Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
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WHAT IS ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. ADHD is a brain condition that is often first identified in school-aged children when it causes disruption in the classroom or problems with schoolwork.
ADHD can affect adults too. While some children seem to outgrow the disorder, or learn to compensate for the symptoms, others do not.
ADHD by the numbers
• 4.1% of U.S. adults (1.7% severe)
• 9% of U.S. adolescents (1.8% severe)
• 7 years old – the average age for children to be diagnosed with ADHD
It was only in the 1980s when mental health professionals started to recognize that ADHD could persist in adults, and even now, getting an accurate diagnosis is tricky. Some experts believe too many adults (and children) are currently medicated for ADHD, often by doctors who have little knowledge or experience with this disorder. Others argue that those adults who have experience functional impairment can benefit from ADHD medications and behavioral therapy.
Some adults whose ADHD is left untreated may experience negative consequences including high incidence of substance abuse and automobile accidents, and difficulty staying employed and maintaining relationships. Yet, adults with ADHD can also be highly intelligent, energetic, charismatic, and creative.
Many adults with ADHD have developed skills to compensate for their distractibility. Some excel in school at an early age and don’t run into any problems until college/ grad school or starting at a challenging new job. Suddenly, their coping mechanisms are not as effective anymore.
• Adult ADHD can be comorbid with anxiety, depression, or bipolar
disorder - further complicating diagnosis and treatment.
• For adults diagnosed with the condition, treatment can consist of
behavioral therapy, medication, or both.
• People who think they may have ADHD should be evaluated by a
CHADD - Children and Adulsts with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
ADDA - Attention Deficit Disorder Association
AACAP - American Academy of Child and ADolescent Psychiatry
NIMH - National Institutes on Menatl Health