ADHD Awareness: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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ADHD word cloud on a white background. Source: Depositphotos



ADHD is short for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. This condition is one of the most common neurodevelopmental (mental) disorders that affects children. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, more than 8% of American children have ADHD. This condition is more prevalent among boys (13.2%) than girls (5.6%), according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

ADHD is first suspected in school-aged children when they exhibit certain behaviors such as disturbance in classrooms or poor performance in school. Children with ADHD have an attention deficit, are hyperactive, and tend to act without thinking. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Some of the most common general symptoms of ADHD include the inability to stay focused, hyperactivity in different environmental settings, and impulsiveness. These symptoms are mostly seen in children. It is easy to identify ADHD in children because they exhibit hyperactive and inattentive behaviors, more than expected for their age. 

Distracted minds and ADHD.
Distracted minds and ADHD. Source: Depositphotos

There are three types of ADHD diagnoses: impulsive or hyperactive type, inattentive type, and combined type. ADHD is usually diagnosed based on behavioral observations over six months.

Treatment

ADHD can be controlled with the right treatment in place. Treatment options include behavior therapy and medication. 

Behavior Therapy

Experts recommend starting behavior therapy immediately after diagnosis. The primary aim of therapy is to strengthen good behaviors in children with ADHD and eliminate the disruptive behaviors they show.

 

If the diagnosed individual is younger than six years, it’s best to start treatment with behavior therapy as opposed to using medication. This is because young children show more side-effects from medications than adults.

 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a combination of behavior therapy and medication will be most effective for children who are six years or older.

 

Medication

The FDA approves the use of stimulants and non-stimulants to treat ADHD in children 6 years or older. 

 

The most widely used ADHD medications are stimulants. Non-stimulants could also help to control this condition, although slowly.

 

Vyvanse® is one of the most common stimulants for ADHD treatment. The drug is relatively expensive but patients can use a prescription vyvanse coupon to save costs. Other stimulants include Adderall XR®, Methylin™ ER, Focalin®, Daytrana®, Ritalin®, Concerta®, Metadate CD®, and Dexedrine®. 

 

Medications may affect children differently. Some children may be allergic or highly sensitive to stimulants. It’s, therefore, important for parents to work closely with their healthcare providers.

ADHD in Adults

Although more common in children, adults are also diagnosed with ADHD. The American Psychiatric Association reports that up to 2.5% of adults may have ADHD.

 

The symptoms are common in both children and adults, but they show up quite distinctly. In adults, symptoms show up as poor management skills, lack of concentration, restlessness, and inability to do different things at the same time. Adults with ADHD usually avoid activities that require prolonged focus.

 

Adults would only be diagnosed with this condition when it’s known that these symptoms were observed usually before the age of 7.

When Should I Seek Help?

Patients who show six or more symptoms of ADHD (five in adults) for at least six months should visit a pediatrician or child psychiatrist.

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