Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
There are three types of ADHD:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type: characterized by symptoms of inattention such as difficulty paying attention to details, difficulty following instructions, and easily distracted.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: characterized by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity such as fidgeting, difficulty sitting still, interrupting others and acting on impulse without thinking.
- Combined Type: characterized by symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.
The exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors may play a role.
Some common causes of ADHD include:
- Genetics: Studies suggest that certain genes may make a person more susceptible to developing ADHD
- Brain chemistry: Imbalances in certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, may contribute to the development of ADHD
- Environmental factors: Trauma, stress, and major life changes can increase the risk of developing ADHD
- Prenatal exposure to certain environmental factors such as alcohol, tobacco, or lead can increase the risk of developing ADHD
Symptoms of ADHD can vary depending on the individual, but some common characteristics include:
- Difficulty paying attention or staying focused
- Impulsivity, acting on impulses without thinking
- Hyperactivity, fidgeting and difficulty sitting still
- Difficulty following instructions
- Difficulty completing tasks
To diagnose ADHD, a healthcare professional will typically conduct a thorough evaluation, including a patient interview, a review of the patient’s medical and psychiatric history, and a mental status examination. They may also use diagnostic tools such as structured interviews, questionnaires, and rating scales to assess the severity of symptoms. They may also consider other factors such as medical, educational, and developmental history, and rule out other conditions that may mimic the symptoms of ADHD.
Treatment options for ADHD include:
- Medications such as stimulants which can help improve focus and attention
- Behavioural therapies such as parent training, social skills training and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Educational support such as special education services and accommodations
- Family therapy
- Support groups
It’s important to note that treatment for ADHD is typically tailored to the individual and may involve a combination of different approaches. It’s important to work closely with a healthcare professional to find the best treatment plan and to prevent future episodes. With the right support, individuals with ADHD can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.
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Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych