Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are both common conditions characterized primarily by inattention and impulsivity. In children with ADHD, hyperactivity accompanies these symptoms as well. While ADD and ADHD were once two distinct conditions, the term ADHD is now used to describe both conditions and written this way: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The most common signs and symptoms of the disorder include:
ADHD is diagnosed only after a thorough physical examination, mental health evaluation, and extensive assessment of the child’s social, academic, family, and medical history. An important step in diagnosing ADHD is ruling out other possible conditions and diagnosing co-existing conditions. As many as 2/3 of children with ADHD also suffer from another condition (mood disorder, substance abuse, sleep disorder, behavioral disorder, learning disorder, etc.). Failing to diagnose and treat all conditions present can limit functioning and quality of life.
The successful treatment of ADHD addresses the medical, behavioral, education, and psychological factors associated with the disorder. This might include training for parents, medication, counseling, education, educational intervention, skills training, and behavioral therapy.
No. Like most conditions, ADD/ADHD can vary in severity from one patient to the next. Some patients can function without medication while others benefit from stimulants. Many patients need medication when they’re young but outgrow it as they get older.
When the dosage is correct, medications for ADD/ADHD allow the patient to function at their highest level and even allows the patient’s personality to “break through.” While many patients and parents delay the use of medication, it can dramatically improve quality of life and functioning for many patients. It’s important that each patient work closely with their doctor to determine the best treatment plan for their unique circumstances and then communicate openly with their doctor about the outcome of any interventions.