How to thrive with ADHD? Start by understanding it

**Disclaimer: Firstly, I have to announce you that english isn’t my native language, so probably there will be some grammatical errors.


“ADHD or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is considered a neurodevelopmental disorder which has 3 main characteristics: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity which are not characteristic of someone’s age.”


I find this definition extremely reductionistic and incomplete so I decided to write an extremely comprehensive article about ADHD.


What recommends me to do this?


Well, I’m a psychologist, and a counselor and I do have ADHD. ADHD is on a spectrum like all mental health disorders from minimum to extremely severe. When I found out that I have ADHD four years ago, I documented from many sources about ADHD, reading more sources about ADHD in my effort to try to understand myself and also how the ADHD mind works.


So, I developed more hypothesis about ADHD.


1 The historical-cultural hypothesis


So, I tried to apply critical thinking to the research that I found and according to the research and my views, the main cause of ADHD is genetics. But I’m a “why guy”.


Okay, ADHD is related to genetics but why is then the prevalence so big in our population. According to the research, the prevalence of ADHD is 5-7% of the global population which is a huge number in my opinion. So, there must be an explanation. So, I checked the history of humanity, by the way, Yuval Noah Harari has a nice book on it called “Sapiens” and I discovered that before we settled in cities and lived a more stable life, we used to be hunters and gatherers for a long time. And from my research on the neuroscience topic, I found out that the brain is developing pretty slow. So, from our evolution from monkeys until now, we have a really small part of our history where we settled in big cities and lived a stable life. For most of our history, we used to be hunters and gatherers.


So, why does this matter?


Well, think about the lifestyle of a hunter and gatherer. Does he/she needs a lot of sustained focus to do boring repetitive stuff every day?


Hell not!


So, the traits of ADHD were pretty beneficial in that lifestyle. You hunt one time per day, you go and you pick up berries in the meantime then you rest for the remaining of the day. So, you kinda need that hyperactivity and impulsivity to not be killed by animals and be able to hunt them, not be hunted and the inattention is the chill time where you just rest from hunting.


Pretty shocking huh?


2 The modern society hypothesis


I don’t try to deny ADHD, not at all. In severe cases, I believe the life satisfaction of an individual can be seriously damaged, but with the right treatment and the right mindset, I believe that people with ADHD can excel in things that they are passionate about.


The technology grew rapidly in the last 100 years and is growing day by the day. So, in this modern age sustained focus became an important currency. Being creative and smart are assets but being hardworking or being able to have sustained focus on activities helps you a lot in the modern age because most of our activities require sustained focus. And if you can’t do that you become unemployed or an underachiever not because you are smart or creative, but mostly because people with ADHD have a really hard time sustaining focus while doing repetitive work. So, ADHD can become really debilitating in our modern society.



3 The biochemical hypothesis


Since I learned about ADHD, I started researching neuroscience. It was well over 4 years ago. The main point that I learned about the brain is that it is really complicated.


The brain has over 86 billion neurons which each communicate with each other through synapses in a really complicated way. So, even though neuroplasticity is possible, I believe that modifying the brain is pretty complicated. For example, people with ADHD can reduce their symptoms by time, or by practicing focus in school, work-related jobs, or by doing pharmaceutic drugs, but still, their core ADHD personality is going to hang in there. It seems that what I’m telling you right now is bad news but I believe life is about perspective and even an incremental small help in our functioning over a long time can have massive effects on our well-being.


Alright, so what’s the neurochemistry of ADHD?


Well the common belief about ADHD is that ADHD is related to low dopamine and norepinephrine in some parts of the brain, mainly in the prefrontal cortex, striatum, and cerebellum.


Though we don’t have pictures of brains to know that and the research that has been done until now is not complete, even though ADHD is the most studied mental health disorder in the last 20 years.


But it is obvious that not all people with ADHD are the same or that they have the same characteristics.


So, it seems that are many types of ADHD. We can’t reduce people to just simple disorders because not all people with ADHD are the same just as not all homosexual people are the same. That’s pretty common knowledge, right?


Why does this matter?


Even though you have severe ADHD and you don’t respond to treatment, it doesn’t mean you don’t have ADHD, it means that the pharmaceutical drugs that you took weren’t good for your brain.


For example, Dr. Daniel Amen hypothesized that there are 7 types of ADHD and only 2 of them respond to stimulant medications.


I can’t prove that he is right or not, but the most that I learned from him is the idea of individual treatment.


So, I kept researching and I found out about genetic testing, and right now, there is a software that analyzes the interactions from our genes. Sure, it is not perfect, but as long as ADHD is predominantly a genetic disorder it’s a more precise way to treat our ADHD and our health problems in my opinion.


So, according to the newest research, ADHD may be related to more pathways than just dopamine and norepinephrine.


So, what is the brain circuity of attention, and what neurotransmitters are involved:

-Dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that produces feelings of reward

-Norepinephrine, a fight or flight neurotransmitter that increases focus

-Acetylcholine, a very important neurotransmitter that triggers movement, stimulates learning, and increases alertness

-Nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the brain

-BDNF, a compound that stimulates the growth of brain cells

Probably there are more neurotransmitters and pathways involved but this seems to be known right now.


But for someone who is interested in genetics and neuroscience, it was the best data that I had about my genetics which made a tremendous difference in my wellbeing.


Regardless, the main point of biochemistry is that as I said before the brain is plastic and it can be rewired, so having some data about your genetics can help you rewire it more positively. Also, simple things such as having a safe and positive environment or eating healthy and doing sport can help you rewire your brain


4 Characteristics of ADHD

The principal characteristics of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Some people with ADHD have a predominant pattern of increased hyperactivity and impulsivity compared to inattention, others are predominantly inattentive, but the most common type is a combination of both types which constant shifts during the day between hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.


So, of course these three principal symptoms have more subcharacteristics.


Inattention comes with deficits of the executive functions. Executive functions means to implement your thoughts and plans into reality. Even though, people with ADHD have maybe more plans and creativity due to daydreaming, it is much harder for them to implement them. Inattention comes also with chronic disorganization, bad time-management, anxiety, forgetting about important events or tasks that need to be done.


The subcharteristics of hyperacitivy-impulsivity are: increased emotional range which can result in rage and irritability, anxiety states, rsd, or rejection sensistive dysphoria which means having trouble getting rejected and chronic boredom states.


Though, ADHD has its downsides, still it have some positive traits


-open-mindness and originality, humour, ambition and passion.

-Hyperfocusing on subjects that interest them. A lot of writers, scientists and artists with ADHD have impressive careers because of this hyperfocus. Some historical examples are Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Eistein. Some modern examples are Justin Timberlake, Michael Phelps, Richard Branson.

-Resilience. Which means the capacity to recover from repeated failures or to adapt in unfavorable situations.

-Generosity, Spontaneity

-risk-taking mentality. For example I read in the ADHD book of psychiatrist Edward Hallowell which specialised in ADHD and who also has ADHD that people with ADHD have a 300% more chance to start their own business.

-well-developed social skills

-compassion, persistance, creativity


5 Treatment

Well, I believe ADHD is more of a “fish out of ocean condition” which has some negative consequences to adapt to modern circumstances where you need to have sustained focus in order to work and be engaged in normal day-to-day activities.


Probably one part of the treatment in the case you have ADHD is to accept it and realize you will be weaker than other people on some traits.

In the end, we are humans, we are imperfect creatures.


Though, I’ve written earlier that there are some positives traits to ADHD and the fact that these genes were transmitted for this long time means that people with ADHD survived during history and I would add that they survived fine and lived meaningful lives


But as I said in the beginning, ADHD is on a spectrum, so probably with severe ADHD even in adulthood it can have big negative consequences on life.


So, instead of treatment, I defined these sections differently:


So, what you can do to function better in society with ADHD

  1. a) Nutrition.

One of the most important aspects to control the Adhd is nutrition. “You are what you eat”. Remember that old saying? Food is converted to energy to the brain, so that with a better nutrition suited for the ADHD brain, the ADHD negative symptoms can be diminished. The best food for ADHD contains lots of proteins and a low level of carbohydrates. Proteins are converted in dopamine and norepinephrine, so that the symptoms of ADHD are dimineshed.


  1. b) Sport

For the kids and adults with ADHD, sport is really helpful. ADHD’s excessive energy can be consumed doing sport. Sport helps you have a better mood, helps you relax, helps you have relief from day to day activities. And I would add that some people with ADHD are really great sportsmen. One example would be Michael Phelps.


  1. c) A Psyhotherapist with coaching abilities

I believe you need a psychotherapist which needs to know well the characteristics of ADHD. In general, it would be recommended a pscyhoterapist with coaching abilities for ADHD because in my opinion the main problems with ADHD are with executive functions.


  1. d) Discipline and routine

It is much harder to function without discipline and routine and as I said before in modern society and as I said earlier, people with ADHD can have difficulty with organization, so discipline and routine can help that. Besides that, building good habits help people long term.


  1. e) Have hobbies and passions

In ADHD it is mostly a deficit of selective attention. Like you can’t choose what to focus on than the fact that you can’t focus at all. That’s why a lot of people with ADHD can hyperfocus on things that they like it. In my opinion having a career on one of your hobbies or passions can make the life with ADHD better. And I would add that people with ADHD can excel on their passions.


  1. f) To be yourself

Maybe you remember that old saying, “be yourself as everybody else is taken”. Trying to conform to what other people want from you and wanting to do what it is really hard for you or impossible just because other people ask, that is a recipe for disaster.


  1. g) Biofrequency music

I found around 300 channels of biofrequency music. They are free on youtube. There are some songs which stimulates part of the ADHD brain where there is low bloodflow. So, in my opinion listening to them on a long term basis can have a meaningful impact on ADHD. It is similar with neurofeedback which is an adviced alternative therapy for ADHD but with no cost and you can listen to them at home anytime you want, which can have a bigger impact on the brain.


  1. h) Supplements

Some work a little, some don’t work at all. I believe it matters if u get the right supplement for your ADHD, so that’s why I recommend gene testing to know which one works for you. I actually experimented with lots of supplements before doing gene testing and even though some of them worked, my approach was really chaotic even though I studied neuroscience a lot, I still couldn’t map all the characteristics.


  1. g) Psychiatric treatment

Stimulants have the most research on ADHD and they seem to work pretty much. There are some non-stimulant medications with less rate of succes. Though, even though they are recommended by FDA for ADHD, I’m not sure about short-term and long-term consequences because there weren’t long-term studies done. Stimulants can also have tolerance. So, I’m not a psychiatrist, even though I studied neuroscience, so if you believe the risk/reward ratio is in your favour, do what you believe is right.


That’s it for now.


If you want to reach me and ask for specific information about any information that I’ve provided, you can reach me through my Facebook page and contact me from there.

Link here:


Hope you enjoyed this info,


Alex Combei

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