ADHD Treatment

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is the most common disorder affecting children. Teens and adults may also be affected by it. Children as young as 2 years old and adults as old as 55 have been diagnosed with this debilitating disorder, making up to 9.4% of the population.

ADHD is not a mental illness, and it is not a disability. It is a complex issue in which the development of the brain is impaired. While it cannot be cured, it can be treated. If caught early enough, it is possible to cope with ADHD.

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The Types of ADHD

ADHD affects the part of the brain that helps us to focus, plan and perform tasks. People with this disorder may have a difficult time sitting still and remaining quiet for any period. They may be unable to control their impulses and may act erratically, and often will display exaggerated emotions. Symptoms may vary according to the individual.

All symptoms are most noticeable and most disruptive in school years. The education system demands things of ADHD sufferers like remaining still, being focused, and containing impulses in the classroom context. Each of these requirements can be incredibly difficult for children with ADHD, and often results in them feeling guilty, ashamed, frustrated, and angry towards teachers, parents, and even peers.

Researchers are not certain as to what causes ADHD. It is not caused by diet, poor parenting, or over-stimulation in the form of television programs or video games, although these things may not help the symptoms. There is some evidence to show that it might be a hereditary disorder linked to the dopamine neurotransmitter in the brain, but the results of these tests are far from conclusive.

There are 3 sub types of ADHD: primarily hyperactive, primarily inattentive, and primarily combined.

Primarily Hyperactive ADHD

Sufferers with this type present as being constantly agitated, with body language that is restless and anxious. They fidget, squirm and become stressed when forced to be still or quiet for any period. They are often impatient people who have no problems interrupting someone when they become bored. For this reason, they are often seen as rude and abrasive, even though they do not intend to be.

The nine symptoms of primarily hyperactive ADHD are as follows:

  1. Fidgety body language primarily of the hands and feet.
  2. Extreme talkativeness.
  3. Inability to play games or be involved in activities quietly.
  4. Constant motion even when in inappropriate contexts (In adolescents and adults, this may simply look like restlessness).
  5. Blurting out answers before the question has been asked, or when it was asked to someone else.
  6. Works on “motor action,” i.e., is constantly on the go and unable to slow down.
  7. Cannot remain seated, as in the case of workplace or classroom where being seated is expected.
  8. Has difficulty in waiting his or her turn, as in the context of queueing or waiting to give an answer.
  9. Interrupts others or intrudes on boundaries, as in the case of butting into conversations or using other people’s belongings without permission.

Primarily Inattentive ADHD

The primarily inattentive ADHD types used to be labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but we now understand these symptoms to be a subset of ADHD. This type is not as disruptive as the other types, and as a result, sufferers may go undiagnosed for a long time. Students with this type of ADHD will almost certainly be unable to complete homework, carry out debates, and will frequently be caught “daydreaming” during classes. The nine official symptoms used to identify this type are as follows:

  1. Avoids tasks or activities that required sustained mental focus like lessons, reports, assignments, and reviewing long papers.
  2. Is absent-minded and fails repeated tasks like paying bills, keeping to a format for a school lesson, or keeping appointments.
  3. Is careless with things and will lose belongings like keys, stationery, and mobile phones.
  4. Is easily distracted and may struggle to follow a long conversation.
  5. Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks that require it, like reading, lectures, or even films.
  6. Does not follow instructions easily or at all.
  7. Struggles to prioritize and organize activities and tasks.
  8. Makes many careless mistakes in work and overlooks important details.
  9. Does not appear to pay attention when being addressed, whether formally or socially.

The primarily combined type displays up to six symptoms of each sub type. When assessing to determine if an individual has ADHD, physicians will conduct various tests and consider the presence of any of the above-mentioned symptoms. They will consider medical records and family history to determine the presence of ADHD and the type of ADHD. From there, they will determine a course of treatment.

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Treatment for ADHD

Treatment plans are determined by the individual’s age, their context (school, working in an office environment, research student, etc.), and their family history. Plans are generally a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, nutrition, and exercise. These plans will be monitored and amended over time, depending on the results and effectiveness of the prescribed steps.

For example, an adult with hyperactive ADHD may benefit from spending time outdoors and practicing mindfulness when possible. A child with the same diagnosis may require medication and a physical activity that expends energy and pent-up excitement.

Medication for ADHD consists of either a stimulant (used primarily for inattentive ADHD) or a non-stimulant (for hyperactive ADHD). Central nervous stimulants work by increasing chemicals in the brain that help with concentration and may be short-acting, intermediate-acting, or long-acting. The short-acting doses need to be taken multiple times a day, and the others are taken twice or once a day.

There are some side effects with some medication types like Ritalin or Adder all, and they may be ineffective. There are options for stimulants that have no side effects whatsoever, and doses will likely need to be changed over time.

Stimulant medications are the first option for treating ADHD in children, as it is difficult for them to adapt to behavioral treatments and schooling systems may not allow for too much flexibility with their behavior. In school, children are required to be attentive, engaged in work, and productive in their behavior and concentration. This is not always possible to achieve with non-medication treatments, and progress may be slow when immediate results are required.

Besides side effects, there are important risks to consider with medication treatments for ADHD in both children and adults. Certain treatments may be completely ineffective for certain individuals, too. For these reasons, all measures taken to cope with ADHD are most effective when they are combined with ongoing therapy and physician consultations.

Whether as a caregiver of a child displaying ADHD symptoms or as a self-diagnosed adult, it can be overwhelming to realize that this is an incurable disorder that is only managed with long-term treatment. It may be of little comfort to know that you or your loved one is not alone, being that this is the most common disorder. However, the benefit of having a common disorder is that there is a lot of support available in the form of online forums or in-person support groups.

Along with consulting doctors for treatment plans, you should also find a counselor or therapist to help with behavioral treatment plans. At Irvine Christian Counseling, we have several counselors available who work with clients of all ages dealing with ADHD.

Besides walking with you as you adjust to the treatment, a counselor will be available for you to unpack some of the emotions surrounding living with ADHD, or caring for someone who has it. As a parent of a child with ADHD, you might often find yourself feeling uncertain, fearful, or frustrated. These are perfectly natural responses and you would benefit from facing these emotions, rather than trying to stifle them. A treatment plan may be necessary for you as a caregiver or partner of someone with ADHD too.

Many people are reticent to attempt medication as a treatment for ADHD, and this is due in part to there being a lot of misinformation around the subject. It will be very important to get educated on the effectiveness and potential side effects of any medical treatment. A local physician would be the best person to consult regarding this. A counselor or therapist at Irvine Christian Counseling could offer supplementary behavioral treatments, such as an exercise regime or meditative practices that could be helpful. Adults with ADHD often experience shame and low self-esteem. Medication will not treat these areas as talking with a trained professional will.

You might need support or information to take the next step in finding treatment, and in either case, a counselor could help. Call us today at Irvine Christian Counseling to book an appointment with one of the many professional counselors available. Sessions are conducted confidentially and by professionals with insight into the emotional and mental development of ADHD sufferers. Combined with the medical counsel of a physician, and a potential medication treatment plan, you will be assured of having the best type of support for coping with ADHD.

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