If you have questions regarding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD – what causes it, is it the same thing as ADD, how ADHD is diagnosed, and what treatments are best—you’ve come to the correct spot. Top professionals answer frequently asked questions here. This is the time to find peace and solutions.
What Is ADHD?
When you hear the term “ADHD,” what comes to mind is probably a screeching child running circles around the table instead of settling down to finish his arithmetic homework. Yet, this image of a wild child is not a true representation of ADHD because the disorder is far more complicated than that. And, let’s face it, it’s completely common (even for grownups) to lose attention or have difficulty sitting still from time to time. And, truly, what kid wouldn’t prefer to do anything other than his homework?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental illness that affects both children and adults (so, it’s not simply a problem for kids). In fact, around 8 million individuals in the United States have the disorder, and the anticipated number of youngsters diagnosed with ADHD is 6.1 million, according to the report. ²
ADHD occurs when the brain and central nervous system experience deficits in the formation and development of administrative processes in the brain, such as attention, working memory, planning, organizing, foresight, and impulse control. In other words, ADHD impairs the abilities that allow us to organize, prioritize, and carry out complex tasks. Because the majority of children with ADHD do not outgrow it (though some do), the illness persists throughout adulthood. In fact, in 60% of cases, symptoms continue into adulthood.
What Causes ADHD?
While the precise etiology of ADHD is unknown, most researchers attribute it to a combination of biology, genetics, and environment. ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, video games, or an excess of sugar (those factors sometimes exacerbate the symptoms, though). Here’s the lowdown on the risk factors that researchers say may enhance the likelihood of having the illness.
- Genetics. While no specific ADHD gene has been found, numerous studies indicate a genetic relationship. For example, it is extremely common for a person diagnosed with ADHD to have at least one close cousin who also has the disorder. Indeed, 30-to-35% of first-degree relatives (mother, father, sister, or brother) of children with ADHD have the illness as well.
- The surroundings. Toxins and chemicals in meals, cleaning, and personal hygiene products we use every day, as well as lead exposure, are examples of environmental variables. Toxic chemicals are especially dangerous to infants and young children because they can impair normal brain development.
- Traumatic brain damage. Traumatic brain injury, according to researchers, may alter brain regions related to ADHD.
- Birth weight is low. According to research, premature or underweight babies are three times more likely to acquire ADHD than full-term, healthy-sized infants. While researchers are unsure why this is the case, they believe it has something to do with the stress of premature development in the body, which can cause inflammation.
The Symptoms of ADHD
Because ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all illness, children and adults with different types of ADHD will exhibit diverse degrees and types of behaviors (think of it as a continuum), including inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. There are three kinds of ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD, Inattentive ADHD (previously known as ADD and more common in girls), and Combined Type ADHD, which is a combination of Hyperactive-Impulsive and Inattentive ADHD symptoms.
While many of the symptoms associated with ADHD may appear to be behaviors that many of us exhibit on any given day, ADHD may be diagnosed when a child (under 12) exhibits at least 6 of the symptoms from one or both categories below for at least 6 months and demonstrates them in more than one setting (home, classroom, or at work). At least five of the symptoms should be present in adolescents aged 17 and older, as well as adults.
ADHD Test (Self-Assessment)
This simple evaluation is for adults who suspect they may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD
- They are fidgety with their hands or feet, or they are unusually squirmy while sitting in a chair.
- Trouble staying seated, which can be difficult in a classroom, lecture, or workplace.
- Excessive running or climbing (in children); great restlessness (in adults)
- Difficulties participating in quiet activities
- They act as though they have a hyperspeed internal motor and must continually be on the move.
- Excessive talking
- Answers questions even before they are done.
- Waiting or taking turns might be difficult.
- Intrudes or interrupts talks i.e. insert themselves into a group of BFFs playing together.
Predominantly Inattentive ADHD (formerly known as ADD)
- Misses details, which can lead to things like handing in schoolwork with several spelling errors or having an entire recipe fail due to ingredients being mistakenly skipped.
- Paying attention is difficult; reading or listening to a teacher’s lesson can rapidly descend into a daydreaming session.
- When spoken to, they do not listen—they may appear distracted and gaze everywhere but at you.
- Does not carry out instructions. For example, they might get caught in a Nintendo whirlwind while reading guidelines for a homework assignment—and the homework never gets done.
- Organization and time management issues
- Avoids jobs that require a lot of concentration (hello, homework)
- Being easily distracted
- Inattention to daily activities
What Effect Does ADHD Have on Relationships?
The challenge of having ADHD and having relationships is a recurrent subject among persons who have ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult to focus on what others are saying and to follow through on commitments or statements made. ADHD can make it more stressful because promises are less likely to be kept and simple things like appointments or phone messages are frequently ignored. Even minor errors cause more frequent stress in relationships and raise tension.
ADHD also makes it more difficult to carefully consider what you are about to say or how what you say might be received. As a result, persons with ADHD are more likely to say something offensive that they did not intend to say and are less restricted in how they say it. It’s crucial to realize that ADHD can have an impact on adult relationships, which can be as frustrating for the person with ADHD as it is for the other person.
What Effect Does ADHD Have on Your Job?
Depending on your employment, dealing with ADHD at work can be difficult. ADHD poses a unique set of obstacles in the workplace, yet many people with ADHD have thrived at their jobs despite the disease. ADHD can make it difficult to concentrate, meet deadlines, recall key information, and pay attention to people. This might cause stress in the workplace for someone with ADHD and lead to poor performance.
Many people who discover they have ADHD question, “Should I inform my boss?” ADHD is a disability, and it is usually illegal for an employer to discriminate against you if you have it. Employers are usually compelled to accommodate the challenges that ADHD can bring, and if you tell them that you have ADHD, they may be more understanding of any flaws in your job. Finally, you should only tell your employer about your ADHD if you are comfortable doing so.
Though there is no cure for ADHD, it can be effectively managed in children and adults through a mix of behavior therapy, medication, and changes and support at work and school. Parent training, which focuses on improving parent-child communication, teaching the child socially appropriate behavior, and rewarding them for excellent behavior, is also part of the treatment for children. Because no two people’s treatment regimens are the same, it’s critical to monitor, follow up, and make adjustments as needed.
Therapy for ADHD
To assist those with ADHD in better managing their emotions and behavior, behavioral therapy and psychoeducation are recommended. A therapist can assist with executive functioning issues such as time management and work with the individual to build new routines to help them stay on track. Counseling can also focus on ways to increase self-regulation and self-monitoring, so the patient is better prepared to deal with day-to-day issues at home, school, job, and in social interactions.
A cognitive-behavioral approach is useful for addressing a specific issue behavior by assisting the individual in understanding why they are acting in this manner and how to alter it. Furthermore, social skills groups might be good for children and teenagers with ADHD who frequently struggle with social interactions due to impulsivity. Therapy is typically scheduled once per week for 45 minutes.
Medication can be an important aspect of treatment for children and adults aged 6 and up. ADHD medications are divided into two types: stimulants and non-stimulants. They function by boosting neurotransmitter levels in the brain to alleviate symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity. Keep in mind that medication may not work for everyone, or that finding the appropriate one may take some time.
- Stimulants. These are the most commonly used ADHD drugs, and they operate by increasing focus and lowering distractibility. Stimulants enhance brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which are necessary for message transmission between neurons. In children, 70 to 80% of the time, symptoms improve within one to two hours of taking the drug. Within a few hours of taking stimulants, 70% of adults report considerable improvement. Methylphenidate (Concerta, Aptensio XR) and dextro-amphetamine are the two generic stimulants, often known as central nervous system stimulants, that are frequently used to treat ADHD (Adderall).
- Non-stimulants. Non-stimulant medicines may be an alternative if a stimulant drug is not well tolerated or does not relieve symptoms. These medications are used to treat symptoms of impulsiveness and hyperactivity, emotional regulation, and sleeplessness. These can take up to a week to fully kick in, unlike fast-acting stimulants, and may require some tinkering to get the optimum amount. Atomoxetine (Strattera) is a common non-stimulant that helps enhance norepinephrine, which improves focus while mitigating impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Clonidine (Kapvay) and Guanfacine (Intuniv), both alpha-agonist medicines, were originally created to treat excessive blood pressure but have recently been licensed to treat ADHD. They have an effect on receptors in the brain that help with executive functioning by increasing attention and impulse control, as well as lowering distraction.
To summarize, ADHD is a complicated condition that affects a large percentage of the population. It can have a significant influence on people’s everyday life, relationships, and general health. Individuals with ADHD may, nevertheless, enjoy full and successful lives with adequate diagnosis, treatment, and support. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental illness that requires awareness and proper therapies, not a personal flaw or a result of poor parenting.
Medication, counseling, and lifestyle modifications are all effective treatment options. Working together with a trained healthcare professional to design a tailored treatment plan that suits each individual’s specific requirements is critical. Furthermore, in order to minimize stigma and enhance understanding in society, it is critical to educate and create awareness about ADHD. By understanding ADHD, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, we can better support and care for those who have experienced it.