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What Everyone Should Know About ADHD

4 minute read

By Check

Some of the brightest people on the planet suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A 9-year old may struggle to complete ordinary homework but get the top grades in his class on creative projects. The smartest guy in the room at a thriving corporation may seem forever unable to meet deadlines or get any work done.

ADHD affects young and old alike, but the problem almost always becomes apparent in childhood. It is marked by inability to focus, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Depending on the person, these symptoms manifest themselves in different ways.

Most Common Symptoms

It’s important to remember that everybody has a hard time focusing now and then. Loss of sleep, stress at work or emotional upsets can preoccupy someone for days. When the following symptoms persist for more than six weeks, however, it’s probably time to consult a doctor:




In severe, untreated cases of ADHD, there is sometimes loss of interest in friendships, work, sports or favorite hobbies. Children may be ostracized by their classmates. Parents might avoid inviting them to sleepovers and birthday parties. In adults, ADHD can affect job performance, household management and personal relationships.


There is help for ADHD, but it’s difficult to diagnose. There’s nothing so simple as blood test or X-ray for it. A caregiver can only make an educated guess by observing behaviors and symptoms. The criteria for diagnosis are as follows:

Only trained professionals – physicians, pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors – are qualified to make the diagnosis. It is based on a standardized rating scale after an evaluation is completed by an adult patient or a child’s parents and teacher. Teachers aren’t allowed to diagnose ADHD, but they may report the behaviors they’ve observed and advise you to take your child to the pediatrician or another provider. Some students qualify for special accommodations or services at school.


There is medication for ADHD, but more and more parents are turning first to behavioral therapy. Not only has it been shown to reduce disruptive or annoying behaviors, but it teaches parents and children to work together to manage symptoms. Even siblings can attend therapy sessions, and the family bond is strengthened. Researchers see improvement in children’s behavior and concentration. They express their feelings more appropriately. Moms and dads have a chance to hone their parenting skills while getting closer to their children. Behavioral therapy is most effective if it’s begun immediately following diagnosis.

If parents do decide to medicate, their child should be observed even more closely. This calls for frequent communication with the school counselor, school nurse, teacher and doctor. Sometimes it takes several tries to get the dosage just right.

Since there’s no real scientific method to it, ADHD is easy to misdiagnose. Some kids are simply more active or learn differently. One of the easiest ways to detect a misdiagnosis is to try the medication. If it seems not to make any difference at all, the problem is not ADHD.

As with all drugs, medicines used to treat ADHD are not without risks. They are amphetamines, and even scientists are not really sure why they work.

Many adults and children do quite well on them and appreciate the increased focus, calmness and ability to get things done. Most prescriptions nowadays are timed-release pills that eliminate the need for children to visit the school nurse during the day.

Potential risk factors include the following:

Most patients who stick to the correct dosage are safe taking the pills and have few problems. The objection to medicating has more to with a sharp increase in the number of diagnoses over the last several years. There simply hasn’t been time to study the drugs’ effects on children long-term. There is also great potential for abuse. People who don’t have ADHD or a prescription for Adderall, say, can get the drugs fairly easily. Friends give or sell their pills to classmates, especially on college campuses.

Deciding whether or not to manage ADHD with drugs is a difficult and personal decision for any patient or parent. Again, medication shouldn’t take the place of proven treatments like counseling and behavioral therapy. Small lifestyle changes also make a remarkable difference. Avoiding sugar and caffeine, eating healthy foods, getting plenty of exercise and going to bed on time are recommended for all ages.




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