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    What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

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    Causes of ADHD

    The cause of ADHD isn’t known. Researchers say several things may lead to it, including:

    • Heredity. ADHD tends to run in families.
    • Chemical imbalance. Brain chemicals in people with ADHD may be out of balance.
    • Brain changes. Areas of the brain that control attention are less active in children with ADHD.
    • Poor nutrition, infections, smoking, drinking, and substance abuse during pregnancy. These things can affect a baby’s brain development.
    • Toxins, such as lead. They may affect a child's brain development.
    • A brain injury or a brain disorder. Damage to the front of the brain, called the frontal lobe, can cause problems with controlling impulses and emotions.

    Sugar doesn’t cause ADHD. ADHD also isn’t caused by watching too much TV, a poor home life, poor schools, or food allergies.

    ADHD can't be prevented or cured. But spotting it early, plus having a good treatment and education plan, can help a child or adult with ADHD manage their symptoms.

    ADHD Treatment

    Many symptoms of ADHD can be managed with medication and therapy.

    Medication: Medications called stimulants can help control hyperactive and impulsive behavior and increase attention span. They include:

    Stimulant medications don’t work for everyone with ADHD. Nonstimulant medications may be prescribed for people older than 6. These include:

    Therapy: These treatments focus on changing behavior.

    • Special education helps a child learn at school. Having structure and a routine can help children with ADHD a lot.
    • Behavior modification teaches ways to replace bad behaviors with good ones.
    • Psychotherapy (counseling) can help someone with ADHD learn better ways to handle their emotions and frustration. It can also help improve their self-esteem. Counseling may also help family members better understand the child or adult with ADHD.
    • Social skills training can teach behaviors, such as taking turns and sharing.

    Support groups of people with similar problems and needs can help with acceptance and support. Groups also can provide a way to learn more about ADHD. These groups are helpful for adults with ADHD or parents of children with ADHD.

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