Approximately 6.1 million children have ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Despite how many people have this condition, there’s a lot of people that still don’t know about ADHD.
What is ADHD, exactly? What symptoms should you look out for in your children? What medications can help treat ADHD symptoms?
Keep reading to learn all about ADHD. With this guide, you can discover everything you need to know about this condition. The more you know, the sooner you can get your child the treatment they need.
What Is ADHD?
First, what is ADHD, exactly?
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. Though it’s first diagnosed during childhood, it can often last into adulthood.
Most people associate ADHD with children who have difficulty concentrating. However, many children with ADHD are also overly active and compulsive. Since the symptoms often vary between children, it’s sometimes difficult for patients to recognize their child has ADHD.
Some children might experience individual ADHD symptoms or a mix of symptoms. In order to make a proper diagnosis, it’s important to visit a doctor. They can evaluate your child’s health based on specified criteria.
While ADHD is usually diagnosed in younger children, symptoms are common with older children and adults, too.
This neurodevelopmental disorder can impact how your child performs in school and their ability to form relationships.
Types of ADHD
In order to improve consistency between diagnoses, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has grouped symptoms into categories. The type of ADHD will determine the form of treatment. In some cases, the type of ADHD a patient has can alter over time.
As a result, the type of treatment will need to adapt accordingly.
What are 3 types of ADHD? Here’s a little insight into each one.
Children with this form of ADHD often have extreme difficulty focusing. They also demonstrate a difficult time completing tasks or following instructions.
Inattentive behavior can include:
- Moving slowly
- Difficulty following directions
- Processing information with less accuracy
- Losing possessions such as pens and papers
- Missing details
- Getting bored easily
Many patients with this type of ADHD don’t disrupt their environment. As a result, many children aren’t properly diagnosed.
Predominantly, inattentive ADHD is most common in girls.
Children with this type of ADHD are hyperactive and impulsive with their behaviors.
Many patients are prone to interrupting people while they’re talking. Children with this form of ADHD also fidget often. Some children have a difficult timing waiting for their turn for activities.
Other common behaviors include:
- Difficulty sitting still
- Playing and fidgeting with objects
- An inability to engage in quiet activities
- Making inappropriate comments
- Talking constantly
Children who are predominantly hyperactive-impulsive tend to interrupt their classrooms more often. People with this form of ADHD find it more difficult to focus on specific tasks for an extended period of time.
Combined Hyperactive-Impulsive and Inattentive
This form of ADHD is the most common among young patients. This form of ADHD indicates symptoms don’t fall on one end of the spectrum or another. Instead, patients with combination ADHD usually have symptoms from both categories.
People with this form of ADHD are impulsive, hyperactive, and have a difficult time paying attention.
Causes of ADHD
What causes ADHD? So far, doctors and researches still aren’t certain. However, they do believe that genetics can play a big role.
According to some research, a low amount of dopamine could contribute to the development of ADHD. Your brain needs dopamine for sending signals throughout the body. Dopamine also plays a part in trigger movements and emotional responses.
There’s also research that suggests structural differences in the brain could contribute to ADHD. According to the research, people with ADHD have less gray matter volume than others. Gray matter volume helps with decision-making, self-control, and speech.
Other potential risk factors include:
- Smoking during pregnancy
- Alcohol use during pregnancy
- Certain foods and preservatives
- Neurotoxic chemicals like lead and pesticides
However, there are many myths about what causes ADHD as well. For example, there’s no evidence to suggest these factors could cause ADHD:
- Poor parenting
- Playing video games
- Watching TV
- Excessive sugar consumption
Rather, these factors could potentially make a child’s ADHD symptoms worse.
Children are usually seven years old when they’re diagnosed with ADHD. However, symptoms can start to appear anywhere between three and six years of age. Regardless of your child’s age, there are a few common symptoms you’ll want to look out for.
Here are a few signs that your child might have ADHD:
- Self-focused behavior
- Difficulty waiting their turn
- Outbursts of anger
- Difficulty controlling their emotions
- Constant fidgeting
- Trouble playing quietly
- An inability to complete tasks
- Lack of focus
- Constant mistakes
- A desire to avoid tasks that require mental effort
- Ignoring activities around them
- Trouble remaining organized
As your child grows older, they might also have a difficult time reading social cues, maintaining personal hygiene, or compromising with others.
Make sure to visit a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. Remember, your child’s diagnosis could impact their treatment plan.
The treatment for ADHD usually involve medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two.
Behavioral therapy can help you and your child learn how to manage certain behaviors. A doctor might also suggest psychotherapy, or talk therapy. Your child will discuss how ADHD impacts their life and how they plan on managing it.
Medication can also help affect brain chemicals that enable impulse behavior. These medications often fall under stimulants or nonstimulants.
Central nervous stimulants increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These can include Ritalin or Adderall.
If these medications cause unwanted side effects, the doctor might suggest nonstimulant medication. These medications increase norepinephrine in the brain. Nonstimulant medications can include Wellbutrin or Strattera.
Each medication has its own list of benefits and side effects. Make sure to discuss every option with your child’s doctor.
All About ADHD: An In-Depth Look into Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Now that you know about ADHD, take a look at your child’s behaviors. If you notice some of the symptoms mentioned above, consider visiting a doctor. They can diagnose your child’s condition to ensure they receive proper treatment.
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