What is ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder that can affect any age group. But it is most common in children.
If you think that your child may have ADHD, you need to see a doctor. Your doctor will perform a full medical exam and review your child’s history. They will also interview your family members.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Many people with ADHD have trouble paying attention or controlling impulsive behavior at times. However, when these symptoms become persistent or a problem in daily life, they may indicate you have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Children with ADHD usually show signs of the disorder before age 12. According to the DSM-5, children must have six or more ADHD symptoms in either the inattention or hyperactive-impulsive category during the last six months to be diagnosed. Adolescents 17 or older and adults must have at least five of the symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD.
When these symptoms are present in a child or teen, the child can struggle with school work, social interactions and family relationships. They may also have trouble managing their own emotions and coping with stressful situations.
Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, and this may be because they exhibit classic signs of hyperactivity more often than girls.
In adolescence, hyperactivity may lessen but inattention and impulsivity remain. The symptoms can be difficult to manage in school and can affect a child’s self-esteem.
If a child or teen has been diagnosed with ADHD, they may feel like they have to hide their symptoms from others and avoid social events and activities. They may also feel frustrated and guilty. A mental health professional can help them and their parents to overcome negative feelings. They can teach them new ways to interact with others and how to cope with the challenges that come along with having ADHD.
Types of ADHD
People have different symptoms of ADHD, which means it can be hard to know exactly what type you have. But there are three main subtypes: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, and combined type.
Inattentive ADHD, also known as ADD, accounts for about 33% of all ADHD in adults. It’s characterized by difficulty focusing on daily tasks and attending to details. Individuals may easily get distracted by irrelevant sights or sounds, bounce from one activity to another or become bored quickly.
They may also find it hard to complete tasks, such as schoolwork or chores. They may also lose things that are necessary for a task, such as school supplies, eyeglasses, or mobile phones.
A person with impulsive-hyperactive type ADHD might fidget often, move around constantly, and feel restless. They might also talk nonstop, interrupt others, blurt out answers, and have trouble controlling their impulses.
This type of ADHD is more common in boys and adult men. It’s more difficult to diagnose because it doesn’t always show up right away. But it can be a good indicator that you need to seek help.
Causes of ADHD
ADHD is a condition that affects the way a person pays attention to things and manages their emotions. It is a disorder that can interfere with a person’s daily life and lead to poor school performance and behavioral problems.
Fortunately, there are treatments for ADHD that can help improve a person’s behavior. The first step is a thorough medical evaluation.
Many people with ADHD are also affected by other disorders, such as oppositional defiant and conduct disorder, anxiety or depression, tic disorders or Tourette syndrome, sleep disorders, substance abuse and learning disabilities.
This may cause a more complex condition than ADHD alone, as it can increase a person’s difficulty paying attention or controlling their emotions. A treatment plan that takes into account all the symptoms can make a big difference in how the person handles their life.
The brains of children with ADHD have underdeveloped frontal lobes, which is responsible for many skills, including planning, problem-solving and emotional regulation. The frontal lobe is also important in memory, social cues and understanding cause-and-effect.
How is ADHD Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of ADHD is based on a person’s history, symptoms and the impact of the symptoms on functioning in various areas of life. The clinician may need to rule out other medical conditions or behavioral problems that might explain the symptoms better.
The first step in diagnosing ADHD is to interview the patient about their symptoms and behaviors, including when they started and where they began. The health care professional may also ask about a person’s family history of ADHD.
In some cases, the doctor or therapist may need to complete rating scales to determine the frequency of symptoms and how severe they are. They will also ask a person’s spouse, partner or significant other to fill in information that might be missing from the patient’s self-report.
A physical examination is also often needed to rule out other conditions that might cause similar or overlapping symptoms. For example, thyroid disease or seizure disorder can resemble ADHD symptoms.
Once the diagnosis is made, treatment is usually started. Treatment can involve medication, behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes. The goal is to manage symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life. The treatment plan is individualized to the person’s needs.
Treatsments for ADHD
Several medications effectively treat ADHD and can be used in combination with behavioral treatment to help children improve their symptoms. These include stimulants (e.g., methylphenidate, amphetamines), non-stimulant medicines, and psychotherapy.
Stimulants are typically prescribed by the child’s pediatrician, who will monitor your child’s progress and adjust the dosage based on results. Stimulant medications, which include methylphenidate, amphetamines and other short-acting formulas, work by improving the communication between different areas of the brain.
They also can make a child less restless or irritable and can help him focus better. Your pediatrician will have you and your child’s teachers fill out behavior rating scales and monitor his height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure and side effects.
Other non-stimulant medications for children and adults with ADHD include atomoxetine, guanfacine and clonidine. These drugs are not as effective as stimulants and can take weeks to start working, but they can be useful for certain children or those with medical conditions that make stimulants unsafe.
Adults with ADHD can also benefit from therapy and skills training. This type of therapy is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, and can be done individually or in groups. CBT teaches people to change the way they think about things, which can lead to better behaviors.
ADHD in Adults
ADHD is a common problem in adults, and can cause serious problems with work and life. Adults with ADHD may experience trouble with their job, difficulty sticking to a schedule, and problems following rules and policies at work. They may also run into problems with impulsive spending and other financial concerns.
Adults with ADHD often suffer from a number of comorbid psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety or depression. If you have these other disorders, it can make getting an accurate diagnosis more difficult because the symptoms can overlap and interfere with the testing process.
The severity of your ADHD can vary over time and in different contexts. Under the DSM-5 criteria, your doctor can designate your symptoms as mild, moderate, or severe.
For many people, the first line of treatment is psychostimulants, which increase the availability of chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These medications help people pay attention, concentrate, and focus.
Stimulants can also be used to treat impulsive behaviors. If you have an impulsive tendency, your doctor can prescribe atomoxetine (Strattera). This drug increases the level of noradrenaline in the brain and helps control impulsive behavior.
Other therapies for people with ADHD include cognitive behavioral therapy, coaching, and social skills training. In addition, marriage and family therapy can help your loved ones understand what you’re going through.
The good news is that ADHD medications are available to help children manage their symptoms. They work by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain that affect a person’s attention, focus and energy (neurotransmitters).
Stimulant drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and Daytrana are quick-acting and effective. Taking them as directed can reduce symptoms in most kids and teens.
Some of these medications come in a capsule, tablet, liquid or patch form. A patient information sheet inside the packaging or box shows how much medication is in each unit.
Other medicines include atomoxetine, guanfacine, and clonidine. These medicines start working in about 1 hour and last for 24 hours.
They can be taken once or twice a day, depending on the medicine. They can help kids stay focused, organized and on task.
Most of these drugs aren’t habit-forming and don’t increase the risk of substance use disorders. But some stimulants can lead to high blood pressure and fast heart rate, so they should be used with caution. If your doctor prescribes a stimulant, ask about the side effects and talk with your healthcare provider about how to deal with them.
Here is my vyvanse Week 3 update talking about drinking and my effects with alcohol.