Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that is often first diagnosed in childhood and may persist into adulthood. It can include a combination of behavioral symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, disorganization, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
Untreated ADHD can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, and low self-esteem, and can have other negative consequences for patients and their families. ADHD is most common in males, but can also affect females. It is not always diagnosed in childhood, nor is it a condition found only in children. ADHD is a neurological disorder and not a result of insufficient discipline, personal weakness, or bad parenting.
A child with ADHD may require an individualized education program (IEP). Learn more about talking to your child’s teacher about ADHD.
If you think that you or your child may have ADHD, your first step in getting help is to be assessed by a doctor. Common symptoms of ADHD in children and adults include:
- Excessive activity, fidgeting, or restlessness; an inability to sit still appropriately
- Chronic disorganization and losing or misplacing possessions frequently
- Problems focusing on a or completing a task
- A pattern of making careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks
- Being quick to anger or experiencing frequent mood swings
- Trouble getting along with others or taking turns in a conversation
- Talking non-stop
- Frequent daydreaming and an inability to concentrate
- Time management issues and trouble remembering important dates or appointments
There is no known root cause of ADHD. It can affect anyone. You or your child’s risk of ADHD may increase if:
- You have relatives, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or another mental health disorder
- Your or your mother smoked, drank alcohol, or used drugs during pregnancy
- You or your child have suffered a brain injury
- During pregnancy or childhood, you or your child were exposed to environmental toxins such as lead
- You or your child were born prematurely or had a low birth weight
ADHD treatment can be made more complex if you also have autism, a learning disability or additional mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. A doctor or therapist can help create a personalized treatment program that helps address all of your medical conditions.
ADHD cannot be cured, but it can be managed to reduce the impact of its symptoms on your life and your family. A standard treatment plan for ADHD typically involves a combination of medication, education, therapy, and support.
Medication: Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD, and 70-80% of patients benefit from stimulants. Antidepressants and other drugs are also used to treat ADHD. The effectiveness of different medications may vary, so it's important to talk to your doctor about how your medication is working for you.
Education: Learning more about ADHD will help you, your family, and your friends cope with the stresses and life changes that come with an ADHD diagnosis. Your treatment provider can help you find the resources that you need to stay informed about ADHD. Learn more important facts about children with ADHD and get parenting tips.
Therapy: Counseling for ADHD can include psychological counseling, talk therapy, family or couples therapy, and occupational therapy to help you or your child learn skills to help control ADHD symptoms and recognize triggers. Your treatment provider can help you learn coping skills to help minimize the impact of ADHD on your life and your family.
Support: It's important to have support from your friends and family as you manage ADHD. Support groups are available for families, parents, children, and adults. Learn more about support groups at Sheppard Pratt.