December 6, 2023

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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?


Last Update on September 15, 2022

One of the most prevalent neurodevelopment diseases in children is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It regularly perseveres into maturity and is typically first diagnosed in childhood. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may struggle to focus, manage impulsive behaviors (doing without considering the consequences), or be extremely active.

At least one-third of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder continue to experience symptoms throughout adulthood. Adult patients may receive treatment in the form of medicine, psychotherapy, instruction or training, or a combination of these.

1. Signs and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

It is basic for children to sometimes struggle with their attention spans and manners. However, these behaviors do not just end in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The symptoms remain, can be severe, and can make it difficult to interact with friends, family, or coworkers.

Identifying whether a child has ADHD is a multi-step process. You may find a summary of the diagnostic process for ADHD on this page. The symptoms of many other conditions, including sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and specific forms of learning difficulties, can be similar to those of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, which cannot be diagnosed with a single test.

Inquiring about a child’s conduct in various contexts, such as at home, school, or with peers, from parents, teachers, and other adults who provide care for the kid is advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

A kid with ADHD could:

  • Often daydream
  • Frequently lose or forget stuff
  • Wriggle or fidget
  • Talk excessively
  • Take needless risks or careless actions
  • Having trouble avoiding the temptation
  • Have difficulty switching off
  • Have trouble getting along with other people

The child’s healthcare professional should also ascertain whether the youngster has another condition that co-occurs with ADHD or that can better understand the symptoms.

2. Prevention of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder:

Despite the fact that ADHD cannot be prevented, the following advice can help with early detection and improved management:

  • Speak to your child’s doctor if you suspect that your youngster has ADHD. A primary care physician, such as a pediatrician, or a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can make the diagnosis.
  • After a diagnosis, you and your child’s doctor will go over treatment choices. The most effective option for the treatment of ADHD is typically a mix of medication and behavior therapy.
  • The first attempt of treatment for preschool-aged children (ages 4-5) with ADHD is with Behavior therapy, especially training for parents before medication is considered.
  • If you observe that your child may have ADHD, discuss it with a doctor. The diagnosis may be made by a primary care physician, such as a pediatrician, or a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
  • Following a diagnosis, you and your child’s doctor will discuss available treatments. A combination of medication and behavior therapy is often the most efficient strategy to manage ADHD.
  • Before considering medication, behavior therapy, particularly training for parents, is indicated as the first line of treatment for preschool-aged children (ages 4-5) with ADHD.

3. How is ADHD diagnosed?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)1 of the American Psychiatric Association is used by medical professionals to make an Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder diagnosis. This diagnostic standard aids in ensuring that patients with ADHD are properly identified and treated. Determining the prevalence of ADHD among children and how this illness affects public health can both be done by using the same standard across localities.

3.1. Diagnosing ADHD in Adults:

It frequently persists throughout maturity. Only five symptoms, as opposed to the six required for younger children, are required to diagnose Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in adults and adolescents who are 17 years of age or older. At older ages, symptoms could appear differently. Adult hyperactivity, for instance, can manifest as excessive restlessness or as the weariness of others due to one’s own activity.

4. Treatment for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder:

Parents frequently worry about the best course of therapy for their children when they receive an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis for their child. With proper care, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder can be controlled. There are numerous treatment alternatives, and which one is most effective will depend on the child and family as a whole. It is advised that parents collaborate closely with those who are involved in their child’s life—healthcare professionals, therapists, teachers, coaches, and other family members—to determine the best solutions.

4.1. Treatment options for ADHD include:

  • Medication
  • Behaviors therapy, which includes parent education

4.2. Treatment recommendations for ADHS:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parent training in behavior management as the first line of treatment for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder under the age of six before medication is considered. The recommended treatment for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for children aged 6 and older includes medication + behavior treatment. The parent training in behavior management for children up to age 12, and additional forms of behavior therapy and training for teenagers. Schools may also be included in the treatment. Additionally, integrating behavioral classroom intervention and school support is advised by the AAP.

Good treatment plans will closely examine the treatment’s effectiveness in changing the child’s behavior and make any necessary adjustments along the way.

4.3. Behavior therapy, with parent education:

DHD impairs a child’s ability to focus and sit still in class, as well as their interactions with their family and other kids. Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder frequently exhibit behaviors that can be extremely upsetting to other people. One approach for treating these behaviors is behavior therapy; it is frequently beneficial to begin behavior therapy as soon as a diagnosis is made.

The objectives of behavior therapy are to develop or reinforce constructive behaviors and to get rid of negative or problematic ones. One type of behavioral treatment for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is

  • Behavior management training for parents
  • Child behavior treatment
  • Behavioral interventions in the school

You can also combine these methods. It is typically most beneficial for parents and educators to work together to support children who attend early childhood programs.

Children younger than 6 years of age:

  • Behavior therapy is crucial before trying medication for young children with ADHD because:
  • Parents who receive behavior management training are more equipped to support their children.
  • It has been shown that behavior management training for parents is just as effective as ADHD treatment for young children.
  • The negative effects of ADHD drugs are more common in younger children than in older ones.
  • Little research has been done on the long-term effects of ADHD drugs on young children.

4.4. Medications:

Medication can help kids manage their symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in their daily lives and regulate the behaviors that cause problems with their classmates, family, and teachers.

The most popular and well-known Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder treatments are stimulants. When using these drugs with a quick effect, 70 to 80 percent of youngsters with ADHD experience fewer symptoms.

In 2003, no stimulants were authorized for the treatment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Children might respond to medications in different ways, and they can have adverse effects including decreased appetite or trouble sleeping. One drug may work well on one youngster but not another.

Prescribers of medication may need to experiment with various drugs and dosages. To strike the correct balance between a medication’s advantages and disadvantages, the AAP advises that healthcare professionals monitor patients and modify the dosage. To identify the drug that works best for their child, parents must collaborate with healthcare professionals.