Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: An Overview

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or otherwise known in some parts of the world as Hyperkinetic Disorders, are a family of behaviors identified by chronic inattention or hyperactivity. The first clinical descriptions of these behaviors are recorded in the early 1900s. However, historical evidence suggests conditions matching the modern definitions of ADHD can be dated as far back as Hippocrates (460-370 BC).

The name Attention Deficit Disorder originated from the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980. The definition was later updated to describe three subdivisions within ADHD:

  1. The hyperactive-impulsive type; which can be categorized by excessive talking, restlessness, fidgeting, difficulty waiting one’s turn or with patience, and interrupting others.
  2. The predominantly inattentive type; which can be categorized by an inability to keep one’s attention focused on a topic, following-through to the end of a given task, trouble organizing tasks, and avoiding things that take effort.
  3. The combined type; referred to as ADHD presentations.

ADHD does not have any known physiological indicators that can be detected by a medical exam. A mental health practitioner is needed to diagnose the condition. It is common for ADHD symptoms to overlap with other physical and psychological disorders.

daydreaming man with adhd is inattentive

Symptoms of ADHD

Sitting still, thinking before acting impulsively, holding back from interrupting others during a conversation, or simply concentrating isn’t a challenge for most people. But for some, these behaviors become daily patterns that are difficult to control and can hinder their ability to thrive.

In order for a mental health professional to make a diagnosis of ADHD, the following must be true:

  1. Symptoms must be present for for at least 6 months.
  2. The condition must manifest noticeable behavior prior to puberty.
  3. Behaviors should be creating a qualitative handicap in academic, occupational, or social pursuits.
  4. The symptoms must be observable in at least two separate contexts, like work and home. Isolated contexts are generally considered for diagnosis.

To determine the type of ADHD one may be suffering from, consider some of the common symptoms below.

Common Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder

  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
  • Is easily distracted by other stimuli.
  • Fails to give close attention to details.
  • Loses things carelessly that are necessary to perform a given task or activity.
  • Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  • Does not follow through on instructions.
  • Unintentionally fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace.
  • Is forgetful in routine or daily activities.
  • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework.
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in a given task or activity.
  • Appears distracted or unable to listen when spoken to directly.

Common Symptoms of Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Prone to bouts of extreme energy or activity; constantly active, occasionally paired with disruptive behavior.
  • Spontaneous impetuous acts; speaking out of turn, shortsighted, possibly emotionally charged, and lacking in inhibition.
  • For children, may run wild or climb objects excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate.
  • For teens and adults, prone to bouts of of restlessness and agitation with remaining stationary.
  • May talk excessively.
  • Can be characterized as somewhat of a busy body, always “on the go” or unable to sit still.
  • Fidgety with hands, feet, or other parts of the body.
  • Squirms frequently while sitting.
  • Cannot stay seated for long periods of time when it is required or expected.
  • Has difficulty quietly playing or engaging in recreational activities.
need help with attention unable to focus on tasks

Difficulties Treating ADHD

Unfortunately, the symptoms and behaviors that accompany ADHD do not always subside with treatment. The causes of the condition remain a mystery, but up to 60 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD continue dealing with their symptoms as adults. It is believed that a number of factors contribute to this; such as genetic background, neurological makeup, social environment, and problematic family relationships. In addition, ADHD may be accompanied by additional disorders, including OCD, anxiety, hearing and or speech problems.

Getting Help With ADHD Treatment

Getting help can be tough, but the single most important step is that the person with the disorder is willing to seek help in the first place. Many people choose to ignore their condition out of denial, or a belief they might be viewed negatively.

In many cases, ADHD can be effectively treated. However, there is no one size fits all solution. It may take some time to determine the right combination of treatment to address the problems for each individual. Most people consider seeing their primary care physician first to see if they really have the disorder, but it’s best to consult with a mental health professional immediately. Mental health professionals — like a psychologist, a master level therapist, a psychiatrist, a neurologist, and the like — are better equipped to diagnose a mental disorder than a PCP.

Therapy alone can be an effective treatment, but this requires a commitment by the patient. Many adults simply opt to take medication daily. However, only a PCP, neurologist, or psychiatrist can prescribe medication for ADHD. If an individual decides to get counseling, it’s important to remember that treatment is a process. Whether one opts for therapy or medication, problems don’t just disappear once treatment begins. There are generally other issues that may need to be addressed in addition to the disorder.

Be sure to explore treatment options before making a final decision.

adhd issues can disrupt daily life

Get in Touch Now!

ADHD manifests differently from person to person, and is usually difficult for everyone involved. Many people fear the labels that are associated with mental illness, choosing to suffer in silence than risk public exposure. HCH can help! Whether treatment requires discretion or you simply want to get yourself checked out, call us. If you or someone you know is struggling with this condition, don’t fight it alone. Contact us today and get the support you need to push forward to a better tomorrow.