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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is ADHD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the most common of the behavioral disorders in young children and adolescents. To varying degrees, ADHD can interfere with personal functioning, school, family and social life. If it is not identified and treated early, it can affect adult life.

ADHD is a neurological disease with two main features: inattention, and impulsivity or hyperactivity. Although these types of behavior are found in all children, they are chronic and highly pronounced in the cases of those with ADHD. And they occur in all circumstances of life and in both sexes equally.

Despite academic difficulties caused by ADHD, there is no link between this disorder and intelligence. It is estimated that 5% to 8% of the population suffers from ADHD.

In half the cases, ADHD persists into adulthood, but sometimes the symptoms diminish during adolescence. About half of children with ADHD also have other problems such as learning disabilities, anxiety, anger or emotional problems. These problems often lead to socialization difficulties and poor self-esteem.

Symptoms

Symptoms of inattention

ADHD symptoms tend to increase in situations requiring discipline or some effort. The sufferer;

  • makes careless mistakes and struggles to pay attention to small details
  • struggles to maintain attention in tasks or activities
  • seems not to listen when being spoken to
  • violates instructions
  • has difficulty in organizing activities or work
  • tries to avoid engaging in tasks that need mental effort
  • loses items needed for activities
  • can be distracted easily by outside stimulation sources
  • is forgetful in daily life

 

Symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity

The sufferer often;

  • fidgets with hands or feet
  • will be unable to stay sitting down in the classroom or in other situations
  • runs about or climbs over things where it is inappropriate without fear danger
  • struggles to keep quiet during rest and recreation periods
  • is very active
  • talks too much
  • attempts to answer questions before they’ve heard them in full
  • struggles waiting for things, especially in queues
  • interrupts others
  • has difficulty controlling actions and words in stressful times
  • has mood swings.

Causes of ADHD

This disease has no single cause. Probably related to certain brain chemicals, it is not caused by unmet emotional needs or by psychosocial problems. Even if it is a hereditary disease, certain factors may, however, increase the risk, such as:

  • Fetal exposure to certain toxic substances such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs
  • meningitis
  • head trauma
  • prematurity
  • problems occurred at delivery that could have caused a lack of oxygen to the infant.

Diagnosing ADHD?

The diagnosis of ADHD is not easy and there is no medical test or examination to enable a clear diagnosis. The specialist who makes the diagnosis carries out a thorough assessment of the patient and environment. To help determine whether a person has ADHD, the health professional uses several tools, such as best practice statistical diagnostics, psychological testing, neuropsychological tests, and feedback from certain behavioral scales.

How to treat ADHD?

There is no treatment that can cure ADHD. The objective of the intervention is to reduce the effects of the disease on the sufferer, that is to say his academic difficulties, sufferings related to the rejection that often suffers, low self-esteem, etc. When ADHD is treated well, the prognosis is generally good.

The stigma associated with ADHD is tenacious. For this reason, medical treatment is always combined with a psychosocial intervention (eg. social skills program, behavioral psychotherapy, family therapy, educational support or participation in sports or community activities). In schools, interventions that promote the organization of work for appropriate supervision is advised.

In addition to the psychological and social interventions, medication is often necessary to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. The doctor will usually not prescribe these drugs just because a patient is turbulent, unless this behavior is pronounced enough to disrupt the patient’s social skills and self-esteem.