Over six million children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since data has started tracking it. ADHD is more prevalent in males compared to females.
Additionally, ADHD is usually accompanied by other disorders. Approximately 50% of children with an ADHD diagnosis also presented with behavioral problems.
It begs the question – do I have ADHD? While ADHD is typically diagnosed in children, it is not uncommon for adults to also develop it.
The complexity of ADHD makes it an ideal research topic for many scientists. If you are wondering if you or a loved one has ADHD, feel free to take our ADHD test below and learn more.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and is characterized by not being able to stay focused inappropriate movement, and impulsivity. The classification of ADHD falls under a neurodevelopment disorder. Symptoms of ADHD typically present in childhood and last throughout adulthood.
It falls under three different classifications that include:
Sometimes the person’s presentation will change over the course of their time with ADHD. In an inattentive presentation, the person will have a difficult time following a task and is easily distracted.
Hyperactive presentations include more restless or fidgeting behavior. It is also common for people with hyperactive presentations to frequently interrupt others during conversations.
A combined presentation is exactly as it sounds – the person has a combination of an inattentive presentation and a hyperactive-impulsive presentation.
The cause of ADHD is largely unknown. That has not stopped scientists and researchers from hypothesizing and studying different theories. The development could be caused from:
In addition to the difficulties determining the exact cause of ADHD, researchers also do not have a definitive test for it. Instead, there are a variety of checklists or assessments that are used.
ADHD In Children
ADHD in children presents with a variety of symptoms that present at a young age. In fact, children as young as four can receive a diagnosis. Keep in mind, this is mainly determined by your pediatrician.
Some physicians are hesitant to diagnosis children under five years old. The standard is that symptoms in children should begin by 12 years old. Your child needs to have six or more symptoms that have occurred over the course of at least six months.
It is also important that these symptoms happen in more than one setting. For example, if you notice these symptoms at home, then ask your child’s schoolteacher if this is commonplace at school.
If you suspect your child has ADHD, then you might see characteristic signs such as:
Behavioral therapy and medications are the two most common treatments for children with ADHD. Studies show that the combination of the two treatments is more effective than medication alone.
Common Myths & Misconceptions
There are several common myths associated with ADHD in children. Unfortunately, many of these myths are widely believed and adopted by parents. For starters, many think that a child has to reach a certain age before the mental health issue presents itself.
In fact, very young children can see behavioral presentations that mimic ADHD. You can notice these signs and symptoms arise in pre-school-aged children.
Many parents and teachers are quick in brushing off incomplete tasks or homework as a lack of motivation. In reality, the child likely has difficulties remaining focused on the task at hand due to ADHD.
Another common misconception is that it will go away eventually. Currently, ADHD is a chronic condition that requires a variety of treatments. This may or may not include medication.
It should not be dismissed that a child will outgrow this disorder. Additionally, just because a child can play video games for hours does not mean that they don’t have ADHD.
Videogames provide highly stimulating material that engages users. A classroom setting has less visual and auditory stimulation which often leads to more restlessness and difficulties completing tasks.
From an outside perspective, it can be easy in assuming that a child’s behavior is solely the fault of parenting techniques. Poor parenting strategies for addressing ADHD behaviors can cause detrimental effects.
However, ADHD is not caused by a lack of discipline; it is a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult for a child to remain attentive to tasks.
ADHD In Adults
One of the biggest misconceptions about ADHD is that it is a childhood disorder. An ADHD quiz can help you determine if you have the presentations of ADHD in adulthood.
Children who had ADHD are likely to have at least some of the symptoms in adulthood. Additionally, it is not unlikely that an adult can have a new diagnosis past the age of 18.
The most likely cause of ADHD in adulthood is a lack of a diagnosis in childhood. You could have had presentations when you were younger that were often overlooked.
Adulthood can exacerbate ADHD symptoms since there are typically more responsibilities. The presentation of this disorder makes it challenging for organization skills and an ability to calmly deal with stressors.
A few key signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults include:
A surprising sign of ADHD in adulthood is what is known as hyper-focusing. This may seem like the exact opposite of its typical presentations. A person becomes hyperfocused when there are too many distractions.
It is often used as a type of coping strategy. In a hyperfocused state, an individual may be involved in reading a book or watching television that they forget or neglect other responsibilities.
It is also typical to see a variety of emotional presentations for adults with ADHD such as:
Many psychiatric or mental health illnesses cover-up ADHD symptoms. In addition, it is also likely for children and adults to have comorbidities with a diagnosis of ADHD.
Almost 50% of adults with ADHD have reports of anxiety. Another 15% also have substance use disorders. Depression is another common comorbidity that has a close association with ADHD.
It is important to distinguish comorbidities between adults and children with ADHD. In children, you may see an oppositional disorder or separation anxiety.
The oppositional disorder is also known as oppositional defiant disorder and involves disruptive behavior. Children with this are likely to have more outbursts or demonstrate combativeness.
Adults with ADHD are more likely to have anxiety, substance use disorders, personality disorders, or social phobias. If an adult has never been diagnosed with ADHD, they may seek medical attention for their mental health illness.
This makes it even more critical for distinguishing between a mental illness and ADHD. Depression is one of the leading mental health illnesses. If you suspect your or a loved one is dealing with depression from ADHD, there are a few key signs to look for which include:
Skilled recovery centers focus on addressing the person as a whole with individual treatment plans. These facilities work towards helping a person overcome the debilitating symptoms of disorders like anxiety and depression.
A Challenging Diagnosis
There are many conditions that are similar to ADHD. This can make it difficult for an accurate diagnosis. Arguably, bipolar disorder is one of the hardest disorders for differentiating from ADHD.
The symptoms that are commonly seen between ADHD and bipolar are:
However, bipolar is a type of mood disorder, and it is likely you will see more changes in mood and energy with this disorder. Additionally, the presentation of ADHD is typically in younger children.
Bipolar disorder presents towards the end of adolescence or the beginning of young adulthood. Changes in mood can sometimes be difficult for telling the difference between these two disorders.
Mood changes with ADHD are quick – sometimes they only last for twenty minutes. On the contrary, bipolar mood changes last for days or weeks. A diagnosis for bipolar disorder means that a person has depressive episodes for two weeks or a manic episode for one week.
Some other common misdiagnoses with ADHD are:
If you are a young adult and have concerns over mood disorders, then contact your physician or schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. If your child is demonstrating changes in behaviors or moods, then your pediatrician is the best resource. They can run more in-depth tests and assessments that rule out other factors.
ADHD Treatment Options
Medications and therapy are the two main treatments used for ADHD. Additionally, adults who have substance abuse problems or psychiatric illnesses can find benefits in mental health programs.
Transitional residential treatment programs are useful for adults in developing life skills. These skills can carry over to your work and home life once discharged.
Medications for the treatment of ADHD include stimulants and non-stimulants. Examples of stimulants include Adderall, Desoxyn, Focalin, and Concerta. These are all classified as central nervous system stimulants.
They work towards increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. It also works towards calming certain behaviors and tendencies in people with ADHD. This helps improve overall focus and concentration.
Non-stimulant medications are not as common but they are still seen as a viable treatment option for people who did not respond positively to central nervous system stimulants. These medications work towards increasing the release of norepinephrine.
As mentioned earlier – therapy is critical to one’s success. Medication alone is not found as effective as when combined with therapy. Some examples of therapy for ADHD include:
CBT has received a lot of attention in the medical field. It is widely used across a variety of diagnoses including ADHD, mental illnesses, and substance abuse disorders.
CBT works towards changing thought patterns. It is helpful for both children and adults. This makes it a great treatment tool for a variety of age groups.
The structure of CBT requires training for improving positive self-talk and reframing thought patterns. It is believed that certain ideations and negative thought patterns result in behavioral and mood problems. If you or a loved one also deals with depression, these tools are helpful for combating negative feelings and addressing any prior issues of self-harm.
Therapists work with children and adults on changing the structure of their thought patterns and the way they view their situation. In adults, this can take the form of addressing underlying concerns or past traumas.
For children, it can come in the form of teaching time management skills and working through irrational thoughts. In school, kids may think that they need a homework assignment to be perfect.
This thought pattern can lead to further procrastination or missed due dates. Therapists are crucial in teaching and helping people with ADHD in overcoming these barriers that will lead to long-term success.
First Light Recovery In Orange County Is Here to Help
Do any of these signs and symptoms of ADHD resonate within you? If you have a loved one with ADHD, then many of these characteristics might seem familiar to you.
ADHD is best managed with a quick diagnosis in childhood. However, many children, unfortunately, become overlooked. This results in lingering problems that last throughout adulthood.
If you are still wondering whether you have ADHD or not then check out our quiz to start your evaluation. Contact us today for more information on treatment programs available for you or a loved one.
- Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
- What Is ADHD?. American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd
- Facts: Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
- ADHD In Children. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/adhd-children
- 8 ADHD Myths & Misconceptions. Healthy Children. https://healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/Myths-and-Misconceptions.aspx