ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is a condition of mental health that provides the individual with difficulty in holding attention combined with hyperactivity and behavior that is impulsive in nature. Though the condition is most associated with children, it is also common to find the condition in many adults. The condition and symptoms can persist into the adult years, and in some individuals the disorder is not diagnosed until later years.
Causes, Risk Factors and Complications
Often ADHD is passed down from one generation to the next making it a hereditary disorder. The individual suffering with the condition might express signs early on in life that are missed or misdiagnosed as bad behavior or laziness. Some of the things that might put a person at risk for developing the disorder include things such as drug or alcohol abuse during the woman's pregnancy, exposure to toxins like lead paint or pipes, or if you are born prematurely. You have a greater chance of suffering from ADHD if you have other family members with mental illness or ADHD.
There are many complications involved for those individuals dealing with ADHD in their lives. Performance in school and work can be hindered because of the inability to focus on the topic at hand and follow through to the end. Poor relationships can also become a result of ADHD in adults and children. It is also easy to see how a person with ADHD can be in trouble with the law, suffer from drug or alcohol abuse and go through severe financial stress. In addition, individuals with ADHD are often at greater risk for mental and physical health that is poor in nature.
Signs, Symptoms and Tests
It can be easy to misdiagnose ADHD, particularly in children, as the symptoms appear to be similar to basic childhood actions and laziness. It is important to note that many adults suffer from ADD which is attention-deficit disorder without the hyperactivity. Some of the symptoms include trouble with focus on daily tasks, difficulty completing projects or tasks, disorganization in general, restlessness, mood swings, impulsivity, low frustration tolerance, inability to cope well with stress, quick temper and inability to sustain stable relationships.
A doctor can provide you the individual with a number of tests that will give them feedback to be used in the evaluation of ADHD. This information is broken down into sections of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. The individual should answer yes to six or more signs and symptoms that are designated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) put out by the American Psychiatric Association. If six in each category of the questionnaire ring true to the individual they can be considered ADHD.
Treatment, Drugs and Prevention
There are a series of approaches to take when dealing with treatment of ADHD in children and in adults. These often include a medication such as a stimulant combined with psychological counseling. The medication choices often include Concerta, Metadate, Exedrine, Ritalin and some others newer to the field. These stimulants work to balance the brains neurotransmitters. Some other options for treating the ADHD with medications is the use of atomoxetin, better known as Strattera and Wellbutrin. There are some individuals that can not take the stimulants because of health problems or because of past drug addiction.
Counseling will help the individual learn how to cope with some of the things that can trigger the behavior. In addition, you will learn how to prevent or reduce such things as impulsive behavior and how to be better organized, handle time management better, improve self-esteem and improve relationships with those around you. This is all important for developing a lifestyle free of ADHD symptoms and drama.
Tammoima Gichana PharmD, MBA, MB(ASCP),RPh.