A continuing pattern of hyperactivity-impulsivity and/or inattention that interferes with functioning characterizes attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
People who have ADHD frequently exhibit the following kinds of symptoms:
Inattention is characterized by problems with organization, focus, and remaining on the task that is unrelated to defiance or a lack of understanding.
Hyperactivity is characterized by excessive fidgeting, tapping, talking, or moving around, even in settings where it is inappropriate. Adult hyperactivity might take the form of excessive chatting or intense agitation.
An impulsive person may behave without thinking or struggle with self-control. Another aspect of impulsivity is the inability to defer gratification or the need for quick fulfillment. An impulsive person could interrupt others or make crucial choices without thinking about the long-term effects.
Symptoms and Signs
- Some people with ADHD primarily exhibit inattention symptoms. Others primarily display signs of impulsivity and hyperactivity. Both forms of symptoms can occur in certain persons.
- While inattention, impulsivity, and unfocused motor activity are common in many people, they manifest differently in those with ADHD.
- More severe occur more frequently and interfere with or impair their ability to function in social situations, academic settings, or at work.
People who exhibit signs of inattention may frequently:
- Make blunders that seem casual in your work, at work, or during other activities because you overlook or neglect details.
- Have trouble keeping their attention during games or activities like lectures, chats, or thorough reading.
- Not appear to pay attention when addressed directly.
- Find it difficult to carry out instructions or complete assignments, chores, or duties at work.
- You may also begin tasks but lose focus and become quickly distracted.
- Have trouble setting priorities, prioritizing work, keeping materials and possessions organized, managing time, and meeting deadlines.
- Avoid doing your schoolwork or, for older people and teenagers, filling out forms, writing reports, or reading through lengthy papers.
- Lose items including school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones that are required for duties or activities.
- Be prone to distraction from irrelevant thoughts or stimuli.
- Be forgetful when it comes to regular tasks like chores, errands, calling people back, and making appointments.
Those who exhibit signs of impulsivity and hyperactivity frequently:
- Squirm and fidget while sitting.
- When expected to remain seated, such as in a school or the office, people vacate their seats.
- At inappropriate times, run around or climb, or—in teenagers and adults—feel restless frequently.
- Be unable to play quietly or pursue hobbies.
- Act as if driven by a motor or be in constant motion or on the go.
- Excessive talking.
- Complete others’ sentences, respond to inquiries before they are fully asked, or engage in conversation without waiting for your turn.
- A challenge to wait for one’s turn.
- Interrupt or encroach on others, for instance, during games, activities, or talks.
Sometimes primary care doctors will identify and treat ADHD. They could also suggest people get help from a mental health expert, like a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, who can perform a complete assessment and diagnose ADHD.
The symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be persistent or chronic, interfere with functioning, and cause a person to lag behind age-appropriate development for them to be diagnosed with ADHD.
Similar symptoms to those of ADHD can be brought on by stress, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, and other physical ailments or illnesses. As a result, a thorough examination is required to identify the root of the symptoms.
The majority of kids with ADHD are diagnosed when they are in elementary school. A diagnosis of ADHD must have been made for an adult or adolescent before the age of twelve.
Between the ages of 3 and 6, ADHD symptoms can start to show up, and they can persist throughout adolescence and adulthood. When children only exhibit signs of inattention, indications of ADHD might be overlooked or confused with emotional or behavioral issues, delaying diagnosis.
Adults with untreated ADHD may have a history of subpar scholastic achievement, work-related issues, or problematic or failed romantic relationships.
As a person ages, their ADHD symptoms may alter over time. Hyperactivity-impulsivity is the most common symptom of ADHD in young children. When a child enters primary school, the inattention symptom may worsen, making it harder for the youngster to succeed academically.
Hyperactivity appears to decrease throughout adolescence, and symptoms like restlessness or fidgeting may be more common, while inattention and impulsivity may still exist.
The difficulties with relationships and antisocial behavior are common among adolescents with ADHD. Adulthood is typically marked by continued impulsivity, restlessness, and inattentiveness.
Although numerous studies imply that genes play a significant influence, researchers are still unsure of what causes ADHD. Like many other illnesses, ADHD most likely has a variety of causes.
In addition to genetics, researchers are examining potential environmental risk factors for ADHD as well as how brain damage, nutrition, and social contexts may be related to the disorder.
Males are more likely to have ADHD than girls, while females with ADHD are more likely to experience symptoms that are predominantly related to inattention.
Learning difficulties, anxiety disorders, conduct disorders, depression, and substance misuse are among the other conditions that are frequently present in people with ADHD.
Therapy and Treatment
While there is no known treatment for ADHD, existing medications may lessen symptoms and enhance performance. Medication, psychotherapy, instruction or training, or a mix of treatments are all examples of treatments.
Many people find that taking ADHD drugs improves their ability to concentrate, work, and learn while reducing hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Before discovering the proper dosage or drug for a certain patient, it may be necessary to try a few alternative options. The doctor who is prescribing the medicine must keep a close eye on anyone taking it.
Stimulants. “Stimulants” are the most popular class of drugs used to treat ADHD. Although it may seem strange to treat ADHD with a drug that is regarded as a stimulant, the prescription works by raising the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that are crucial for thinking and attention.
Stimulant medicines are regarded as safe when used under medical supervision. However, they can have adverse effects, especially if misused or taken more than the recommended amount, making it necessary for a patient’s healthcare provider to keep track of any possible drug reactions.
Non-stimulants. Some other ADHD treatments don’t use stimulants. These drugs take longer to start functioning than stimulants, but they can also help an ADHD patient with focus, attention, and impulsivity.
When a patient has bothersome stimulant side effects when a stimulant proved ineffective, or in combination with a stimulant to boost effectiveness, doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant.
Some antidepressants are used alone or in conjunction with a stimulant to treat ADHD even though they have not been expressly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose.
If a patient experiences bothersome stimulant side effects, a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to treat all of their ADHD symptoms.
If a patient additionally has another illness, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or another mood disorder, antidepressants may be beneficial when used with stimulants.
Antidepressants and non-stimulant ADHD medications may also cause side effects
To choose the appropriate drug, dosage, or medication combination, doctors and patients can collaborate. The NIMH Mental Health Medications webpage provides basic information about stimulants and other mental health medications.
For the most recent drug approvals, cautions, and patient information manuals, see the FDA website.
Psychosocial interventions and treatment
It has been demonstrated that several particular psychosocial interventions can help people with ADHD and their families manage symptoms and enhance daily functioning.
Before a kid is diagnosed, anger, blame, and frustration in families with school-age children may have grown. To get over bad emotions, parents and kids may require specialist assistance.
Parents can learn about ADHD and how it affects a family from mental health specialists. They will aid in the development of new abilities, perspectives, and interpersonal relationships for both the child and his or her parents.
Parents must actively participate in all forms of therapy for children and teenagers with ADHD.
For the treatment of ADHD symptoms and behavior, psychotherapy that consists exclusively of one-on-one sessions with the child (without parent involvement) is ineffective. Treatment of anxiety or depression symptoms is more likely to be successful with this approach.
A form of psychotherapy called behavioral therapy works to improve a person’s behavior. It could entail providing practical aid, such as assistance with task organization or doing schoolwork, or dealing with emotionally trying situations.
Additionally, behavioral treatment instructs patients on:
Keep an eye on your own conduct and reward or praise yourself when you behave in the desired way, for as by managing your anger or thinking things through.
To help someone control their behavior, parents, instructors, and family members can also provide feedback on specific actions and assist in setting up clear rules, chore lists, and regular routines. Children may also be taught social skills by therapists, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for assistance, or react to teasing.
Training in social skills can also include learning how to respond appropriately to others’ body language and vocal tones as well as how to read their facial expressions.
To increase focus and concentration, cognitive behavioral therapy teaches patients how to become conscious of and accepting of their own thoughts and feelings.
The therapist additionally exhorts the ADHD patient to adapt to the lifestyle changes brought on by the medication, such as stopping to consider before acting or restraining the temptation to take unnecessary risks.
Family and marital therapy can stimulate behavior adjustments in family members and spouses, help manage disruptive behaviors, and enhance relationships with the ADHD patient.
Parenting skills training, also known as behavioral parent management training, teaches parents how to motivate and praise their kids’ good behavior.
Parents are instructed to utilize a system of incentives and penalties to influence their children’s conduct, to provide prompt praise for desired behaviors, and to ignore or refocus desired behaviors.
It has been demonstrated that specific behavioral classroom management treatments and/or academic adjustments for kids and teens can help manage symptoms and enhance functioning at school and with peers.
Also read: The Significance of Growth Mindset for a Happy and Healthy life
Plans for behavior control or programs for imparting study or organizational skills are examples of interventions. Preferential seating in the classroom, a lighter workload, or extra time for tests and exams are a few examples of accommodations.
If a kid qualifies for special education services, the school may offer adjustments through a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Visit the IDEA website of the U.S. Department of Education to learn more about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
By enhancing their capacity to handle irritation, stress management techniques can help parents of children with ADHD respond calmly to their child’s conduct.
Parents and families can connect with others who have comparable issues and worries through support groups. Groups frequently get together regularly to discuss challenges and triumphs, swap advice on consultants and tactics, and consult with experts.