Many children are known to be hyperactive and curious with short attention spans, especially when they are younger. Many of them often like to play rough too. And while these might be completely normal behaviors for a certain developmental stage, in other cases, depending on the child’s age, it might be something completely different.
You might have or not have heard of ADHD before, although it is a fairly common disorder that can develop during childhood. However, despite its commonality, there are still many misconceptions people have about it.
So, if you are interested in learning more about it, as well as everything that it entails, here are some useful things you should have in mind.
What Is It?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a mental disorder and chronic condition that is mainly characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. People who have it might also struggle with sitting still and in one place for longer periods and express certain patterns of behavior. It is something both adults and children can suffer from, although it is more commonly developed by children, especially before the age of 7.
What Are the Symptoms and Behavioral Patterns?
Symptoms linked with the disorder range widely but perhaps the most common and most distinguishable ones include:
- finding it hard to focus or concentrate on a single task
- being forgetful
- expressing strong emotional reactions
- being easily distracted
- making careless mistakes due to inattention
- being fidgety and needing to constantly do something
- finding it hard to complete chores or school work
- lacking organizational skills
- poor listening skills or constantly interrupting people while their talking
What Leads to the Disorder?
Despite the number of people with the condition, the exact cause of it is still unknown. However, researchers and doctors are constantly searching for an answer. For now, it is believed that it is connected to genetics and also has a neurological origin.
Current research eludes to two most plausible causes with the first being a reduced level of dopamine which helps neurological signals move through our body and is responsible for triggering movement and emotional responses.
The second refers to having a different brain structure and a smaller volume of gray matter which includes brain areas related to speech, muscle control, decision-making, and self-control.
Diagnosis & Testing
Though many people might express all the behaviors listed above occasionally, they are much more severe and frequent for individuals with ADHD. It is crucial to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment since failure to do so can greatly and negatively affect one’s quality of life.
Diagnosing it is impossible with a single test, in fact, it is non-existent. Instead, a thorough examination by an expert is necessary and it involves several steps. For proper diagnosis, a professional might conduct a full medical exam and interviews with family members, examine one’s medical history, assess any and all symptoms, and rule out other possible conditions.
However, if you are suspecting that your child has the disorder, the first step would be to book a consultation. There are many doctors who specialize in its treatment such as Dr. Dawn from the ADHD Wellness Center, who not only helps treat all aspects of the disorder but is actively working to raise and promote awareness of it too.
When it comes to treatment it is determined by the type of ADHD an individual has. So, before we take a look at the different options, let’s take a look at the types.
The Different Forms
The Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Kind
People with this type primarily display hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Not being able to wait their turn, fidgeting, and interrupting others are all common symptoms.
Still, many might also have focus and concentration issues, although not as strong as with other types.
The Predominantly Inattentive Kind
Loss of focus, a short attention span, difficulty concentrating, and finding hard to follow instructions or finish tasks are some of the most common symptoms of this type and it is one that is more common among girls.
It is often the one that leads to misdiagnoses since children with this type do not cause disruption in class and rarely display any hyperactive or impulsive behaviors.
The Combined Kind
As the name suggests, individuals who have the combined type express behaviors from both previously mentioned types. Being overly energetic and active while also struggling to focus and pay attention are all typical. This is also the most common type people have.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the neurodevelopmental disorder but proper treatment can help keep most of the symptoms under control. This includes taking medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches the child certain strategies that will help them monitor and manage their behavior and help them with their social skills as well. Implementing lifestyle changes will also be necessary since they will help improve focus and organization.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can involve parents and other family members too and it can provide everyone with counseling and strategies on how to deal with problematic or difficult situations. It will also help everyone gain a better understanding of the condition and what it entails.
Medication is another helpful method that has an effect on the chemicals in one’s brain and helps individuals have better control over their actions, emotions, and impulses. They include stimulants, non-stimulants, and in some cases antidepressants.
For children under the age of six, medication is not recommended and instead experts suggest using behavioral therapy as a treatment method primarily. For any other age, medication is prescribed accordingly based on several factors.
Stimulants are used to increase the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine which are chemicals that can be found in the brain. In some cases, they might not be effective or cause troublesome side effects.
This is when non-stimulants are prescribed and generally work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine in the brain.
Antidepressants are prescribed in severe cases since two-thirds of people who have ADHD also suffer from at least one other condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more.
If you are growing increasingly worried that your child might have the condition, do not wait or hesitate to get an evaluation. If it turns out your hunch was right, your child will be able to receive proper treatment and help that they need. This is crucial and the most significant for ensuring their quality of life.