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What is ADHD?
It is estimated that 3-5% of children and 1.5-4% of adults suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), making it one of the most common psychiatric disorders.
ADHD can lead to difficulties in school, work, and social settings. While there is not a one-size-fits-all treatment for ADHD, there are many different approaches that can be effective in reducing the symptoms.
Dr. Wu, the founder of Meadows Psychiatry LLC, is a board-certified psychiatrist with years of experience treating patients who have ADHD and other mental health conditions. To improve your chances of success, he creates a custom treatment plan that includes behavioral therapy and medicine management.
What is ADHD?
Previously known as ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder often diagnosed in children. It’s characterized by impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. The symptoms may occur together or singly.
Approximately 60% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms into adulthood. The prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults is approximately 1-5%, and men are 1.6 times more likely than women to have ADHD.
The Three Types of ADHD
ADHD, combined type – combined presentation is the most common type, characterized by hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. It also causes extreme restlessness and lack of attention.
ADHD, hyperactive/impulsive type – it’s the least common type and is characterized by hyperactive and impulsive behavior without distractibility and inattention.
ADHD, distractible and inattentive type – Inattentive presentation is characterized by distractibility and inattention but without hyperactivity.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD symptoms in children and teenagers are properly defined and noticeable before 6 years. The symptoms experienced may include hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsiveness.
Frequently has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks (staying focused during lectures,
work meetings, or long reading assignments)
Making careless mistakes at home and in school
Getting distracted easily and having a short attention span
Losing or forgetting things
Inability to stick to a single time-consuming and tedious task
Inability to listen and follow instructions
Constantly needing to change tasks
Conditions related to ADHD in children and teenagers
In some children, ADHD may be accompanied by symptoms from other medical conditions, including:
Anxiety disorder causes a child to be nervous and worried every time. It might also result in physical symptoms, including dizziness, sweating, and increased heartbeat.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – this causes disruptive and defiant behavior, especially towards persons in authority, including teachers and parents
Conduct disorder – this is the tendency to have antisocial behavior, including fighting, stealing, vandalism, and hurting animals
Sleep problems, including insomnia and irregular sleeping patterns
Dyspraxia – is a condition that interferes with physical coordination
Epilepsy – a condition that affects the brain and results in seizures or fits
Tourette’s syndrome – this is a condition that affects the nervous system. It’s characterized by a combination of involuntary movements and noises.
Learning difficulties, including dyslexia.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults may also manifest with the following co-existing conditions:
- Personality disorders
- Bipolar disorder – it’s a mood disorder that causes a person’s mood swings between extremes
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that’s characterized by compulsive behaviors, and obsessive thoughts
Causes of ADHD
Although the causes of ADHD are largely unknown, research suggests that Genetic factors play a key role. Other potential causes include:
- Exposure to environmental factors (including lead) at a young age or during pregnancy
- Brain injury
- Tobacco and alcohol abuse during pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- Premature delivery
Note: There is no research to back up the claims that consuming too much sugar, poor parenting, watching too much TV, family conflict, or poverty causes ADHD. However, they may exacerbate the problem.
Determining if a person has ADHD is a process that includes several steps. Dr. Wu cannot run a single test to diagnose ADHD since other mental disorders can present the same symptoms. A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is performed to rule out other possible mental health disorders that can present with the same symptoms.
The diagnostic process involves reviewing the patient’s medical history and symptoms against a checklist of known ADHD symptoms.
How is ADHD treated?
For kids under 6 years old, Dr. Wu suggests training parents in behavior management skills before trying medication. But for kids over 6 years old, he recommends behavior therapy coupled with medication. Parent training is still handy for children up to 12 years old.
The behavioral strategies include:
- Writing down important events in a daily planner.
- Setting cell phone reminders for appointments.
- Writing them on a whiteboard that one frequently walks past.
The prescribed medication will help the child and adult manage ADHD symptoms in their daily activities and help them control behaviors that cause challenges at school and home. The types of medication include stimulants and non-stimulants.
- Stimulant medication includes Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, Methylphenidate,
- Non-stimulant medication includes atomoxetine, clonidine ER, and Guanfacine ER
Since medication can affect patients differently, potentially causing sleep problems or loss of appetite, Dr. Wu offers medication management, ensuring the patient is on medication that yields the best results with minimal side effects.