- Attention deficit disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Hyperkinetic disorder
- ADHD statistics
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 5% of American children have ADHD. However, it should be noted that studies in the US have estimated higher rates as a result of surveys in the community. These surveys asked parents whether they had received a diagnosis of ADHD from a healthcare professional.
The survey results, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimate that approximately 6.4 million children (11%) aged 4 to 17 were diagnosed with ADHD in the US by a healthcare professional (as of 2011). This is a rise from 7.8% in 2003 (CDC data).
An interesting statistic from the same CDC survey results shows that boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have received an ADHD diagnosis.
- Three types of ADHD
Predominantly Inattentive Type
The person finds it very difficult to organize or finish a task. They find it hard to pay attention to details and find it difficult to follow instructions or conversations.
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
The person finds it hard to keep still – they fidget and talk a lot. A smaller child may be continually jumping, running or climbing. They are restless and impulsive – interrupting others, grabbing things and speaking at inappropriate times. They have difficulty waiting their turn and find it hard to listen to directions. A person with this type of ADHD will have more injuries and/or accidents than others.
A person whose symptoms include all those of 1 and 2, and whose symptoms are equally predominant. In other words, all the symptoms in 1 and 2 stand out equally.
- General signs/symptoms of ADHD in children
- the child is restless, overactive, fidgety
- the child is constantly chattering
- the child is continuously interrupting people
- the child cannot concentrate for long on specific tasks
- the child is inattentive
- the child finds it hard to wait his/her turn in play, conversations or standing in line (queue)
It is important to note that the above signs may be observed in children frequently and usually do not mean the child has ADHD. It is when these signs become significantly more pronounced in one child, compared to other children of the same age, and when his/her behavior undermines his/her school and social life, that the child may have ADHD.
- Treating ADHD
Although there is no cure for ADHD, currently available treatments may help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. ADHD is commonly treated with medication, education or training, therapy, or a combination of treatments.
An individual with ADHD finds it much more difficult to focus on something without being distracted.
He/she is likely to have greater difficulty in controlling what he/she is doing or saying and is less able to control how much physical activity is appropriate for a particular situation compared to somebody without ADHD. In other words, a person with ADHD is much more impulsive and restless.
Health care professionals may use any of the following terms when describing a child (or an older person) who is overactive and has difficulty concentrating:
North Americans commonly use the terms ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). In the UK hyperkinetic disorder is the official term – however, ADD and ADHD have become widely used.
ADHD in children is completely different from normal childhood excited and boisterous behavior. Many children, especially very young ones, are inattentive and restless without necessarily being affected by ADHD.
ADHD and four other mental disorders/illnesses genetically linked – researchers at the Cross Disorders Group of the Psychiatric Genomic Consortium believe that ADHD, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorders may share the same common inherited genetic variations.
For many people, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. The first line of treatment for ADHD is stimulants.
Stimulants: Although it may seem unusual to treat ADHD with a medication that is considered a stimulant, it is effective. Many researchers think that stimulants are effective because the medication increases the brain chemical dopamine, which plays essential roles in thinking and attention.
Non-Stimulants: These medications take longer to start working than stimulants, but can also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD. Doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant if a person had bothersome side effects from stimulants, if a stimulant was not effective, or in combination with a stimulant to increase effectiveness. Two examples of non-stimulant medications include atomoxetine and guanfacine.
Antidepressants: Although antidepressants are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the treatment of ADHD, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD. Older antidepressants, called tricyclics, sometimes are used because they, like stimulants, affect the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine.
There are many different types and brands of these medications—all with potential benefits and side effects. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding the one that works for a particular person. Anyone taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by their prescribing doctor.
Call your doctor right away if you have any problems with your medicine or if you are worried that it might be doing more harm than good. Your doctor may be able to adjust the dose or change your prescription to a different one that may work better for you.
There are different kinds of therapy that have been tried for ADHD, but research shows that therapy may not be effective in treating ADHD symptoms. However, adding therapy to an ADHD treatment plan may help patients and families better cope with daily challenges.
For Children and Teens: Parents and teachers can help children and teens with ADHD stay organized and follow directions with tools such as keeping a routine and a schedule, organizing everyday items, using homework and notebook organizers, and giving praise or rewards when rules are followed.
For Adults: A licensed mental health provider or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as keeping routines and breaking down large tasks into more manageable, smaller tasks.
Education and Training
Children and adults with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, families, and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed. Mental health professionals can educate the parents of a child with ADHD about the condition and how it affects a family. They can also help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other. Examples include:
- Parenting skills training teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children.
- Stress management technique scan benefit parents of children with ADHD by increasing their ability to deal with frustration so that they can respond calmly to their child's behavior.
- Support groups can help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns.
- Adding behavioral therapy, counseling, and practical support can help people with ADHD and their families to better cope with everyday problems.
Some schools offer special education services to children with ADHD who qualify. Educational specialists help the child, parents, and teachers make changes to classroom and homework assignments to help the child succeed. Public schools are required to offer these services for qualified children, which may be free for families living within the school district. Learn more about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)