- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition. Childhood ADHD symptoms include
- difficulty concentrating,
- trouble controlling impulses, and
- excessive activity.
- While there is no specific cause of ADHD, there are many social, biological, and environmental factors that may raise one’s risk of developing or being diagnosed with the disorder.
- There are three subtypes of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive) presentation.
- While medications commonly treat ADHD, behavior therapy, school accommodations, and parent counseling are important in improving the child’s ability to function, as well.
- The most common medications used to treat ADHD are the stimulant medications.
- About 85% of children with ADHD are at risk for having some form of the disorder in adulthood.
People with ADHD are at a higher risk for also having anxiety, depression, mood swings, drug or alcohol abuse issues, interpersonal problems, school problems during childhood, as well as some long-term medical, legal, and employment problems during adolescence and adulthood.
- Much of the latest research on ADHD in children focuses on how exposure to environmental toxins may increase the risk of developing this condition.
What is the definition of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? ADD vs. ADHD
What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?
ADHD, formerly called ADD, refers to a mental health condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. People with ADHD (formerly referred to as ADD) have problems with impulse control, excessive activity, and/or distractibility on a day-to-day basis. These symptoms are difficulties with what are known as executive functions, the brain functions that are best understood as being the boss or chief executive officer of brain. Examples of executive functioning include planning, prioritizing, organizing, disciplining, and controlling what the person does.
Statistics show that up to 7% of children and teens suffer from this disorder at any time, with up to 11% of children being assigned the diagnosis at some point during their childhood. Health professionals tend to diagnose boys with ADHD in children at a rate of more than twice that of girls. That is partly due to the diagnosis in girls being missed because of gender differences in ADHD symptoms. There are also racial and ethnic disparities in ADHD diagnosis and treatment, in that Latino and African-American children are underdiagnosed with this diagnosis. Increasing access to care as well as family psychoeducation and culturally sensitive assessments of ADHD are important measures to alleviate those disparities. These measures combat implicit biases of people who are in the role of identifying possible mental health symptoms and referring for assessment (like teachers and pediatricians) so that ADHD symptoms are appropriately interpreted as potential illness rather than defiance or other intentional misbehavior.
Children who are younger than their peers in the same class are at risk for being overdiagnosed with ADHD since mere months in age may make the difference in a child’s ability to sit still, manage their impulses, and pay attention. Educating professionals, especially teachers, about these developmental differences is key to helping these children and their families.
What are the types of ADHD (ADD)?
There are three presentations for ADHD:
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
- Predominantly inattentive
- Combined presentation (impulsive, inattentive, and hyperactive)
The diagnostic label of ADHD has evolved over time. Difficulties paying attention were described by physician turned children’s books author Heinrich Hoffmann in “The Story of Fidgety Philip,” a character who had trouble sitting still. While British pediatrician, Sir George Frederic Still, is credited with being the first to describe the whole group of symptoms for what is now known as ADHD, he viewed it to be caused by a problem with moral control. Earlier labels for this illness include hyperkinetic disease, hyperkinetic reaction of childhood, minimal brain damage, and minimal brain dysfunction. Read More