ADD or ADHD?

Until recently, Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADD and ADHD, were viewed as separate but related conditions by professionals in the mental health world. These days, MHPs divide such disorders into three separate disorders categorized as subtypes of ADHD:

  • Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD
  • Primarily Inattentive ADHD
  • Combination ADHD

ADD, as it was once called, is no longer a diagnosis anyone receives. The ADD of the past is now diagnosed as Primarily Inattentive ADHD. Patients with this disorder do not have hyperactivity as a symptom.

A patient who would have received a diagnosis of ADHD a few years back would now receive a diagnosis of Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD. A diagnosis of Combination ADHD is given to those with a combination of symptoms from the two other subtypes.

What is ADHD?

According to statistics, around 11 percent of children in the US have a diagnosis of ADHD. In the adult population, the rate of occurrence is 4.4 percent. In either children or adults, this disorder affects the cognitive abilities, memory, and concentration levels of patients.

While often associated with children, it does affect adults, as statistics prove. Many children, too, can experience symptoms of ADHD well into adulthood. Sometimes, the disorder is not diagnosed until someone is an adult.

Diagnoses of ADHD have been going up in recent years. This is likely due to an increase in public awareness of the disorder. Some experts think there may also be an environmental link.

Whatever the trigger, it is never a good idea to avoid a diagnosis. If parents are concerned with the stigma of a diagnosis, they should realize that their child will still suffer from symptoms with or without a diagnosis. Diagnosis can provide relief and treatment.

ADHD in Adult Patients

Symptoms are not the same in every patient, and they can be different in adults and children. Adults with ADHD may have some or all of the following symptoms.

Symptoms of Inattention ADHD in Adults

  • Not able to focus at work or school
  • Short attention span, even when doing favorite things
  • Not able to attend to the speech of others
  • Faulty executive function
  • Forgetting daily tasks
  • Avoiding tasks that require concentration

Symptoms of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD in Adults

  • Inability to sit still, fidgeting all the time
  • Feeling restless
  • Unable to relax
  • Chattering excessively
  • Bad at taking turns

As stated above, someone with Combination ADHD will present with a combination of symptoms from both other subtypes. Diagnostic criteria states that patients should have at least 5 symptoms for at least 6 months, and these symptoms must interfere with a patient’s ability to go about their daily life.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

Diagnosing children with ADHD is more complicated, since children are still developing. Their symptoms, too, may present in different, less clear ways than they might in an adult. Parents who suspect ADHD in a child should look for some of the following.

Inattentive ADHD symptoms in Children

  • Making mistakes in homework in areas they understand
  • Not being able to play with one toy for very long
  • Maintaining detachment from adults
  • Disliking things that take concentration
  • Losing things often

Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD symptoms in Children

  • Getting up in class when they are supposed to stay still
  • Fidgeting, tapping feet or hands constantly
  • Running or climbing in inappropriate settings
  • Excessive energy
  • Incessant chattering
  • Interrupting others often

As with diagnoses in adults, diagnosis in a child requires that a child has symptoms for at least 6 months. Children need to have six or more symptoms to receive a diagnosis, however.

Can You Test for ADHD?

While the internet may try to convince you otherwise, ADHD testing is not a matter of answering a few questions in an online quiz. Only an MHP can provide a diagnosis of ADHD.

When diagnosing a child, MHPs typically interview the child and their parents or caregivers. MHPs may also engage in some play or tasks with the child during testing. Finally, caregivers, parents, and teachers may also need to answer surveys and scales that address the child’s behaviors and symptoms.

When diagnosing an adult, the MHP may interview the patient extensively, exploring behavioral and thought patterns exhibited by the patient. The patient may also be required to fill out surveys and scales.

Treatment for ADHD

Mental health professionals have not identified a cure for ADHD. They have made significant progress in terms of treating this disorder, however, using interventions such as medication, therapy or lifestyle changes.

Medication

For many years, one of the most effective medications for ADHD has been stimulants. These medications work quickly to address the symptoms of ADHD and work in as much as 80 percent of the population.

More recently, MHPs have been using other, non-stimulant medications to treat ADHD. These do not work as rapidly; however, they can work much better over time.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is another effective way to treat those with ADHD, especially children, as some parents may have reservations about medication. In behavioral therapy, the patient learns to replace negative, destructive behaviors with more beneficial ones.

Parents and caregivers of children with ADHD often participate in behavioral therapy, too, learning the techniques they need to support the child in their recovery.

Lifestyle Changes

Making some changes to one’s lifestyle can also help with ADHD. Lifestyle changes that benefit ADHD patients include:

  • Keeping a schedule or daily routine
  • Removing distractions in a workspace
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Sleeping well