Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a specific expression of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neurological condition which, according to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health, affects between three and five percent of all children.
While ADD may be the most widely-known and common term for this type of ADHD, the official medical name is ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive. ADD causes a variety of problems, usually relating to the ability to concentrate.
Children with ADD tend to have problems paying attention in class, getting easily distracted. They can have problems reading or completing simple tasks. ADD also contributes to hyperactivity in children, causing difficulty being quiet or staying seated.
ADD symptoms in adults can be more complicated. Along with a tendency toward being easily distracted, adults often suffer from depression which can lead to low self-esteem, workplace problems, and difficulty with relationships. In extreme cases, this can lead to substance abuse or anger issues.
The scientific community is unsure what exactly causes ADD. Most research focuses on the brain, with experts agreeing that it is likely caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance. This imbalance can, in turn, be created by a variety of factors. Trauma to the brain is one suggestion, whether physical or chemical. Reports exist of head injuries creating ADD symptoms in children.
Other possibilities include exposure to certain toxins during childhood when the brain is developing. Studies have been performed that point toward chemical food dyes as culprits. It is also possible that ADD can be caused by poor nutrition or substance abuse on the part of the mother when pregnant.
ADD has a tendency to run in families which suggests that inheriting traits of attention deficit disorder is a possibility. While researchers may be unable to pinpoint exact ADD causes, they have been able to develop several ways of treating the condition.