ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) / ADHD

Overview

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition in some children and adults,which can be disruptive and daily interfere with their quality of life. People with ADHD have difficulty paying attention in school or at work. Children especially are more physically active and impulsive than is normal for that age. ADHD causes problems in relationships, at home, work and school. Most of what is known about ADHD applies to children; little is known about the disorder in adults. Often an adult is undiagnosed until the diagnosis is made in a child. The condition runs in families, with boys affected more often than girls. Kids do not “grow out” of ADHD, although the hyperactivity may improve as children gain better control of their behavior. About half of kids, however, continue to be easily distracted, have mood swings, and frustration that grows into anger.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

ADHD is diagnosed based on reported symptoms. The person with ADHD experiences difficulty following instructions, is inattentive, easily distracted and lacks concentration for detail. They are disorganized, lose things needed for daily living, and have difficulty making and following plans. The hyperactive, impulsive component of ADHD manifests as talking compulsively, blurting out answers, and interrupting others. Being fidgety, unable to stay seated, running and climbing inappropriately, are also symptoms of impulsivity.

A physician makes the diagnosis of ADHD. In a child, information will be collected from people who know the child well, such as a teacher or childcare provider, in addition to the parents. Adults may try to diagnose themselves from a check-list or quiz found in the media. Such lists may be helpful but the diagnosis should be made by a physician. The doctor will ask the adult about the ability to pay attention, both as a child and as an adult. School and work performance are important. Mood, family history of the disorder, ability to stay organized, whether problems occur at both work and home, behavior noticed by friends and family, and history of any previous physical and mental health concerns are all important in making the diagnosis.

Cause

People who have ADHD lack certain chemicals in the part of the brain that organizes thoughts. Without a sufficient supply of the chemicals the regions of the brain for organizing are impaired. It runs in families. Smoking, using alcohol, and other drugs of abuse during pregnancy are linked to ADHD. Environmental toxins, such as lead, may be a factor. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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