One of the most frequently diagnosed and studied mental disorder in children and adults is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is a problem in a neurodevelopmental category described by inattentiveness or lack of concentration, excessive action or movement and finding it difficult to control behavior. The signs and symptoms appear before the person turns 12 years old, being manifested for more than six months and causing problems at home, in school or other leisure activities. Among children, the disorder often causes poor school performance and restlessness in adults.
Let us talk in detail the signs and symptoms of ADHD:
Signs and Symptoms
The characteristics of the inattentive type of ADHD are the following.
- Unfocused, can get easily distracted, forget things, overlook details and often switch from one doings to another.
- Finds the task boring only after several minutes, unless he or she finds the activity interesting and enjoyable.
- Difficulty in focusing attention on learning something new, organize or complete a task.
- Commonly loses things like toys or pencils and having trouble in finishing homework and assignments.
- When being spoken to, they seem not to listen.
- Having difficulty in following instructions
- Can get easily confused, spend more time daydreaming and move slowly.
- Finds it difficult to process information as fast and accurate compared to others.
When it comes to children with a hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, the following are the symptoms.
- Non-stop talking
- Squirm and fidget in their sitting places
- Run around and plays with everything they see
- Doing silent tasks and activities is a problem to them
- Always in motion
- Being impatient, some at an extreme level
- Interrupting conversation and not waiting for their turn to talk
- Disrupt other activities
- Say inappropriate remarks, show emotions without self-control and do things without thinking of the consequences.
Some cases manifest the two types of ADHD. The study shows that girls are more prone to intellectual problems rather than impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. The signs of excessive activity normally go away as you age and become inner restlessness in teens and adolescents.
Having difficulty in social skills is also one of the problems of people with ADHD. They find it hard to interact and make friends with others. They often experience rejection from their peers. It sure is a tough thing and also a sad one. They have difficulties in anger-management which causes them more problems when it comes to their social skills. Children can also manifest poor handwriting and language and speech delay. People with ADHD are more likely to have lower scores in IQ test.
Causes of ADHD
Despite being the most commonly studied mental disorder, most cases of it is brought by unknown causes. But some believed that it has something to do with the interactions between the person’s environment and genetics as well as other social factors. Some case can be related to brain trauma or an infection before.
Studies show that 75% of ADHD cases are inherited from the parents possessing the genetics. The genes associated with the disorder are TPH2, ADRA2A, GRIN2A, SNAP25, HTR1B, BDNF, SERT and LPHN3. Others claimed that the trait of being hyperactive could be an adaptation that assisted males to face dangerous and stressful situations. It can be positive in an environment where the quick response to a predator is needed to survive.
Environmental factors can also play a role in ADHD. Pregnant women drinking alcohol may lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that can consist of ADHD or other related symptoms. The risk of the disorder can also be increased by contact with tobacco smoke of pregnant women, causing problems in the central nervous system. Other factors like premature birth at an extreme level, low birth weight, social deprivation, abuse, neglect also increase the risk. Minimum of 30% of children that have traumatic brain injury develop ADHD later on.
Other studies show that exposure and consumption of chemical preservatives, as well as the dyes used in food, maybe associated with the disorder. Although, the evidence to support it is weak and can only be applied to those with food sensitivities particularly among children.
A child that belongs to a family, which you can say not functioning well, can also contribute to ADHD. Others said that educational system that is at a poor level could also increase the risk of the condition. Emotional abuse and violence are also commonly linked to it.
History of ADHD
When talking about hyperactivity, it is said to have been part of a person’s condition long ago. George Still was the first one to described ADHD in 1902, although as early as 1798 Alexander Crichton illustrates it as mental restlessness in one of his books.
The terminology used to explain the disorder has also changed as time passed from minimal brain dysfunction, the hyper kinetic reaction of childhood to attention deficit disorder and the latest with hyperactivity included. Minimal brain damage was also used.
Management and Medication of ADHD
Stimulants are used to reduce the risk of the symptoms of ADHD. Examples of these are atomoxetine and alpha-2 adrenergic receptor. Antidepressants are sometimes used.
Behavioural therapies are also recommended to manage the disorder especially for those who are still manifesting mild symptoms. Methods used here include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy. It can also consist of training in social skills and organization. There are also stress management techniques that can help especially in the part of the parents of the children who are dealing with the situation.
Parents play a vital role in these, which is why they also need to be reinforced. It is through some skills training in parenting. It may consist of rewarding the children of their positive behavior. It is a very effective method if they want to develop a positive attitude to the young ones and on the other hands discourage traits that are not desirable.
There are also other support groups that can help you connect with other persons and families who are experiencing the same problem. By doing this, they can increase their morale and also suggest among each other some specialists and experts they trust in dealing with the situation. They can also meet regularly to discuss some improvements among the members. It sure will be truly inspiring.
Daily physical exercise is also proven to be an effective treatment for ADHD, especially the aerobic exercise. It will be more effective if done together with stimulant medication. If this is regularly conducted it can produce long-term results in children and adults. Improved motor and behavior abilities, better cognitive skills like planning, better memory and faster processing of information are some of the positive results that they can enjoy.
Dietary adjustment and modification can also improve the brain disorder. Decreasing the consumption of artificial food coloring is said to improve the condition, although it is limited only to those with food sensitivities. The effect is also said to be short-term only.
Controlling the use of these stimulants is also very important like Methylphenidate which is not recommended as a treatment for children especially the pre-aged ones except in severe cases. When it comes to adult, said stimulant could be considered as first line treatment. It is also significant to be well-informed about the proper dosage of the drug used because under dosage of it can result in the loss of effectiveness of the medication. While being overdosed with it can result in mania and stimulant psychosis. Growth delay is also associated with this.
Stimulant therapy is also advised to be occasionally stopped to assess if there is still need to continue the medication as well as to decrease the tolerance of the user. Those who are using the medication for a long time can create dependence and addiction with the health product. It may cause further problems in the future. That is why controlling these drugs is very important.
Remember that under strict supervision only that these stimulants can be considered safe. Other risk factors that can be associated with the misuse of the medication involve an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as an increase in anxiety. Therefore, telling a doctor if you have health issues like hypertension, heart disease, seizures, kidney disease or liver disease and anxiety disorder is very important before taking the stimulant.
If the following side-effects occur, you must talk immediately with the health professional.
- Decrease in appetite
- Experiencing sleeping problems
- Changes in behavior and personality
- Being more irritable and increase in anxiety
- Stomach aches
Consulting the doctor as soon as possible is very vital so that you will not experience further health problems and to counter the side-effects while it is still mild. Do not take it for granted because chances are you will regret it in the end. You do not want this to happen, right?
Non-stimulants can also help in the disorder although it takes a longer time before you can feel the effects. When the person manifest negative effects while using stimulants, this type is sometimes prescribed by the doctors. In some cases, antidepressant together with stimulants is used to increase the effectiveness of the medication. You must note that these antidepressants are not approved by Food and Drug Administration of US as a treatment for ADHD.
Staying Organized Despite Having ADHD
Some tips can be used by parents to help their children with the condition stay organized. Here are some of these:
- Keeping a habit and a timetable – Habit is formed at least two weeks, so make a routine to be followed every day by the children until it becomes their habit. Making a schedule for studying, playing and other activities can help in their condition.
- Organizing stuff – It means having a place where you can keep or store everything. Using organizers comes in handy and will be very helpful.
- Be consistent and clear – As a parent, your instructions must always be clear and consistent. Stress the things you want your children to do. Remember that consistency is very important so they can follow you well.
- Giving rewards – Using a reward system is also helpful. You can praise the children or give them something if the tasks you want them to do are followed.
When it comes to adults, there are some things you can do.
- Making routines – It will help you achieve the things you needed to accomplish for the day.
- Making a to-do list – Helps you focus and concentrate on what you need to do.
- Keeping reminder notes. Prompts you of the necessary tasks to
- Breaking a complicated task into a simple one – Having ADHD, it will be hard for you to accomplish a complicated duty and assignment, which is why breaking it to simple ones, will help you finish it. One step at a time. Slowly but surely.
As an adult, you still need the support of your loved ones to carry out these tips successfully. If you are experiencing said signs and symptoms above, you must immediately visit a clinic near your area. With the advances in technology today, detecting if you have the disorder is easy. Act while the condition can be considered as mild so that the indications will be fully countered. Do not be shy to ask the health professionals if you feel like you have ADHD.
Remember that these experts practice confidentiality as part of their oath. Your privacy will be respected. The important thing here is that you can get a clear result whether you have the disorder or not. It will also give you peace of mind. Studies and researches are continuing to learn more about ADHD and how to cure it. For now, being well-informed about the condition even if you do not have one is very vital. It will help you understand more the people who are experiencing it.