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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is ADHD?

It the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children, especially boys. However, it can also affect teens and can continue to adulthood. Individuals with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention, they may not be able to control their impulses, or they may be hyperactive.

What are the symptoms in children?

In ADHD, the symptoms are grouped into 2 categories (6 or more of the symptoms must have persisted for a period of 6 months in order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD):

  • Inattention
    • Fails to pay close attention to details
    • Easily distracted & finds it difficult to maintain their attention on one task
    • Does not appear to listen when someone is directly talking to them
    • Does not follow the instructions that they were indicated
    • Often have trouble organizing tasks
    • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort
    • Often loses things
    • Tends to daydream & get distracted
    • Often forgets about daily activities
  • Hyperactivity
    • Often fidgets, squirms, or taps their feet or hands when sitting
    • Does not remain seated when expected to in certain situations
    • Runs and climbs during inappropriate situations
    • Cannot engage in quiet activities
    • Often “on the go,” “driven by a motor”
    • Talks excessively
    • Blurs out answers before the questions has been completed
    • Has a hard time being patient when waiting for their turn
    • Interrupts others

What are the symptoms for adults (5 or more must be persistent within a 6 month period in order to be diagnosed with ADHD)?

  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Unorganized
  • Tends to procrastinate
  • Becomes easily frustrated
  • Often finds themselves in chronic boredom
  • Tends to have problems at work & controlling anger
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • May have trouble managing their time
  • Have a tard time staying organized & setting goals
  • Are often challenged when it comes to being able to hold a job
  • May have trouble with relationships, addiction, and self-esteem

What causes ADHD?

Although there isn’t one known cause, researchers believe that heredity, chemical imbalance, brain changes, poor nutrition (i.e. infections, smoking, drinking and substance abuse during pregnancy), toxins, brain injury, and a brain disorder may all play a role. Many of these roles often affect an individuals’ development, which in turn may result in ADHD.

How is ADHD treated?

Medication:

  • Dexmethylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • MethylphenidateMedications can help control the hyperactive and impulsive behaviors while increasing an individuals’ attention span.

Therapy:

  • Special Education
    • It is important for children to receive the appropriate education to enhance their learning experience, which may allow them to successfully cope with their ADHD
  • Behavior Modification
    • Allows the individual to replace the bad behaviors with good behaviors
  • Psychotherapy
    • Allows individuals to learn better strategies to help them cope with emotions & frustrations
    • May help improve self-esteem
    • Family counseling can help the individuals’ family to better understand ADHD, which may enhance social support
  • Social Skills Training
    • Can help individuals to better cope with those around them (i.e. they can learn how to take turns & how to share with others)
  • Support Groups
    • Engaging with people who are going through a similar situation can help increase the feeling of acceptance and support

How can I help myself if I have ADHD?

  • Develop a structure & neat habits (stay organized)
    • Create a space for yourself
    • Have a daily planner
    • Use lists
  • Exercise to stay moving
  • Nurture your relationships
  • Educate yourself on ADHD
  • Limit distractions (i.e. make use of noise-canceling headphones)
  • Plan ahead