101 Causes of ADD and ADHD
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD
(Attention Deficit Disorder) are complex. Misdiagnosis in ADHD related
cases is very common. Where there are similar symptoms with other
conditions/disorders these are termed “comorbid.” Many of these so
called comorbidities are the other condition and not what is commonly
called ADHD at all. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to ADD and
While there seems to be an ADHD epidemic, this may be caused by a
misdiagnosis epidemic and defining what can be considered normal, with
Many successful alternative ADHD treatments treat the actual cause,
meaning that an ADHD disorder was not there in the first place. There is
no single cause for ADHD behavior, most research on attention deficit
disorder is really studying and presenting the symptoms, not the cause
or reason for those symptoms.
Anyone who is diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD, should be screened for
other conditions. Even the DSM-IV has a caveat at the end of the list
of diagnostic criteria: “The symptoms are not better accounted for by
another mental disorder.”
Many mental disorders have overlapping diagnostic criteria. For
example, it is common for people with ADHD or ADD symptoms to be
depressed and suffer from anxiety. Both anxiety and depression can cause
a child to behave hyperactively (ADHD) and depression can be
interpreted as inattentiveness (ADD).
The causes are listed in no specific order or categorising. The
purpose with this list, which is not definitive, is to encourage the
search for the cause, instead of treating the symptom. All these
conditions can result in ADHD like symptoms.
There is no ONE cure for ADD and ADHD. There is no ONE cause for ADHD
and ADD. Every child and adult is unique. Our metabolisms differ from
person to person. Even identical twins, after being exposed to different
environments and different experiences, are not the same.
ADHD, Hyperkinetic Syndrome and ADD are controversial conditions. This means that we should deal with it responsibly and with an open mind.
Conditions resulting in ADHD like Behavior
This is list of some disorders, emotional traumas, medical conditions and other conditions, which have signs and symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, to show how complex ADHD is.
Among the causes of ADHD like behavior are:
1. Learning disabilities. The behavior is a result of the child’s frustration at not understanding what the rest of the class understands, their difficulty not being understood by the teacher, and as a consequence a low self-esteem. Examples are:
- Dyscalculia. Difficulty understanding mathematics.
- Dyslexia. Difficulty with reading and spelling. The ADHD symptoms come from frustration and the inability to visualize word formation correctly. There is a cure – the Cat Model Dyslexia Cure. This is a therapy consisting of a few minutes training every day and cures dyslexia within a few months to six months. An 80% success rate is amazing! In Sweden the link is Kattmodellen.
2. Communication difficulties, speech and language disorders. Unable to express themselves verbally. Lack of a vocabulary to describe feeling. Many times being able to put a name to a feeling gives a sense of being in control. The behavior is a result of the child’s inability to express him or her self.
3) An inner ear infection.
4.Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).
This is a term for a range of problems with the brain that can
interfere with processing auditory information. It is not a hearing
disability, but a problem processing sound.
5. Sensory Integration Dysfunction. The inability of the brain to
correctly process information brought in by the senses. These children
are over-sensitive or under-sensitive dealing in touch, taste, smell,
sound, or sight.
6. Eyesight problems. One example is Convergence Insufficiency.
7. Education not meeting special learning style needs in some pupils. There are seven learning styles and many personality types..
8. Tactile or kinetic learner. The child needs to move and use his/her body to learn. “Hands on” learning.
9. Auditory Learner. Has difficulty comprehending and becomes
frustrated if most of the information the teacher gives in class is
through writing on the board.
10. Visual learner. ADHD behavior resulting from frustration at not understanding a teacher who is only lecturing.
11. A lateral thinker. These children think in a different way than
“normal” children do. They look at problems and will see answers that
are not obvious. This child may appear distracted or daydreaming.
12. A visual thinker. Visual and spacial thinkers are good at
abstract reasoning and problem solving, but are relatively weak in
processing and sequencing auditory information.
13. A creative mind. Daydreaming (introvert) or hyperactive (extrovert) to stimulate in an under-stimulating school environment.
14. An overly extrovert or overly introvert personality. There are many personality types.
15. Viral or bacterial infections
16. PANDAS. A cuddly acronym for Paediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders. Result of strep or Streptococcal infections. An example is Grant Acord who planned to making a bomb to blow up West Albany High School in Oregon.
17) Candida Albicans
infestation (Yeast Infection). The symptoms are varied and include
headaches, inability to concentrate, depression, mood swing,
hyperactivity etc. These symptoms often overlap those of food allergies.
18. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This can give ADD like symptoms.
19. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). This can give ADHD like symptoms.
20. Metabolic disorders causing lack of glucose to the brain. This includes early onset diabetes. The symptoms include anxiety, aggressive behavior and depression.
21. Hypothyroidism a metabolism imbalance from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. This can give ADD like symptoms.
22. Hyperthyroidism a metabolism imbalance from an overproduction of thyroid hormones. This can give ADHD like symptoms.
23. Heart conditions. This has an effect of starving the brain of oxygen, glucose and other nutrients.
24. Medication side effects. Some cough and cold over-the-counter
medicines contain pseudoephedrine which can cause hyperactivity. Pain
killers and asthma medication can also cause ADHD like symptoms.
25. Cushing’s disease
or hypercorticism, an overproduction of cortisol. It is a hormone
disorder caused by high levels of cortisol in the blood. The cure is
usually by surgery as it can be caused by tumours producing cortisol.
Taking ADHD stimulant drugs in this case will only do harm.
26. Addison’s disease
or hypocorticism, an underproduction of cortisol. This is a rare
endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands produce insufficient
cortisol, generally diagnosed by blood tests. Treatment involves hormone
replacement and definitely not ADHD stimulant drugs.
27. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
29. Sleeping disorders. Sleep-disordered children are hyperactive. An example is Sleep apnea. A disorder where the sufferer stops breathing many times during their sleep. This results in bad quality sleep.
30. Child-like Bi-Polar disorder.
Early-Onset Bi-polar should be ruled out before ADHD, as ADHD
medication can make the child-like bipolar disorder psychotic. The
symptoms are similar to ADHD, with impulsivity, restlessness,
distractibility and hyperactivity among other symptoms.
32. Emotional abuse.
33. Sexual abuse. This abuse affects the victim many years after the abuse has ended.
34. Mild psychosis.
35. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This condition can share symptoms of ADD or ADHD like poor impulse control and concentration difficulties.
36. Death in the family.
37. Life stresses such as the parents divorce, moving to a new town or country.
38. Low self esteem.
39. Sexual abuse when young.
40. Emotional difficulties.
41. Neglect by parents.
42. Bullying at school.
43. Lack of rules at home. Lack of discipline at home.
44. Lack of rules and discipline at school.
45. Feelings of rejection.
46. Over stimulation sitting in front of the TV and playing
videogames together with lack of physical excercise. A Canadian study
showed that for each hour TV more per day a toddler viewed raised the
risk of developing ADHD by 10%.
47) Lack of exercise.
48) Bad diet. Skipping breakfast. Malnutrition.
49) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). There are indications that this is different from ADHD, but has the symptoms of ADHD.
50) Conduct disorder (CO).
There are indications that this is different than ADHD. The mechanisms
causing ADHD and CO are different; the similarities are a result of
overlapping sets of criteria. response to treatment and medication are
different, showing that there are different mechanisms at work.
51. Turner syndrome or gonadal dysgenesis.
52. Jacob’s Syndrome
also called XYY syndrome, is a rare chromosomal disorder that affects
males. It is caused by the presence of an extra Y chromosome. Males
normally have one X and one Y chromosome. Males with Jacob’s syndrome
have one X and two Y chromosomes. The extra Y chromosome has been
associated with attention deficit, delayed speech and learning
53. Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). TSC is a genetic disorder with
tuber-like growths in the brain and other organs to varying degrees of
54. Tourette syndrome. Some of the symptoms are similar to the impulsive form of ADHD.
55. Angelman syndrome.
56. A kinetic learner. A person who needs to move to be able to learn and has great difficulty to learn while sitting still.
57. Williams Syndrome.
58. Fragile X syndrome.
59. Klinefelter syndrom. Probably the most common genetic disorder in which a male has an extra
X chromosome (XXY).
60. Sickle cell anaemia.
61. Cysts in the brain.
62. Brain tumour.
63. Brain trauma.
64. Post-concussion syndrome. Mild cases of brain trauma, but with no
physical evidence. Child may feel confused and frustrated and act in a
65. Minimal brain damages from birth trauma and low oxygen levels at birth.
67. Absence seizures. Can be misdiagnosed as the daydreaming, inattentive form of ADD.
68. Post-traumatic sub-clinical seizure disorder.
69. Low birth weight. Under 1.5 kg or 3.3 lbs
70. Spinal Problems. Some spinal problems can cause ADHD like
symptoms because if the spine is not connected to the brain properly
nerves from the spinal cord can give the brain all of signals at once
making a child rambunctious and always on the go.
71. Fetal alcohol syndrome
(FAS). The damage done to a child’s brain when the mother drinks
alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the biggest cause of
non-genetic mental handicap in the western world and the only one that
is 100% preventable.
72. Worms. This usually a problem in preschool and kindergarten children.
73. The mother smoking cigarettes during pregnancy.
74. Stimulants, e.g. caffeine in the diet. In some children caffeine
causes hyperactivity, while in others it decreases hyperactivity as
caffeine can act as a mild stimulant, instead of powerful drugs such as
Ritalin. We all have different metabolisms. The different causes of ADHD
have different mechanisms.
75. Substance abuse.
76. Anaemia. Iron supplements may help. A study found serum iron levels were abnormal in 84% of children with ADHD and 18% of controls.
77. B vitamin deficiencies. Especially B-6. Vitamin B-6 is important
for neurotransmitters, which affect behavior. The Recommended Dietary
Allowance (RDA) figures are an average requirement for an average
person, below which a deficiency complications develop. Stress and other
factors in an individuals environment determine the lower threshold,
not a statistical variable. Some people might need more. We have
78. Omega 3 fatty acid
deficiency. This is an essential fatty acids found in fish sardines,
mackerel, tuna and salmon. Vegetarian sources are Soya, hemp, flax and
pumpkin seeds. The omega-3 family, play essential roles in the maintenance of energy balance and glucose metabolism.
79. Magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown that children with ADHD are deficient in magnesium.
80. zinc deficiency.
81. Food preservatives. e.g. sodium benzoate (E211).
82. Food dye allergy. Food dye does not cause hyperactivity or attention deficit in all children, only in children who are susceptible to these chemicals. If your child reacts negatively to food dyes, then that is more relevant to your child than a scientist saying food dyes are safe. Let those scientists eat unhealthy food dyes to their hearts’ content; keep your child away from these colourful poisons.
Among suspect food dyes found in sweets and soft drinks are:
- Tartrazine (E102)
- Quinoline Yellow (E104)
- Sunset Yellow (E110)
- Carmoisine, a coal tar derivative (E122)
- Ponceau 4R (E124)
- Allura Red AC (E129)
83. Aspartame allergy. People born with Phenylketonuria (PKU), are
allergic to aspartame, the sugar substitute food and drink sweetener, as
they cannot metabolize the phenylalanine (a breakdown product of
aspertame), which may result in toxic levels in the body. There are 92
reported symptoms of aspartame allergy including depression and anxiety
attacks, both of which cause ADD or ADHD symptoms in children. This is
controvertial, as people who suffer from aspartame allergy have
different symptoms, making diagnosis very difficult.
84. Gluten allergy or coeliac disease.
85. Casein allergy.
86. Specific dust, such as from dust mites.
87. Chocolate allergy.
88. Asthma. There are natural and holistic cures for asthma, such as the Buteyko Method.
Since side effects of some asthma medication are ADHD symptoms,
alternative natural cures are well worth a try first. Asthma medication
controls the symptoms, but does not cure the asthma, which is why the
medication has to be taken continuously.
89. Mould allergy.
90 Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Attention deficit is one of many
symptoms of MSG. Some people experience reactions and others do not. It
is not know if monosodium glutamate causes the condition underlying the
reaction, or whether the underlying condition is simply aggravated by
the monosodium glutamate.
91. Milk allergy. Milk is presented as the perfect food. Milk allergy
is implicated in many different disorders, including behavioural
disorders. and often goes unnoticed for years since milk is so common in
92. Sniffing solvents like modelling glue, fingernail polish, permanent markers and gasoline fumes.
93. Pesticide poisoning. Both herbicides and insecticides.
94. Household chemicals, such as air fresheners, polish, disinfectants.
95. carbon dioxide (CO2) poisoning.
96. Lead poisoning. Children who live in old buildings in which there is still lead plumbing or lead paint may be at risk.
97. Mercury poisoning.
98. Manganese poisoning.
99. Aluminium poisoning.
100. The gifted child or highly intelligent child. The child is bored, under-stimulated and misunderstood at school.
101 A normal, lively, healthy child, possibly under-stimulated at
school. The DSM-IV criteria are based on teachers’ and parents’
perceptions of how a child should behave.
This list is intended to show the complexity of diagnosing attention
deficit syndrome. A good child psychologist who has experience with
treating ADHD children should be consulted before any medicinal
treatment is tried. A doctor should be consulted for screening for
possible physiological causes of the behaviour.
There are some natural supplements which can help the child focus. Among these are: