ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

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ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type which is characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age. In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance and substance misuse.

As of 2015 it is estimated to affect approximately 51.1 million people globally. More than 10 million cases are reported in India, per year. ADHD is diagnosed three times more often in boys than in girls, however their symptoms differ from those of boys. About 30 to 50 percent of people diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms into adulthood and between 2 to 5 percent of adults have the condition.

How does ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) affect your body?

ADHD is associated with functional impairments in some of the brain’s neurotransmitter systems, particularly those involving dopamine and norepinephrine. The dopamine pathways and norepinephrine pathways are directly responsible for cognitive control of behavior, motivation, reward perception, and motor function and these pathways are known to play a central role in the pathophysiology of ADHD.

What are the causes of ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Although the cause is unknown, factors that may be involved in the development of ADHD include:

  • Genetics– Genetics determine about 70% of inherited cases; siblings of ADHD children are more likely to develop than siblings with non-ADHD children.
  • Environment– Exposure to lead exposure, organophosphate insecticides, and infections during pregnancy may develop problems which resemble ADHD.
  • Development– Problems with the central nervous system may play a role.
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What are the risk factors of ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder)?

  • Family history– Children with ADHD parents or siblings are at risk of ADHD.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins– Toxins such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes of older buildings can increase the risk.
  • Maternal drug use, alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy– Use of any of these during pregnancy increases the risk of this disorder.
  • Premature birth– Extreme premature birth or low-birth weight also increase the risk.

What are the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Symptoms of ADHD can be categorized into inattentiveness, and hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Symptoms of inattentiveness are:

  • Short attention span and being easily distracted
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Forgetful or losing things
  • Unable to stick to tasks
  • Unable to listen or carry out instructions
  • Constantly changing activity
  • Difficulty organizing tasks

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness:

  • Unable to sit still
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Excessive talking
  • Unable to wait for their turn
  • No or little sense of danger
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How is ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) diagnosed?

Diagnosing ADHD is a complex process and often requires seeking a professional familiar with this disorder.

ADHD can be diagnosed through extensive interview procedures, behavior and symptom rating skills, third party observations, and obtaining comprehensive history.  Neuropsychological testing is done to help learn the ins and outs of one’s unique brain profile, which can be extremely beneficial in learning to live well with ADHD after being diagnosed.

Also read: Distichiasis Diagnosis | Narcolepsy Diagnosis 

How to prevent & control ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder)?

  • During pregnancy, avoid anything that could harm fetal development such as drinking alcohol or use of recreational drugs or smoking cigarettes.
  • Protect children from exposure to pollutants and toxins, including cigarette smoke and lead paint.

Treatment of ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) – Allopathic Treatment

ADHD is treated with medications, education or training, therapy, or a combination of treatments.

Medications include:

  • Stimulants– Stimulant increases neurotransmitter levels or dopamine, increases heart rate and blood pressure. The neurotransmitter plays an essential role in thinking and attention and controls hyperactive and impulsive behavior. Stimulants include dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Dexedrine), and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse).
  • Non-Stimulants– Non-stimulants improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD. These medications include atomoxetine and guanfacine.

Therapies include:

  • Support group– Support groups are for counseling and sharing experiences among people with a similar condition or goal, such as depression or weight loss.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy– It is a talk therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviours and emotional responses associated with psychological distress.
  • Anger management– This therapy encourages to practice mindfulness, coping mechanisms and trigger avoidance to minimise destructive emotional outbursts.
  • Intervention– This is a branch of psychology that treats personal problems related to school, work, family and social life.
  • Psychoeducation– Provides education about mental health that also serves to support, validate and empower patients.
  • Family therapy– This psychological counselling helps families resolve conflicts and communicate more effectively.

Treatment of ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) – Homeopathic Treatment

  • Synaptol– It is a liquid formulated for the treatment of ADHD in children and adults age 2 and older.
  • Verta alb– It is often used for children with ADHD and comorbid anxiety and has been claimed to reduce the potential for temper tantrums in children who struggle to control their emotions.
  • Stramonium– It is intended to reduce aggressive or violent behavior in children with ADHD or comorbid oppositional defiant disorder. However, this medication can cause hallucinations, delirium, or, in rare cases, death.
  • Zincum metallicum– It is indicated for children who are fidgety and restless, and especially known for restless feet and legs.
  • Phosphorus– It is indicated for children with the fear of being unloved, isolated and children who are psychic.
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ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) – Lifestyle Tips

  • If your child has ADHD, be consistent, set limits and have clear consequences for your child’s behavior.
  • Put together a daily routine for your child with clear expectations that include things like bedtime, morning time, mealtime, simple chores and TV.
  • Avoid multitasking when talking with your child, make eye contact when giving instructions, and set aside a few minutes every day to praise your child.
  • Work with caregivers and teachers to identify problems early so as to decrease the impact of the condition on your child’s life.

What are recommended exercise for person with ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Following exercises can be practiced for 30-40 minutes, at least 3 or 4 days every week:

  • Running
  • Walking briskly
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Martial arts

ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) & pregnancy- Things to know

  • Women diagnosed with ADHD are 20 to 30 per cent more likely to have a caesarean delivery, and their babies will have a similarly increased rate of needing support to start breathing or admission to a neonatal unit.
  • Pregnant women with ADHD when treated with stimulant medications during childhood or pregnancy have an elevated risk for pre-eclampsia, having a premature birth.
  • However, women on medication for ADHD should not stop treatment without consulting a doctor.
  • Children with low-birth weight during birth, born premature, or whose mothers had difficult pregnancies have a higher risk of having ADHD too.

Common complications related to ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder)

Children with ADHD offer face following complications:

  • Struggle in the classroom leading to academic failure and judgment by other children and adults.
  • Tend to have more accidents and injuries of all kinds compared to children who don’t have ADHD.
  • ADHD patients have poor self-esteem.
  • ADHD people have trouble interacting with and being accepted by peers and adults.
  • ADHD patients are at increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse and other delinquent behavior.

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