What is ADHD?
ADHD is a brain disorder that affects how children think, feel and behave. It’s a common condition that affects about 1 in every 5 children.
ADHD is mostly inherited, but there are some things that can increase a child’s risk. These include having a parent with ADHD or being born premature or with low birth weight.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Kids with ADHD are much more likely to struggle with attention, behavior, and self-control. These difficulties usually show up at a younger age than they do in children who don’t have ADHD, and can interfere with their learning at school and at home.
Some people with ADHD have mainly inattention symptoms, while others have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. This makes it hard to diagnose them with a single disorder.
Symptoms can be more or less severe, and can change as a person grows up. For example, in the early childhood years, hyperactivity may be more prominent, but in adolescence, some hyperactive and impulsive symptoms may lessen.
A child’s impulsivity can be hard to manage, especially when it comes to things like interrupting or intruding on others’ conversations. They may also do risky things without thinking about the consequences, which can lead to injuries.
If you notice that your child has these behaviors and that they are disrupting their life, talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis of ADHD. Your doctor can refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, who can do a thorough evaluation and make a diagnosis of ADHD.
Types of ADHD
To make ADHD diagnoses more consistent, the APA has grouped it into 3 types: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, and combined type. Knowing which type you have can help you find the best treatment options.
Children and adults with the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type are very active and have a hard time sitting still or controlling their behavior. This can lead to a lot of problems with schoolwork, especially when it comes to learning tasks that require patience and concentration.
Kids and adults with this type of ADHD also have a hard time following directions and paying attention. They may make careless mistakes in schoolwork, get behind on assignments, and forget important things easily.
For example, they might start a million little projects — like a vegetable garden or a new organization system — but never finish them. They might leave unfinished homework in their backpacks or skip a few piano lessons.
Although research on the connection between diet and ADHD is mixed, it does seem that some dietary changes can help improve some symptoms. For example, some people try to avoid certain foods or add vitamins and supplements to their diets.
Causes of ADHD
ADHD is a condition that affects both children and adults. It can make life difficult and lead to problems with relationships, schoolwork, and work. People with ADHD may also have problems with their health, moods, and self-esteem.
Symptoms can be caused by a number of things, including genetics and the environment. Adverse social and family environments, such as poverty, bullying/peer victimization, negative parenting, and family conflict, can increase the risk of developing ADHD.
Parents and other adult caregivers can help a child cope with ADHD by talking to them about how to manage their symptoms. They can also help children develop coping skills and learn how to control their emotions.
Treatment for ADHD depends on the type of ADHD a person has. It often involves medicines and other therapies.
Medication is used to treat hyperactive behavior, such as running around or climbing, and inattentiveness, such as forgetting things. Other treatments include parent coaching and therapy for children with ADHD, as well as support from teachers at home and in school.
Yoga is another therapy for ADHD that helps reduce hyperactivity, impulsivity and anxiety. It combines physical exercise with meditation to promote calm and focus. It can be helpful for both young children and older teens with ADHD.
How is ADHD Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of ADHD is based on a doctor’s review of a patient’s symptoms and how they impact their life. The doctor will look to see if the symptoms go beyond what’s normal for your age, have been going on since you were a child, interfere with your ability to function in several areas of your life and haven’t improved over time.
The doctor will ask questions about your health, family history and lifestyle to find out if there are any other medical problems causing the symptoms. This can include sleep apnea, thyroid conditions, substance abuse, and other conditions.
Your doctor may also ask you to complete a checklist of symptoms or other behavioral and psychological tests to confirm the diagnosis of ADHD. These tests will also help determine if there are other mental health conditions that might be affecting your life or causing the symptoms of ADHD.
If you are diagnosed with ADHD, treatment will help to control your symptoms so you can live a more normal life. This can include psychotherapy, talk therapy and medication. You’ll work with your doctor to decide what works best for you.
Treatsments for ADHD
Medications can help control symptoms and reduce the impact of ADHD on a child’s life. However, it can take time to find the right medication and dosage.
Stimulants, which increase levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, are the most commonly used medications for ADHD. These drugs work quickly and can be effective for some children in just a few weeks.
Non-stimulants, such as atomoxetine and guanfacine, also can be useful in some cases. They can be combined with stimulants for added effectiveness.
Antidepressants can be useful for people with ADHD who also have symptoms of depression or other emotional problems. These drugs work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain.
Other treatments for ADHD include behavior therapy, social skills training and counseling. These therapies can be offered by psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals.
Therapists can help you or your child learn coping strategies to deal with stress, anxiety and other ADHD-related symptoms. They can also teach you how to recognize and change negative habits or attitudes that are making the condition worse.
The most common types of therapy for ADHD are individual and group therapies. Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained in a wide range of therapies, including behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic and interpersonal.
ADHD in Adults
ADHD is a mental disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control attention. It’s most commonly diagnosed in children, but it can also be found in adults.
Adults can experience many of the same symptoms as children, but they often have more subtle forms of these problems. These can include difficulties with focus, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
A doctor or mental health professional may diagnose an adult with ADHD if he or she meets the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which are used by physicians and psychologists in the United States. The diagnosis requires that the symptoms of inattentiveness or hyperactivity-impulsivity were present before age 12 and were severe enough to cause significant impairment in multiple settings.
A thorough examination of the individual’s history will help the doctor or mental health professional make a proper diagnosis. This includes looking at the person’s family history, childhood behavior, and school records. The health care professional will also ask for permission to interview any people the individual knows well, including his or her spouse or significant other and friends.
Medication for ADHD can help to control symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsivity and poor concentration. Medication is often used in conjunction with behavioral therapy.
Stimulants are the most common type of ADHD medication. They work by increasing activity in the brain, particularly in areas that affect attention and behaviour. They can be taken in a number of forms, including immediate-release tablets (taken 2 to 3 times a day) and modified-release tablets (taken once a day in the morning, with the dose released throughout the day).
Long-acting ADHD medications are also available. These stay in the body for up to 16 hours and may be more effective than short-acting stimulants.
Non-stimulant ADHD medications are also available. They are not as effective as stimulants, but can be a good option for those who have a medical reason not to take stimulants or prefer not to take them.
Some people with ADHD may also have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Depending on your overall health, your doctor may recommend medications or therapies that treat these other issues in addition to those for ADHD.
Medication can be an effective treatment for ADHD if it is properly prescribed and used under close supervision by a health care professional. However, it does not cure ADHD and a person’s response to medication can vary widely from person to person.