Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder of neurodevelopment, most characterized by prolonged periods of inattentiveness, impulsivity, or hyperactive behavior. These behaviors are age-inappropriate, impairing to various degrees, and are pervasive in the patient’s daily life.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
Hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, carelessness, executive dysfunction, and generally disruptive behaviors are common in ADHD. Symptoms can vary and be difficult to define in every case, but most patients have trouble with relationships and schooling. Other signs include poor handwriting, developmental delays, and emotional dysregulation. Symptoms usually begin in early childhood. In adults, problems with work can appear, and patients are at a higher risk of substance abuse. The condition can be separated into three sub-types:
1. Predominately inattentive
2. Predominately hyperactive/impulsive
3. Combined type
What causes ADHD?
A direct cause of ADHD hasn’t been identified. A combination of environmental and genetic factors likely contributes to the condition. ADHD has a high heritability rate of 74%, suggesting that genetics may play the dominant role.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is primarily diagnosed through an assessment of the patient’s mental and behavioral development. This process is intended to rule out the possible effects of other psychiatric problems, medications, or drugs. Often, input from adults in the patient’s life, such as parents or teachers, is included.
What are the treatments for ADHD?
The condition cannot be cured, though symptoms tend to lessen as patient age. However, symptoms persist into adulthood in up to half of cases. The most common treatments include counseling, particularly in the form of behavioral psychotherapy. This is often used exclusively in very young patients and in milder cases. In other instances, this treatment is combined with medication, with stimulants such as amphetamine and methylphenidate being the most widely used. Regular physical exercise benefits many patients as well.