Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How To Live With ADHD

How To Live With ADHD
By Robert Locke

PET ScansADHD is a common behavioural disorder that affects an estimated 8% to 10% of school-age children. ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar, or vaccines. It is diagnosed approximately three times more often in boys than in girls. ADHD is often called "the benevolent diagnosis." There is strong evidence to support the fact that it is very likely caused by biological factors which influence neurotransmitter activity in certain parts of the brain, and which have a strong genetic basis. The condition is characterised by poor concentration, distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsiveness.

Symptoms include excessive worry, fear, or panic, which can also lead to physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, stomach pains, and diarrhoea. Symptoms of inattention are: often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities, often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities, often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly ,often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace. Other symptoms include difficulty in organising tasks and activities and often loses things necessary for tasks or activities. Impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity can also be present and seem to be inheritable. These latter symptoms must be severe enough to cause impairment in the daily functioning of the person in at least two settings: at home, in school, in the community or in the workplace. Symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression may produce behavioural disturbances resembling ADHD. The good news is, with proper treatment, children with ADHD can learn to successfully live with and manage their symptoms.

Treatment strategies such as rewarding positive behaviour changes and communicating clear expectations of those with ADHD have also proven effective. Clinical experience has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD is a combination of medication (when necessary), therapy or counselling to learn coping skills and adaptive behaviours, and ADD coaching for adults. Treatment rates are much lower for selected groups such as girls, minorities, and children receiving care though public service systems. If your child has ADHD and a coexisting condition, the doctor will carefully consider that when developing a treatment plan. Some treatments are better than others at addressing specific combinations of symptoms. Any good treatment plan will require close follow-up and monitoring, and your child's doctor may make adjustments along the way. Because it's important for parents to actively participate in their child's treatment plan, parent education is also considered an important part of ADHD management. Antidepressants are sometimes a treatment option; however, in 2004 the FDA issued a warning that these drugs may lead to a rare increased risk of suicide in children and teens. But your child's doctor may recommend additional treatments and interventions depending on your child's symptoms and needs.

ADHD is certainly not a death sentence. ADHD is not the result of "bad parenting" or obnoxious, wilful defiance on the part of the child. ADHD is known to occur in various cultures and in individuals from all socioeconomic levels. Neither is it the result of a family stress, divorce, excessive TV viewing or video game playing, or diet, although some of these factors can exacerbate a pre-existing condition. ADHD is diagnosed by a healthcare professional, usually a child psychiatrist or paediatrician. While ADHD is not curable (at the moment), the good news is that ADHD is manageable. These children can learn to manage their symptoms, achieving a measure of success in their lives. The bottom line is ADHD is a medical disorder and it needs to be recognised and treated.

About the Author
Robert William Locke specialises in health and fitness. Read more about considering alternative treatments for ADD and ADHD.

Picture: PET scans of glucose metabolism in the brains of a normal person (left) compared to a person diagnosed with ADHD (right).