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What is ADHD?

ADHD – An overview

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, is a condition belonging to the group of neurodevelopmental disorders. Patients with this condition experience a series of cognitive difficulties that result in a poor acquisition of skills or difficulty in retaining or applying what has been learned.

Who can be affected by ADHD?

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ADHD affects both children and adults. Contrary to what many people think, ADHD tends not to go away over the years. Children diagnosed with ADHD may continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. Therefore, adults with a history of ADHD often still require treatment to reduce the impact of this condition.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, as its name implies, is characterized by a lack of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. According to the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition), some symptoms of ADHD are:

Inattention:

  • Difficulty maintaining attention and daydreaming
  • Avoiding tasks that require mental effort
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Not paying attention when directly spoken to

Hyperactivity/Impulsivity:

  • Difficulty staying seated
  • Marked need to interrupt others
  • Difficulty waiting for a turn
  • Restlessness

However, the presentation varies across different age groups.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

The diagnosis must be made by a mental health professional based on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM 5.

To diagnose ADHD, several aspects are taken into account, for example, the age of onset of symptoms, their intensity, if they are present in two or more settings (school, home, office, etc.), and whether or not the symptoms interfere with the patient’s performance in certain activities. After a complete assessment, the specialist can confirm the diagnosis and establish the plan.

Treatment options for ADHD patients

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Treatment for this condition consists of a combination of behavioral psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment. In the case of children ages 4 and 5, the indication is to carry out a psychotherapy approach that includes parent education and training on the proper management of this condition. In young people and adults, both a pharmacological and a psychotherapeutic approach are recommended. In all age groups, it is important to make modifications to the patient’s environment and to closely monitor the patient’s progress.

In addition to the aforementioned, measures that promote good health in ADHD patients include adequate sleep hygiene, healthy eating habits, and regular physical activity.

Finally, it is important to highlight that ADHD is a medical condition and, as such, requires adequate treatment and monitoring by a mental health specialist. If you suspect that you or someone you know suffers from ADHD, seek help. A proper evaluation is the first step to reducing the impact of this condition on someone’s life.

 

Author: Julieth Diaz, MD

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