ADHD is one of most common mental/behavioral conditions that affects children and adults alike. It can contribute to challenges with learning, social anxiety, lapses in concentration and judgement, and much more. Unfortunately, ADHD also has a history of being misunderstood and incorrectly treated. Here’s what you need to know about this condition.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. It can manifest in anyone from young children to older adults, and is diagnosed at all ages. However, it’s most commonly identified in school-aged children as it begins to disrupt their ability to learn and function in an educational environment. There are three main types of ADHD that a person can experience.
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This type of ADHD is characterized by an individual’s inability to maintain a state of attentiveness to a task at hand, consistently being distracted or sidetracked. This individual may also be forgetful or sloppy, as they are often preoccupied by multiple things. This presentation of ADHD is what used to be diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This type of ADHD is characterized by an individual’s inability to “sit still.” Fidgeting is common, as is the need to stand up and move around constantly. These individuals also often have issues with impulsivity and restlessness, and may suddenly act out in a variety of ways. Children with this form of ADHD often struggle with speaking at inappropriate times, being unable to wait their turn, and interrupting others.
- Combined Presentation: This type of ADHD combines many of the characteristics of both of the above presentations.
Symptoms and Effects of ADHD
Every ADHD case is different, and every individual with ADHD will experience different symptoms, though many still overlap with one another. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- Having to constantly be “on-the-go”
- Experiencing lapses in memory and attention
- Being unable to focus, especially when reading or listening to something or experiencing hyperfixation on a given topic or task
- Experiencing strange or out-of-the-ordinary reactions to certain sensory input
- Experiencing many unrelated thoughts all at once, and/or jumping from one idea to another in a short amount of time and seemingly unrelated way
- Being messy or disorganized as a result of not responding well to structure
- Being forgetful about everyday things and daily tasks
- Having trouble listening or responding to instructions
- Struggling with staying quiet or calm while playing or participating in structured activities
- Talking frequently and quickly without stopping
Because of these symptoms and many others like them—along with the fact that ADHD is only recently becoming better understood—people with ADHD may also end up struggling with other mental and behavioral health issues such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, since ADHD can cause lapses in attention or hyperactivity challenges, it may be difficult for them to maintain healthy personal relationships or perform well in structured employment. This is one reason why it’s so important for people with ADHD to receive the proper treatment and support.
Causes of ADHD
Doctors still aren’t entirely sure what causes ADHD, though they have identified factors that may contribute to its development, such as:
- The presence of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, or undue stress in their mothers while pregnant
- Being born prematurely
- Brain injury
- Exposure to environmental toxins at a young age
- Genetic factors and family history
Treatment for ADHD
There are no lab or physical tests used to diagnose ADHD. This behavioral condition is formally diagnosed in a clinical setting that can involve discussing isolated or recurring experiences, filling out personal information, and testing related to concentration and sensory response. These tests can help the doctor determine the type of ADHD the individual struggles with, along with the severity and potential methods for treating the condition. These tests are also not a guarantee that an individual struggles with ADHD, since various other behavioral conditions, or simply the presence of extreme personality qualities, can also cause issues that are often attributed to ADHD.
Doctors may prescribe various medications and formulations of those medications to help manage the symptoms of ADHD, although medication isn’t always required. People with ADHD may be able to learn to manage their condition by maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and support from friends and family. Furthermore, through learning behavior management techniques—like managing responses to triggers, stimuli, and various thought processes—a person with ADHD may be able to better adapt to their situations and environments. Mental health counseling and group therapy may also be beneficial, as can personal daily practices such as journaling, yoga, and meditation.
We’re Here to Help!
If you or a loved one struggles with ADHD or a related mental/behavioral health condition—or if you think you or they might have it—we’re here to offer our support. You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Our doctors can help you determine the best course of action to take and assist you in learning to manage your condition, whatever it may be. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!