Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Unfortunately, ADHD is a problem that American families frequently need to deal with. ADHD is an illness that can impact the ability of an otherwise bright child or adult to perform at a normal level in several different areas of life. People with ADHD often make impulsive decisions, act before thinking, and have difficulty concentrating. In addition, many have difficulty feeling motivated, impaired control of their emotions, and hyperactivity. This can stunt their ability to use their talents to achieve their dreams.

ADHD Growing Dramatically

More and more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with ADHD every year. In the United States, prevalence has reached an all-time high of 9.5% of children and adolescents every diagnosed with ADHD. This was an increase of 22% from a similar survey done just two years earlier. In a gross understatement, one of the researchers who contributed to this study said, “We think something is going on.”

What causes ADHD?

Experts are not entirely clear as to what has caused such a dramatic rise in diagnosis. However, some research findings do give us clues. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Early exposure to TV during critical periods of synaptic (connections between nerve cells) development is likely associated with attentional problems.” In addition, it is possible that nutrition can play a role for some children. We are starting to clearly see that while genetics can certainly predispose some children to developing ADHD, this is certainly only part of the story. Indeed, something clearly is going on!

Myths and Truths about ADHD

Many adolescents and adults with ADHD self-medicate their symptoms with drugs or alcohol. Some may feel that it improves their ADHD symptoms while others may be attempting to deal with feelings of sadness and inadequacy. Using alcohol or drugs, however, only makes matters worse. Attentional difficulties increase, and feelings of depression, anxiety and despair can worsen an already dismal picture. Some people may wonder, “Don’t most kids just grow out of it?” The fact is, most children do not just “grow out of it.” An astounding sixty-six percent of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD. Even though the hyperactivity may improve in adulthood, the other symptoms persist more often than not.

Prevention and Treatment of ADHD

Because of the negative impact ADHD can have on a person’s life, it is important to practice prevention, recognize symptoms early, and have the problem addressed by a professional. Prevention includes very little or no television, playing and exercising outdoors, using creative problem-solving skills, and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. Treatment of ADHD includes use of the preventive strategies plus structured management at home and school. Recent research findings show that certain types of cognitive behavioral therapy, especially for adults, may help manage symptoms just as much as taking medication. Finally, children may need medication intervention to help control symptoms.

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