Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition characterized by frequent inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. While ADHD is most often diagnosed in children and teens, it isn’t exclusive to young people. Adults are sometimes diagnosed with ADHD.

Researchers are now using brain imaging to further understanding of ADHD and how it can be prevented and treated. With treatment, individuals with ADHD can succeed in school and work and be productive members of their communities.

Symptoms of ADHD

A diagnosis of ADHD requires a pattern of behavior over a period of six months or longer. In fact, some of the most common behaviors associated with ADHD aren’t cause for concern for most people. Individuals with ADHD have difficulty controlling those behaviors and may display them frequently over time. 

Symptoms of inattention may include: 

  • Not giving close attention to details
  • Making careless mistakes in schoolwork or job-related activities
  • Not paying attention or listening when spoken to directly
  • Lack of follow-through on instructions
  • Inconsistent completion of homework and assignments
  • Trouble organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoiding work that requires mental effort over a long period of time
  • Frequently losing things such as toys, work tools, or keys 
  • Difficulty processing new information quickly
  • Being easily distracted
  • Being forgetful in daily activities

Symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity may include:  

  • Being excessively talkative
  • Fidgeting, squirming in seat, or tapping hands or feet
  • Running or playing when it is not appropriate or feeling restless
  • Having difficulty doing activities quietly
  • High levels of energy as if driven by a motor
  • Interrupting or blurting out answers before questions are finished
  • Having trouble sharing, waiting or taking turns 

Treating ADHD

Treatment of ADHD is available for children, teens and adults. A comprehensive treatment plan may include more than one intervention based on an individual’s unique needs. Treatment may include: 

  • Education about the disorder and the course of treatment, both for the person with ADHD and their families
  • Behavioral therapy to learn new skills for monitoring and managing behaviors
  • ADHD medication and monitoring
  • Mental health counseling for the individual with ADHD and possibly family members
  • Modifications at school or work

Families of individuals with ADHD must be patient. It may take some time before behaviors improve, even with treatment. 

Finally, remember that side effects from untreated ADHD, which include frustration, failure, social isolation, discouragement, depression, and low self-esteem — may cause more harm than the disorder, so early intervention and treatment is very important.