Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder that can cause over-normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviour. People with ADHD have difficulty concentrating on a task or sitting still for prolonged periods of time.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. It is diagnosed for the first time in childhood and also continues into adulthood. Children with ADHD can have difficulty paying attention, managing impulsive behaviour, or becoming hyperactive.

ADHD in Adults

According to Mayo Clinic, some people with ADHD have fewer symptoms as they age, but some adults still have major symptoms that affect their daily lives. The major symptoms of ADHD in adults may include difficulty paying attention, impulsiveness, and restlessness. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

A lot of ADHD adults don’t know, they just know that day-to-day things can be a challenge. It can be difficult for adults with ADHD to concentrate and focus, leading to forgotten meetings or social plans.

Adult ADHD symptoms may include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • trouble multitasking
  • excessive activity
  • restlessness
  • poor planning
  • low frustration tolerance
  • frequent mood swings
  • disorganization
  • problems prioritizing
  • poor time management skills
  • trouble focusing on a task
  • problems following
  • trouble completing tasks
  • hot temper
  • trouble coping with stress

At some point, almost everyone has symptoms that are like ADHD. You probably don’t have ADHD if the issues are unusual or have rarely arisen in the past. Read more about recognizing ADHD in adults: diagnosis and treatment.

ADHD in Children

The core concepts of ADHD include inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviour. According to Mayo Clinic, signs of ADHD begin before 12 years of age and are apparent in some children as early as 3 years of age.

Types of ADHD

There are 3 major types of ADHD in children over the age of 3 years:

  • inattentive type
  • hyperactive-impulsive type
  • combination type

Inattentive/distractible type: This type is predominantly characterised by inattention and distraction without hyperactivity.

Impulsive/hyperactive type: This type is characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviour without inattention and distraction, the least common type of ADHD.

Combined type: This type is characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviour, and by inattention and distraction. However, this is the most common and mixed type of ADHD.

Symptoms in Children

ADHD is more common in males than females, and behaviours in boys and girls can be different. For example, boys can be more hyperactive than girls.
A child with a symptom of the type of inattention may often:

  • cannot pay close attention
  • mistakes in schoolwork
  • have trouble staying focused
  • appear not to listen
  • have difficulty following instructions
  • cannot finish schoolwork
  • have trouble organizing tasks
  • avoid tasks that require mental effort
  • easily distracted
  • forget to do daily activities

A child with a symptom of a hyperactive and impulsive type may often:

  • fidgety or twist the body from side to side in the seat
  • have difficulty staying seated still and calm
  • talking and making noise constantly
  • run around from one place to place
  • climb in places when it’s not appropriate
  • have trouble playing or doing an activity quietly
  • call out answers, interrupting the questioner
  • have difficulty waiting for his/her turn

Although your child may have symptoms that sound like ADHD, it may be something else. That’s why you need a doctor to find out about it. Read more about ADHD in children: symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Risk Factors

Even though it is not clear what causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But researchers agree that there could be several variables that play a role in deciding if someone may develop ADHD. Factors such as genetics, the environment, and problems with the development of the central nervous system can be involved in the development of ADHD.

Risk factors for ADHD include:

  • Your parent or sibling has ADHD or other mental health conditions
  • You were exposed to environmental pollutants as a child
  • Your mother smoked, drank alcohol, or used medications when she was pregnant.

The health and habits of a mother during pregnancy can play a role in the development of ADHD. Inadequate nutrition and infection during pregnancy can also raise the risk of ADHD. However, ADHD is largely an inherited disorder. It is estimated that the genetic contribution to ADHD is more than 70%.

Diagnosis in childhood

Any of the signs observed in childhood may be related to the development of ADHD. However, these behaviours often occur in children without ADHD. Your child will not be diagnosed with a condition until symptoms persist for over 6 months and their ability to take part in age-appropriate activities is affected.

Care must be taken to diagnose children under 5 years of age, particularly if the drug is considered. Therefore, diagnosis at this early age is best conducted by a child psychiatrist or paediatrician specialising in behaviour and growth. Many child psychologists would not have made a diagnosis until the child is in school.

This is because the primary conditions for ADHD are the occurrence of symptoms in two or more situations. For example, a child has symptoms at home and at school, or with a parent and friends or relatives. Read more about recognizing signs and symptoms of ADHD in toddlers.

ADHD and Depression

Many individuals experience persistent episodes of depression that can last for weeks to months or longer. The most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Feeling sad
  • hopelessness
  • being irritable
  • frustration
  • restlessness
  • loss of interest
  • eating too little
  • eating too much
  • trouble falling asleep
  • trouble concentrating

Depression will make it hard to do daily tasks. When it’s serious, it leads to suicidal ideation and can be life-threatening. There are some common symptoms of ADHD and depression that are identical and can make it difficult to diagnose. One symptom of depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, is difficulty focusing.

If you are taking medications to relieve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, drugs will affect your sleep and eating patterns—both of which are symptoms of depression. Hyperactivity and irritability can be a symptom of both depression and ADHD in children with ADHD. Read more about the link between ADHD and depression.

ADHD Treatment

Usually, treatment for ADHD includes behavioural therapies, medications, or both. You or your child can explore how ADHD affects your life through talk therapy and how it will help you control it. Behavioral therapy is another type of treatment. This therapy will help you or your child learn how to monitor and manage your behaviour. However, certain practical remedies for ADHD may also be helpful and may ease symptoms.

The drug can also be very helpful when coping with ADHD. ADHD drugs are formulated to regulate brain chemicals in a way that helps you manage your emotions and behaviours.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is an established and successful approach for children with more extreme cases of ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that behavioural therapy should be the first step in the treatment of ADHD in young children. To find the approaches that work best for you, consult your therapist or coach. They would want you to:

  • set goals for yourself
  • create a routine
  • learn to organize
  • limit choices

They often refer to these methods as behavioural therapy, focus on solving individual problems, and include techniques to help prevent them. In the long run, it would help both the child and the parent to work through behavioural problems.

Meal Planning

A healthy and balanced diet is necessary to avoid symptoms of ADHD. It will make the symptoms easier to handle by using fresh food low in fat, sugar and salt. You know exactly what’s on your plate when you’re cooking at home.

A 2012 study found that some people might benefit from an additive-free diet, but researchers note that this would only benefit some patients and that it is difficult to implement.

These diets can affect how often symptoms occur, but there is no evidence that alone diet have improved symptoms. In some children with ADHD, diets that reduce potential allergens can help to improve their behaviour.

It’s best if you consult with an allergy specialist if you believe your child is allergic to some foods. However, all, including children and adults with ADHD, will benefit from a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables.

EEG Biofeedback Therapy

An electroencephalogram (EEG) would allow doctors to see and monitor brain waves in order to compare how active different parts of the brain are. Since ADHD is a brain-based disorder, information may help to relieve symptoms. But there has not been enough research to recognise that biofeedback works.

A child can play a special video game during a normal session. A task to be focused on. If they’re distracted, the screen will be black. Over time, the game teaches the child new techniques to focus. The child will eventually recognise and correct their symptoms.

Exercise and Meditation

Exercise or meditation is not only beneficial for the body, but your brain loves it. Moderate to intense exercises significantly reduce the symptoms of ADHD. A lot of research show that yoga can benefit people with ADHD. One study reported increases in hyperactivity, such as anxiety and social difficulties in boys with ADHD who practised yoga daily.

Previous research has shown that tai chi can help to relieve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Researchers have found that people with ADHD who practised tai chi were not as nervous or hyperactive.

Spending Time Outside

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can benefit from spending time outside. There is firm evidence that spending 20 minutes in greenery and nature will increase their concentration and relieve their symptoms. Study in 2011 and other research before it supports the claim that regular outdoor and green space exposure is a healthy and natural therapy that can benefit people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Essential Oils

Some people say that essential oils can help to ease the symptoms of ADHD. These essential oils should include:

  • lavender
  • vetiver
  • rosemary

Before using any essential oils, particularly for children, always speak to your doctor to make sure that the oil and the delivery method are safe. Never apply the essential oil directly to the skin, as it can cause a reaction.

Certain essential oils can help to improve sleep and concentration. However, more research is needed to clarify the efficacy of essential oils in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Talk to your doctor before using some essential oils.

Warning: do not swallow essential oils because they may be toxic to the body.

Supplements and Herbal Medicines

Supplemental therapy can help to improve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Supplements like omega-3 are healthy for your heart. While the benefits are relatively mild for the symptoms of ADHD. Some supplements for ADHD include:

  • melatonin
  • zinc
  • L-carnitine
  • vitamin B-6
  • vitamin C
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • fish oil
  • caffeine

Supplementation without the supervision of a physician can be dangerous, particularly in children. Speak to your doctor if you are interested in trying these supplements.

Some herbal medicines can help to ease the symptoms of ADHD. These herbs shall include:

  • ginseng
  • ningdong
  • bacopa

But to find out how much you can take and how they will interact with your medications, we need more comprehensive research to find out if all these natural herbal medicines are reliable. It is mandatory to speak to your doctor before you go on the herbal route.

ADHD or ADD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), but ADD is an outdated term. The word ADD applies to someone who had difficulty focusing but was not hyperactive. That’s why ADD is called ADHD, even though the person is not hyperactive. This disorder is also referred to as ADHD, inattentive type, ADHD, hyperactive/impulsive type, or ADHD, combined type. Read more about the difference between ADD and ADHD.

References

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