustaining attention to tasks, organizing activities, and following through on instructions.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: People with this subtype exhibit hyperactivity and impulsivity, often fidgeting, blurting out answers, and finding it challenging to wait their turn.
  • Combined Presentation: This subtype encompasses symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.


Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD manifest differently in each individual and can vary in severity. Common symptoms include:

Failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes.

  • Having difficulty maintaining focus on tasks or activities.
  • Being forgetful and losing essential items regularly.

Restlessness and constant fidgeting or squirming.

  • Difficulty remaining seated when expected to do so.
  • Excessive talking and being “on the go” constantly.

Impatiently interrupting conversations or activities of others.

  • Difficulty waiting for one’s turn in situations like games or queues.
  • Acting without thinking about the consequences.


Causes of ADHD

The exact causes of ADHD are not fully understood, but researchers believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors plays a significant role. Some potential contributors to ADHD development include:

  • Genetics: Family history of ADHD increases the likelihood of an individual developing the disorder.
  • Brain Structure and Function: Neuroimaging studies have shown differences in brain structure and activity in individuals with ADHD, particularly in regions related to attention and impulse control.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to toxins during pregnancy, low birth weight, premature birth, and maternal smoking or substance abuse may increase the risk of ADHD.


Diagnosis of ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD involves a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or neurologist. The process includes:

  • Gathering Information: The healthcare professional collects information from parents, teachers, and the individual to assess behavior patterns and symptoms.
  • Medical History: A detailed medical history is taken to rule out other medical conditions that may mimic ADHD symptoms.
  • DSM-5 Criteria: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria are used to assess the presence and severity of ADHD symptoms.
  • Rule Out Other Conditions: The healthcare professional ensures that symptoms are not attributable to other psychiatric or medical conditions.


Treatment Options for ADHD

Effective treatment for ADHD typically involves a multi-modal approach, combining behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and medication (if necessary). Some common treatment options include:

  • Behavioral Therapy: This approach focuses on teaching individuals coping strategies, organizational skills, and time management techniques to manage ADHD symptoms.
  • Parent Training and Education: Parents are taught effective parenting techniques to help their children with ADHD improve their behavior and overall functioning.
  • Medication: Stimulant medications (e.g., methylphenidate and amphetamines) and non-stimulant medications (e.g., atomoxetine) are commonly prescribed to help manage ADHD symptoms.
  • Classroom Accommodations: Educational accommodations, such as extended time on tests or assignments, may be necessary to support students with ADHD in academic settings.


Understanding ADHD from a Western medical perspective is crucial for providing effective management and support to individuals affected by this neurodevelopmental disorder. By recognizing the symptoms, seeking professional evaluation, and implementing appropriate treatment options, individuals with ADHD can lead fulfilling lives and reach their full potential, both academically and personally. Ongoing research continues to shed light on the complexities of ADHD, offering hope for even more effective interventions in the future.

Chinese medicine:

In contrast to the Western medical approach, Chinese medicine offers a unique perspective on health and wellness that emphasizes the balance of energies within the body. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is viewed as a manifestation of imbalances in vital energies, rather than a distinct neurodevelopmental disorder. This blog post explores ADD/ADHD from a Chinese medical perspective, delving into the concepts of Qi and Yin-Yang, examining the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and traditional treatment methods.


Qi and Yin-Yang: The Foundation of Chinese Medicine

Central to Chinese medicine is the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”), the vital life force that flows through the body along meridians, maintaining health and balance. Additionally, the Yin-Yang theory describes the complementary forces that exist in everything, representing the dualistic nature of existence. Imbalances between Yin and Yang or disruptions in Qi flow are believed to underlie many health issues, including those affecting mental and emotional well-being.


Understanding ADD/ADHD in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, ADD/ADHD is often associated with imbalances in the vital organs and the disruption of Qi flow, specifically affecting the Heart, Liver, and Spleen meridians. These imbalances can be influenced by various internal and external factors, including:

  • Constitutional Factors: Some individuals may be more predisposed to imbalances that lead to ADD/ADHD due to their constitutional makeup.
  • Emotional Factors: Strong and unregulated emotions, such as anger, frustration, or anxiety, can affect the balance of Qi and lead to symptoms resembling ADD/ADHD.
  • Dietary Influences: Poor eating habits and excessive consumption of sugary or processed foods can disrupt the harmonious functioning of the Spleen and affect mental clarity.


Symptoms of ADD/ADHD in Chinese Medicine

From a Chinese medical perspective, ADD/ADHD is associated with various symptoms that point to underlying imbalances in vital energies, including:

  • Inattention and Mental Restlessness: Disturbances in the Heart meridian may lead to scattered thoughts and an inability to focus.
  • Impulsivity and Hyperactivity: Imbalances in the Liver meridian can result in a restless and agitated disposition.
  • Poor Memory and Cognitive Function: Weakened Spleen Qi can lead to issues with memory retention and processing information.


Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine

Diagnosing ADD/ADHD in Chinese medicine involves a thorough assessment of the patient’s overall health, including:

  • Pulse Diagnosis: Practitioners evaluate the pulse quality at various positions to identify imbalances in Qi and blood flow.
  • Tongue Examination: The appearance of the tongue can reveal clues about the state of internal organs and energy imbalances.
  • Personal and Medical History: Understanding the patient’s emotional state, lifestyle habits, and medical history helps in identifying potential triggers for ADD/ADHD symptoms.


Traditional Treatment Methods

Chinese medicine employs a holistic approach to address ADD/ADHD, focusing on restoring harmony and balance within the body. Treatment options may include:

  • Acupuncture: Fine needles are inserted into specific points along the meridians to stimulate Qi flow and restore balance.
  • Herbal Medicine: Customized herbal formulas are prescribed to address the individual’s unique pattern of disharmony.
  • Dietary Therapy: Recommendations for a balanced diet that supports the Spleen and nourishes the mind are given to patients.
  • Mind-Body Practices: Techniques like Qigong and Tai Chi are recommended to cultivate mental calmness and emotional balance.


Approaching ADD/ADHD from a Chinese medical perspective highlights the significance of maintaining harmony and balance within the body. Rather than viewing ADD/ADHD as a fixed neurodevelopmental disorder, Chinese medicine recognizes it as a dynamic manifestation of imbalances that can be addressed through individualized treatments and lifestyle adjustments. By integrating the wisdom of Chinese medicine with Western medical insights, we can offer a more comprehensive and holistic approach to supporting individuals with ADD/ADHD on their journey towards optimal well-being. Please book an appointment if you feel you are struggling with this and want a more integrative and holistic approach.

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