ADHD is a brain disorder that causes problems with attention, concentration and behavior. The condition is most common in children but can also affect adults. Symptoms are typically present before age 12 and can interfere with daily activities.
There are three main types of ADHD: Predominantly Inattentive, Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive and a combination of these. The symptoms of these different types are similar, but they can vary in severity.
Inattentive: Fails to pay close attention to details and makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other tasks. Has trouble paying attention during lectures, conversations or long reading periods. Is easily distracted by television, telephone calls, music or other stimuli.
The signs and symptoms of this type of ADHD are more noticeable during work or school tasks. Is easily irritated or frustrated by other people’s actions. Is very active in day-to-day activities but may not be hyperactive at home.
Adults can have both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms, or they can only have hyperactive symptoms. The symptoms of these two types of ADHD are similar and can be treated with medication.
Stimulants: Medication increases the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which help control behavior. They can help some people with ADHD focus better and stay on task, but they also can cause side effects when misused or taken in high doses.
They are usually used in conjunction with other treatment options. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can also help someone with ADHD learn new ways of focusing and being productive.
Counseling can also help people with ADHD cope with negative feelings such as frustration, anger and blame. A mental health professional can help people with ADHD and their families change unhealthy patterns of relating to each other and develop new, healthier ones.
Family and marital therapy can help spouses, parents and other family members understand and accept ADHD behaviors and teach the person with ADHD how to manage their emotions and reactions to stress. This can make the relationship with family members more rewarding and healthy for all involved.
Self-care: Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise, and find ways to reduce stress in your life. If you have a chronic health condition or are taking medications for another condition, tell your doctor before starting any treatment for ADHD.
Keep your schedule organized and stick to it as much as possible. This includes waking up and going to bed at the same times each day, writing down homework assignments and bringing them home in a notebook or organizer, and sticking to school schedules.
Set clear rules that your child can understand and follow. If you have multiple children, establish a system for each one so they don’t fight over who gets to do what.
Reward your child when they do things that are good for them and avoid punishing them when they act out. This can encourage your child to do the right thing, even when it’s not easy.
If your child has a hard time getting along with others, talk to your child’s teacher or counselor about it. Many teachers have strategies they can use to help children with ADHD.