A few diagnoses by psychiatrists have provoked controversy such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
For some critics, the label “ADHD” is just an excuse for frustrated parents and doctors who are desperate to “end” a child’s annoying behavior.
Some critics agree that ADHD exists, but they believe it is more diagnostic.
Although there is sometimes a true character in these claims, there are now convincing clinical and research studies showing that ADHD is a real biological disease with a strong biological basis – and that, if any, ADHD is rarely diagnosed.
Biology of ADHD
Although ADHD can be acquired as white hair or blue eyes, the problems that both members of the same twin will have ADHD are much higher than the problems of their twin brothers.
This suggests that the closer the twins’ genes get to each other, the more likely they are to develop the disease.
In addition, brain activity studies have shown that in children with ADHD, the frontal lobe of the brain is less efficient.
This may seem confusing, considering that “dysfunction” is often linked to ADHD.
But since the frontal lobe of the brain has a cooler effect on archeological sites, dysfunction of the frontal lobe may mean that these regions are not “shutting down” disruptive behavior.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no conclusive evidence that ADHD is caused by too much sugar in the diet.
In addition, the past 20 years have made it clear that children with ADHD do not always “grow up” with the disease.
Between 4 and 30 percent of children with ADHD will show symptoms when they are older, depending on whether or not we have a few symptoms of ADHD.
Picture of ADHD
What does ADHD look like in children? Consider Shawn, an 11-year-old who had been a “troubled child” for over five years.
From the age of 5, Shawn had a difficult time staying in class.
The teachers complained that Shawn was restless, rebellious in his chair, or even leaving his chair after half an hour in class.
Sometimes he ran to the classroom, despite the teacher’s strict instructions to sit down.
Shawn had a hard time paying attention to the teacher, and he seemed to have “covered” us during the study.
He probably did not follow homework, homework, or chores, either at school or at home.
Any work that needed more than a few minutes of work was beyond Shawn’s control.
At one point Shawn interrupted the other children’s game, demanding that their activities be interrupted.
Thus, serious attention problems in girls may be caused by ADHD, although outward behaviors appear to be normal.
Of course, many other problems can result in child neglect, from boredom to poor teaching to depression.
That is why the diagnosis of childhood ADHD should be made after careful examination by a mental health professional and/or pediatrician.
In adults, untreated ADHD may be characterized by irritability, “alcoholism,” alcohol abuse, irritability, or social ills.
A pillar of ADHD treatment for stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Numerous short-term studies have shown that these agents are safe and effective, although long-term data is scarce.
Although young people without ADHD are known to abuse stimulants, this is rare among those with ADHD.
Incentives do not make a person with ADHD feel “superior” – just normal.
For many children with ADHD, a working association of parents, doctors, and teachers is essential, as these children need both a formal education environment and a behavioral change program that can help them learn how to cope with their disruptive or aggressive behavior.
Finally, adults with ADHD may also benefit from a combination of medications and counseling.
Sharing Diagnosis: When You and Your Child Have ADHD
Your son or daughter has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit disorder.
And as you sit there in the office, listening to the doctor notice the symptoms – attention problems, incontinence, mood swings – you notice them.
Suddenly, you wonder: ‘Could I have adult ADHD?
You can be very good. ADHD works in families, and experts say that for every child with ADHD, there is a 30% to 40% chance that one parent will have it.
But for many adults, this idea does not come to them until their children get a diagnosis.
Since ADHD in adults can have a devastating effect on your health, it is important to get help, especially since you are not the only one in the family with this condition.
Here’s what you need to know.
ADHD in Children vs. Elders
If you think of ADHD as a childhood, children are not alone. But you are wrong.
Although ADHD usually starts in childhood – symptoms appear before the age of 7 – it usually does not end there.
“Two-thirds of children with ADHD will continue to have ADHD as they grow older,” said Lenard Adler MD, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Adult ADHD Program at New York University School of Medicine.
That’s very common in girls, says Adler. Teachers and parents often focus on angry, disruptive boys rather than indifferent girls.
Symptoms have changed.
Pediatricians told people they were going to get out of it, said Goodman, who is also the director of the Maryland Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center in Baltimore. It may have seemed so.
An ADHD first grader who used to get into trouble by standing in his chair and shouting during the story may seem very quiet when he arrives at college. But in most cases, ADHD does not go away.
Adults may not have too much “H” in ADHD – dysfunction – at least not too much.
“You do not see adults with ADHD in a graduate school standing in their seats,” he said.
Russell Ramsay, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of the Penn Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program in Philadelphia.
“But hyperactivity has just happened in secret.”
So what are the symptoms of ADHD in adults?
Many adults with ADHD say that they are easily distracted by noise or activity.
But it’s not really that adults with ADHD have a deficit – a lack of – attention, Adler said.
They may be more focused on certain things that they are interested in but may be able to focus on less important or more complex tasks.
Disorder and procrastination.
Adults with ADHD often have difficulty starting activities and putting them down until the last minute, regardless of the consequences.
They run late and lose track of time.
Some adults with ADHD lead chaotic lives, forgetting and misplacing everything.
An employee might do good work on a project but then get in trouble for not filling out her timesheet.
A college student might spend all night on a paper, but then forget to bring it to class.
Some may do well in many ways but stumble upon details.
An employee may do a good job on a project but then get into trouble for not completing his or her timetable.
A college student may spend all night on paper, but forget to bring it to class.
Uncomfortable & infatuation.
Adults with ADHD may not jump as fast as children, but they may have other problems.
They may make hasty decisions or say things without thinking.
Remember that not everyone with ADHD will have all of these symptoms.
There are also many variations in size.
Impact of Adult ADHD
The effects of attention span are many.
Ramsay states: “ADHD has a negative effect.
“It damages many aspects of your life, from your relationship with your spouse to your role as a parent and your job.” The consequences can be devastating.
“ADHD is not a dangerous disease,” says Adler. He points out that adults with ADHD have higher rates of divorce, unemployment, drug abuse, and even car accidents.
“The effects of ADHD are even higher,” said James McCracken, MD, director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UCLA’s Semel Institute in Los Angeles. “Compared to people with similar careers, adults with ADHD make very little money.”
But most of these adults do not get a diagnosis of ADHD. Many do not think it is possible, so they never ask about it. Doctors may not be of much help.
“Unfortunately, almost the entire medical community and specialists – psychiatrists, senior psychologists, and psychiatrists – have almost no background in the diagnosis or treatment of adult ADHD,” McCracken said.
So what happened to these people? They may try to get help, but they end up not getting it right. In some cases, these medications may be of little help – many people with ADHD have extreme depression or anxiety.
Family of ADHD
Of course, if you and your child – or children – all have ADHD, that can affect the functioning of the whole family. Life can be very chaotic.
One problem, says Ramsay, is that adults with untreated ADHD may not be able to provide adequate care for their children with ADHD. Children with ADHD need more formulation. They need schedules. They need to get their medication on time. This is exactly the kind of help a parent with ADHD for an untreated adult can not provide.
“If you’re a parent with ADHD, you’re wasting time, you’re unorganized, and you procrastinate,” McCracken said. “A parent with ADHD and a child with ADHD can be very similar.”
Not only is this bad for a child with ADHD, but it can also put a heavy burden on a non-ADHD spouse, who should take full responsibility.
So sometimes, the best thing you can do as a parent of a child with ADHD is to get treatment yourself.
“Parents with ADHD need to realize that getting treatment is not just for their benefit,” McCracken said. “Do the right thing for the whole family.”
Adult ADHD: Getting Help
If you think you may have adult ADHD, what should you do next? Here are some tips.
Adler recommends taking the ADHD Adult Self-Report Scale Screener developed by the World Health Organization. It will not give you a diagnosis. But it may also give you and your doctor the impression that you may have adult ADHD.
Talk to your family.
Generally, people around us have a very positive view of our behavior.
Talk to your spouse or children or close friends.
Show them some information about adult ADHD and get their take.
In their view, do the symptoms of ADHD define you?
Research your history.
To make a diagnosis of ADHD, your doctor will want to find out if you have symptoms as a child.
So do a little research on your past.
Talk to your siblings or parents and get their opinion on what you were like as a child – your doctor may want to talk to them, if possible.
Start digging into old files or your scrapbook.
Doctors often find documents – such as old report cards or notes from teachers – that help confirm a diagnosis.
See a doctor.
You can always start with your family doctor, but they may not know much about adult ADHD.
If you happen to live in a large city or near a university, see if there is a local clinic that specializes in adult ADHD.
If not, the best bet might be to talk to your pediatrician or psychologist – perhaps even your son or daughter’s doctor.
Experts say that they often have more information about ADHD than do psychologists.
Your child’s doctor may have the best advice on where to go for a diagnosis and what types of services are available locally.
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