Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is one of the most common mental health disorders today. It’s seen in anywhere between 7% and 10% of children worldwide and around 2% to 5% of adults. Perhaps the most telltale sign of ADHD is one’s inability to pay attention or keep up with their tasks. For children, this can greatly impact their academic performance and social lives. For adults, this can have negative effects on their ability to complete career training, pursue their desired profession and even life at home. Our Tampa ADHD psychologists are well aware of how serious this condition can be and want to provide some important information about it.
What Causes ADHD?
To this day, a definitive cause of ADHD has yet to be determined, however, research into the condition continues. Three potential factors are believed to be responsible:
The condition may be hereditary and passed onto children from adults who have ADHD or another mental health issue.
Biological issues such as problems with the central nervous system during development or premature births may be potential causes.
Certain problems in the environment, like lead exposure, is a possible cause.
Signs of ADHD in Children
Children with ADHD typically begin to show signs of the disorder between ages 3 and 12. Sometimes minor symptoms become more problematic when demands at school increase. Symptoms can be described as mild, moderate or severe. For many people diagnosed as children, the condition continues into adulthood. It’s diagnosed more in boys than girls and behaviors can vary depending on the gender, with boys tending to be more hyperactive while girls exhibit greater inattentiveness.
ADHD is made up of 3 subtypes:
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive – As the name suggests, children diagnosed with this type are extremely overactive, restless and fidgety, and behave impulsively.
- Predominantly Inattentive – Children diagnosed with this type have difficulty managing their attention, levels of effort and concentration, and may be both forgetful and disorganized.
- Combined Type – This is the most common subtype found in the United States. It is a mixture of both hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive behaviors.
- An inability to pay close attention to the details of class lessons or making careless mistakes in schoolwork and homework. This can also include being unable to organize activities or tasks.
- Being easily or constantly distracted.
- Misplacing important items, such as school materials like pencils, notebooks or rulers.
- Having trouble maintaining focus in class or during physical play.
- Appearing to not be paying attention when spoken to.
- Fidgeting or squirming in their desks.
- Being unable to follow instructions and complete schoolwork, homework or house chores.
Signs of ADHD in Adults
One of the biggest misconceptions about ADHD is that it only affects children. This is untrue. While signs of the disorder may have been present in childhood, many adults were never diagnosed when they were younger. Signs of the disorder in adults can include:
- Trouble with organizing, planning, multitasking, prioritizing and coping with stress
- Inability to manage time
- Missing or forgetting important dates
- Impulsiveness and restlessness
- Often becoming frustrated
- Mood swings
- Being easily irritable
Some adults with ADHD show fewer symptoms as they age, but this is not always the case. In fact, some adults’ symptoms may be so severe that they interfere with their daily functioning. One very important thing to remember is that some adults with ADHD may not even be aware that they have it.
Myths About ADHD
Given the fictional portrayals we’ve seen in movies or on television, it’s no surprise that there are many myths and inaccuracies concerning ADHD. We want to clear the air by providing some facts that our Tampa ADHD psychologists are well aware of. Let’s go over a few of them.
Myth: ADHD only affects children.
Fact: Although most people diagnosed with ADHD are children, adults can also deal with the disorder. In fact, as children with the disorder age, their symptoms can often change as well.
Myth: ADHD isn’t a real disorder.
Fact: ADHD is one of the most researched disorders in the field of behavioral science. Cases can be so severe that it inhibits children and adults to the point that they have difficult in every facet of their lives, from maintaining their attention on tasks to forgetting important details.
Myth: Children are being over-diagnosed with ADHD.
Fact: Although the number of children diagnosed with the disorder increases at a rate of about 5% (according to the National Survey of Children’s Health) each year, the reason for this increase is due in part to behavioral experts better understanding the condition and identifying symptoms.
Myth: ADHD is caused by poor parenting.
Fact: As we mentioned above, although the root cause of ADHD has yet to be determined, poor parenting is not one of them. Causes can range from genetics, the environment or even complications during development.
Myth: Adults with ADHD are just lazy.
Fact: As with children, ADHD in adults can result in them being unable to keep track of their responsibilities or work. It isn’t that an adult with the condition who isn’t completing his/her tasks is being lazy, it’s that they are having trouble following through with it due to the disorder.
Myth: Adults with ADHD should have an easier time overcoming their condition than children.
Fact: Adults can have just as much difficulty in dealing with their condition as children, especially since symptoms can change as they age, sometimes even becoming more severe.
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Although the methods of treating ADHD can depend on severity and the types of symptoms, the overall consensus is that the best way is through a combination of psycho-social or behavioral treatment and medication. Medication helps to manage the functions of the brain and symptoms while the therapeutic side of treatment can help a patient by providing necessary education about ADHD, creating structure, teaching skills and providing much-needed feedback and support. Therapy also offers a safe place to express their emotions, thoughts and worries in dealing with the disorder.
One specific form of treatment is COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY. This treatment is often a short-term but very goal-oriented method that allows patients of any age to take a hands-on approach to helping them deal with their psychological issue – in this case, ADHD. Our psychologists can help you change the way you think about your condition while providing feedback on what can or won’t work for you.
How Can We Help You?
At Rice Psychology Group, we're all about doing what we can with multiple resources at our disposable to help you and your child understand and deal with their condition.Contact Us Today!