ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a disorder that some view as a childhood one. Yet, it affects adults as well. In fact, according to epidemiological data, approximately 5% of adults have ADHD. Whether you want to know more about it for a loved one or yourself, here is data on ADHD and its treatment. We will also cover what it is, why it happens, and what problems it causes.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a shortened version of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is not something that is outgrown as some might believe. Instead, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neuro-behavioral condition. And, it is not something that can be cured. The good news is that it can be treated to minimize some of the negative behaviors and symptoms of the condition.
According to Psychiatry:
ADHD is diagnosed as one of three types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type or combined type. A diagnosis is based on the symptoms that have occurred over the past six months.
The symptoms vary for each type. The way that it is diagnosed is not through tests at the lab. Instead, professionals make an assessment based on information from teachers, parents, or in adults – the person themselves.
An important thing to know about people with ADD is that it is never indicative of a lower intelligence. In fact, it has been shown that those who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are often highly intelligent. This is because a person who has ADHD is hyperfocused, cool when there is a crisis, sometimes amazingly creative, and incredibly intuitive.
Those with ADHD simply do things different than others because of how their brain works. But it is not something that minimizes their intelligence.
Over 8 percent of children have this disorder and research shows in some cases around 3 percent of adults. Or as in the data mentioned first, research has that number even higher at around 5 percent.
What Causes ADHD?
Like many mental health disorders, there is not a single cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Instead, there may be contributing factors that include the following:
- Mother smoked, used drugs, or drank during pregnancy
- Brain trauma
- Low birth weight
- Exposure to certain environmental toxins such as lead
As stated at the Attention Deficit Disorder Association:
Zametkin and colleagues published the first neuroimaging study of adults with ADHD in 1990. This study used PET scans to study brain metabolism in adults with ADHD as compared to a non-ADHD sample. The study found that adults with ADHD had brain scans showing significantly reduced activity throughout the brain, especially within two areas of the brain responsible for motor activity and attention capacity (the premotor cortex and prefrontal cortex). Several studies have also shown differences in the volume, gray and white matter, and activity levels within structures such as the prefrontal cortex, caudate nucleus, ventral tegmental area, substantia nigra, cerebellum, and corpus callosum in individuals with ADHD
What are the Symptoms of ADHD?
There are three types of symptoms shown in someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Inattention. A person with ADHD has a hard time paying attention.
- Hyperactivity. A person with ADHD will show over-activity.
- Impulsivity. One of the warning signs is a person acting on impulse and without thinking things through.
Those are the patterns but are not all of the symptoms. Symptoms range greatly and include things like:
- Not listening when spoken to directly
- Being forgetful with tasks or everyday tasks
- Making simple or careless mistakes
- Being distracted easily
- Having issues being organized
- Losing things like a wallet, eyeglasses, or keys
- A dislike of activities with focus or organization like homework or certain job tasks
- Issues waiting their turn
- Non-stop talking
- Unable to play quietly
- Blurting out comments or answers
- Being on the go constantly, cannot maintain a still persona
Children are often diagnosed after certain behaviors in school. In some cases, their learning may be impaired. If this is an issue, they may qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or for a Section 504 plan (for children who do not require special education) under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Keep in mind that as mentioned, this is not indicative of a lower intelligence. Instead, students may simply need a different teaching technique or even a difference in how the class is set up.
How is ADHD Treated?
Treatment for ADHD encompasses a variety of options, Usually, medication is the best treatment option although therapy is helpful as well.
One treatment option is stimulants. This may seem like an odd choice of treatment for someone with hyperactivity yet it works. This may be due to increasing dopamine, which allows more attention and thinking.
These type of medications work like stimulants yet they do take longer to work. The reason a person may be prescribed with a non-stimulant instead of the faster-working stimulant is if the patient has had problems with taking stimulants.
Another form of pharmaceutical is an antidepressant. These are not the first choice typically because they are not approved by the FDA as a treatment form for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They do sometimes work because they are similar to stimulants where they affect the brain’s dopamine and norepinephrine.
For both children and adults, therapy is another treatment option that works to not necessarily treat the ADHD itself, but instead to help the person and their family cope with daily activities and challenges.For example, in children this type of therapy can be used to help them stay more organized and make a routine more a part of their lives. In adults, the same concept is used where organizational skills and routines are better managed.
Transformations Tailors a Treatment Plan
For those with ADHD, a customized plan is integral. This is because everyone is different and has different needs. Through therapy and the right medication, we can help make it easier to live day to day with the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If you or a loved one has ADD, contact us so we can get started.