Mental Health » ADHD

WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic, neurobehavioral disorder with symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. These symptoms, when untreated, can interfere with many aspects of life, including work and social functioning.

CAUSES OF ADHD

The exact cause is unknown, but it is known to run in families and research has shown some differences in the brains of people with ADHD. There is evidence that premature birth, low birth rate, or smoking / alcohol / drug abuse during pregnancy may contribute.

ADHD is sometimes found in conjunction with learning difficulties.  It usually begins in childhood but may continue into the adult years. It is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children. It is diagnosed more often in boys than in girls.

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

The main requirements for the diagnosis are that the onset of ADHD symptoms occurring during childhood and that this was followed by a lifelong persistence of the characteristic symptoms to the time of the current evalua tion. The symptoms need to be associated with significant clinical or psychosocial impairments that affect the individual in two or more life situations1.

Because ADHD in adults is a lifelong condition that starts in childhood, it is necessary to evaluate the symptoms, course and level of associated impairment in childhood, using a retrospective interview for childhood behaviors. Whenever possible the information should be gathered from the patient and supplemented by information from informants that knew the person as a child.

Treatment can help to control the symptoms and improve the the patients functioning in everyday life, at home and at school.

A treatment plan needs to be set by a specialist, and carrying out the treatment plan requires good communication and teamwork between doctors, parents and school teachers.

A standard treatment plan for ADHD includes:

  • Medication: Not all patients with ADHD need medicines, but for many they are necessary. Medicines can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity, improve the child’s ability to focus, work and learn and improve their physical coordination. The most common medicines used to treat ADHD are stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). Other drugs like antidepressants may be used if stimulants have serious side effects or are ineffective, or to boost the effects of stimulants

  • Psychotherapy: This can help patients and
    their families cope better with everyday
    problems.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF ADHD

Inattentive

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork

  • Has difficulty keeping attention during tasks or play

  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork or chores and tasks

  • Has problems organizing tasks and activities

  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort

  • Often loses toys, assignments, pencils, books, or tools needed for tasks or activities

  • Is easily distracted

  • Is often forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

  • Leaves seat when remaining seated is expected

  • Runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations

  • Has problems playing or working quietly

  • Is often “on the go,” acts as if “driven by a motor”

  • Talks excessively

Impulsivity

  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed

  • Has difficulty awaiting turn

  • Interrupts or intrudes on others

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