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ADHD: Help is on the Way

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)- An Overview:

ADHD,attention deficit hyperactivity disorderADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the label given to one of the most common syndromes known to child and adolescent psychologists. Although researchers and clinicians may vary in their estimations of the incidence of ADHD, developmental effects and appearance, there is little disagreement that it has far-reaching implications in the daily functioning and adjustment of children and adults. It has become truly one of the most highly diagnosed disorders of the twentieth/twenty-first century.

ADHD Prevalence and Statistics:

ADHD has been conservatively estimated to be at a level of approximately 3% to 6% of the general population of individuals from various cultures. Although its cross-cultural nature has been recognized worldwide, documented prevalence rates vary because of diverse methods of detection and differences in diagnostic definition. It has been suggested by the American Psychiatric Association and widely accepted, that approximately 3% to 5% of school-age children have been diagnosed with ADHD, with boys being over-represented, on an average, of a ratio of approximately 3:1. Researchers now believe that the disorder persists into adolescence in 50-80% of cases clinically diagnosed in childhood, and into adulthood in 30-50 % or more of these same cases.

 

Genetic, Social variables?

Regardless of the diagnostic system used to define the symptom patterns of individuals with ADHD and the related prevalence rates, researchers and clinicians are in agreement that it is a significant condition impairing the functioning and lives of individuals throughout the entire world. Also, most if not all, are beginning to recognize the necessity of considering a diversity of variables including genetic factors, psychological and social experience, neurology and nutrition.

ADHD: Diagnosis and Symptoms:

The most common definition that psychologists and psychiatrists use for diagnostic purposes in the United States is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), developed by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994. Over the past two decades, according to the DSM editions in use at the time, ADHD has been conceptualized as consisting of three core clusters of behavioral symptoms, including poor sustained attention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. While maintaining the same behavioral symptoms, the latest version of the diagnostic manual has combined the symptoms of impulsiveness and hyperactivity into one category, maintaining that sometimes attentional problems may be diagnosed separately from symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity. Some of the basic symptoms include: inability to pay close attention to details, sustaining attention, listening when spoken to, lack of follow through, difficulty organizing, avoiding activities that require sustained effort, fidgeting, running and excessive activity, difficulty remaining quiet, excessive talking, difficulty waiting his/her turn and interrupting and intruding on others.

Medications currently found to be effective in the treatment of child and adult ADHD include Ritalin, Adderrall and the newest ADHD/ADD medication Concerta. Medications will be covered on a separate web page.

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By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist   (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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