Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a kind of disorder that affects a person’s behavior. When ADD reaches a specific level, where it is difficult to focus even for a short amount of time, then it is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADD and ADHD are synonymous terms and there is not a gradual progression from ADD to ADHD. ADD is the term that was used prior to 1987, while it is used more commonly as it encompasses most of the symptoms that affected people often experience. The symptoms include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
Symptoms of ADHD are noticeable at an early age but may become prominent when a child starts school. Usually, it is diagnosed in children between ages 6 to 12 years of age. ADD/ADHD is more common in boys than in girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 6.4 million children are diagnosed each year.
Types of ADHD
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a psychiatrist, and nuclear brain imaging specialist released a book titled Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You To See And Heal 7 Types Of ADD. According to him, there are seven types of ADD/ADHD:
Classic ADD/ADHD: People with classic ADD are generally inattentive, hyperactive, disorganized, easily distracted, unable to sit still, lack focus, and are impulsive.
Overfocussed ADD/ADHD: People suffering from overfocussed ADD have difficulty shifting focus on new topics or they get stuck in a habit. For example, they can get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts. They also show impulsive obsessive behavior — like worrying excessively, being inflexible, and getting in unnecessary arguments frequently.
Limbic ADD/ADHD: People with this show chronic sadness that is unrelated to depression, negativity, low energy, or low self-esteem. Instead, they have mood swings.
Ring of fire ADD (ADD Plus) /ADHD: This name is given to a condition in individuals with an overactive brain. Apart from the classic ADD symptoms, people suffering from the ring of fire ADD get easily distracted, angry, irritable, and are highly sensitive towards noise, light, or touch. They are very moody, highly inflexible, and argumentative.
Anxious ADD/ADHD: Individuals suffering from Anxious ADHD have all the usual symptoms of ADHD, with additional feelings of tension and anxiety. They also show stress symptoms like headaches and stomachaches. Often, they tend to anticipate the worst outcomes and worry constantly.
Inattentive ADD/ADHD: People suffering from inattentive ADD do not suffer from hyperactivity but are easily distracted. They might be sluggish and indolent. This condition doesn’t cause behavioral problems and is usually diagnosed much later in life.
Temporal Lobe ADD/ADHD: People affected with temporal lobe ADD have the classic symptoms along with aggression, quick temper, irritability, mood swings, dark thoughts, and mild paranoia. They might also have difficulty learning something new and have memory problems.
Causes of ADHD
The exact causes are yet to be understood fully but a combination of factors might be responsible.
Genetics: ADHD is seen to have been present in families and genetic inheritance has a role to play in these cases. Research shows that parents who have ADHD are more likely to pass on this condition to their children. Although, the inheritance is very complex and is not thought to be related to a single genetic fault.
Research and brain scans show that there are certain differences in the brains of people with ADHD and those without the condition. These scans show that certain parts of the brain are smaller in people with this whereas other areas may be larger. Also, people have an imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters in their brains.
Certain groups are more at risk of ADHD, like people who were born prematurely (those born before the 37th week of pregnancy with low birth weight), those with epilepsy, or people with brain damage.
Diagnosis for ADD/ADHD
It cannot be diagnosed by physical tests like blood tests or X-rays. ADHD diagnosis can be done by psychologists, mental health professionals, or pediatricians. According to the guidelines given by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), healthcare providers ask parents, teachers, or adults who care for the child about the child’s behavior in different settings like at home, school, or with peers.
The healthcare providers use the American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to help diagnose ADHD. Several conditions must be met to arrive at an official diagnosis of ADD/ADHD regardless of the presentation of symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or impulsive behavior.
The clinician or healthcare practitioner may have an in-person interview wherein they would cover topics such as development, family history, health, and lifestyle history. Rating scales, questionnaires, intellectual screenings, and measures of sustained attention and distractibility are a part of these assessments.
Treatment for ADD/ADHD
ADHD can be treated by medicine or therapy. Treatment is usually prescribed by a specialist pediatrician or psychiatrist. The condition can be monitored by a general physician.
Medicines like methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, dexamphetamine, atomoxetine, and guanfacine are usually prescribed. Although these medicines may not completely cure the condition, they help patients to concentrate better, feel calmer, learn new skills effectively, and reduce impulsive behavior; thus, improving their quality of life. The treatment options for adults differ from that of children.
- How do I know my child has ADHD? The simple answer to this question is to consult a pediatrician and discuss the symptoms. On further discussion, they might refer you to a psychologist or an specialist if the need arises.
- What might be the side effects of ADHD medication? Usually, the most common side effects are loss of appetite and insomnia. Other side effects include fast heart rate and high blood pressure.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!