As its name suggests, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that manifests during childhood. Overall, it affects more than 5% of children worldwide. Moreover, it’s more common in boys than in girls.
Fortunately, studies have shown that the disorder may respond well to an early diagnosis and proper treatment. Now, let’s learn more about this disorder!
Due to this disorder’s complexity, no single cause has been identified. Essentially, it’s a heterogeneous disorder with several subtypes that results from various risk factors.
Professionals don’t know exactly what causes it. However, they’ve discovered that genetic and environmental factors have a great influence on its development. In this case, we’re talking about prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal factors.
Furthermore, ADHD has a heritability of 76%, as referred to in a recent review by the researchers Stephen V. Faraone Henrik Larsson. This means that, on average, 76% of the factors associated with the disorder are related to genes and the rest to non-genetic factors.
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Essentially, this disorder has three core symptoms: Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms manifest themselves in a greater or lesser degree depending on the sub-type.
- First, in the predominantly inattentive subtype, most of the symptoms fall under inattention. Typically, it’s most common among females and greatly impacts a person academically.
- On the other hand, children with the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype may have a harder time controlling their impulses.
- The last subtype, known as combined, is the most common. It has an impact on overall performance.
Next, for the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity to be associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, certain conditions must be met:
- First, the symptoms must manifest before the age of twelve.
- Plus, the symptoms should affect your child in at least two different settings.
- Finally, these symptoms must make your child’s life significantly more difficult. Therefore, it affects their performance.
- The symptoms are not best explained by another disorder or disease.
The Treatment of ADHD
The treatment of attention deficit disorder in children and adolescents is individualized for each patient and family. The aim is to improve symptoms and reduce the occurrence of other associated disorders.
In those cases where the consequences are moderate or severe, experts recommend a combined treatment. This includes psychological and pharmacological therapy and pedagogical intervention.
1. Psychological treatment
As pointed out in a recent work by Dr. Pablo Luis Lopez and his team, the psychological interventions that have proven to be effective in this disorder are based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy. This includes techniques such as the following:
- The modification and elimination of certain behaviors
- Cognitive restructuring (changing dysfunctional ideas for more positive ones)
- Training in problem-solving
2. Pedagogical treatment
Pedagogical intervention constitutes a fundamental pillar in the combined treatment and includes both actions aimed at improving the child’s academic performance and others aimed at incorporating certain changes in the educational environment.
3. Pharmacological Treatment
Next, pharmacological treatment helps reduce the core symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Overall, this can lead to improved academic performance and behavior.
At the same time, it enhances the effect of psychological and psychoeducational interventions. This is supported by a review led by the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary (Canada).
Methylphenidate, which is a stimulant that helps children with this disorder concentrate, is a popular drug that doctors prescribe to treat this disorder.
The Reality of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
This condition is common. However, the reality is that there’s widespread ignorance about it. However, the lack of information regarding the disorder has direct consequences on patients, their families, friends, and other people around them.
Therefore, if we want to avoid stigma or insensitivity towards ADHD, it is important to know its symptoms, treatments, and main characteristics. We hope this article has broadened your vision on the subject.