MMN 026: Is AD/HD a Real Disorder? – with Chris Quarto

On this episode of the Make a Mental Note podcast, Chris Quarto, a licensed psychologist, discusses the basics of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and evidence for and against its existence. Give it a listen and find out why this episode is worthy of a mental note!

Chris Quarto solo episode (click on Chris’ name to listen to podcast episode)

Mental Notes:

* “Holy trinity” of AD/HD symptoms – hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention (Barkley)

* Hyperactivity – overactivity/restlessness; impulsivity – not thinking before acting; inattention – lack of focus, distractibility, short-term memory problems.

* Everyone displays characteristics of AD/HD from time to time. Individuals with the disorder display more symptoms on a more frequent basis for longer periods of time on a consistent basis.

* Arguments for AD/HD:

  • DNA – segments of DNA missing in AD/HD kids;
  • Heritability – 50 – 60% of the cases ADHD kids have a parent who had or has ADHD);
  • Twin studies – a child with an identical twin with ADHD has a three in four chance of having ADHD themselves;
  • MRI scans have consistently associated ADHD with less thickness of grey matter in the frontal cortex;
  • PET scans – people with AD/HD exhibit less brain activity when engaged in mentally-intensive tasks;
  • ADHD kids produce lower levels of dopamine, which helps with things like attention and motivation.

* Arguments against AD/HD (or that it is something other than AD/HD):

  • Normal behavior that misdiagnosed as AD/HD;
  • Physical problem that gives the appearance of AD/HD (e.g., hypo or hyperthyroidism);
  • Not AD/HD, but a different type of psychological problem;
  • Environmental problem

* Mental health professional should ask about symptoms and how they impact a client to find out if the client meets the criteria for the disorder

* Mental health professional should always ask him/herself: “What else could it be?”

Mental Notes Takeaway:

* There is substantial biological and psychological evidence for the existence of AD/HD. However, a mental health professional should always consider “what else could it be” to ensure a client really suffers from AD/HD and not some other disorder (or no disorder at all).

Check It Out:

* Chris Quarto’s web page:

* Chris’ phone number: 615-403-5227

* AD/HD articles/information:


209 Castlewood Drive Suite D
Murfreesboro, TN. 37129
(615) 403-5227

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