ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a complicated brain disorder that impacts 11% of children approximately and almost 5% of adults in the United States. ADHD is a developmental impairment of the brain’s executive functions. People with ADHD have problems with focusing, impulse control, and organization.
Clinical research, brain imaging and neuroscience tell us a few important things: ADHD is not a behavior disorder or a mental illness. ADHD is not a particular learning disability. ADHD is, rather, a developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system. Both children and adults can be diagnosed with ADHD.
Hadar Swersky has vast knowledge about ADHD. He points out some of the common symptoms of ADHD, such as:
- lack of focus
- weak impulse control
- executive dysfunction
- poor time management
- exaggerated emotions
If you or your child has ADHD, you might have some or all of these symptoms. The symptoms you have will depend on the ADHD type you have.
To make ADHD diagnoses more reliable, the APA has grouped the condition into three categories or types. These types are predominantly hyperactivity-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and both.
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
People with this type of ADHD mainly show hyperactive and impulsive behavior. This can include:
- interrupting people while they are talking
- not being able to wait their turn
Even though inattention is less of a concern with ADHD type, people with mainly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD may still find it hard to focus on tasks.
- Predominantly inattentive
As the name suggests, people with this ADHD type have extreme difficulty finishing tasks, focusing, and following instructions. Experts also think that several children with inattentive ADHD might not get a proper diagnosis as they do not tend to disturb the classroom. This is more common among girls with ADHD.
- Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type
ADHD is the most common type. People with this combined ADHD type display both hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. These comprise an incapability to pay attention, a tendency toward irresponsibility, and above-average levels of energy and activity.
The ADHD type you or your child has will determine how it is treated. Your type can change over time, so your treatment can also change.
Causes of ADHD
Despite how common ADHD is, researchers and doctors are still unsure what causes the condition. It is believed to have neurological origins. Genetics can also play a role. A reduction in dopamine is a factor in ADHD. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that assists move signals from one nerve to another. It plays a role in activating emotional responses and movements.
Other suggests a structural difference in the brain. Findings point out that people with ADHD have less gray matter volume. Gray matter comprises the brain areas that help with:
- muscle control
- decision making
ADHD testing and diagnosis
A doctor will evaluate any symptoms you or your kid has had over the previous six months to make a diagnosis. Your doctor will likely gather information from family members or teachers and may use checklists and rating scales to evaluate symptoms. They will also do a physical exam to check for other health issues. If you suspect that you or your child has ADHD, consult with a doctor about getting an evaluation. For your child, you can also consult their school counselor. Schools assess children for conditions regularly that might be affecting their educational performance.
For the assessment, offer your doctor or counselor notes and observations about your child’s behavior.
If they suspect ADHD, they may refer you or your child to an ADHD specialist. Based on the diagnosis, they may also suggest an appointment with a psychiatrist or neurologist.
Hadar Swersky says that the treatment for ADHD typically includes medication, behavioral therapies, or both. Types of therapy include talk therapy or psychotherapy. With talk therapy, you or your child will talk about how ADHD affects your life and ways to aid you to manage it.
Another type of therapy is behavioral therapy. This therapy can help you or your child learn to manage and monitor behavior. Medication can also be helpful when you are living with ADHD. ADHD medications are designed to affect brain chemicals to allow you to control your actions and impulses better.