Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (commonly referred to as ADHD) is a condition that causes disruptive behavior in the form of concurrent episodes of hyperactivity, with the inability to keep attention and focus. Attentional problems and hyperactivity rarely occur separately, and almost always cause learning difficulties. This disorder can lead to the formation of coping mechanisms, such as becoming obsessively organized or seeking alternate ways of completing a task. Often, these coping mechanisms are of benefit to the patient and can significantly enhance quality of life when dealing with this disorder.
Symptoms of ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder causes many different symptoms that all fall under at least one of three categories. The most prevalent signs of this disorder are the inability to stay focused, coupled with hyperactive behavior and a tendency toward impulse. Some patients are affected with the combined symptoms, while others tend toward either hyperactive-impulsive behavior or predominantly inattentive behavior. Most everyone experiences one or more of these symptoms at some point in their lives. The following is a list of behaviors that become excessive and adversely affect one's life to the point that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be the cause.
- Difficulty focusing on one particular task
- Losing materials or supplies necessary to complete a task
- Lack of listening skills or daydreaming at inappropriate times
- Struggling to follow directions
- Becoming easily distracted
- Excessive fidgeting or squirming
- Nonstop talking
- Constant motion of the body
- Inability to sit for quiet tasks
- Difficulty waiting for a turn, traffic or a scheduled event
Causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Like most mental illness, the exact cause of ADHD is unknown. A combination of genetic, environmental, social and dietary factors may come into play for people who experience symptoms of this condition. People with a family history of mental illness, especially conditions related to ADHD, may be more susceptible. Family dysfunction or exposure to traumatic experiences can also lead to the development of this disorder. Some research indicates that certain coloring and preservatives commonly used in the foods we eat may be a significant factor in the cause. Additionally, infections or viruses during pregnancy or early childhood may lead to symptoms.
Diagnosis of ADHD
In order to properly diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a professional will usually conduct an interview and evaluation covering family medical history, behavioral indicators and determination of how disruptive the symptoms become in daily life. Often, other testing is used to rule out alternative disorders. The DSM-IV criteria is the most effective for determination of the disorder. If behavioral factors meet enough of the criteria listed in this test, diagnosis of ADHD will likely be made.
Treatment Options for ADHD
Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a controversial topic for several reasons. Many scientists and professionals are at odds when deciding upon the best solution for relief of this condition. Because of this, it's recommended to seek advice and weigh options based upon personal preference. Some of the choices for potentially effective treatment are as follows:
- Traditional medication – stimulant medication is often prescribed for the management and reversal of symptoms which may interrupt a patient's ability to cope with day to day tasks. Other types of medication, such as anti-psychotic pills or an antidepressant may be recommended.
- Behavioral intervention – psychological counseling, such as cognitive therapy, family therapy or social skills training may benefit the patient in a number of ways, leading to relief of symptoms which cause the attention deficit or hyperactivity.
- Dietary changes – limiting the intake of processed foods, sugar and foods using artificial coloring can significantly decrease symptoms of this disorder.
- Art therapy, exercise or meditation – many types of alternative therapy encourage whole body healing, which can correct imbalance in the brain, enhance the ability to focus and lead to an overall feeling of well-being.