What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

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what is adhd

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a condition that affects children and adults. It’s characterized by behavioral and cognitive symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and disorganization.

People with this disorder can vary in how severe their symptoms are. They can be mild (no symptoms in social settings or at work) to severe (some or all of their symptoms interfere with daily functioning).

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common mental health condition characterized by difficulty paying attention or controlling impulsive behaviors. Symptoms can develop in childhood, and they usually persist through adulthood.

A child must have six or more symptoms to meet criteria for an ADHD diagnosis, and those symptoms must be present before age 12 and cause problems in a variety of settings, such as school, family or home life. During the school years, children with ADHD often experience problems such as disruptive behavior, difficulty with social interactions and poor academic performance.

Those with ADHD may also have other conditions, like depression or anxiety. The diagnosis should be made by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.

If you have an ADHD diagnosis, you might be able to control or reduce your symptoms with medication and counseling. Treatments may include stimulant medications, cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior modification techniques.

People who have been diagnosed with ADHD can get help for their symptoms by talking to a mental health professional, such as psychiatric nurse or a social worker. These professionals can offer specialized guidance and support for you and your loved ones as you navigate the road to recovery.

Types of ADHD

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that can impact anyone, anywhere. It can be hard to know what it means for you or your child, so it’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

People with ADHD can show varying behavioral traits and habits throughout their daily lives. Understanding what types of ADHD you or your child may have can help you create targeted strategies for overcoming challenges.

Inattentive type ADHD: Individuals with this type of ADHD find it difficult to focus on tasks or activities for an extended period of time. They often forget about routine tasks, like paying bills or returning phone calls, and are easily distracted by irrelevant sights or sounds.

Combined type ADHD: A person with this type of ADHD exhibits both hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. They also have difficulty focusing on everyday activities and may struggle with impulse control.

All of the types of ADHD are treatable with the right medication and therapy. Medications work by boosting the levels of specific chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Stimulant medications are the most commonly prescribed, but non-stimulant medications can be effective for some people.

Causes of ADHD

Although the causes of ADHD aren’t clear, research shows that there are certain factors that may increase the risk of developing the disorder. These include genetics, the environment or problems with brain development during key moments in childhood.

Some researchers have found that babies who are born prematurely or have low birth weight are more likely to develop ADHD. However, most pre-term and low-weight babies don’t develop the disorder.

It’s also important to note that ADHD can be triggered by a variety of health conditions, such as thyroid disorders or lead poisoning. It can also be a symptom of other mental health issues, such as learning problems or mood and anxiety disorders.

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, there are treatments available to help. Treatment often includes medication and behavior therapy.

Behavioral therapy helps children improve their social, emotional and planning skills that are lagging behind with the disorder. It also helps them understand the disorder and learn how to manage their symptoms.

Medication helps reduce hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors by activating the brain’s ability to pay attention, slow down and use more self-control. Other treatment options include counseling, school supports and parent training in behavior management.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

ADHD is diagnosed by a health professional who looks at how the symptoms of attention deficit disorder are affecting the patient. They need to see that the symptoms are occurring in multiple settings, and that they’re causing problems. They also need to confirm that the symptoms have been going on for at least six months and that they’ve occurred before the person turned 12.

Doctors may use a variety of tests, including neuropsychological tests of attention, but they’re most likely to use interviews or checklists to gather the data they need. They may ask the patient’s family members to complete a questionnaire as well, so they can get a deeper understanding of the person’s behavior and history.

They might also want to interview teachers or other people who have spent time with the patient, such as a former teacher or coach, religious or scout leader. The information they provide can reveal important clues about what’s causing the symptoms.

When a diagnosis is made, mental health professionals often prescribe medicine that activates the brain’s ability to pay attention and control impulses. They also usually recommend behavior therapy to help kids learn new skills. They may refer patients to a child psychologist or psychiatrist if needed.

Treatsments for ADHD

Treatment for ADHD involves a variety of approaches, including medication, behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Medication is the most common type of treatment and works to improve a person’s focus, attention and impulsivity.

Stimulant medications such as amphetamines (Adderall) and methylphenidates (Ritalin) work by increasing the levels of two neurotransmitters in the brain — dopamine and norepinephrine. Studies show that these drugs are very effective, but they can have side effects such as headaches and upset stomach.

Non-stimulants are also available and have been proven effective in improving a person’s behavior. They also increase the levels of norepinephrine in the brain, which reduces hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Medications are often used in combination with behavioral therapy and skills training. This is known as multimodal treatment, and it has been found to be the most effective.

Many children respond well to these treatments, and research shows that this approach is more effective than either treatment alone. It also improves relationships between a child with ADHD and his or her family and friends.

Some people may experience side effects from stimulant medication such as tics (sudden movements or sounds, such as eye blinking or throat clearing). Other side effects include a slight reduction in growth rate and an increase in blood pressure.

ADHD in Adults

Adults with ADHD often face many of the same difficulties as children with the condition. These include job challenges, financial problems and a sense of underachievement. They also struggle with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and sleep disorders.

Diagnosing ADHD in adults is complicated. Several factors can influence a person’s symptoms, including how much of the disorder is inattentive, how much hyperactivity and impulsivity are present and whether the disorder has co-existing conditions such as oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, tic disorders or Tourette syndrome, or depression.

Medications for ADHD increase the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which are essential for attention and self-regulation. These medications can be given by mouth or taken in an injectable form (such as methylphenidate, sold under the brand names Ritalin and Concerta).

Studies show that exercise reduces the severity of ADHD symptoms. Getting in 30 minutes of moderately vigorous activity four times a week is recommended.

Adults with ADHD can benefit from learning skills that allow them to manage their time and priorities effectively. These skills are known as executive function and can help individuals organize their work, school or other activities more efficiently.

ADHD Medication

Medication can help manage symptoms of ADHD, including attention, focus and impulsivity. There are many medications available, and you or your child may need to try several different ones before finding one that works best.

Stimulants are the most common type of medication used to treat ADHD. They work by increasing the activity of certain parts of the brain that play a role in controlling attention and behaviour.

The most commonly prescribed stimulant is methylphenidate. It is given to children, teenagers and adults with ADHD and is a short-acting medicine. It is taken in small doses 2 to 3 times a day.

There are also long-acting stimulants, which are taken once a day. These last for up to 16 hours and can reduce the need for additional doses during the school or work day.

Non-stimulant drugs are also available, and they work differently from stimulants. They increase the level of norepinephrine in your brain, which helps improve symptoms of ADHD such as concentration and impulsivity.

These medications can have side effects and take time to work, so it’s important to stick with them. It may take weeks or months to find the right combination of medicine, dosage and schedule for you or your child.

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