Table of Contents:
- An Introduction to ADHD
- Symptoms of ADHD
- Problems Related to ADHD
- Causes of ADHD
- How is ADHD diagnosed?
- Treatment of ADHD
- Additional Treatments for ADHD
- ADHD in Adults
- Getting Help for ADHD
- Future Directions in ADHD
- Resources for ADHD
Have you ever had trouble concentrating, found it hard to sit still, interrupted others during a conversation or acted impulsively without thinking things through? Can you recall times when you daydreamed or had difficulty focusing on the task at hand?
Most of us can picture acting this way from time to time. But for some people, these and other exasperating behaviors are uncontrollable, persistently plaguing their day-to-day existence and interfering with their ability to form lasting friendships or succeed in school, at home and with a career.
Unlike a broken bone or cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, also know as just plain attention deficit disorder or ADD) does not show physical signs that can be detected by a blood or other lab test. The typical ADHD symptoms often overlap with those of other physical and psychological disorders.
The causes remain unknown, but ADHD can be diagnosed and effectively treated. Many resources are available to support families in managing ADHD behaviors when they occur.
ADHD, also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD) or hyperkinetic disorder, has been around a lot longer than most people realize. In fact, a condition that appears to be similar to ADHD was described by Hippocrates, who lived from 460 to 370 BC. The name Attention Deficit Disorder was first introduced in 1980 in DSM-III, the third edition of the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’, used in psychiatry. In 1994 the definition was altered to include three groups within ADHD: the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type; the predominantly inattentive type; and the combined type. ADHD usually appears in childhood but can be diagnosed in adults.
Recent steps forward in our understanding of ADHD include:
- An estimated 3 to 5 per cent of children are affected – approximately 2 million children in the US. In a classroom of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD.
- ADHD is among the most common mental disorders among children. It is one of the top reasons for referral to a pediatrician, family physician, pediatric neurologist, child psychiatrist or psychologist. ADHD is best diagnosed by a child psychologist or other child specialist in ADHD.
- ADHD is about three times more common among boys than girls.
- The symptoms of ADHD do not always go away – up to 60 per cent of child patients retain their symptoms into adulthood. Many adults with ADHD have never been diagnosed, so may not be aware they have the disorder. They may have been wrongly diagnosed with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or a learning disability.
- ADHD has been identified in every nation and culture that has been studied.
ADHD is difficult for everyone involved to deal with. As well as the difficulty of living with the symptoms, wider society may face challenges. Some experts have linked ADHD with an increased risk of accidents, drug abuse, failure at school, antisocial behavior and criminal activity. But others view ADHD in a positive light, arguing that it is simply a different method of learning involving greater risk-taking and creativity.
ADHD is often accompanied by:
- learning disabilities
- speech or hearing problems
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- behavioral problems such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder (CD)
Exactly what causes ADHD has not been pinpointed, though many practitioners believe neurobiological or genetic elements play a role. In addition, numerous social factors such as family conflict or poor child-rearing practices, while not causing the condition, may complicate the course of ADHD and its treatment.
Symptoms of ADD/ADHD
Grohol, J. (2007). An Introduction to ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 9, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/an-introduction-to-adhd/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.