What is the most effective treatment for ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11% of children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. But what is ADHD, really? Let’s take a closer look.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects your ability to pay attention, maintain stillness, and control your behavior. It occurs in kids and teenagers and can last until maturity.
The most frequently identified mental illness in youngsters is ADHD. Compared to girls, boys are more likely to have it. It is typically identified in a child’s early years of school when attention problems first appear.
You cannot prevent or treat ADHD. A child or adult with ADHD, however, can control their symptoms if the condition is identified early and they have a strong treatment and educational plan.
TYPES OF ADHD
According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD can present itself in three different ways: predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined type. Let’s study each one in more detail.
Primarily Inattentive Type
This is what people usually think of when they hear “ADHD.” Kids with this type have a hard time paying attention and are easily distracted. They might daydream a lot, not seem to be listening when you speak to them, and lose things frequently. This type used to be known as ADD (attention deficit disorder).
Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
Kids with this type are hyperactive and impulsive. They might squirm in their seat or fidget all the time. They also might talk excessively or have trouble waiting their turn or taking turns in games. They might interrupt others frequently or put themselves in danger by acting without thinking first.
This is the most common type of ADHD. It includes both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive behaviors. Kids with this type have trouble sustaining attention, following through on instructions, and completing tasks. They also tend to be impulsive and hyperactive. As a result, they might have more academic problems, social difficulties, and behavior issues than kids who have other types of ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD
SYMPTOMS – Primarily Inattentive Type
- Frequently pays insufficient attention to details or makes thoughtless errors when performing tasks at work, in school, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate).
- They usually find it difficult to focus on tasks or play activities (e.g., difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
- Sometimes seems unable to hear when directly addressed (e.g., their mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
- Often ignores directions and does not complete tasks, chores, or work-related responsibilities (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).
- Has a lot of trouble planning activities and duties (e.g., difficulty managing sequential tasks; difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order; messy, disorganized work; poor time management; fails to meet deadlines).
- Generally stays away from, dislikes, or is hesitant to perform activities that demand prolonged mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing lengthy papers).
- Consistently misplaces items required for jobs or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
- Easily sidetracked by unimportant stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).
- Keeps forgetting to conduct daily tasks (e.g., doing chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, returning calls, paying bills, and keeping appointments).
SYMPTOMS – Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
- Frequently acts “on the go” and as though they are “propelled by a motor” (e.g., is unable to be or uncomfortable being still for an extended time, as in restaurants, meetings; may be experienced by others as being restless or difficult to keep up with).
- Constantly talks too much.
- Often answers a question before it has been fully phrased (for example, finishing other people’s sentences; unable to wait for turn in discussion).
- Finds it tough to wait their turn (e.g., while waiting in line).
- Interrupts or intrudes on others (for example, butting into conversations, games, or activities; beginning to use other people’s possessions without asking or obtaining permission; for teens and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing).
- Repeatedly taps or fidgets with their hands, feet, or seat.
- Always gets up from the chair when it is thought that they would stay sitting (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, in the office or other workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place).
- Moves around or climbs in improper places. (Note: In adults or teenagers, the only symptom may be restlessness.)
- Frequently unable to play peacefully or take part in leisure activities.
How to diagnose ADHD?
Diagnose ADHD in Children
- The most common method is behavioral observation. A child’s behavior will be observed in different settings, such as at home and at school. Compared to other children of a similar age, a youngster’s actions will be evaluated. If the being of the child is significantly different from other children’s, it may be indicative of ADHD.
- Another way to diagnose ADHD in children is through testing. There are a number of tests that can be used to diagnose ADHD, such as the Conners Parent Rating Scale-Revised (CPRS-R). The CPRS-R is a questionnaire that is completed by the child’s parent or guardian. It contains questions about the child’s behavior, such as whether the child has difficulty staying on task or is easily distracted.
Diagnose ADHD in Adults
Adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD. The most common method of diagnosis for adults is through self-report questionnaires. These questionnaires ask questions about the adult’s symptoms and behaviors.
They are often used in conjunction with behavioral observation. One of the most commonly used self-report questionnaires is the Adult ADD/ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS).
Central nervous system stimulants are the most common type of medication used to treat ADHD. These include drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamines (Adderall).
These medications work by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which are known to be involved in attention and focus.
Stimulant medications are generally effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD. However, they can have side effects, such as insomnia and loss of appetite.
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