Individuals who find it difficult to retain their attention on one task, or have a hard time just staying still for a long period is a type of mental health condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This condition is more commonly known as ADHD.
Those with ADHD have hyperactive and impulsive behaviors that are beyond the normal levels. Both children and adults may experience this kind of condition, and knowing about its types as well as its symptoms may help us understand people with ADHD.
The APA (American Psychiatric Association) recognizes this diagnosis.
Several behaviors are related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the more common of these are the following:
- Having a difficult time concentrating on a particular activity
- Having a hard time completing a chore because they tend to forget
- Gets distracted quickly
- Cannot stay still for a long period
- Interrupts others who are talking
- Having difficulty in time management
- Losing things very often
- Struggles in organizing things
- Less involvement in activities than other kids
The symptoms depend on what kind of ADHD you have, so it is possible that you can only have some of the symptoms or all of them. Having a lot of knowledge about this condition would help you know more about its symptoms and what you may have.
Types of ADHD
The American Psychiatric Association has categorized ADHD into three types to make an appropriate and reliable diagnosis. The categories of ADHD are predominantly hyperactivity- impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and a combination of the two.
This category involves those who have a severely difficult time completing an activity, following directions, and concentrating. Several children under the “predominantly inattentive” category do not usually get the right diagnosis as their behavior is not disruptive. This type of ADHD is more common with girls.
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
Those with this kind of ADHD are those who have behaviors that are hyperactive and impulsive. Their actions may include being unable to wait for their turn, fidgeting, and interrupting those who are talking.
With “predominantly hyperactive-impulsive” type, loss of attention is not a big concern. However, people with this kind of ADHD still tend to have a hard time concentrating on their activities.
Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type
The combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type is the most common form of ADHD and those who are in this category show both symptoms of hyperactivity and inattentiveness. Some of the symptoms are difficulty in focusing, having an impulsive behavior, and having levels of energy and activity that are beyond the usual.
The kind of treatment given is based on the type of ADHD that you have. It is best to know more about the three categories of ADHD so that you will be well- informed, and it would be helpful most, especially if you have this condition. Another important note is that your current type of ADHD may be subject to change over time; that is why knowing about this will prepare you in the future as well.
Causes of ADHD
Concrete causes for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is still not known in spite of the condition is common. However, doctors and researchers have a theory that ADHD is of neurological origins, and that genetics may have a part in it.
According to some sources, having reduced dopamine may contribute a factor to this condition. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that aids in the transferring of signals from nerve to nerve, and functions to provoke movement as well as emotional responses.
Other sources believe that people with ADHD may have less volume of the gray matter, which is a part of the brain that is responsible for functions such as:
- Muscle control
- Self- control
- Making a decision
Because there are still no hard facts about what causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers are working hard to find out about its possible causes, which may include smoking while pregnant.
Learn more about this condition’s possible causes as well as the risk factors that come with it.
Diagnosis and Treatment
ADHD testing and diagnosis
Diagnosing for ADHD may require more than just a single test to determine if you have one, but using the new test to assess an adult may provide some useful information.
To start a diagnosis for this condition, the individual concerned may be asked for the symptoms that he or she has experienced in the period of the last six months. The doctor may also get additional information from other family members, or if the patient is a child, the teacher may also be asked.
Aside from the information from other people around the patient, doctors also use rating scales and checklists to assess the symptoms. You may expect to undergo some physical exams as well because the doctor may want to check if there are other health concerns. Try to know more about the rating scales and checklists for ADHD, and learn about what these tools can do, and what they cannot.
If you think that you have ADHD, see your doctor so you can be evaluated. If you think your child has one, you may discuss with the school counselor to check if their performance in school has been affected.
So you can be assessed properly, note down your observations of the symptoms that you feel you are experiencing, and give these notes to your doctor, or if for your child, to his or her school counselor.
If ADHD is suspected, you may be referred to an ADHD specialist, and depending on the outcome of your evaluation, you may also be asked to see a neurologist or a psychiatrist.
The common treatment given to those with ADHD are usually medications, behavioral therapies, or a combination of both.
The types of therapies used to treat this condition are psychotherapy or also known as talk therapy and behavioral therapy. With psychotherapy, the patient will talk about how ADHD is affecting his or her life, and the therapist will suggest ways on how he or she can manage the condition. As for behavioral therapy, the patient will be taught how to watch and control his or her condition.
Medicines may help to manage your impulses and actions by affecting the chemicals in your brain.
For the medications, there are two types used for the treatment of ADHD, and these are stimulants and no- stimulants.
The most usual prescription is central nervous system stimulants, which can include methylphenidate and other amphetamine-based stimulants. These types of medicines function by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are brain chemicals.
If the mentioned medications do not improve the condition, the doctor may prescribe a non- stimulant drug like atomoxetine and other antidepressant drugs like bupropion. These medicines function by increasing the amount of norepinephrine.
What are the normal conditions
ADHD may be a neurodevelopmental disorder, but it is not a learning disability. The symptoms, though, can cause some learning challenges, and those with learning disabilities may develop this condition. And though it is not a disability, it can have a lifelong effect on the person’s life.
ADHD and Depression
Having ADHD does not mean that you will also have depression, but there is a potential that this condition can also develop. There are treatments for both, and if they both happen, the treatments usually overlap.
Tips for coping with ADHD
There are ways to cope if you have this condition. You can try and maintain a regular schedule with a structure and have consistent expectations. Keep a calendar to keep yourself organized and help you focus.
Knowing more about ADHD can help you learn to control and manage it. Be in constant communication with your doctor as he or she can guide you in managing your symptoms.
Risks of Having
Some of the risk factors involved in this condition are:
- Premature birth
- Alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy
- Family histories like a sibling or a parent with ADHD or other mental health issues
- Exposure to lead and other toxins
Sugar consumption has always been blamed for hyperactivity, but there is no concrete evidence. Also, childhood issues are said to cause the inability to focus, but then again, they are not the same as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you suspect that you or your child have the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), consult with your health care provider or if it is your child, his or her pediatrician. You or your child may be referred to an ADHD specialist or a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, psychiatrist, neurologist, or psychologist.
You or your child may also be asked to have some physical examinations or other diagnostic tests as your health care provider would want to assess if you have other medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms.
It is better to see your doctor right away once you feel that you may have this condition so you can be appropriately diagnosed.