What is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a mental disorder associated with bouts of abnormal energy and activity. In ADHD, patients exhibit behavioral tendencies totally inappropriate for their age. As ADHD occurs because of abnormalities within the brain, it has been deemed a neurodevelopmental disorder. Its onset starts from the age of 7, making early diagnosis crucial for efficient treatment. ADHD affects the learning ability, self-control, mental and emotional health of the person and needs treatment in the long term to improve the quality of life. It is predominantly characterized by impulsive and hyperactive tendencies. On that basis, ADHD has been divided into 3 types.
Types of ADHD
- Combined type- This is a combination of impulsive and hyperactive disorders with inattention and distraction.
- Impulsive/ Hyperactive type- It is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive disorders but without distraction or inattention.
- Inattentive and Distractible type- This type of ADHD is characterized only by inattention and distractibility without any other symptoms.
Before moving to its treatment modalities, first, let’s know about its pathophysiology and risk factors.
Pathophysiology and risk factors
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in the body that plays an important role in our mental and emotional functioning. Apart from the mood, dopamine plays an important role in movement, memory, and focus. Low levels of dopamine can lead to a variety of disorders, ADHD being the most important of them. Studies have shown that dopamine levels are different in people diagnosed with ADHD than those without ADHD. It has also been seen that ADHD patients contain large amounts of DTD, i.e., Dopamine Transporter Density, which leads to a decrease of dopamine and triggers the symptoms of ADHD.
It is said that ADHD is more of a genetic problem. People born premature or with a low birthweight are more likely to develop ADHD. Children with brain damage, before or after birth, stand at a higher risk of developing ADHD than others. Additionally, environmental toxins, maternal drug, and alcohol abuse are other risk factors for ADHD in children.
Now that we have a brief knowledge of its pathophysiology and risk factors, it’s time to know about the problems associated with ADHD in children.
Problems associated with ADHD
ADHD, apart from its characteristic symptoms, is associated with other disorders. These disorders forming the basis of ADHD help practitioners diagnose the problem in a more concrete manner. Oppositional Defiant Disorder characterized by a general negative behavior with conduct and disruptive mood disorders is more likely to be seen in children with ADHD than others. These disorders generally manifest in the form of hostile behavior with a constant feeling of irritability and difficulty in controlling frustration. Antisocial behaviors like vandalism and psychopathic behaviors with substance abuse are also characteristic traits of conduct disorders. Children with ADHD often suffer from learning disabilities that affect their academic life by creating problems in reading, writing, understanding, and overall communication. They are perpetually on the Autism spectrum affecting their social development, and also are at risk of Tourette syndrome, a mental disorder characterized by uncontrolled tics and other developmental abnormalities.
Apart from these, anxiety and mood disorders are two other problems coexisting with ADHD. These result in feelings of overwhelming worry and nervousness progressing into depression and sometimes manic disorders.
Though ADHD sounds disturbing for patients, it can be controlled with the right mode of treatment. In this regard, let’s know about different types of treatment modalities available for ADHD.
There is no one-stop solution for ADHD as yet. But treatment can help deal with the symptoms to a great extent. It can help the children function better in school by improving their social skills and other behavioral issues with ease. A standard treatment plan for ADHD includes a combination of the following treatment modalities.
Medications are helpful in children and adults for reducing hyperactivity and impulsivity tendencies. They improve focus, concentration, and even physical coordination and aim at enabling them a better quality of life by addressing these problems.
Nootropics (Modalert) and stimulants are usually the choice medications in this respect to work on their cognitive issues. Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, Norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitors, and Norepinephrine serotonin reuptake inhibitors are some other medications that are widely recommended for this condition as well. Studies have even shown that dietary supplements and essential fatty acid intake may play a small role in improving the additional symptoms associated with the problem. Needless to say, psychotherapy plays a major role as well.
Psychotherapy is more helpful in adults. Supportive psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy go hand in hand when it comes to improving the condition of an ADHD patient. Cognitive therapy enables the patient to understand, address and identify cognitive problems with helping in cognitive restructuring in the first place. It even enables them to cope with distractibility and organize as well as plan things in a better way. Supportive psychotherapy enhances the pre-existing coping mechanism skills of patients to help them deal with their mood swings and frustrations in a better manner.
Counseling or behavior therapy aims at helping people manage their symptoms by replacing negative emotions with positive ones. Behavioral therapy teaches strategies to improve focus and to have better impulse control. It can be opted as an individual treatment option or in combination with other medications for better quality results.
Medications and other treatments go a long way in treating the symptoms associated with ADHD. But simple things like making a schedule and following a routine make good side treatments as well. People with ADHD have problem adjusting to new things so a set routine can help collect their minds and calm them down to a great extent. Even a cluttered surrounding with less background noise goes a long way in helping them adjust with the difficulties. ADHD may not have a treatment modality of its own but treating the symptoms and taking care of surrounding factors can effectively help the condition to a great extent.