What is ADHD? Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
- Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, can’t stay focused or seems disorganized
- Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about all the time, never staying still and continually fidgets, taps, or talks.
- Impulsivity means a person makes quick actions at a moment’s notice without first thinking about them, even if they can be harmful. Impulsivity may be seen in a desire for immediate rewards, inability to wait.
- Who develops ADHD? There are many factors that can affect the person. Some are biological (low birth weight or brain injuries), some are environmental (exposure to toxins such as lead). There is some evidence of genetic transmission of ADHD. The problem is seen more often in children than adults and more often among boys than girls. But, it is important to know that there are not a lot of cross-cultural studies about the problem. So more must be learned.
- What are treatments for ADHD?
- Medication has been found helpful for people with ADHD. Sometimes, a person must try several different medications or combinations of medications to find the right one. These decisions are best made by the person with their doctor.
- Counseling does not cure ADHD but it can help the person better handle the problem. The counselor works with the person to help him/her organize thoughts, learn how to control impulsive behavior and how to manage frustration that can come with having ADHD.
- Education about ADHD gives a person tips about how to organize their time, their living space and how to explain the problem to others. Family members may learn how to support a child with ADHD. Support groups for the person and family can be a source of new ideas and emotional support.
- How do I know if I have ADHD? Everyone has times when they are inattentive or jumpy or act impulsively. Sometimes these behaviors are due to a difficult life situation or new responsibilities. Children often show their feelings through their behavior rather than through words. So, a child who is restless or uncooperative might be depressed or anxious, rather than having ADHD. It is important to follow-up on problems when they occur but is also important not to jump to conclusions. Sometimes a teacher will notice a problem in a child before the parent notices it. In any case, a consultation with a doctor or mental health professional can be assistive.
- Where can I get more information? In addition to the resources noted below, you may also find information at local hospitals, mental health centers and universities.
Please note that there are many websites offering information about ADHD. Some of them are provided by drug companies who also are seeking to promote their products. One must consider all on-line information carefully.
- ADHD World Federation (Germany):
- National Institute of Mental Health (USA): https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml
- National Health Service (Britain): https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/
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Written by Dr. Paul R. Sachs.
Dr. Paul R Sachs is a licensed psychologist in Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA. He is Executive Director of Merakey-Philadelphia. He is a mentor/consultant/advisor/supporter/contributor to HighSchoolGH.