If you’ve ever wondered how rare ADHD is, you'll find that it’s not as uncommon as you might think.
Recent ADHD statistics indicate that nearly 10 percent of American children aged 3-17 have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. The prevalence of ADHD diagnosis is higher for boys than for girls. [i]
For decades, the Drake Institute has used advanced treatment technologies to design personalized treatment protocols for patients with brain-based conditions like ADHD. Brain map-guided neurofeedback and neurostimulation help ADHD patients reduce and/or resolve their symptoms and lead better lives.
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting both children and adults. It's characterized by challenges in sustaining attention and, in some cases, difficulties controlling impulses and exhibiting hyperactivity. These symptoms can create issues at school, work, and in social situations.
Research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and prenatal/childbirth factors (e.g., prenatal exposure to alcohol or tobacco, premature birth, low birth weight, fetal distress, gestational diabetes, etc.) may play a role in ADHD’s development.
Proper treatment can enhance attention, reduce hyperactivity and impulsiveness, and support individuals in leading successful lives. While there is no known cure for ADHD, we have had many patients who improve and/or resolve symptoms so significantly that by the end of treatment they no longer meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD. [ii]
ADHD is associated with symptoms related to paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. You don’t have to have all three symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD. These issues can cause difficulties in task completion, executive functioning, behavioral control, and/or emotional regulation.
Below is a breakdown of the symptoms associated with the 4 types of ADHD:
ADHD diagnosis relies on clinical evaluations following the guidelines laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The Drake Institute adds qEEG brain mapping to support the neurophysical basis for ADHD, and understand the brain’s dysregulation linked to symptoms for individualized treatment plans.
To meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis, the individual must display a persistent pattern of symptoms, which may include any of the following: inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity that significantly impairs their daily life and functioning. Additionally, the symptoms should be present before the age of 12, last for at least six months, and be observed in multiple settings. [iii]
These evaluations and assessments examine the individual's symptoms and behavior across different settings, such as home, school, and social environments. This may involve the use of standardized rating scales or questionnaires completed by teachers, parents, or the individual themselves to provide a comprehensive picture of their symptoms.[iv] Again, the Drake Institute adds the all-important qEEG brain mapping to the evaluation.
How common is ADHD among American children?
According to recent data, more than 6 million children in the US have an ADHD diagnosis. That’s about 9.4% of all American kids who struggle with some form of attention or impulsivity challenge. That number includes 388,000 children aged 2-5, 2.4 million aged 6-11, and 3.3 million aged 12-17.
Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, with rates of 12.9% for boys and 5.6% for girls. [v]
When examining how many people have ADHD, it becomes evident that it’s a condition that impacts a significant portion of the population.
ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. Many individuals have symptoms that persist into adulthood; others may not even receive a diagnosis until they are an adult. A 2019 study indicates the ADHD prevalence rate for adults in the US is around .96%. However, other studies have found much higher rates - between 2.5-4.4%. As with children, males are more likely to have an ADHD diagnosis than females. [vi]
Rates of ADHD diagnosis are steadily increasing for both child and adult populations, though adults are seeing the sharpest increase. In fact, diagnoses for adults are rising four times more quickly than those for children.
However, according to ADDITUDE magazine, “ADHD is thought to be underdiagnosed in adults compared to children… because diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the DSM-V were developed for children, and because adults with ADHD often have comorbid psychiatric disorders that may mask the symptoms of ADHD It is estimated that fewer than 20% of adults with ADHD are currently diagnosed and/or treated by psychiatrists.”[vii] [viii]
ADHD is more often diagnosed in boys than in girls - 12.9% compared to 5.6%. However, while these numbers suggest that more boys have ADHD than girls, it is possible that girls are simply underdiagnosed. This could be due to the differences in how symptoms manifest in boys vs. girls. [ix]
ADHD symptoms can show up differently in boys vs. girls.
Some experts believe that “women are less likely to be externally hyperactive and impulsive than men”, and instead, their hyperactivity is turned inwards, resulting in overthinking, intrusive thoughts, and negative self-talk.
On the other hand, boys are more likely to show external hyperactive behaviors, including fidgeting, interrupting others during conversation, aggression, temper tantrums, and more. [x] Their symptoms can be more visible and disruptive so they are more easily diagnosed.
In general, ADHD is considered a lifelong condition. However, symptoms sometimes lessen in severity as the individual ages, particularly the hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms. Studies have suggested that more than half of children with ADHD will continue to struggle with symptoms in their adult life.
Some ADHD children experience a significant reduction in hyperactivity as they reach adolescence, but not the inattention symptoms. In fact, academic performance may actually worsen because of difficulties with executive functioning which becomes more necessary in Middle School and High School.
The precise cause of ADHD is not perfectly understood, but current research believes that genetics play a role.
In fact, scientists have identified up to 27 common genetic variants that influence ADHD. These variants have been found in genes expressed in the frontal cortex (areas of the brain involved in memory and attention) and the midbrain dopaminergic neurons (involved in voluntary movement and reward processing).
While this suggests that ADHD can be genetically influenced, people are not born with ADHD. Instead, they are born with a genetic predisposition for developing the disorder. [xi]
Over the last 40 years, the Drake Institute has clinically pioneered the use of advanced treatment technologies to treat a variety of brain-based medical disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, and more. Using a combination of brain map-guided neurofeedback and sometimes neurostimulation, our Medical Director creates customized treatment protocols to address each patient's needs.
To develop our individualized treatment plans, we first complete a qEEG brain map analysis for each patient. Brain mapping helps us identify which specific regions or networks of the brain are dysregulated linked to symptoms.
To collect this data, 19 sensors are placed around the scalp in areas of the brain responsible for language, focus, memory, executive functioning, social/emotional understanding and behavioral/emotional regulation. The 19 sensors measure and record brainwave activity that is processed through a normative database of neurotypical individuals.
When we compare the patient's results with those of neurotypical individuals, we can identify regions or networks of the brain that are dysregulated and causing symptoms. This information also allows us to determine how these areas are dysregulated so that we can develop specific treatment protocols that help improve brain functioning and reduce symptoms.
During neurofeedback training/treatment, sensors are once again placed on the scalp. The sensors record and display instantaneous brainwave activity visually in real time on a computer screen with simultaneous auditory feedback as well.
During neurofeedback sessions, the patient is seeing the results of how their brain is working and with this information, they learn to improve their brainwave activity by guiding it toward healthier, more appropriately functional brainwave patterns.
We do not administer any drugs or perform invasive procedures during this process. Instead, the patient is improving their own brain functioning, guided by visual and auditory feedback.
As an adjunct to neurofeedback, we may also use neurostimulation guided by qEEG brain map findings to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns. In our experience, some patients may benefit even more from neurofeedback if we also use neurostimulation. We have found this particularly helpful for lower-functioning children on the Autism Spectrum.
In the last forty years, Drake has helped thousands of patients with various disorders such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypertension reduce or resolve their symptoms and thereby achieve a better quality of life. Call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form to get started.
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Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Spanish News Feature
“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”