What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that is characterized by inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with everyday life and development. ADHD is commonly diagnosed during childhood. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that about 5% of children in the United States have ADHD. Contrary to popular belief however, ADHD symptoms can continue or develop in adulthood. The symptoms of ADHD can not only hinder learning during childhood but equally impair an adult’s ability to function in everyday life.
ADHD vs. ADD
Before 1994, Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were considered two separate conditions. Now, doctors use the term ADHD to refer to all forms of attention-deficit disorder.
There are three subtypes of ADHD:
Inattentive and distractible type
The most commonly known ADHD symptoms are inattentiveness (the inability to focus and stay on task), hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The symptoms of primarily inattentive ADHD include:
Being easily distracted
Not following directions
Difficulty finishing tasks
Difficulty paying attention
Making careless mistakes
Forgetting about daily activities
Difficulty organizing daily tasks
Often losing things
The symptoms of ADHD, primarily hyperactive-impulsive include:
Frequent squirming, fidgeting, or bouncing when sitting
Inability to stay seated
Difficulty being quiet
In children, these symptoms are often easily identifiable, causing them to blurt out answers during class, have difficulty waiting their turn, and fidget in a classroom setting
ADHD in Adults
In adults, ADHD presents itself in several different ways. Some of these are similar to those exhibited in children, while others vary significantly. These symptoms include:
⦁ Tendency to run late
⦁ Low self-esteem
⦁ Anger management issues
⦁ Becoming easily frustrated
⦁ Always feeling bored
⦁ Difficulty concentrating when reading
⦁ Mood swings
These symptoms can contribute to struggles with personal relationships, problems at work, and an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues.
While scientists are unsure of the exact cause of ADHD, they know that the area of the brain that affects attention is less active in people with ADHD. Some studies have also shown that poor nutrition, smoking, drinking, and substance abuse during pregnancy can affect a baby’s brain development and possibly lead to ADHD. ADHD often occurs in families, indicating that there is likely a genetic component as well. ADHD is more common in males, and most females with ADHD tend to be primarily inattentive rather than hyperactive-impulsive.
ADHD Treatment Options
ADHD is most treated with medication, psychotherapy, coaching, or a combination of the three. The most common type of medication for ADHD is stimulants. Stimulants often help people with ADHD stay focused and on task by increasing brain activity in the area of the brain associated with attentiveness. Common stimulant ADHD medications include:
⦁ Methylphenidates, such as Ritalin.
⦁ Amphetamines, such as Adzenys or Dyanavel.
⦁ Mixed amphetamine salts, such as Adderall.
⦁ Non-stimulants, such as Strattera.