Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a type of neuro-developmental disorder which is characterized by poor concentration and attention, being disorganized, forgetting information, impulsivity, and can also include hyperactivity, restlessness, and inability to sit still.
ADHD has become one of the most common neuro-developmental disorders in children and adolescence. It is mostly diagnosed in childhood when the child is struggling academically or has hyperactive behaviors. The disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and lasts into adulthood. ADHD is more prominent in males than females. Although treatment cannot provide the 100% cure of ADHD, it can help to minimize symptoms. Early diagnosis and management of ADHD can help in dealing with the severity and later complications of the disorder.
Many people with ADHD enjoy successful lives. People with ADHD are usually artistic, work well with their hands or at a job they enjoy. If ADHD is not treated timely in children and adults, it can have a serious impact on their day to day functioning and can lead to difficulties with relationships, academics, and work related tasks. Additionally, untreated ADHD in adults can present as depression or anxiety.
There are three subtypes of ADHD:
- Inattentive subtype: The person suffers from the inability to focus, maintain attention, is distracted, forgetful, and exhibits impulsive decision-making skills.
- Hyperactive-Impulsive subtype: This is the least common type of ADHD and it is characterized by hyperactive behaviors without the problems of inattention. The person cannot sit still and may easily interrupt others.
- Combined subtype: This type of ADHD involves the symptoms of both types of ADHD mentioned above.
The specific Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder causes and risk factors are not known, but research shows that genetics play an important role in the incidence of ADHD.
Other risk factors for ADHD include:
- Brain injury
- Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy or at a young age
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
According to research, ADHD is NOT caused by too much sugar intake, excessive screen time, bad parenting, environmental and societal factors, and family problems. In some people, such factors might aggravate the symptoms, but they are not the ADHD causes.
Triggers of ADHD Symptoms:
- Poor sleep cycle
- Some specific foods additives
Once the triggers for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms are recognized, some lifestyle changes can help to minimize symptoms.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms
The Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in children and teenagers include:
- Short attention span and is distracted easily
- Forgetfulness or losing things
- Inability to stick to time-consuming tasks
- Inability to focus on instructions
- Difficulty with organizational skills
Hyperactivity and impulsivity
- Inability to sit still
- Inability to concentrate on tasks
- Unnecessary physical movement
- Too much talking
- Inability to wait for their turn
- Impulsive actions and reactions
- Interrupting conversations
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in adults may include:
- Lack of attention
- Starting new tasks before finishing old ones
- Poor organizational skills
- Inability to focus
- Losing things
- Restlessness and agitation
- Difficulty staying quiet, and interrupting conversations
- Irritability and aggression
- Too much stress and inability to deal with it
- Impatient behavior
- Risky behaviors
- Poor money management
- Depression and/or anxiety
Conditions related to ADHD:
- One of the most common conditions that comes with ADHD is depression.
- Personality disorders which occur as a complication of ADHD
- Bipolar disorder might be comorbid with ADHD depending on severity of mood changes
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) a disorder that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors and responses to conditions
- The behavioral disorders associated with ADHD can also cause problems such as difficulties in social interaction and relationships.
- An anxiety disorder, development of phobias, or panic attacks
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Diagnosis:
There is no single test to evaluate if a child or an adult has ADHD. The disorder is thought to effect the chemical balance in the right frontal lobe of the brain. Testing conducted by a neurologist or neuropsychologist can help determine how the brain is functioning when performing different tasks on testing measures. A psychiatrist can also consider a history and evaluate all active symptoms.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder treatment usually includes medication, behavior modification or cognitive behavioral therapy, or both.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Medication:
The ADHD Medication work by influencing the chemical imbalance of the brain. This results in the ability to focus, maintain attention, decrease impulsivity, and reduce hyperactivity. The medications to treat ADHD are stimulants and non-stimulants. Central nervous system stimulants are commonly prescribed medicines of ADHD. These medicines increase the production of dopamine and norepinephrine and are amphetamine-based stimulants (e.g., Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Vyvanse)
If an individual has negative side effects from stimulant Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medications, a non-stimulant can be prescribed such as Strattera. If depression is present, a psychiatrist may prescribe bupropion (Wellbutrin) because there is a chemical compound in the drug that also helps to minimize ADHD symptoms.
Behavioral / Psychotherapy for ADHD:
Individuals with ADHD often benefit from mental health counseling. Some individuals with ADHD might also have other conditions such as depression or anxiety. In this case, counseling can help with both ADHD and the comorbidities.
Types of psychological therapy for ADHD include:
- Behavioral therapy: Parents or partners of the individual can learn multiple strategies to help with modifying the individuals behaviors through using positive and negative reinforcement.
- Social skills training: This training can help the individual to learn appropriate social behaviors and coping skills.
- Parenting skills training: Helps parents to learn different ways to understand their child with ADHD and how to apply structure and help follow through with behavior modification.
- Psychotherapy: Helps the individual learn better ways to cope with the frustration, impulsivity, and vacillating emotions. It can help to improve self-esteem.