One of the most common mental health conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder that majorly affects children under the age of 12 and stays forever. Just like any other chronic condition, ADHD can get worse with time and interfere in the individual’s day-to-day life. This is why it is important to manage the condition. ADHD treatment options, just like anxiety, stress, depression, and related mental health conditions, include therapy, medication, and a few lifestyle changes. For further understanding let’s get into the details of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.
ADHD, abbreviated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a chronic mental health condition that causes difficulty in paying attention (inattentiveness), Hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Commonly diagnosed in children, it is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as the name suggests, is a condition in which the individual, mostly child, experiences difficulty in being attentive, staying still and quiet, focusing on a particular task for long, socializing, and performing well in school.
The symptoms of ADHD can be divided into two categories – attention deficit (inattentiveness) and Hyperactivity (fidgeting and impulsiveness).
Majorly, people with ADHD have symptoms from both categories. However, that is not always the case. Some people may only experience inattentiveness or attention deficit, and in those cases, it can be said that the patient is dealing with ADD instead of ADHD. ADD or attention deficit disorder is a form of ADHD.
Some of the common symptoms of ADHD include:
In a crux, children or adults with ADHD find it difficult to complete tasks and sit quietly for longer hours.
However, it is important to know that simply finding a few of these symptoms in a child or even an adult may not mean they have ADHD. It is important to consult a certified doctor who has some experience to make sure that the possibility of an individual dealing with ADHD is strong.
There is no particular test or diagnosis that can confirm ADHD.
There are several symptoms and conditions that can be confused with ADHD and in order to rule out all those possibilities, it is important to evaluate the condition of the child with respect to the different settings they spend their time in, past incidents that may be acting as some triggers, lifestyle and family history, and the medical, physical condition of the child.
Doctors generally start by asking a few questions that allow them to analyze the condition and see if the pattern of symptoms is consistent in different settings. There is a possibility that the child exhibits the symptoms of ADHD because of a particular teacher or parental pressure. If that is not the case, the chances of the child having ADHD increase.
Further, the child is then diagnosed and kept under watch for a few months to see if the symptoms of ADHD interfere in their day-to-day life and if the condition gets better or worse with time.
In short, it takes several months of interviews and evaluations for doctors to diagnose and firmly suggest that the child is dealing with ADHD.
The exact cause of ADHD is not yet known. However, there are a few things that are believed to have an important role to play in the development of ADHD in children.
ADHD can be inherited from parents or members of the family. There are several studies that point in this direction. Studies conducted on the families of the affected, twins, and even adopted children have found that there are higher chances of finding a parent or sibling of the affected with the same symptoms of ADHD as well. Although ADHD is believed to be majorly hereditary, there are some possible different causes as well.
There is a possibility that children who are conceived by women who choose to smoke, drink alcohol, or do any sort of drugs during pregnancy end up having the symptoms of ADHD. There is no doubt in the fact that drug or substance use during pregnancy affects the development and health of the child as well as the mother. Drug use certainly increases the risk of ADHD in the child. However, the findings regarding the effect of the quantity of drugs or alcohol consumed are inconsistent. In addition to that, stress and anxiety during pregnancy also have a role to play in increasing the risk of ADHD in the child.
Studies have found that the brain structure of people with ADHD is different from people who don’t have the condition. This is believed to affect the functioning of the brain, which can be a reason behind ADHD. Studies have found that there are certain areas that may be of different sizes in people with ADHD which may cause an imbalance in the levels of neurotransmitters, thus affecting the functioning of the brain.
There are several studies and scientific evidence that suggest children who are prematurely delivered or have had low birth weight are at higher risk of developing ADHD. researchers even believe that the factors that cause premature delivery may also have a role to play in the increased risk of developing ADHD.
Yes, ADHD can be treated. However, it is important to clear at the very beginning of this discussion that ADHD can not be cured. ADHD is a chronic mental condition and the symptoms can only be managed to some extent. A combination of therapy and medication works well for both children as well as adults. Along with that, certain lifestyle changes also help in both managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life.
Therapy and medication are the treatment options that can help manage the symptoms of ADHD.
One of the most preferred ADHD treatments for children, especially under the age of 6, therapy treatment for ADHD includes several types of therapies that help both children as well as their parents to manage and deal with the symptoms of ADHD.
First and foremost include psychoeducation. It allows the child and their parents to get familiar with the condition and its symptoms. It is important to understand what exactly you are dealing with to cope with it properly.
Then comes behavior therapy. This involves behavior management and again includes both parents as well as the child with ADHD. The purpose of behavior therapy is to encourage certain behaviors that help the child to work against the symptoms of ADHD. Like, encourage sitting quietly without fidgeting, completing small tasks. And for adults it may include organizing, prioritizing tasks, completing small tasks without getting distracted. Often, these activities are encouraged by giving rewards and appreciation to the children.
There are programs and training specifically designed for parents and teachers to teach them the techniques and methods that can help them in understanding and managing symptoms so that they can help the child better. As a parent, it is important to know what triggers and what can calm the symptoms. Children with ADHD are not difficult to deal with, there is a need to understand that certain skills and knowledge can make it easier for the parents and teachers to manage these children better without making the child feel bad or neglected.
Children with ADHD may find it difficult to socialize and there is a chance that they may interfere in your socializing at times as well. It is important to teach them some social skills so that they know how to behave in public and around people without getting anxious or stressed. This is why they are given social skills training.
Finally, there is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. More common among adults than children, cognitive behavioral therapy is talking therapy. A certified doctor or therapist is appointed to talk to the child or adult with ADHD and understand how they feel to simply help them change the way they feel or think. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for ADHD is exactly how it is for anxiety, depression, or any other mental health condition. Customized according to the needs of the individual, CBT prioritizes the needs of the patient and helps them address their issues as transparently as possible so that the therapist can help them get over them or at least manage them for good.
There are several medications that are prescribed to children over the age of 5 and adults with ADHD. These medications do not offer any permanent solution for the symptoms of ADHD but they help significantly in managing the condition so that it does not affect the quality of life of the affected.
These medications can offer side effects and thus it is important to keep a GP in the loop so that they can analyze the effects of medication and suggest treatment breaks from time to time to examine if there is still a need for taking medication.
The side effects of these medications can range from changes in blood pressure and diet to suicidal ideation and depression. Hence, it is extremely important to keep the dosage in check and see which medication works better for the individual.
Some of the common medications for ADHD that can be prescribed to both children as well as adults with ADHD include methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, and dexamfetamine. These medications work by stimulating certain parts of the brain that can help by controlling attention, improving focus, and reducing impulsive behavior.
It is a non-traditional treatment option that a lot of people have started taking along with therapy. Cannabis use for medicinal purposes is legal in the majority of states in the US and as a natural alternative to medication with least to no side effects, it is gaining popularity as a possible ADHD treatment.
There are several studies that suggest medical marijuana or cannabis in general has medicinal, therapeutic properties and it can help in managing symptoms of a myriad of health conditions. The cannabinoids, by binding with the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system can increase attention, focus, and offer calming effects that can reduce impulsiveness. This means that the plant can help in managing the symptoms of ADHD as well.
Surveys and studies conducted on people with ADHD point out that people with ADHD have been using cannabis and the therapeutic effects of the plant have helped them a lot.
However, the research is limited and it is suggested to consult a doctor before considering self-medicating with the plant in order to avoid undesired effects of marijuana.
Along with therapy and medication, there are a few lifestyle changes that can be introduced to make living with ADHD easier.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition but it does not have to restrict the individual from living a quality life. ADHD treatment helps the affected and their families to accept and work on the condition in such a way that it does not interfere in their day-to-day lives. If you or your loved ones are dealing with ADHD or have been showing symptoms of ADHD, we highly suggest consulting an experienced doctor.