Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 11 March 2021

What Is ADHD?

A brain disorder known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects how you pay attention, remain still, and control your behaviour. It affects adolescents and teenagers, and it can last into adulthood.

In children, ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder. It is more common in boys than in girls. It’s normally detected in a child’s early school years, when he or she starts to have difficulty paying attention.

ADHD is not curable or preventable. However, early detection of ADHD, as well as a successful treatment and education plan, will help a child or adult with ADHD control their symptoms.

ADHD Symptoms

Symptoms in children

Symptoms are grouped into three types:

1. Inattentive

A child with ADHD:

  • Is easily distracted
  • Does not listen to instructions
  • Does not complete tasks
  • Does not seem to be listening
  • Does not pay attention
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Forgets about daily activities
  • Difficulties organizing daily tasks
  • Does not like to do things that require sitting still
  • Often loses things
  • Often daydreams
2. Hyperactive-impulsive

A child with ADHD:

  • Often fidgets, squirms or bounces when sitting
  • Does not sit still
  • Is very noisy
  • Restlessness – unable to stay still
  • Talks excessively
  • Has trouble waiting for their turn
  • Interrupts others
3. Combined

This involves signs of both other types.

Symptoms in adults

Symptoms of ADHD may change as a person gets older. They include:

  • Often being late
  • Forgetful
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulties at work
  • Trouble controlling anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • Substance misuse or addiction
  • Trouble staying organized
  • Procrastination
  • Easily frustrated
  • Often bored
  • Trouble concentrating when reading
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems

 

ADHD vs. ADD

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is the previous name for ADHD. They are used interchangeably and refer to the same condition.

 

ADHD Causes

The cause of ADHD is unclear to experts. It may be caused by a variety of causes, including:

  • Genetics: ADHD has a tendency to occur in families.
  • Biochemistry: People with ADHD may have an imbalance in their brain chemistry.
  • Brain alterations. Children with ADHD have less functioning areas of the brain that regulate concentration.
  • Adverse pregnancy conditions: poor nutrition, infections, smoking, drinking, and substance abuse during pregnancy. All these affect the baby’s development during pregnancy.
  • Toxins: affects a child’s brain development.
  • A brain injury or a brain disorder. Frontal lobe brain damage can cause problems with impulse and emotion control.

ADHD is not caused by sugar. ADHD isn’t caused by watching too much TV, having a stressful family life, attending poor schooling, or having food allergies.

 

ADHD Diagnosis and Testing

ADHD can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in children. No one would be able to find it in one test. After reviewing symptoms with the child, parents, and teachers, and observing the child’s actions, doctors diagnose ADHD.

Doctors follow the recommendations of the American Psychiatric Association, which are dependent on how many signs a person has and how long they’ve been present. They’ll probably rule out all potential causes that may be affecting the effects, such as health disorders or regular difficulties.

A child can take a series of tests to check their neurological and psychological status and support a diagnosis of ADHD or learning differences. A paediatrician or mental health specialist with experience diagnosing and treating ADHD should administer the tests. A doctor, psychologist, or psychotherapist may be recommended to you by your primary care provider. The assessments could include the following:

  • A full medical and social history of both the child and the family.
  • A physical exam
  • A neurological assessment that includes screenings of vision, hearing, and verbal and motor skills. More tests may be given if hyperactivity may be related to another physical problem.
  • Knowledge, aptitude, behavioural characteristics, or processing abilities are all assessed. When the kid is of school age, these are often performed with feedback from parents and teachers.
  • The Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Evaluation Assist (NEBA) Device is a scan that detects theta and beta waves in the brain. Children and adolescents with ADHD have a higher theta/beta ratio than children and adolescents without ADHD.

 

ADHD Treatment

ADHD may be handled in a number of ways. However, literature shows that a multimodal approach is the safest way to treat symptoms for many infants. This entails a variety of therapeutic approaches that operate well. Medication and rehabilitation can help with all of the symptoms of ADHD. It is important that therapists, physicians, students, and parents work together closely.

Medication 

Stimulants are the most widely used drugs for treating ADHD, despite worries about potential overuse. They can aid in the regulation of impulsive and hyperactive actions as well as the improvement of attention span. They affect brain chemicals like dopamine, and may worsen impulsive behaviour.

They include:

  • Amphetamine
  • Dexmethylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine – Adderall, Dexedrine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Methylphenidate  – ie Ritalin

For certain people with ADHD, stimulant drugs don’t work. Non-stimulant drugs can be used by people over the age of six, such as:

  • Atomoxetine
  • Clonidine
  • Guanfacine 

Doctors can prescribe antidepressants such as SSRIs, bupropion, or venlafaxine in certain instances.

The below are some of the possible side effects of ADHD medications:

  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Crankiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin discoloration (with patches)
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache

The majority of side effects are mild and can diminish over time. Doctors can reduce a dose to reduce side effects in some situations.

Stimulants may cause more serious side effects in extreme cases. Some, for example, have been attributed to an increased risk of heart failure and mortality in children. They can also intensify psychological problems such as depression or anxiety, or cause a psychotic response.

Consult your doctor on the dangers and benefits of using an ADHD medication for your boy. Know that finding the right dosage and dosage can require some trial and error.

Therapy

These therapies are targeted at modifying behaviour.

  • A child with special needs may benefit from special education at school. Structure and schedule can be particularly helpful to children with ADHD.
  • Behavior therapy shows us how to substitute unhealthy patterns with positive ones. Make it clear to your child what you want of them. Make laws that are straightforward and easy to understand. If they lose discipline, let them face the repercussions you’ve created, such as time-outs or the loss of privileges. Have your eyes open for proper etiquette. Reward them as they control their impulses.
  • Psychotherapy (counselling) may support those with ADHD with trying to control their thoughts and frustrations more efficiently. It has the potential to boost their self-esteem. Family members may benefit from counselling to better understand a child or adult with ADHD.
  • Taking turns and sharing are two habits that can be learned by social skills instruction.

Medical device. 

The Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) System has been approved by the FDA for children aged 7 to 12 who are not taking ADHD drugs. It’s around the size of a smartphone and is connected to electrodes on a patch worn on a child’s forehead. It sends low-level impulses to the portion of their brain thought to be responsible for ADHD. Usually, the gadget is worn at night.

You will learn more about ADHD and how to treat the symptoms by joining a support network of people who have common issues and needs. Adults with ADHD and parents with children with ADHD will benefit from both classes.

Education and ADHD. 

Another critical aspect of ADHD therapy is educating caregivers about the condition and how to handle it. Learning parenting skills to help a child control their behaviour is one example. In certain circumstances, the whole family of the child could be involved.

Natural remedies

Dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help people with ADHD.

A few behavioural changes will also aid in the management of symptoms for you or your child:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Every day, get some exercise. Exercising helps kids with ADHD regulate their behavior and other behavioural concerns, according to studies. Try enrolling your kid in a sports team like hockey, soccer, or baseball. Playing sports not only offers fitness for youngsters, but it also teaches them essential social skills such as following rules and taking turns.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on mobile devices.
  • Make sure you have enough rest.
  • Reduce disturbances in your child’s space, such as toys, and increase organisation.

When you’re parenting a child with ADHD, it’s normal to feel upset. If you engage fully in your child’s care, you will be more in control. It would be beneficial for you to:

  • Maintain a regular timetable and routine.
  • Discuss your desires for your child in a straightforward and frank way. Keep the directions plain and succinct ( “Make sure you clean your teeth. Now it’s time to get dressed.") instead of “general." " (“Get ready for school.").
  • When you’re talking to your kids, your sole focus should be on them.
  • Set a good example by staying relaxed and concentrated.
  • Maintain consistency with your discipline, and ensure that all caregivers follow your lead.
  • Recognize and reward positive behaviour.
  • Increase your child’s self-confidence. They could be bombarded with corrections because they have difficulty interpreting instructions and other facts, leaving them with a low self-esteem. Make an effort to boost your child’s self-esteem.
  • Encourage your child’s unique abilities, particularly in sports and extracurricular activities.
  • Know all you can about impulsive habits and ADHD.
  • Stay in touch with your child’s psychiatrist, teachers, and therapists as much as possible.
  • Form a support network to hear about other parents who have encountered similar difficulties.

 

ADHD Outlook

ADHD will find it difficult to cope with the pressures of daily life if not handled. Learning and social skills acquisition can be challenging for children. Adults can deal with addiction and relationship issues. Mood swings, depression, low self-esteem, eating habits, risk-taking, and disagreements with others may also be signs of the condition.

Many people with ADHD, on the other hand, live peaceful and full lives. Treatment is helpful.

Keep aware of your conditions and visit your doctor on a daily basis. Medication and therapies that were once effective can no longer be effective. It’s likely that you’ll need to adjust your recovery schedule. Some people’s symptoms change as they grow older, and some are able to avoid taking drugs.

Sources

Referenced on 2.3.2021:

  1. American Academy of Family Physicians: “ADHD: What Parents Should Know."
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder Resources: “Behavioral Treatment for ADHD."
  3. CHADD: “Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."
  4. National Resource Center on ADHD: “Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria," “Treatment Overview."
  5. National Institute of Mental Health: “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder," “What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?" “Questions Raised about Stimulants and Sudden Death."
  6. FDA: “FDA permits marketing of first brain wave test to help assess children and teens for ADHD,” “Risks for ADHD Drugs Outlined in Patient Guides."
  7. Nemours/KidsHealth: “ADHD.”
  8. CDC: “What is ADHD?” “Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD.”
  9. CHADD: “About ADHD — Overview.”
  10. National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”
  11. Attention Deficit Disorder Association: “ADHD: The Facts.”
  12. American Psychiatric Association: “What Is ADHD?”
  13. Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children."
  14. Journal of Attention Disorders: “A Physical Activity Program Improves Behavior and Cognitive Functions in Children With ADHD: An Exploratory Study.”
  15. HEARD Alliance: “Inattention and Impulsivity."
  16. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Your Adolescent — Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)."
  17. Journal of Pediatric Neuroscience: “Management of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.”
  18. Child Mind Institute: “Behavioral Treatments for Kids with ADHD.”
  19. HelpGuide.org: “ADD/ADHD Parenting Tips,” “ADD & ADHD Medications."
  20. Neuroscience for Kids: “ADHD Gets Some Attention."
  21. U.S. Department of Education: “Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Resource for School and Home."
  22. American Academy of Pediatrics: “National Institute of Mental Health Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD Follow-Up: Changes in Effectiveness and Growth After the End of Treatment."
  23. Heart Rhythm Society.
  24. American Academy of Pediatrics.
  25. Medscape: “Once-Daily Guanfacine Approved to Treat ADHD."
  26. Attention Deficit Disorder Resources: “Medication Management for Adults with ADHD."
  27. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd

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