What is ADHD? ~ Amreen Sekhon

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) is a neuro-psychiatric condition affecting preschoolers, children, adolescents, and adults around the world. ADHD is characterized by a pattern of diminished sustained attention, and increased impulsivity or hyperactivity. It affects upto 5 to 8 percent of school aged children, with 60 to 85 percent of those diagnosed as children to meet criteria for the disorder in adolescence, and upto 60 percent continuing to be symptomatic into adulthood. Children, adolescents and adults with ADHD often have significant impairment in academic functioning as well as in social and interpersonal situations.

Symptoms

Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are the key symptoms of ADHD. It is normal for a child to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity but those with ADHD, these behaviors are more sever, occur more often and interfere with the quality of functions at school, socially etc.

Inattention

Those with symptoms of inattention may :

  • Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
  • Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
  • Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and failing to meet deadlines
  • Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms or reviewing lengthy papers
  • Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
  • Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
  • Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may often:

  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Leave their seats in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or in the office
  • Run or dash around or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
  • Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
  • Be constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor”
  • Talk nonstop
  • Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in conversation
  • Have trouble waiting his or her turn
  • Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities

ADHD symptoms can appear as early as between the ages of 3 and 6 and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems or missed entirely in quiet, well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.

Treatment

Medication:

There are 5 of medications for the treatment of ADHD:

  • Methylphenidate
  • Dexamfetamine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Atomoxetine
  • Guanfacine

(Please check with a professional before taking medication)

Therapy:

  1. Psychoeducation: This involves encouraging the child and the parents to discuss ADHD and its effects. It gives a better sense of diagnosing the problem which helps in the coping process.
  2. Behavior Therapy: Behavior therapy mainly deals with the primary caretakers i.e the parents and teachers. It involves behaviour management which deals with the system of rewards to encourage the child to control their ADHD. For teachers it involves how to structure and plan activities in the classroom and use praise inorder to encourage the child even when he/she makes a minute amount of progress.
  3. Social skills training: Social skills training deals with the role playing situations involving the child. The aim is to teach the child how to deal in social situations and learning how their behavior effects others around them.
  4. Cognitive Bheavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps to manage the problems by changing the way one thinks and behaves. It is carried out individually with the therapist or in a group.