What is ADHD?

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what is adhd

Many people have questions about what ADHD is. They may wonder if they have it, if their child has it, or what causes ADHD.

ADHD is a disorder that affects children, teens and adults who struggle with inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. It can cause problems at home, school and work if left untreated.

How to know if your child has ADHD

The best way to determine whether a child has ADHD is to have a medical evaluation. Your doctor will do a physical exam and talk with your child. Your doctor may refer you to a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.

Your child’s doctor will ask you about your child’s behavior and activities, and you may also give them a checklist. This helps your doctor see if you and your child are both seeing the same behaviors.

Symptoms of ADHD are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In addition to meeting certain symptom criteria, a person must have the symptoms in several different settings for a diagnosis of ADHD.

For example, the inattentive form of ADHD is diagnosed when an individual has trouble paying attention to things and has difficulty finishing tasks that take a long time or involve many steps. They are often forgetful or lose things, and make careless mistakes in school and job tasks.

They are often impulsive and can be difficult to control in situations where they feel threatened, angry or in danger. For example, they may act aggressively in a classroom or on the playground. They can be very disruptive and have a hard time with social situations and relationships.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD are very similar to those of other disorders or psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety. It is important to rule out these other conditions when evaluating a child for ADHD.

How to diagnose ADHD

Diagnosis is usually made by a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker. Your child’s doctor will evaluate a complete history of your child’s behavior, observations of their behaviors and test results from psychoeducational testing.

How to treat ADHD

The most effective treatment for ADHD is a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. These treatments can reduce the symptoms of ADHD, improve your child’s ability to focus and control their behavior, and help them succeed in school and at home.

How to manage your child’s ADHD

The best way to manage a child’s ADHD is to help them understand the disorder and learn strategies to deal with it. This includes teaching them to set limits and use their time effectively.

Your child’s doctor will be able to suggest strategies that you can use with your child, and give you information on how to do these strategies in practice. Your doctor can help you decide what type of medications will work best for your child and which are safe for him or her to take.

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