ADHD or attention deficit hyperactive disorder is a chronic condition which indicates a group of behavioral symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and an impulsive behavior. It is common for almost every child to be restless and inattentive sometimes. However, if this continues for more than 6 months or impairs the child’s ability at school or home, then it is considered as ADHD.
ADHD may occur during childhood and can continue in adulthood. It is more commonly observed in children aged between 6-12 years.
Symptoms of ADHD are observed usually during the early age of a child and become more prominent with the changes in their circumstances. The three main symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder include:
- Difficulty focusing on anything
- Trouble sitting still even for a short time
- Acting before thinking
Consult a general physician if the behavior of the child is different from most of the other children of the same age.
In general, symptoms improve with age. However, if ADHD has developed at a very young age, then it can become problematic in adulthood.
The exact cause of ADHD is not clear. However, ADHD is found to run in families. Other possible causes of ADHD include:
- Having a low-birth weight
- Premature birth (before 37th week of pregnancy)
ADHD is more likely to develop in boys when compared to girls. The other factors which increase the chances of a person to develop ADHD are:
- A family history of the condition
- Certain environmental factors such as exposure to lead
- Alcohol consumption, smoking or drug abuse during pregnancy
Affects on quality of life
ADHD can lead to the problems such as anxiety and sleep disorders and affect the quality of life.
It is also quite challenging to look after children with ADHD. Some of the problems which are commonly noticed in such children during their day-to-day lives include:
- Being unorganized
- Difficulty to sleep at night
- Trouble to get ready on time to school
- Difficulty to understand or follow instructions
- Difficulty to socialize with people
Similar issues are common in adults with ADHD and some may have problems with employment and may commit crimes. They may have a low self-esteem, problems with relationships and poor performance at work.
ADHD is diagnosed in children especially between the age of 6 to 12 years. It is usually diagnosed by their teachers. However, it is more difficult to diagnose ADHD in adults. Sometimes ADHD is not diagnosed until adulthood has reached.
The doctor performs a physical examination and takes a complete history of the patient including medical, family and personal history. Tests may be required to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms such as depression, anxiety or learning disability.
ADHD rating scale and certain psychological tests help to evaluate the symptoms.
ADHD cannot be cured but is manageable with the following treatment options:
The most commonly used drugs to treat ADHD include stimulants. These medicines balance the levels of chemical substances in the brain known as the neurotransmitters. Due to the risk of side effects such as drug abuse or certain health issues, stimulants are not suitable for all the patients with ADHD.
Other drugs which may be helpful include certain antidepressants and non-stimulant drugs. However, they act slowly when compared to the stimulants.
Psychotherapy is usually effective in adults with ADHD as it involves educating the patient about the disease to improve their condition. The most common psychotherapies include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient to manage their behavior and deal with the challenges in daily life. It also helps them to think positively.
- Marital counseling and family therapy helps the family members to cope up with the stress of taking care of the patient with ADHD.
The recommendations are not similar to all the patients with ADHD as its complexity is different in different individuals. Some of the measures which can be helpful include:
- Making a list of the tasks and keeping reminders
- Breaking down the task into smaller tasks which can be handled easily
- Following the same sequence with the daily activities
- Taking help of family members when required