Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM V) that is defined as pattern of persistent inattention and lack of focus that cannot be attributable to another disorder or disease process. These persistent problems can lead to problems with functioning and development.
There are three main types of ADHD:
1. Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level.
2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level.
3. Combined: Meeting criteria for both inattentive type and hyperactivity type.
In addition to meeting the above diagnostic criteria for ADHD, the following must also be present:
Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
Several symptoms are present in two or more settings, (such as at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.
Treatment for ADHD symptoms typically involves medications, education, and development of skills to help with executive functioning such as organization and prioritization. The more of these things you do, the more effectively you will improve symptoms. There is no cure for ADHD, so it is important to note that treatment will improve but not cure the symptoms associated with this disorder.
Stimulants are FDA controlled medications that are comprised of methylphenidate or amphetamine. Although they are the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD, they are highly regulated drugs due to their abuse potential. These medications work by allowing more of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine to be available for neuron use.
Non-stimulants are non-controlled medications that also work to allow neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine but are slower in onset of action than their stimulant counterparts. These are a good choice for those wanting the medication in their system for longer periods or if stimulants are not a good choice due to health problems or difficulties in maintaining compliance with controlled drugs.
Counseling therapy can help improve ADHD symptoms by helping you develop skills to overcome symptoms due to ADHD. These therapies consist of:
Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy will help you cope better with ADHD by teaching skills specific to management of organization, patterns of thinking, and behavioral patterns.
Family therapy. Because many people with ADHD encounter loved ones, family members, and spouses who are unfamiliar with ADHD, this therapy can help them overcome the stress associated with living with someone who struggles with ADHD symptoms.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Arlington, VA., American Psychiatric Association, 2013
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