ADHD – An Overview

ADHD is neither a “new” mental health problem nor is it a disorder created for the purpose of personal gain or financial profit by pharmaceutical companies, the mental health field, or by the media. It is a very real behavioral and medical disorder that affects millions of people nationwide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents. According to NIMH, the estimated number of children with ADHD is between 3% – 5% of the population. NIMH also estimates that 4.1 percent of adults have ADHD.

Although it has taken quite some time for our society to accept ADHD as a bonafide mental health and/or medical disorder, in actuality it is a problem that has been noted in modern literature for at least 200 years. As early as 1798, ADHD was first described in the medical literature by Dr. Alexander Crichton, who referred to it as “Mental Restlessness.” A fairy tale of an apparent ADHD youth, “The Story of Fidgety Philip,” was written in 1845 by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman. In 1922, ADHD was recognized as Post Encephalitic Behavior Disorder. In 1937 it was discovered that stimulants helped control hyperactivity in children. In 1957 methylphenidate (Ritalin), became commercially available to treat hyperactive children.

The formal and accepted mental health/behavioral diagnosis of ADHD is relatively recent. In the early 1960s, ADHD was referred to as “Minimal Brain Dysfunction.” In 1968, the disorder became known as “Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood.” At this point, emphasis was placed more on the hyperactivity than inattention symptoms. In 1980, the diagnosis was changed to “ADD–Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without Hyperactivity,” which placed equal emphasis on hyperactivity and inattention. By 1987, the disorder was renamed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was subdivided into four categories (see below). Since then, adhd has been considered a medical disorder that results in behavioral problems.

Currently, ADHD is defined by the DSM IV-TR (the accepted diagnostic manual) as one disorder which is subdivided into four categories:

1. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type (previously known as ADD) is marked by impaired attention and concentration.

2. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive, Impulsive Type (formerly known as ADHD) is marked by hyperactivity without inattentiveness.

3. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type (the most common type) involves all the symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

4. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This category is for the ADHD disorders that include prominent symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity, but do not meet the DSM IV-TR criteria for a diagnosis.

To further understand ADHD and its four subcategories, it helps to illustrate hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention through examples.

Typical hyperactive symptoms in youth include:

  • Often “on the go” or acting as if “driven by a motor”
  • Feeling restless
  • Moving hands and feet nervously or squirming
  • Getting up frequently to walk or run around
  • Running or climbing excessively when it’s inappropriate
  • Having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities
  • Talking excessively or too fast
  • Often leaving seat when staying seated is expected
  • Often can’t be involved in social activities quietly

Typical symptoms of impulsivity in youth include:

  • Acting rashly or suddenly without thinking first
  • Blurting out answers before questions are fully asked
  • Having a difficult time awaiting a turn
  • Often interrupting others’ conversations or activities
  • Poor judgment or decisions in social situations, which result in the child not being accepted by his/her own peer group.

Typical symptoms of inattention in youth include:

  • Not paying attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Having trouble staying focused and being easily distracted
  • Appearing not to listen when spoken to
  • Often forgetful in daily activities
  • Having trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
  • Losing or misplacing homework, books, toys, or other items
  • Not seeming to listen when directly spoken to
  • Not following instructions and failing to finish activities, schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace
  • Avoiding or disliking tasks that require ongoing mental effort or concentration

Of the four ADHD subcategories, Hyperactive-Impulsive Type is the most distinguishable, recognizable, and the easiest to diagnose. The hyperactive and impulsive symptoms are behaviorally manifested in the various environments in which a child interacts: i.e., at home, with friends, at school, and/or during extracurricular or athletic activities. Because of the hyperactive and impulsive traits of this subcategory, these children naturally arouse the attention (often negative) of those around them. Compared to children without ADHD, they are more difficult to instruct, teach, coach, and with whom to communicate. Additionally, they are prone to be disruptive, seemingly oppositional, reckless, accident prone, and are socially underdeveloped.

Parents of ADHD youth often report frustration, anger, and emotional depletion because of their child’s inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. By the time they receive professional services many parents of ADHD children describe complex feelings of anger, fear, desperation, and guilt. Their multiple “failures” at getting their children to focus, pay attention, and to follow through with directions, responsibilities, and assignments have resulted in feelings of hopelessness and desperation. These parents often report feeling guilty over their resentment, loss of patience, and reactive discipline style. Both psychotherapists and psychiatrists have worked with parents of ADHD youth who “joke” by saying “if someone doesn’t help my child, give me some medication!”

The following statistics (Dr. Russel Barkley and Dr. Tim Willens) illustrate the far reaching implications of ADHD in youth.

  • ADHD has a childhood rate of occurrence of 6-8%, with the illness continuing into adolescence for 75% of the patients, and with 50% of cases persisting into adulthood.
  • Boys are diagnosed with ADHD 3 times more often than girls.
  • Emotional development in children with ADHD is 30% slower than in their non-ADHD peers.
  • 65% of children with ADHD exhibit problems in defiance or problems with authority figures. This can include verbal hostility and temper tantrums.
  • Teenagers with ADHD have almost four times as many traffic citations as non-ADD/ADHD drivers. They have four times as many car accidents and are seven times more likely to have a second accident.
  • 21% of teens with ADHD skip school on a regular basis, and 35% drop out of school before finishing high school.
  • 45% of children with ADHD have been suspended from school at least once.
  • 30% of children with ADHD have repeated a year of school.
  • Youth treated with medication have a six fold less chance of developing a substance abuse disorder through adolescence.
  • The juvenile justice system is composed of 75% of kids with undiagnosed learning disabilities, including ADHD.

ADHD is a genetically transmitted disorder. Research funded by the National Institute of Medical Health (NIMH) and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) have shown clear evidence that ADHD runs in families. According to recent research, over 25% of first-degree relatives of the families of ADHD children also have ADHD. Other research indicates that 80% of adults with ADHD have at least one child with ADHD and 52% have two or more children with ADHD. The hereditary link of ADHD has important treatment implications because other children in a family may also have ADHD. Moreover, there is a distinct possibility that the parents also may have ADHD. Of course, matters get complicated when parents with undiagnosed ADHD have problems with their ADHD child. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate a family occurrence of ADHD, when assessing an ADHD in youth.

Diagnosing Attention Deficit Disorder Inattentive Type in youth is no easy task. More harm than good is done when a person is incorrectly diagnosed. A wrong diagnosis may lead to unnecessary treatment, i.e., a prescription for ADHD medication and/or unnecessary psychological, behavioral and/or educational services. Unnecessary treatment like ADHD medication may be emotionally and physically harmful. Conversely, when an individual is correctly diagnosed and subsequently treated for ADHD, the potential for dramatic life changes are limitless.

A medical doctor (preferably a psychiatrist) or another licensed, trained, and qualified mental health professional can diagnose ADHD. Only certain medical professionals can prescribe medication. These are physicians (M.D. or D.O.), nurse practitioners, and physician assistants (P.A.) under the supervision of a physician. However, psychiatrists, because of their training and expertise in mental health disorders, are the best qualified to prescribe ADHD medication.

While the ADHD Hyperactive Type youth are easily noticed, those with ADHD Inattentive Type are prone to be misdiagnosed or, worse, do not even get noticed. Moreover, ADHD Inattentive Type youth are often mislabeled, misunderstood, and even blamed for a disorder over which they have no control. Because ADHD Inattentive Type manifests more internally and less behaviorally, these youth are not as frequently flagged by potential treatment providers. Therefore, these youth often do not receive potentially life-enhancing treatment, i.e., psychotherapy, school counseling/coaching, educational services, and/or medical/psychiatric services. Unfortunately, many “fall between the cracks” of the social service, mental health, juvenile justice, and educational systems.

Youth with unrecognized and untreated ADHD may develop into adults with poor self concepts low self esteem, associated emotional, educational, and employment problems. According to reliable statistics, adults with unrecognized and/or untreated ADHD are more prone to develop alcohol and drug problems. It is common for adolescents and adults with ADHD to attempt to soothe or “self medicate” themselves by using addictive substances such as alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, tranquilizers, nicotine, cocaine and illegally prescribed or street amphetamines (stimulants).

Approximately 60% of people who had ADHD symptoms as a child continue to have symptoms as adults. And only 1 in 4 of adults with ADHD was diagnosed in childhood-and even fewer are treated. Thanks to increased public awareness and the pharmaceutical corporations’ marketing of their medications, more adults are now seeking help for ADHD. However, many of these adults who were not treated as children carry emotional, educational, personal, and occupational “scars.” As children, these individuals, did not feel “as smart, successful and/or likable” as their non ADHD counterparts. With no one to explain why they struggled at home, with friends, and in school, they naturally turned inward to explain their deficiencies. Eventually they internalize the negative messages about themselves, thereby creating fewer opportunities for success as adults.

  • Related Posts

    Breaking WWE News: Insider Updates and Rumors

    In the world of professional wrestling, speculation and rumors often swirl as fans eagerly anticipate the next big storyline or surprise debut. As of late, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)…

    Elevate Your Home: Morsale’s Cutting-Edge Marble Lighting Fixtures

    In the realm of interior design, lighting plays a pivotal role in setting the ambiance and mood of a space. It’s not just about illumination; it’s about creating an atmosphere…

    You Missed

    Unlocking the Power of Usenet Servers: A Comprehensive Guide

    • By admin
    • April 9, 2024
    • 11 views

    Sanfte Übergänge: Wie Umzugsunternehmen den Umzug stressfrei gestalten

    • By admin
    • April 9, 2024
    • 10 views
    Sanfte Übergänge: Wie Umzugsunternehmen den Umzug stressfrei gestalten

    Jade Sales’ Guide to Building a Strong Online Retail Presence

    • By admin
    • April 9, 2024
    • 9 views
    Jade Sales’ Guide to Building a Strong Online Retail Presence

    Empowering Resilience: Ohio Generators’ Reliable Home Backup Generator Alternatives

    • By admin
    • April 9, 2024
    • 9 views
    Empowering Resilience: Ohio Generators’ Reliable Home Backup Generator Alternatives

    Unconventional Savings: Experience the Magic of Our Unique Store!

    • By admin
    • April 9, 2024
    • 7 views
    Unconventional Savings: Experience the Magic of Our Unique Store!

    Tracer la voie : aperçus de la DeFi, des NFT et au-delà

    • By admin
    • April 9, 2024
    • 8 views
    Tracer la voie : aperçus de la DeFi, des NFT et au-delà