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ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)


One of the more common disorders in recent years to have received attention in the media has been Attention Deficit Disorder, better known as adhd, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  There are many good ADHD Articles available on the internet and they often focus on Adhd Medications that are used to treat this disorder.  However, in this look at this particular attention deficit disorder the focus will for the most part be of a general nature.  The purpose of this article is to provide some general information about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder including an overview of the disorder, some of the signs, symptoms and diagnostic criteria as well as a look at some of the ways in which attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is commonly treated.


Although this disease is for the most part one that affects children, it does also occur in adults and according to the Mayo Clinic, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects an estimated millions of children in the United States alone and the chronic nature of this disorder means that it will in most cases persist well into adulthood.  There is presently much debate about this disorder and there is no definitive “Test for ADHD” nor is there presently a cure for ADHD, however there are diagnostic criteria that are largely associated with behavioral self-reporting and observation and although the disorder may not be entirely cured there are currently pharmaceuticals available which are meant to work against the problematic symptoms of the disorder.


ADHD is generally characterized by an inability to stay focussed on an individual event or task and as such is also notably associated with a tendency towards impulsiveness and hyperactivity, particularly in children.  Given that this disorder is behavioral in nature it obviously has an adverse impact on the affected individual’s social sphere, which can be particularly troublesome for children and young adults who may have difficulty forming social bonds and have difficulties with a sense of self-worth as a result of this disorder.


Identifying ADHD


There are two relatively wide ranging diagnostic categories that are used to identify the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and these are “Inattention” and “Hyperactivity-impulsive behavior  In order for an individual who is suspected to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to be diagnosed, they must in some way exhibit the symptoms from both categories over a period of six months before a diagnosis can be made.  It should be noted that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is not simply characterized by difficulty at school or trouble with a particular teacher or the parents of the child.  In order to qualify it is important that the necessary signs and symptoms are chronically present.  In general these symptoms occur in early childhood (around the age of seven years old) although, as previously mentioned, they can definitely occur later in life.


Again, there are two diagnostic categories that need to be noted, inattention and hyperactivity-impulsive behavior.  Inattention is characterized by a frequent lack of attention to details or the presence of careless mistakes either at school, other activities, or both.  In addition there may be the inability to remain attentive during tasks or when playing games with others.  Forgetfulness and the ability to be easily distracted along with a tendency to lose important items for day to day activities, particularly at school and so this might include schoolbooks and the like.  In addition there is a general tendency to avoid mental effort, have difficulties becoming organised when necessary, a lack of attentiveness to direct speech from others and difficulty following through on assigned tasks.


The second diagnostic criteria, hyperactivity-impulsiveness which is generally characterized by fidgety behavior, continual activity including excessive talking and the tendency to blurt out answers to questions before the questioner has completed the task of asking the question and in general interrupts others and has difficulty waiting for their opportunity to speak or their turn in certain games.  As a result there is a general restlessness and excess of energy and the tendency to leave one’s seat unexpectedly or inappropriately in class.


In general, many of these behaviors are not entirely uncommon in children at some time and the tendency to over-diagnose this disorder has been a problem in some circles in the past.  However, it is important that this is not for pre-schoolers, but older children who exhibit these symptoms, not occasionally, but chronically.  It is unclear what causes ADHD, but it is thought that heredity may play a role.


How is ADHD treated?


It is still unclear today how to best treat ADHD and there remains much debate on the subject; however, in general, treatment involves a combination of pharmaceutical medications and therapy of some sort.  Therapeutic options include individual therapies such as psychotherapy or behavioral therapy, the former involves a tendency to talk out problems and the latter involves the working out a series of strategies to adapt one’s behavior in order to move towards more favorable behavioral outcomes.  In addition, there are also therapeutic options that involve group treatment.  The most helpful group therapy is family therapy, which particularly in the case of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can not only help the children to adjust, but also can help parents of children with ADHD to be better able to cope with their children’s behavior and provide an important support system for the families of children with ADHD.


Finally, there are a number of pharmaceutical options, most often a class of drugs known as psychostimulants that include such drugs as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine.  There have, particularly in the media, been some at times legitimate, at times hyperbolic concerns about the use of these medications.  There are, indeed, some side effects which can affect children who take these psychostimulants which include weight loss and irritability.  On the whole, it is important that prior to diagnosing a child with ADHD, that a qualified medical professional is consulted, such as a family physician.  In addition, before making any decisions about therapeutic or pharmaceutical treatment options, that a physician is treated and that no changes to a medication regimen are considered without similarly consulting a physician.