What is ADHD?

what is adhd

ADHD is a mental health condition that causes people to have trouble paying attention, staying organized, and controlling their behavior. It can make school, work and relationships difficult. Symptoms of ADHD typically begin in childhood and continue throughout life. Some people may not get diagnosed until they are adults. However, treatment can help people with ADHD lead happier and more successful lives.

Doctors diagnose ADHD by reviewing symptoms and past history. They also consider a person’s family and social situation. They use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition Text Revision (DSM-5-TR) to guide their decisions about diagnosis. Medications are the main treatment for ADHD. They help improve people’s ability to focus, learn and manage their emotions. Stimulants increase the levels of brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which play essential roles in thinking and attention. These medications are considered safe when taken under medical supervision. However, they can cause side effects when misused or taken in excess of a prescribed dose. People with ADHD should talk to their doctors before taking any medication.

Most experts think that genetic factors are at least some part of what causes ADHD. They also believe that a person’s environment and lifestyle can influence the development of ADHD symptoms. For example, a person is more likely to develop ADHD if they have poor eating habits and do not get enough sleep. Some experts believe that modern society’s fast-paced and stressful lifestyle is a major contributor to the rise of ADHD in children and young adults.

The most common symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity and impulsivity. In order to be diagnosed with this disorder, a person must have these problems to a degree that interferes with his or her functioning at home and at school. Children who have these symptoms often require clinical referral for evaluation and treatment. In adulthood, the hyperactivity tends to decrease but inattention, disorganization and impulsivity remain significant impairments.

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Treatment for ADHD includes counseling, education or training, and/or medication. Counseling and education can teach people with ADHD new skills to manage their symptoms, improve their quality of life and increase independence. Education and training can include strategies for improving organizational skills, time management, and self-advocacy. Medications can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity, improve learning and functioning, and help people with ADHD function more effectively at home and at work. Several different medications may be needed to find one that works best for a person with ADHD. Regular clinical monitoring is critical, with appointments at least monthly at the beginning of treatment and then every three months thereafter to check for residual symptoms and side effects.

Some people with ADHD may also have other mental disorders or conditions such as mood disorders, learning disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, depression and certain thyroid problems (Austerman, 2015). It is important for those who have ADHD to be evaluated by a trained clinician to determine what other conditions they have.

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