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Old 12-06-09, 07:03 PM
Dizfriz Dizfriz is offline
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Re: neurotransmitter testing

Anyone dealing with ADHD needs to have a general understanding of how the medications work.

This is very simplified explanation of a very complex process but it is enough for the average person to get a general idea of how the medications work. If anyone wants the technical details there are plenty of resources on the web that can help you.

To give you the basics, I am going to focus on the stimulants and the neurotransmitter called dopamine (nothing to do with dope, just what it was named). There are other ADHD medications, such as Strattera, that work with different neurotransmitters but all neurons work pretty much the same way. Just substitute Serotonin and depression and you will see that most medications used for this are termed SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-SSRI). After reading this, you will know what that means.

So on to my presentation:
Gap (synaptic cleft)
---------| |----------
neuron A neuron B

-----> direction of circuit travel.

An impulse comes traveling along a neuron but runs out of steam after a while and has to be renewed to continue. How the neurons do this is that neuron A shoots out particles called neurotransmitters which float across the gap and fill pockets at neuron B. When enough of these fill, the circuit fires and all is well.

Now during this, what could be called neurotransmitter vacuum pumps (reuptake pumps) start pulling the dopamine particles back to neuron A so they can be reused. Once enough of these are sucked up, if neuron B has not fired, then it will be no longer able and the circuit is stopped. The needed brain activity does not happen and ADHD behaviors are the result.

We want this circuit to fire more. With ADHD the problem is that these circuits do not fire enough thus the behaviors we often see with ADHD occur. If you want to simplify it, these are the circuits that allow us to inhibit or regulate our behaviors; to allow us to stop doing things if you would prefer.

So how do we get them to fire as they should? We can put more dopamine in the system to give the circuit a better chance of firing. This is basically what Adderol and similar medications do, put more of the neurotransmitters in the gap so there is a better chance of firing.

The other way is to slow down the pumps. This is what Methylphenidate (Ritalin) does. It is a reuptake inhibitor, slowing down the uptake pumps so the neurotransmitters will stay in the gap longer and thus again giving the circuit a better chance of firing.

Same result, different methods.

Again, this is quite simplified but I think it is enough to have a basic understanding of how the ADHD medications work. For most, that is all you really need.

For what it is worth.


Last edited by Lady Lark; 12-09-09 at 10:59 AM.. Reason: edited at user request
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