Treatment for ADHD


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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurocognitive disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, or a combination of both. To be diagnosed one has to have symptoms before the age of 12, but typically we see that many patients can compensate for their symptoms in many ways until they reach a barrier at some point in time in their lives. It was once thought that people outgrow this disease, but we see this is not the case.  It can lead to issues with school, work, and even relationships. We know that certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine are involved, but what that means is not entirely clear.


Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Per the Diagnostic Structural Manual, edition V: 

Inattentive symptoms:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something they find enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing or completing a task
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Appear not to be listening when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions
  • Have trouble understanding details; overlooks details

Hyperactive symptoms:

  • Fidget or squirm a great deal;
  • Talk nonstop;
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight;
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and while doing homework;
  • Be constantly in motion;
  • Have difficulty performing quiet tasks or activities;
  • Be impatient;
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences;
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turn in games;
  • Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities

How to Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Many patients have symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity. ADHD is often co-morbid with other conditions including mood and anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, substance use disorders, and issues with sleep,  First line treatment of ADHD is often with stimulant medications such as Ritalin or Adderall, which have now been around for over a century; in patients for whom stimulants are not appropriate, there are other pharmacologic options available. Either way, we do recommend behavioral changes and strategies that can often help people cope in dramatic ways. Patients will often say that this was the “key” to something that was missing in their lives, that things are often clearer for them, and that they feel happier and more productive once this gets diagnosed and treated.


Frequently Asked Questions About Treatment for ADHD


What is ADHD?


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common mental disorder that affects both children and adults. The disorder is characterized by attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD affects approximately 11 percent of American children.


What are common symptoms of ADHD?


Some of the most common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Short attention span, particularly with subjects or tasks that a child is not interested in
  • Verbal, physical, and/or emotional hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity and recklessness
  • Fidgeting or feelings of restlessness
  • Lack of organization and trouble prioritizing tasks
  • Poor time management skills

    Can a child with ADHD be good at school?


    Children with ADHD can be successful in school when they receive the accommodations they need in the classroom and support from family, physicians, and clinicians outside of the classroom.


    Can ADHD be cured?


    ADHD cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Early diagnosis is key, along with a comprehensive treatment and education plan.


    What happens if ADHD is left untreated?


    There is evidence that, in women, hormonal changes can cause ADHD symptoms to worsen. Aging leads to cognitive changes for both men and women who have ADHD.


    Does ADHD get worse with age?


    There is evidence that, in women, hormonal changes can cause ADHD symptoms to worsen. Aging leads to cognitive changes for both men and women who have ADHD.


    What triggers ADHD?


    ADHD symptoms are most commonly triggered by stress, overstimulation, poor sleep, technology, and certain foods and additives. By recognizing your unique ADHD triggers, you can make lifestyle changes to better manage your symptoms.


    Is ADHD a form of autism?


    While ADHD is not a form of autism, it does share some of the same symptoms. In addition, having one of these conditions increases the risk of having the other.


    Is ADHD a special need?


    ADHD is not considered a learning disability per se, but it can be determined to be a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in which case a student is eligible to receive special education services.