What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, one of the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorders in childhood. Children with ADHD have more trouble staying focused, paying attention, and controlling their behavior and impulses than other children of the same age. ADHD seems to run in some families and can continue into adulthood. An estimated 3% to 5% of school-age children are affected by ADHD (Source: PubMedHealth).

Although it may be easy to label children as having ADHD, specific criteria exist for its diagnosis. The diagnosis is based on a six-month or longer persistence of multiple symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that must be more severe than those of their peers. The diagnosis is sometimes overlooked in children who predominantly have symptoms of inattention because they tend to be quiet and less disruptive than children with hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms. It can also be missed in children with predominant symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, who may be labeled instead as having emotional or disciplinary problems.

To further complicate diagnosis, other problems, such as anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, depression, learning disorders, oppositional-defiant disorder, and tic disorders, seem to occur more commonly in children who have ADHD than in other children. Furthermore, undetected seizures, hearing or vision problems, and some medical conditions, as well as stress, can cause symptoms similar to those of ADHD. ADHD may also be diagnosed in adults even if it was not identified during childhood.

Properly diagnosed and treated, symptoms of ADHD can be managed successfully, allowing children and adults who have ADHD to live productive, normal lives. Treatment often involves a combination of approaches, such as medications, behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes, and education of parents and teachers.

Since ADHD can interfere with school performance and potentially lead to lifelong problems, it is important to receive appropriate treatment if ADHD is present. Seek prompt medical care if you or your child’s teachers think your child might be affected by ADHD.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

Children who have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have symptoms mostly related to inattention, mostly related to hyperactivity and impulsivity, or a combination of symptoms related to all three. These symptoms may be present in healthy children but are more prominent in children with ADHD. In those cases, the symptoms are severe enough to cause problems at school, home or work. They may also interfere with peer relationships.... Read more about adhdsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes ADHD?

The exact cause of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not known, but genetics does seem to play a role, as ADHD does tend to run in families. A gene has been identified that seems to affect the amount of tissue formed in an area of the brain that is associated with attention; however, the area becomes more normal with time. ADHD symptoms tend to improve as the brain tissue normalizes in these children.... Read more about adhdcauses

TREATMENTS

How is ADHD treated?

Treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) begins with seeking regular medical care, which allows a health care professional the opportunity to screen for and evaluate potential symptoms of ADHD. Properly diagnosed and treated, ADHD can be managed so that it has minimal impact on your life or your child’s life. Treatment often involves a combination of approaches, such as medications, behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes, and education of parents and teachers.... Read more about adhdtreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior