Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(last updated 27 August 2015)
Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder affects approx 5% of children and slightly less Adults.It remains one of the most contraversial disorders in mental health, despite there being a large body of evidence supporting its existance. Increasingly we also understand that it is not only a disorder of childhood but infact it can be a life long illness. Even amongst psychiatrists there is much disbelief of the validity for the condition. However for those who have experienced it first hand there is often little doubt that this conditon not only exists but causes a great deal of morbidity.
Symptoms of ADHD typically start in childhood. The attention problems include poor concentration, being inattentive, getting bored easily, being easily distracts and impulsivity. The hyperactivity symptoms include being restless, an inability to stay still, feeling agitated, an inability to relax. Like many condition the ADD/ADHD has a spectrum of severity from mild to severe. Often if a child has a high IQ and no hyperactivity symptoms they may not be identified as ADD.
Another confusing observation is that a child with ADD/ADHD can infact remain focused and attentive for long periods of time but only if they are interested in what they are doing eg, playing computer games. Diagnosis is made should be made by a paediatrician or a psychiatrist. The diagnosis is made largely from obtaining a detailed developmental history.
Adult ADD/ADHD should always be a continuation of a childhood condition. That is, an Adult without a childhood history of ADHD/ ADD is not likely to have ADHD/ADD and another diagnosis should be considered.Treatment of ADHD/ ADD is largely stimulant medication such as Dexamphetamine and Methyphenidate. There are however now a non stimulate medication called Atomoxetine, that can be used in particular for people who can not tolerate the stimulant medications.In Australia prescribtion of ADHD/ADD medication can only be done by Paediatricians, Psychiatrists and Neurologists.
In addition to medication behavioural programs can also help to train people to overcome some aspects of their ADHD.
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