October is ADHD Awareness Month
There are times when everyone has trouble paying attention, remembering things, or controlling their emotions. Children may struggle to focus in school or have difficulty staying still. Adults may get disorganized or easily distracted. But, when these problems become so prevalent that they affect every aspect of your life, you need to give them your full attention because they may be signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. October is designated ADHD Awareness Month. It’s designed to help people understand what is ADHD and dispel both the myths and stigma around this misunderstood disorder. You can get involved by raising awareness about ADHD and sharing the following information to help people understand the challenges of the condition. With greater ADHD awareness, the hope is that more people affected by ADHD will be able to get the help, support, and ADHD treatment they need to live a more fulfilling life.
Why ADHD deserves more attention
What is ADHD? It’s a neurodevelopmental condition known as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While most people assume that it only happens in children, ADHD isn’t just for kids. Adults can have the disorder, too. Typically, the disorder is first diagnosed in childhood and tends to continue into adulthood. It affects the way you pay attention, control impulsive behaviors, sit still, and manage emotions.
It’s more common than you think
While struggling with ADHD can make you feel like you’re all alone, that’s far from the case because ADHD is one of the most common neurological disorders. In fact, nearly 8.5% of children and 2.5% of adults in the United States suffer from ADHD. And, that suffering is shared by the millions of parents, teachers, friends, and family members also affected by the disorder.
Recognizing your risk
It’s important to realize that ADHD isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s also not the result of poor parenting, eating too much sugar, or watching too much TV. It’s a brain disorder and while experts are still uncertain about its direct causes, there are several factors that may increase your risk of developing the disorder. Research suggests that your genes may play a significant role since ADHD tends to run in families. However, genetics isn’t the only factor that may raise your risk. Additional factors include an imbalance of brain chemicals, as well as a brain injury, exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy or at a very young age, maternal tobacco or alcohol use during pregnancy, premature birth, and low birth weight.
Children’s ADHD symptoms
While it’s natural and normal for children to occasionally misbehave or have a hard time focusing, these behaviors usually decrease and disappear as they grow up. However, children with ADHD usually don’t grow out of these symptoms. Instead, the symptoms tend to become more frequent and severe as the years go by. As a result, these children tend to struggle in school, have difficulty with friends, and face problems at home with family. ADHD is often first noticed during the early school years when a child has a hard time focusing and sitting still. Boys are diagnosed more frequently than girls. Parents should pay attention to the following ADHD symptoms in children, such as:
- Daydreaming often
- Easily distracted
- Doesn’t seem to be paying attention
- Forgetting or losing things
- Frequent fidgeting or squirming
- Struggling to resist temptation
- Making careless mistakes
- Talking too much
- Difficulty getting along with others
Since most people assume that ADHD is a child’s disorder, many adults with ADHD don’t know that they have the problem unless they were diagnosed as a child. As a result, few adults bother seeking ADHD treatment. While many kids simply outgrow ADHD, around 60% continue to struggle with the disorder as adults. The most common ADHD symptoms adults face include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty following directions
- Being disorganized
- Often forgetting things
- Frequently being late
- Trouble controlling anger
- Very low self-esteem
- Often being restless or bored
- Getting frustrated easily
- Mood swings
- Relationship problems
Taking control with ADHD treatment
Diagnosing ADHD can be challenging because the disorder is so complex, and its symptoms can be the result of many other problems. In addition, there is no definitive AHDH test. Since there isn’t an ADHD test that can confirm the disorder, a diagnosis typically involves gathering information from teachers and family, as well as having a medical exam and reviewing family history. It also includes completing a checklist for rating symptoms, which is the closest thing available to an ADHD test today. Once the disorder is diagnosed, the most effective ADHD treatment often features a combination of behavior therapy, psychological counseling, and medication. These can help improve the symptoms of ADHD and make the disorder more manageable. Successful treatment also includes regular monitoring, follow-ups, and treatment changes, as needed to manage the condition.
If you suspect that you or your child may have ADHD symptoms, speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor to take the appropriate steps. And, during ADHD Awareness Month, share the facts to bring understanding and attention to this common condition.