ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active
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ADHD is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Its sister is ADD, which is attention deficit disorder, and that’s very similar but without the hyperactivity part. It can affect about 6 to 7 percent of children, three times more common in boys.
The main symptoms really are difficulty with focus and concentration, some who have the hyperactivity or impulsive, constantly moving, and it has to impact their life in terms of their school life or their home life. It has to be inappropriate for their age.
The diagnosis is tricky to make. You want to have it made by a trained professional and we actually go and ask teachers and parents and other individuals who know these children to make sure that we’re getting the right diagnosis and we’re seeing these symptoms in a variety of settings.
So, if there’s a true attention deficit hyperactivity disorder then you want to treat it, because untreated ADHD has a lot of significant consequences. For example, these kids can have trouble at school, have poor academic performance.
It leads to poor self-esteem, which can lead to things like drug and alcohol problems. Also physical injuries like bike accidents, driving accidents, sports accidents are more common in untreated ADHD.
In older children, things like holding down a part-time job, or even more likely, to get teenage pregnancies can occur so we do want to treat ADHD when we do see it and the treatment should be done by a trained professional.
So, about 30 percent of young people will have ADHD carry through to adulthood and in that situation again, we see things like job loss, divorce, accidents more common if we don’t treat. Often seeing your local Family physician for a referral to a mental health specialist is a good place to start.
Now, treatment doesn’t necessarily mean medications, although that’s one big part of treatment. Treatment can also be behavioural management, modifying your environment.
For example, your workstation being free of distractions, having just one piece of paper that you’re working on, having your cellphones and TV off, that can be really helpful.
Also, people with ADHD can have anxiety or other mental health problems, maybe even substance use, drug and alcohol, so you really want to watch for anything else that could be developing and manage those early.
It’s always important to treat ADHD as soon and early as possible but children, teenagers, adults, older adults all benefit from treatment at any age.
If you have questions or concerns about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or attention deficit disorder, talk to your family doctor. Local Psychiatrist
Presenter: Dr. Shimi Kang, Psychiatrist, Vancouver, BC
Now Health Network Local Practitioners: Psychiatrist