ADHD is a disorder that causes people to have problems with attention, behavior and organization. It is a chronic condition that affects both children and adults. It can be hard to diagnose, especially if you don’t know what to look for.
Symptoms of ADHD are usually present before age 12 and interfere with your daily life in multiple ways, such as at home, school or work. These symptoms are often accompanied by a lack of self-control and difficulty maintaining social relationships.
If you think your child may have ADHD, talk to a doctor and get an appointment with a specialist. Once diagnosed, the child can start treatment to help with their symptoms.
Diagnosis of ADHD is made by a doctor or a mental health professional. The doctor may use a checklist of symptoms or may ask for information about your child’s history and behavior at home, at school, and with friends or family members.
The doctor can also ask about if the child is taking any medication, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics, which can cause symptoms of ADHD in some people. If the child has a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression, this can also contribute to symptoms of ADHD.
A doctor can also do a physical exam and look for any signs of illness or injury that might be contributing to ADHD. These include a low birth weight, premature delivery or brain injuries in the frontal lobe of the brain that control impulses and emotions.
Your doctor might refer your child to a psychiatrist, a paediatrician or a child psychologist for additional testing. These professionals can do tests to help identify if your child meets the criteria for ADHD and which subtype they may have.
Treating ADHD is a process that involves different health professionals and can involve medications, psychotherapy, education or training, and a combination of these treatments. The doctor can work with you to find the best combination of treatments to reduce symptoms and improve functioning.
The NIMH Mental Health Medications webpage offers more information on how to use ADHD medications safely and effectively, and the latest information about these and other medications is available at the FDA website.
You can also work with a behavioral or cognitive therapist, who can help your child develop new skills to cope with their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Some behavioral therapists specialize in ADHD and have been trained to use techniques that can help your child manage their symptoms.
If your child is struggling in school, a counselor can help them make the most of their time and improve their grades. They can also help them with organizational skills to ensure they have the materials they need to complete their work, as well as strategies to deal with stress and anxiety.
A counselor can also offer counseling to parents of children with ADHD, to help them better understand their child’s symptoms and learn how to support their child. A counselor might also help your child find and maintain positive friendships with others who have similar interests or values, to encourage them to interact positively in a variety of settings.