Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition in which
a person has trouble paying attention and focusing on tasks, tends to act
without thinking, and has trouble sitting still. It may begin in early
childhood and can continue into adulthood. Without treatment, ADHD can cause
problems at home, at school, at work, and with relationships. In the past, ADHD was
called attention deficit disorder (ADD).
The exact cause is not clear,
but ADHD tends to run in families.
The three types of ADHD
Trouble paying attention. People with ADHD are easily distracted. They have a hard time
focusing on any one task.
Trouble sitting still for even a short time. This is called hyperactivity. Children with ADHD may
squirm, fidget, or run around at the wrong times. Teens and adults often feel
restless and fidgety. They aren't able to enjoy reading or other quiet
Acting before thinking. People
with ADHD may talk too loud, laugh too loud, or become angrier than the
situation calls for. Children may not be able to wait for their turn or to
share. This makes it hard for them to play with other children. Teens and
adults may make quick decisions that have
a long-term impact on their lives. They may spend too much money or change jobs
ADHD is often diagnosed
when a child is between 6 and 12 years old. Teachers may notice symptoms in
children who are in this age group.
First, the child will have tests to make sure that he or she doesn't have other problems such as
depression, or anxiety disorder. The doctor will use
guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose ADHD. The
doctor may also look at written reports about the child's behavior. Parents,
teachers, and others who have regular contact with the child prepare these
There is no cure for ADHD, but
treatment may help control the symptoms. Treatment may include medicines and
behavior therapy. Parents and other adults need to closely watch children after
they begin to take medicines for ADHD. The medicines may cause side effects
such as loss of appetite, headaches or stomachaches, tics or twitches, and
problems sleeping. Side effects usually get better after a few weeks. If they
don't, the doctor can lower the dose.
Therapy focuses on making
changes in the environment to improve the child's behavior. Often, counseling
and extra support at home and at school help children succeed at school and
feel better about themselves.