What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder characterized by impulsivity, inattention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. While occasional distractibility and impulsivity are normal, these behaviors are excessive, long-term, and pervasive in people with ADHD. If untreated, ADHD can cause significant difficulties in school, home, work or social settings which often leads to co- existing conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
What causes ADHD?
ADHD is caused by biological factors that influence neurotransmitter activity in the prefrontal regions of the brain that activates, organizes, integrates and manages other functions. ADHD is usually hereditary, but has also been thought to be caused by difficulties during pregnancy or postnatal injury to the head.
What are the symptoms?
Science recognizes three subtypes of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/ impulsive and combined. A diagnosis of one type or another depends on the specific symptoms or diagnostic criteria that person has.
Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD is characterized by:
- Short attention span
- Difficulty focusing or following directions
- Distractibility and forgetfulness
- Appearing not to listen
- Frequently losing things
Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type ADHD is characterized by:
- Fidgeting and excessive activity
- Excessive talking and interrupting
- Blurting out answers before questions have been completed
- Difficulty waiting or taking turns
An individual that has symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADHD may have Combination ADHD.
What are the treatments?
Treatment includes stimulant and non-stimulant medications to normalize brain function. Behavior therapy and cognitive therapy are often helpful to modify certain behaviors and to deal with the emotional effects of ADHD. The most successful treatment usually will include a combination of medication and therapy.
Can ADHD be prevented?
No, but it can be treated and managed. The sooner the condition is diagnosed and treated, the less of an impact it will have on a person’s life.
Who is at risk?
Anyone with a family history of ADHD, who experienced any of a variety of prenatal conditions or who suffered a post-natal injury to the prefrontal region of the brain is at risk.
To find out more about ADHD:
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA): www.add.org
Children and Adults with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD): www.chadd.org