Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects an individual’s ability to focus, particularly for extended periods. It also affects a person’s ability to sit still or keep to themselves for long periods of time because of the hyperactive energy present in the body.
ADHD is typically diagnosed during childhood; however, some are also diagnosed as adults. It’s estimated that 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults currently live with or have been diagnosed with ADHD in the US.
Completing tasks, having solid relationships, and excelling in a career can become challenging if ADHD is left unmanaged.
The symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is identified by two components; the inability to maintain focus accompanied by hyperactivity. The symptoms are unique for each, and both sets of symptoms should be present to determine an ADHD diagnosis.
The symptoms of inattention include:
- A limited ability to stay focused during a task or activity. Such as following a conversation, completing an assignment, or paying attention to a lesson in class.
- Lacking attention to detail and, as a result making careless mistakes
- Difficulty with prioritizing tasks and time management
- Disliking and avoiding tasks that require a lot of mental efforts, such as working on a puzzle.
- Getting easily distracted by auditory and visual distractions or unrelated thoughts
- Commonly misplacing objects and items needed to complete tasks
- The appearance of not being present when spoken to
- Forgetting daily to-dos and responsibilities
The symptoms of hyperactivity include:
- Feelings of restlessness, especially when expected to be still.
- Standing up and moving about the room when expected to stay seated
- Fidgeting, constant readjustment while sitting, tapping feet, or bouncing the knees
- Frequently interrupting others during a conversation
- Impulsivity to blurt out answers instead of waiting to be called upon
- Excessive talking
- Difficulty engaging in quiet, solo activities
For these symptoms to be considered problematic, they should be present and directly affecting a minimum of two areas of a person’s life. Areas of life may include school, work, home life, and interactions with family or friends
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Since ADHD is primarily diagnosed in children, the parent/s may be the first to notice possible symptoms of ADHD. A teacher who spends time with a student at school each day could also be one of the first to notice behaviors related to ADHD.
Diagnosis is determined based on the number of symptoms present and if they meet the criteria listed in the DSM-V for diagnosing ADHD. A psychiatrist may evaluate a patient’s complete medical history to determine how long the symptoms have been present and if other health factors may be at play.
The process of diagnosing an adult is similar, where symptoms will be self-reported. Then, a therapist will look at medical history and address any other underlying concerns before making a diagnosis.
The DSM-V criteria for diagnosing ADHD are as follows:
- At least five symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity are present over six months or more.
- Several of the symptoms are or were present before the age of 12.
- The symptoms must be present and affecting at least two areas of life.
- The symptoms interfere with the quality of work produced for school or work.
- Other mental disorders with similar symptoms have been ruled out.
What are the causes of ADHD?
There is still a lot of research to be done to understand the true causes of ADHD. Some studies have deemed it a genetic predisposition, while others credit it to environmental and societal factors. It’s also possible that ADHD results from an early head injury, premature birth, or whether the mother smoked or consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
There are a few ways to manage and treat ADHD; behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
The approach to treatment varies depending on the age of the patient receiving treatment and their medical history. For instance, in children younger than six, it is recommended to avoid medication and try behavioral approaches first.
Parents will be expected to play a significant role in the process of behavior modification. They will be trained and instructed on how to best respond and help modify certain behaviors at home.
ADHD can persist into adulthood for some, yet many find they’re able to lead perfectly normal lives with the help of medication and therapy.
The medications used to help manage ADHD fall into two categories:
Stimulants: These are the most prescribed since they are fast-acting and help reduce the symptoms of ADHD effectively.
Non stimulants: These are slower to take effect but, the benefit of non-stimulants is they’re effective for up to 24 hours.
When taking medications, it’s essential to work closely with a psychiatrist to monitor undesirable changes in behavior and verify that the medication is working as it should. In some cases, it may be necessary to trial and error dosage before finding what works best.
How Can We Help?
The pandemic has changed a lot about our lives, but one thing that it shouldn’t change is the ability to seek out the mental healthcare you need. It may have been more challenging to make a timely appointment with your psychiatrist during this time, which can be frustrating when you rely on medication for optimal well-being.
National Mental Health specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. We understand the changing needs of our clients, and that’s why we want to provide you with options. Our telehealth psychiatry services provide all the same benefits as in-person psychiatry:
- Fully licensed and qualified providers ready to assist you
- Video chat options allow for virtual counseling appointments with your provider face-to-face
- Uncompromised security and privacy
- ADHD Medication prescription and monitoring
- We accept several insurance providers, as well as Health Savings Accounts and Flex Spending Accounts.
The added benefits of online therapy that you don’t get from in-person psychiatry include:
- Convenient appointment times that work around your schedule
- Less time spent traveling to a physical location
- Appointments from the comfort of your own home
- Lower out-of-pocket costs should your insurance policy not cover our services.
If you’re interested in learning more about the services we offer and how we can help you get back to feeling your best, please get in touch!