ADHD is the acronym for a mental condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Recent studies conducted by the CDC show that it is highly prevalent in the US, and millions of people are being diagnosed with some form of ADHD. However, it’s quite surprising that many people are still unaware of the term ADHD, its signs & symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options.
WHAT IS ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neuro-developmental condition that can cause people to behave impulsively, and demonstrate abnormal levels of hyperactivity. It’s a common myth that ADHD only affects children, whereas the truth is that adults too can get affected by it. Some children grow out of their ADHD and some don’t. And those who don’t…they live with it for a lifetime. It is very important to know about this condition so that you can recognize its symptoms and seek professional help whether it’s for yourself or for a child.
CAUSES OF ADHD
One in every 10 children aged between 5 to 16 years in the US are diagnosed with ADHD. This is a HUGE number. But you will be surprised to know that the exact cause of why a child develops ADHD is still a mystery. So far doctors have only been able to specify that ADHD has its roots in disrupted neurological functioning of the brain. Some recent researches have also unveiled that hyperactivity and impulsiveness are caused by reduced levels of dopamine and gray matter in the human brain.
SYMPTOMS OF ADHD
According to the NHS, symptoms of ADHD in youngsters and teenagers are divided into two categories, Inattentiveness and Hyperactivity/Impulsiveness.
Symptoms of inattentiveness include,
- Having a short attention span,
- Shifting from one task to another frequently,
- Having problems with the organization of things and thoughts.
Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness include,
- Inability to sit still,
- Being fidgety,
- Poor concentration,
- Excessive and repeated physical movements,
- Talking too much and too fast,
- Interrupting others while they are talking,
- Lack of sense of danger.
It is much more complicated and difficult to define symptoms of the disorder in adults. In a majority of cases, symptoms from childhood carry on to adulthood. However, these may vary in intensity.
RISK FACTORS OF ADHD
Genes and Genetics- One of the most common risk factors associated with ADHD having its genes. In a majority of cases, being born to parents with ADHD or having a sibling with ADHD increases the chances of an individual having this problem.
Environmental Toxins – Exposure to the various harmful toxins in our environment play the role of a strong risk factor in the development of ADHD.
Smoking and Drug Use- Smoking cigarettes and using drugs of a woman during pregnancy can increase the chances of ADHD in the baby.
Premature Delivery – Delivering a baby before 40 weeks’ time can also increase the risks for the baby to develop ADHD.
Gender – According to research, young boys are much more susceptible to ADHD as compared to young girls.
Miscellaneous Risk Factors – Spending too much time watching TV and playing video games, and getting a head injury in the early years of childhood can result in the onset of ADHD in children.
TREATMENT OF ADHD
Medical help, family support, and a change in the environment are all equally important when treating a child with ADHD. There is a strict regimen of medications and cognitive exercises that a child must perform every day under parental supervision. A treatment that involves so many crucial elements can sometimes become challenging, not just for the child but also for the family. Therefore, everyone must be willing to work as a team to treat this.
An individual affected with ADHD is given medications to control their impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness such as Clonidine, stimulants, and antipsychotics. In adults and teens, doctors may even prescribe additional drugs such as antidepressants to keep depression and anxiety under control. Other natural therapies like CBT, massages, and regular exercise have also been suggested by healthcare professionals for individuals with ADHD.
Most of the risk factors associated with the onset of ADHD occur at the nuclear level and are out of your control. Hence, it is almost impossible to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from this disorder. But there are some factors which you can control, such as
- Reducing screen time, this includes TV, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc
- Don’t allow your children to indulge in addictive video games.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy and while breastfeeding your baby.
- Always be on the lookout for odd emotional, behavioral, and cognitive changes in your child.