Attention Deficit -Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD / ADHD)

Facts
  • While the exact cause of AD/HD is not known, evidence suggests that the disorder is genetically transmitted and might be the result of a chemical imbalance.
  • AD/HD is one of the most prevalent of all childhood psychiatric disorders.
  • AD/HD is known to develop in children by the age of seven in various cultures all over the world.
  • It is estimated that 3% to 5% of school-age children are victims of AD/HD – approximately 1.6 to 2 million people who have this disorder.
  • While the intensity of AD/HD lessens with age, symptoms can still persist into adulthood. Many people, especially parents of children with AD/HD, are prone to dismiss the disorder with the mistaken belief that it is normal childhood behavior.
  • AD/HD is treatable with a variety of medications, family counseling, and therapy.
Symptoms & Diagnosis

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a term applied to children and adults who demonstrate difficulties in four main areas: inattention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and boredom. Victims of the disorder often exhibit consistently restless behavior such as frequent fidgeting. A very important characteristic of AD/HD is that the symptoms are observable in multiple settings (not just at home or in school), and at highly frequent rates comparable to others in the same age group. Parents might see lower academic scores in children with AD/HD. However, AD/HD and IQ are not related at all. If a child should be receiving A’s, but is making B’s, this might be an indicator of the disorder. The biggest complaint of adults with AD/HD is a feeling of restlessness and impulsiveness. They may often interrupt conversations or spontaneously make major life changes for no particular reason.
Ultimately, it should be up to a trained physician knowledgeable in the field of child psychiatric disorders to make the final diagnosis of AD/HD, as there are many factors, both environmental and biological, that might be contributing to a child’s behavior.

Treatment

AD/HD typically lessen with age. This is because there is one final growth spurt of the brain, particularly in the frontal lobes, at about 19 or 20 years old. However, treatment is vital (especially in children) to ensure that they develop properly in both their academic and social endeavors. The most common medical intervention involves the use of stimulant medications which allow the brain to focus on the right thing at the right time by increasing the brain’s ability to inhibit itself. For the most beneficial approach to treating AD/HD, a combination of medication, family therapy, and individual and group counseling is recommended. Teaching the victim self-control is a fundamental aspect to treating their AD/HD. It is imperative to allow a licensed counselor or medical physician the authority to decide what treatments are most appropriate.

NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) Fourth Edition, The American Psychiatric Association, Washington D.C. Copyright 2000
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