ADD or ADHD?
In the past, mental health professionals viewed ADD and ADHD as different but related conditions. Today, the profession defines three different disorders that are all subtypes of ADHD. These include:
- Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD
- Primarily Inattentive ADHD
- Combination ADHD
No one receives a diagnosis of ADD today. What was once called ADD is now classified as Primarily Inattentive ADHD. The distinguishing characteristic of this subtype is that patients are not hyperactive.
Patients who were diagnosed with ADHD in the past are now diagnosed with Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD. Anyone who exhibits some combination of the first two receives a diagnosis of Combination ADHD.
What is ADHD?
It is estimated that 11 percent of children have ADHD in the United States. In adults, it is estimated at 4.4 percent. ADHD affects a range of cognitive functions, including one’s ability to concentrate and one’s memory.
Many associate ADHD with kids primarily, but as the statistics above show, it affects adults, as well. Some children live with their ADHD into adulthood. Others do not even receive diagnosis until they are adults.
There has been a significant uptick in the diagnosis of ADHD. Increased awareness is the likely cause, though some suspect environmental triggers.
Avoiding treating this disorder is never helpful, especially when children are at stake. Parents should understand that the disorder is still present and affecting a child, whether he or she has a diagnosis or not.
ADHD symptoms vary from one patient to the next and also depend on their age. The following are some of the symptoms that can present with the three types of ADHD in adults.
Symptoms of Inattention ADHD (Formerly Known as ADD Symptoms)
- Inability to focus on detail at work or school
- Brief attention span, even with preferred tasks or hobbies
- Inability to focus in on speech
- Poor executive function
- Forgetting normal daily activities
- Disliking anything that requires concentration
Symptoms of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD
- Fidgeting continuously
- Inability to relax
- Excessive talking
- An inability to take turns
Patients with Combination ADHD will have some combination of the listed symptoms. Any diagnosis of ADHD requires that symptoms interfere with the person’s ability to conduct a regular life. An adult also needs to exhibit at least 5 symptoms, and they must be evident for at least 6 months. Occasionally showing any of the above does not mean someone qualifies for a diagnosis, necessarily.
ADHD Symptoms in Children
Diagnosing ADHD in children can be more complex. This is because children are very different in terms of development from adults and may not share certain symptoms. Parents and teachers should look for the following if they suspect ADHD in a child.
Inattentive ADHD symptoms in children include:
- Making mistakes they shouldn’t make in schoolwork
- Never staying with one toy for very long
- Detached from interaction with adults
- Avoidance of tasks that take focus and concentration
- An inability to keep track of things
Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD symptoms in children include:
- Not staying still in class even when told to
- Constant fidgeting and tapping
- Inappropriate running or climbing
- Boundless levels of energy
- Endless talking
Children should exhibit six of these symptoms for at least 6 months to qualify for a diagnosis.
Testing for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Testing for ADHD is not a simple matter of taking a quiz, as some websites might have you believe. You need a mental health professional to receive an ADHD diagnosis.
Diagnosing a child typically involves interviews with both the child and parent or parents. A mental health professional may also go through some play and tasks with the child. Parents and teachers may also have to respond to surveys that the mental health professional will then use as reference.
Diagnosing an adult involves interviews with the patient and discussing things like patterns of behavior or thinking. An adult may also fill out surveys during the process.
There is no known cure for this mental health disorder. There are, however, many treatments that can make this disorder manageable in the long term. Treatment options can include medication, lifestyle changes, or therapy.
While the fact confuses many, stimulants have historically been some of the most effective medications for treating ADHD. These are fast-acting interventions, and have been shown to help as many as 80 percent of patients with ADHD.
In the last few decades, professionals have also turned to non-stimulants in treating the disorder. The advantage of these is that, while they do not act as quickly, they can be more effective in the long term. They are also a good alternative for those who have an adverse reaction to stimulants.
Sometimes, especially when children are involved, people prefer to rely on therapy when treating ADHD. Behavioral therapy helps those with ADHD stop destructive behaviors and replace them with more positive ones.
When children are in behavioral therapy, chances are that parents or caregivers will participate, too. This is to ensure that the adults involved know how to support the children and also respond to bad behaviors effectively.
Making Lifestyle Changes
ANyone with ADHD can benefit from making lifestyle changes as well. These can include:
- Adhering to a daily structured routine
- Eliminating and reducing distractions in a workspace
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Getting enough sleep