What is ADHD?

People who have ADHD may have trouble in school, at work or at home. They may also have other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. They are often seen as impulsive and risk-taking. They may have trouble understanding the rules of social engagement, and often miss important information in discussions and conversations. Symptoms of this disorder can interfere with a person’s self-esteem and can lead to family conflict and relationship difficulties.

Most children with ADHD receive a diagnosis while they’re in elementary school. However, it’s possible to be diagnosed with ADHD in adolescence or even adulthood. People with ADHD can’t be diagnosed through a physical exam alone, because symptoms of this disorder can overlap with other conditions. Doctors look for other conditions that might be causing symptoms, such as hearing and vision issues, before they can make a diagnosis. They will ask about a person’s life history and their behavior. They will also talk to a person’s parents and teachers.

A person with ADHD is more likely to lose things, have trouble sitting still, and act without thinking. They may be forgetful, have difficulty staying focused on tasks or activities, and be unable to wait their turn. They may blurt out answers before a question is finished and have trouble following instructions or finishing tasks at work or in school. They are more likely to get into fights or accidents, have trouble maintaining friendships, and avoid, dislike or be reluctant to do tasks that require ongoing mental effort.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides guidelines that providers use to diagnose ADHD. They will ask about the person’s problem behaviors and how long they have been occurring. They will also interview a person’s parents and teachers, as well as others who know them. They will then observe the person and note their behavior in different situations.

Medications used to treat ADHD can improve a person’s ability to concentrate and learn. They can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and help a person manage their emotions. However, many people need to try several different medications before they find the right one or dosage. People who are taking ADHD medication should follow their doctor’s instructions carefully.

Psychotherapy or behavioral therapy can help kids and adults with ADHD improve their relationships, family functioning and work performance. They can also help them learn new ways of interacting with each other and dealing with frustration. Behavioral interventions can address negative feelings that develop because of ADHD, such as frustration, blame and anger. A therapist can help parents and children work through these difficult feelings, and they can teach them the skills they need to live with ADHD. They can also teach parents and children skills to help them cope with challenges they face at home and at school. Some treatments can include parental coaching, classroom support and the use of psychoeducational approaches. Some people also benefit from the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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