Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to control their behavior and pay attention to tasks.

Causes

ADHD has many causes. Among these causes are:

1) familial: ADHD often runs in families;

2) abnormal brain development;

3) brain injuries occurring before, during or after birth.

Why is ADHD considered a neurological condition?

Brain images of children with ADHD may show differences compared to children without ADHD. For example, in some children with ADHD certain parts of the brain are smaller or less active than the brains of children without ADHD.

These changes may be linked to specific brain chemicals that are needed for tasks such as sustaining attention and regulating activity levels.

other conditions

Some children with ADHD may also have learning disabilities, behavioral disorders or disorders of mood such as depression or anxiety. Problems with planning, memory, schoolwork, motor skills, social skills, control of emotions, and response to discipline are common. Sleep problems can also be more frequent.

risk of having ADHD if other family members have ADHD

Children who have ADHD usually have at least one close biological (blood) relative who also has ADHD. At least one-third of all fathers who had ADHD in their youth have children with ADHD. Research has shown that ADHD can have a genetic basis, which means that it is likely that a person diagnosed with ADHD has a close relative with similar symptoms.

Treatment

ADHD can be treated using medication or therapy, but a combination of both is often best.

Treatment is usually arranged by a specialist, such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist, although the condition may be monitored by your GP.

Medication

There are 5 types of medication licensed for the treatment of ADHD:

  • methylphenidate 
  • dexamfetamine
  • lisdexamfetamine
  • atomoxetine
  • guanfacine

These medications are not a permanent cure for ADHD but may help someone with the condition concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practice new skills.

Therapy

As well as taking medication, different therapies can be useful in treating ADHD in children, teenagers and adults. Therapy is also effective in treating additional problems, such as conduct or anxiety disorders, that may appear with ADHD.

Some of the therapies that may be used are outlined below:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Behavior therapy
  • Parent training and education programs
  • Social skills training
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Symptoms

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organizing tasks
  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger
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