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What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behavior (acting without thinking about what the outcome will be), or being overly active.
ADHD in children
One in ten children aged 5 to 17 years is diagnosed with ADHD, making it one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children in the Netherlands.
Boys are more than twice as likely than girls to be diagnosed. This may be because boys tend to display characteristic hyperactivity symptoms.
ADHD in adults
More than 60 percent of children with ADHD also continue to show symptoms as adults. However, these become less frequent with age.
Despite this, treatment is still very important. Untreated ADHD in adults can negatively impact many areas of life. Symptoms such as time management problems, forgetfulness, and impatience can cause problems at work, at home, and in all other types of relationships.
ADHD Symptoms: What Are They?
It is normal for children to have trouble concentrating and behaving at some point. However, children with ADHD don't just grow out of this behavior. The symptoms persist, can be severe and can cause problems at school, at home, or with friends.
A child with ADHD will have several of the following symptoms:
- many daydreams
- forget or lose things
- talking too much
- take unnecessary risks
- struggling to resist temptation
- have difficulty interacting with others
What Causes ADHD?
Despite the condition being common, doctors and researchers are still not sure what causes ADHD. It is believed to have a neurological cause. Genetics can also play a role.
Also, several scientists suggest that a reduction in dopamine is a factor in ADHD. Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps move signals from one nerve to another. It plays a role in triggering emotional responses and movements.
Other research says that a structural difference in the brain could be the cause. Findings indicate that people with ADHD have less gray matter. This gray matter helps the areas of the brain that affect:
- self control
- muscle control
Researchers are still studying the possible causes of ADHD, such as smoking during pregnancy.
How to treat ADHD?
Treatment for ADHD usually includes behavioral therapies, medication, or even both.
Types of therapy include psychotherapy, or talk therapy. With talk therapy, you or your child will discuss how ADHD is affecting your life and ways to help you manage it.
Another type of therapy is behavioral therapy. This therapy can help you or your child learn to monitor and manage your behavior.
Medication can also be very helpful if you are living with ADHD. ADHD drugs are designed to affect the chemicals in the brain in a way that allows you to better control your impulses and actions.
ADHD medications: which ones are there?
The two main types of medications used to treat ADHD are stimulants and non-stimulants.
Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications. These drugs work by increasing the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Examples of these drugs are methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine-based stimulants (Adderall).
If stimulants are not working well for you or your child, or if they cause troublesome side effects, your doctor may suggest a non-stimulant medication. Certain non-stimulant drugs work by increasing noradrenaline levels in the brain.
These medications include atomoxetine (Strattera) and some antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin).
ADHD drugs can have many benefits, but like all drugs, they also have a number of side effects.
Natural Medicines for ADHD
In addition to - or instead of - medication, there are several remedies on the market that can help improve symptoms.
For starters, following a healthy lifestyle can help you or your child control ADHD traits. Doctors and pharmacists recommended the following:
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
- have at least 60 minutes of exercise a day
- get enough sleep
- limit your daily screen time from phones, computers and TV
Studies have also shown that tai chi and spending time outdoors can help alleviate ADHD traits.
Mindfulness meditation is another option. It has been shown that in adults and teens this can have positive effects on their attentional thinking processes, as well as anxiety and depression.
Avoiding certain allergens and food additives are also potential ways to help reduce ADHD symptoms.