Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of difficulty paying attention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with normal day to day functioning or development. Usually starts in early childhood and continue into adulthood.
Signs and Symptoms
Overlook or miss details and make seemingly careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
Have difficulty sustaining attention
Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
Problems following through and completing tasks
Have difficulty organizing tasks, keeping materials and belongings in order, managing time, and meeting deadlines
Avoid tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as homework, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
Fidget and restless while seated
Run, dash around, or climb at inappropriate times or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
Be constantly in motion or on the go, or act as if driven by a motor
Answer questions before they are fully asked, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in a conversation
Have difficulty waiting one’s turn
Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities
Hot temper, mood swings
Trouble coping with stress
People with ADHD often have other conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, impulse control disorders, depression, substance use disorders, legal problems, poor self-esteem, suicide.
Genetics: ADHD can run in families
Environment: Certain environmental factors may increase risk, such as lead exposure as a child, brain injuries, nutrition, and social environments
Problems during development: Problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development may play a role.
Treatment and Therapies
While there is no cure for ADHD, currently available treatments may reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatments include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments.
Stimulants. The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD such as methylphenidate or amphetamine. These medicines help to balance the levels of brain chemicals and neurotransmitters.
Non-stimulants. A few other ADHD medications such as atomoxetine and certain antidepressants such as bupropion may be good options if stimulants cannot be used due to health problems or severe side effects. Atomoxetine and antidepressants work slower than stimulants do but can also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity.
Psychotherapy and Psychosocial Interventions
Behavior Psychotherapy may help to Improve time management and organizational skills, reduce impulsive behavior, develop problem-solving skills, Cope with past academic, work or social failures, improve self-esteem, learn ways to improve relationships with family, co-workers and friends, develop strategies to control anger.
Cognitive behavioral therapy – This structured type of counseling teaches specific skills to manage behavior and change negative thinking patterns into positive ones. It can help you deal with life challenges, such as school, work, or relationship problems, and help address other mental health conditions, such as depression or substance misuse.
Marital counseling and family therapy – This type of therapy can help loved ones cope with the stress of living with someone who has ADHD and learn what they can do to help. Such counseling can improve communication and problem-solving skills.
Parenting skills training teaches parents skills for encouraging and rewarding positive behaviors in their children. Parents are taught to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behavior, to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage, and to ignore or redirect behaviors they want to discourage.
Academic accommodations may include preferential seating in the classroom, reduced classwork load, or extended time on tests and exams. The school may provide accommodations through what is called a 504 Plan or, for children who qualify for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan.