The neurological attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is characterized by hyperactivity and inattentiveness in those who suffer from it. Manifesting in early childhood, ADHD symptoms include forgetfulness, distractibility, and an inability to control impulses. Without hyperactivity or spurts of often uncontrollable energy, the disorder can be referred to as ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Both ADHD and ADD are not incurable, however, and research seeking to understand attention deficit disorder and treatment techniques is constantly finding ways to improve the lives of those who have the disorder.
Before medication can be carried out, however, a proper diagnosis of ADD must be made. Symptoms of ADD can be divided into two principal classes: inattention and hyperactivity. Although ADD is hardly characterized by hyperactive behavior, there are a few behavioral patterns that fall under this class that may need to be addressed when a diagnosis is made.
Inattention is manifested most commonly in the classroom, although for ADD to be conclusively diagnosed, the symptoms associated with attention must be manifested in other environments as well, and for over a period of three months or more. An ADD child will often have a hard time starting an activity, and will sometimes keep away from mentally challenging or stimulating tasks, such as a major school project, that might require full attention and organizational skills. An ADD child will also have a hard time following instructions, doing tasks neatly or in an organized manner, and finishing tasks.
Hyperactivity, on the other hand, may be manifested in ADD children as distractibility. ADD children will often be hard to speak with, as they may not appear to be listening. However, as soon as they do get to start a conversation, they will speak in excess – only to be distracted if something catches their attention. All these symptoms and more are characteristic of attention deficit disorder and treatment is geared toward improving them.
Medication is important in dealing with attention deficit disorder and treatment using such medicines has been well studied and documented. Many medications are geared toward stimulating neurotransmitter production, specifically targeting the production of dopamine and nor-epinephrine. These medicines are not sedatives or tranquilizers, and they do not serve to bring the nervous system to a halt. What they do is to target portions of the brain that serve to increase focus and concentration, so that those with ADD can give better attention to their tasks.
Psychostimulants such as Ritalin are the most commonly used medicines in treating ADD and ADHD. Some doctors may recommend beta blockers and antidepressants for certain individuals with ADD. Medication, however, can present several side effects. Common effects of psychostimulants may include lower appetite and weight loss, insomnia, irritability, and nervousness. Some children may also develop tics, or jerky muscle movements, although such side effects are made mild when medication dosage is lowered.
Medicines are not the only way to ease attention deficit disorder and treatment with them is best accompanied by therapy. Therapy for ADD is two-fold: the person with ADD is given motivation and pointers on how to function well in society, and the person’s family is given support and pointers on how to deal with the person with ADD. There are many methods in which counseling and therapy can be carried out.
Psychotherapy gives ADD adolescents, older children, and adults a chance to discuss bothersome issues, while learning what behavioral patterns are impacting their lives negatively. Psychotherapy also gives people with ADD pointers on how they can deal with ADD symptoms. Psychotherapy may be used in conjunction with behavior therapy and social skills training, where parents and ADD children are taught how to control ADD behavior and practice proper social behavior.
Family therapy and parenting skills training support psychotherapy for attention deficit disorder and treatment using medication. Aside from training parents and siblings to understand ADD, therapists may also recommend support groups to help the person with ADD. Such support groups may help the person with ADD realize his or her full potential.
Therapies for attention deficit disorder and treatment using medication can be supported with the proper nutrition, although the link between ADD and nutrition has yet to be fully cemented. Doctors may recommend removing preservatives or artificial colors and flavors from diets of people with ADD. They may also recommend increased zinc, multivitamin and omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Much research is still ongoing to completely understand attention deficit disorder and treatment techniques may soon change. If you suffer from ADD, or if you have a family member that does, then consult with your doctor on the proper treatment regimen. As long as you follow medication recommendations and attend therapy sessions, ADD may soon be less of a problem.
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