Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Common Myths about ADHD:

  • Parenting styles cause ADHD
  • ADHD is over-diagnosed
  • ADHD is not a medical condition
  • Changing diet and limiting sugar intake will cure ADHD

These statements are all false! Keep reading to learn the truth about ADHD!

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurobiological disorder, not a problem with behavior. This means it is an illness of the nervous system. Those diagnosed with ADHD are deficient in a chemical called dopamine in their brains. Norepinephrine, another brain chemical, may also be affected. New research has shown that some areas of the brain are smaller and have decreased blood flow in those with ADHD.

How common is ADHD?

Studies show that 5-12% of school aged children have ADHD. Additionally, boys are three times more likely to have ADHD compared to girls.

What causes ADHD?

ADHD is a genetic disorder. This means it is hereditary and is passed down through families. ADHD is NOT caused by poor parenting or bad teachers.

Can adults have ADHD?

Yes. 60% of people with ADHD have symptoms that persist into adulthood. This also means that adults can be diagnosed with ADHD later in life, if they were previously undiagnosed as children. With increasing awareness about ADHD is being diagnosed in adults more frequently.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

Symptoms of ADHD typically fall into the following 3 categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Here are a few symptoms in each category.

Inattention:

  • Distracted easily/daydreaming
  • Over-focused on one problem (inappropriate attention)

Hyperactivity:

  • Fidgeting and squirming
  • Talking excessively and at inappropriate times

Impulsive:

  • Blurting out answers in class
  • Problems waiting for a turn

New research has shown that symptoms of ADHD can change with age.   For example, younger children tend to have more problems with attention, while adolescents and adults have more problems with executive functioning. Executive functioning is becoming more recognized as a problem in those with ADHD.  Executive functioning (EF) is the skill that allows us to plan ahead, finish a task and manage our time.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Diagnosing ADHD is currently done using behavioral screening tools. There are currently no blood tests or other physical measures that are used to diagnose ADHD.   These tools asses the number of symptoms present.  Additionally, in order for a diagnosis to be made symptoms must be present in all life settings (e.g. both at school and at home).

What are the treatments for ADHD?

Treatment of ADHD can be comprised of any one or a combination of the following:

1) Behavioral Therapy: This is a combination of educating family members, counseling and other behavioural interventions both in the school and at home.

2) Stimulant Medications: These medications work in the brain to improve the norepinephrine and/or dopamine signaling. There are a few different options available, most taken once daily.

Why treat ADHD?

When ADHD is left untreated the following serious consequences may occur:

  • Poor social relationships
  • Symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Poor academic work and performance
  • Increased risk of accidental injury (those with ADHD are 4x more likely to have a car accident than those without)
  • Early school drop out (30% of students with ADHD compared to 10% without)
  • Alcoholism and substance abuse (those with untreated ADHD start using alcohol 2 years earlier than those without)
  • More likely to be in trouble with the law or put in jail

For more information on ADHD ask your doctor or pharmacist today!!

information found at www.caddra.ca


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