Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder occurs when a person has difficulty maintaining concentration or regulating physical energy and motion.
About 8.4 percent of children in the United States have attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD). About 2.5 per cent of adults suffer from ADHD.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD symptoms in some children begin as early as 3 years of age.
However, there are several common life events, psychological problems and medical conditions that can contribute to certain ADHD characteristics. Even if a diagnosis is made to the patient, ADHD is manageable and treatment can be highly successful.
In this article we discuss the different ADHD treatments, as well as their potential causes. We also look at the various specifiers and features of ADHD.
What is ADHD?
While the actual cause of ADHD remains elusive, there are a variety of impairments experienced by a person with ADHD, including difficulty in maintaining concentration or concentrating on a particular task.
Many people with ADHD may have trouble staying still, while others may show a variety of various symptoms.
While all individuals can struggle to pay attention to things that they might consider disinterested from time to time, those with ADHD that face persistent attention-keeping problems, and may be quick to follow urges or easily distracted.
The individual with ADHD will be experiencing impulsiveness and agitation beyond a point that is typical of a person’s age.
A psychiatrist can apply three different specifiers to an ADHD diagnosis to classify the attributes, including primarily inattentional ADHD, predominantly hyperactive / impulsive ADHD, and mixed ADHD.
Characteristics and specifiers
Physicians split the ADHD presentation into three categories: inattentional, primarily hyperactive / impulsive, and mixed. Each is further defined below.
These do not qualify as different diagnoses. These actually offer contextual information regarding a particular ADHD presentation to help the practitioner control the impact.
Inattention: A person with an inattentional ADHD is more likely to exhibit the following symptoms in a way that interferes with:
- an apparent inability to pay close attention to a task or a tendency to make careless mistakes
- difficulties with holding focus on activities or tasks
- giving the appearance of not listening while other people are talking
- experiencing difficulty with time management and task organization
- frequently losing items or accessories necessary for daily function
- becoming distracted easily
- forgetting to complete tasks and fulfill obligations
- an avoidance or intense dislike of tasks that require prolonged focus and thought
- difficulties with following instructions to complete tasks
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive: This specifier means that an individual shows more signs of hyperactivity than inattention, including:
- seeming to be constantly “on-the-go”
- an inability to remain seated
- bouts of inappropriate running or climbing
- difficulties waiting for their turn in a conversation, often finishing other people’s sentences or answering before the end of a question
- frequently intruding on others, including conversations, activities, or games
- persistent fidgeting, tapping of the hands and feet, or squirming
- excessive talking
- finding it difficult to play or engage in activities without creating excessive noise
- reluctance to wait for their turn, such as in a line or a turn-based game
Combined: A person with a combined ADHD displays features of both specifiers.
Such features interfere with daily life, relationships with others and success in school or work.
And if a doctor applies a specifier to an ADHD presentation, this can change over time. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, females are more likely to encounter problems with inattentive characteristics.
It may be why a diagnosis is not always made of females. Educators should not characterize their symptoms as disruptive in class, because hyperactive traits frequently lack the same appearance in female ADHD presentations.
Many men, however, are having ADHD diagnoses overall.
Many children with ADHD receive a diagnosis during high school according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some people may not be diagnosed until they are teenagers, or even adulthood.
No screening test can diagnose ADHD. A doctor may conduct tests to rule out any possible factors, such as hearing disorders or vision issues.
ADHD may also have similar characteristics to symptoms of anxiety , depression, learning disabilities and sleep disorders.
A doctor also asks questions to develop a pattern of conduct and to achieve the best diagnosis, and most likely. Generally these questions are for both the alleged person with ADHD and their relatives or carers.
Many kids show the high energy and inattention common to people with ADHD.
Nevertheless, in order to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis, a child must show six of the requirements to a degree greater than medical professionals deem appropriate for their age over a six-month period, and at a level of severity that directly affects social and academic performance.
Individuals over 17 must meet five requirements to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis.
Treatments and therapies
Doctors may prescribe a variety of therapies to treat ADHD. Often the treatments depend on the symptoms of a person and the degree to which ADHD affects school and home life.
Examples may include:
Behavioral therapy: It involves working with a therapist who can help children develop social skills, learn planning techniques to support those with ADHD, and improve their ability to plan and complete tasks.
Medications: Doctors may prescribe medications to enhance attention and focus. Although there are a variety of drugs available, stimulants are the most common types.
Strattera and clonidine (Catapres) are non-stimulant drugs for treating ADHD. Usually a doctor will prescribe the lowest dose and increase if necessary.
Parent coaching: Therapists may often work with parents to help them respond to ADHD’s sometimes challenging behaviours. Further knowledge to offer medications may be helpful.
School support: Teachers and counselors play an significant role in developing curriculum strategies and using various instructional methods to interact more closely with ADHD-possessing children.
ADHD does not improve with time or with age and those habits do not “grow out” of individuals. Many people will find that some symptoms improve as they get older, but aging doesn’t mean the person will be “healed” in and of itself.
Individuals with an ADHD diagnosis need dedicated care and help in interpreting and handling these functions.
According to the Nemours Foundation, children with ADHD often can improve their self-control and concentration skills in ways that support them throughout adult life.
If no treatment is given to a person with ADHD, they may experience negative outcomes related to their disorder, including but not limited to low self-esteem , depression, school problems, and family conflicts.
Causes and risk factors
Physicians do not know precisely what causes ADHD.
Researchers also also established the propensity of ADHD to occur in families. Whether a sibling or parent has ADHD, the person is more likely to have it on their own.
Research continues to examine factors that may possibly increase ADHD risk, such as:
- exposure to stress, alcohol, or tobacco during pregnancy
- exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy or from a young age
- a small but significant link with low birth weight, as this 2018 study puts forward
- premature birth, according to a 2018 study published in JAMA Pediatrics
- mild traumatic brain injury
Common misunderstandings distort the perception of ADHD as a condition, and stigmatize individuals with ADHD and those who care for it. The following causes do not contribute to ADHD, in contrast to common belief:
- eating excessive amounts of sugar or artificial colorings
- excessive “screen-time” in front of the television, computer, or phone
- poor parenting or home environment
Research has not proven a link between these and the development of ADHD in young people.
ADHD can affect essential areas of social and academic or occupational activity, which may contribute to school performance and personal relationship difficulties.
There are also a variety of therapies available to reduce ADHD symptoms.
When a person feels they might have ADHD, or a family member, they should talk about diagnosis with their doctor.
ADHD is associated with a variety of symptoms that can include the inability to concentrate on activities for an prolonged period of time or to sit still, and the desire to be “on the go” in certain individuals constantly.
For every ADHD specifier there are nine characteristics. Although these symptoms are normal in many young children, they are more extreme than other behaviors in the same age group.
Evidence into what causes these characteristics is ongoing, but recent work has shown the linkages between ADHD and premature birth, stress, and smoking during pregnancy, and low birth weight. There is a strong genetic component of ADHD too.
An infant under the age of 17 must show six of these characteristics to a destructive degree for an ADHD diagnosis. Adolescents and adults over 17 years of age will exhibit five characteristics if they have ADHD.
Treatments include medications, behavioral counseling, and providing resources and information for teachers and carers to connect with and help children with ADHD flourish.