ADHD medication can reduce and even eliminate many of the problems of the condition, without having an addictive influence on the child/ adult when taken as prescribed by the doctor
In recent times Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD for short, has become a tag for any child that has a little extra energy than the rest. Schools are quick to suspect ADHD in children who cannot sit still in the classroom and end up being the source of all the mischief and pranks. However, being naughty and full of energy does not necessarily be indicative of ADHD. It is important to understand the condition better to diagnose and then deal with the child’s behaviour accordingly.
WHAT IS ADHD?
Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition. Science has yet to reveal the exact cause for the condition, but ADHD has been slotted as a brain disorder that is likely transmitted by genes, meaning it is a hereditary condition. It usually presents itself in children and persists through adolescence. And since there is no complete cure, it continues in adulthood too – though the symptoms may change. ADHD does not fall in the autism spectrum though often some symptoms may overlap.
The most common symptom of ADHD in children is Hyperactivity. But this could just be a character trait that the child will outgrow. Hence it does not confirm the diagnosis.
Symptoms of ADHD in children include:
When left untreated these symptoms take on other forms in adults. For instance, hyperactivity in children can turn into restlessness in adulthood or other types of behavioural issues that could cause the individual to face difficulty at the workplace and in relationships.
There is no specific test or brain scan that can confirm an ADHD Diagnosis. It is based on a series of tests and interactions with the child that the diagnosis is confirmed. In most cases the child’s sight and hearing is checked to rule out visual and auditory impairment as the cause for behavioural issues. Following this the doctor takes a full medical history of the child from the parents and this includes details pertaining to ADHD symptoms that they have noticed in the child. The data and information thus collected are compared to an ADHD ratings checklist and it is determined whether the child actually has the condition.
In adults the condition manifests via mental and somatic disorders such as mood or anxiety disorders, abuse of psychoactive substances, anti-social behaviour, motor, and vocal tics, eating disorders, earlier occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, etc.
When ADHD has been diagnosed in a small child (between 4 to 6 years of age), not just the child, the entire family needs to be trained to cope with the condition and its symptoms.
Based on the symptoms ADHD has been categorised into three. However, it is normal for the child to move from one type to the next!
There is no cure for this condition. However, when detected earlier, the symptoms can be managed, and the child can lead a normal life. The condition is best treated with a combination of medication and behaviour therapy. ADHD medication can reduce and even eliminate many of the problems of the condition, without having an addictive influence on the child/ adult when taken as prescribed by the doctor. When ADHD has been diagnosed in a small child (between 4 to 6 years of age), not just the child, the entire family needs to be trained to cope with the condition and its symptoms. The effectiveness of the treatment – especially the behavioural therapy, depends on the way the parents and the child follow the doctor’s instructions and suggested lifestyle modifications.
Adults with ADHD need treatment as well. Medication combined with psychoeducational therapy will be helpful. If the individual is in a relationship, they can consider couple therapy as well, for both of them to understand the condition and learn methods to cope with it.
LIVING WITH ADHD
Parents of children with ADHD need not worry for the well-being of their child. In order to bring up a child who is well adjusted socially it is necessary to be optimistic and open-minded. The stigma attached to going to therapy is fast disappearing. Do not skip sessions with the doctor and help your child follow the tricks and methods as suggested by his therapist. Take comfort in the fact that the condition can be managed by taking medication diligently and by managing behavioural symptoms using methods learnt during therapy. This will help the child grow into a strong individual in spite of ADHD.
CHIEF CONSULTANT – PEDIATRICS
MBBS, DCH, MD (PEDIATRICS), PGD (DEVELOPMENT NEUROLOGY)