The attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a short/distractible attention span, mobility and impulsiveness*, and that is usually lifelong (APA 2013). Three to 13 percent of children and adolescents are diagnosed with the ADHD. It is one of the most common neurodevelopmental problems affecting children of 6 to 17 years of age. It is more prevalent among men. Even if it is recognized as a childhood and adolescence disorder, it is now known to be a lifelong condition. Sixty to 80 percent of the symptoms of ADHD continue into adulthood. If it goes untreated, ADHD can cause a variety of problems in adulthood, including poor work performance, relationship problems, and a low socioeconomic level.
What symptoms suggest ADHD in our children?
- If children often have difficulty paying attention to details, make careless mistakes in their homework or at work,
- If they have difficulty paying attention to their work, games or activities,
- If they do not appear to be listening when you are talking to them,
- If they have difficulty following instructions in the correct order or they are unable to complete their homework or work,
- If they have difficulty organizing their tasks and activities,
- If they avoid or simply do not enjoy tasks that require intense focus and mental effort,
- If they keep losing the objects (materials) required for their tasks and activities,
- If they are easily distracted by the things around them,
- If they are absent-minded in their daily activities,
Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
- If they keep moving their hands or body restlessly,
- leave their seat when they are asked to sit down,
- run around and climb on objects even if it is not appropriate to do so,
- have difficulty playing quietly and having fun,
- constantly “move” and act as if they are “driven by an engine,”
- speak excessively,
- answer without waiting for the end of a question,
- have difficulty waiting for their turn in group activities,
- interfere in the activities of others, and
cause apparent problems in family, school and social settings because of such complaints, you should suspect attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and consult a specialist.
Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD are important.
If such individuals are not treated, the following problems may arise:
- Education below one’s level of intelligence
- Lack of success at work and frequent career moves
- Family relationship problems
- Social problems
- Inability to organize daily tasks
- Traffic accidents and speed limit violations
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Challenges in financial planning
ADHD patients are six times more likely to have substance abuse disorders. It is accompanied by many psychiatric conditions such as sleep disorders, behavioral disorders, anxiety disorders and depression.
ADHD is caused by insufficient levels or function of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. The primary treatment of ADHD is with medication. In addition, behavioral therapy, parental education programs, motor control training and sports programs are non-medication treatment methods. Medication treatments include stimulant (e.g., methylphenidate) and non-stimulant (atomoxetine) treatments. Families sometimes do not want their children to take medications, so they avoid doctors or do not use the drugs prescribed to their children. The fact that stimulants are red prescription drugs and subject to control makes families fear that their child may become addicted to them, which is detrimental to compliance with the treatment.
ADHD treatment does not cause addiction. On the contrary, ADHD patients are at increased risk of addiction if they are not treated. Another worrying side effect of the medications used in ADHD treatment is related to loss of appetite and retardation of growth and development. According to studies, even if prescribed treatments retard height and weight gain in the short term, individuals with ADHD reach their expected height in adulthood. One should keep in mind that their child is harmed more by ADHD if it is left untreated.
*: Impulsiveness is characterized by having difficulty with planning one’s behaviors, postponing desires and controlling oneself.