People often say that allowing their children to play video games, watch tv, or play on a tablet might contribute to ADHD or that “bad parenting” leads to ADHD. You don’t “get ADHD” through the environment this way. An individual has it or you don’t. It’s in your genetics. However, the severity of ADHD ranges from mild to severe. And improving your environment can decrease the severity of the ADHD symptoms.
Brain health does matter. A child playing video games, watching tv, or otherwise engaged in electronics, does stimulate an increased production of dopamine. When the child stops playing video games, the dopamine decreases, but the mind is accustomed to the higher amount of dopamine, and a person with ADHD will struggle maintaining attention and focus with the depletion of dopamine. This is why children’s focus improves in school when electronics are removed.
Many people with ADHD have nutrition deficiencies that exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD. The most common nutritional deficiencies are omega-3 fatty acids, B-Vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, but there are others. A person can improve their environment by having proper nutrition and providing the brain all the nutrients, cofactors, and metabolites necessary for optimum brain function.
A person’s genetics affect the amount of neurotransmitters they can produce, the neurotransmitter cell receptor sites that are produced, and the lipid density of the neuron cell wall. If a person isn’t able to naturally produce a healthy amount of neurotransmitters, improving their nutrition may improve their status. However, if they simply lack the receptor sites, the best nutrition in the world will not alleviate all symptoms.
Improving the environment can improve symptoms associated with ADHD. There are many other coping skills that people can learn through a more integrative approach looking at nutritional supplementation, better diet, better habits, Behavioral Therapy as well. And some people will still need some form of medication. But at the end of the day, while the environment can have a large impact, a person’s genetics ultimately determine the range of severity of ADHD symptoms.