Concentrating at school or at work can be hard sometimes, especially when you have other things on your mind.
But some children and adults find that keeping their attention focused on a task to be impossible. They miss out on success in school, work and everyday life. Serious, ongoing challenges in concentration and organization might indicate attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is highly treatable.
Here are some situations that would suggest you (or your child) could benefit from ADHD treatment:
Problems focusing on tasks in school or at work
Hasty or even dangerous actions
Excessive talking or physical movement at inappropriate times
Anxiety and feelings of blame when you can’t focus
Treatment options are available.
At Eappen Clinic, we have seen how treatment can help people gain the focus they need to lead a fulfilling life. We will collaborate with you on a treatment plan that will help you (or your child) gain control over what has held you back.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is not a state of occasional distractedness, forgetfulness or restlessness. It is a chronic disorder affecting between 4% and 12% of school-age children and an estimated 2.5% of adults.
It causes major impairment in school, work and family life. ADHD often overlaps with mood disorders and substance use disorders, and it increases the likelihood of engaging in impulsive—or even dangerous—behaviors.
ADHD is characterized by three types of symptoms:
- Inattention—difficulty staying focused, forgetfulness, being easily distracted
- Hyperactivity—excessive inappropriate movement, excessive talking
- Impulsivity—hasty actions, frequently interrupting others
For some people with ADHD, inattention is the dominant problem, while others might deal mainly with hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. A combination of all of these issues is most common, however, and is usually more severe.
An ADHD diagnosis is possible only when patients have several symptoms, and the symptoms cause problems in more than one setting (such as at home, work or school).
People with ADHD often have other conditions like anxiety and bipolar disorder. Because of that, a health professional might miss an ADHD diagnosis.
A study that followed children up to age 25 found that among those with a clear history of ADHD, just over 1 in 4 had been properly identified in childhood as having ADHD.
An accurate diagnosis is important for you or your child, so you can get the help you need to manage symptoms. Too often, children who aren’t properly diagnosed struggle into adulthood and miss out on their quality of life.
Who gets ADHD?
In childhood, ADHD is more than twice as common in boys than in girls. But among adults, the numbers of men and women diagnosed with ADHD are largely equal.
ADHD that is diagnosed in childhood will continue into adolescence about three-quarters of the time, and into adulthood about half the time. Among adults with ADHD, the likelihood of having another behavioral health disorder is pretty high.
ADHD starts with inattention or hyperactivity in childhood. To be clear, there’s really no such thing as “adult” ADHD. It’s something you’re born with. But adults might not realize it because they weren’t diagnosed as children.
So for an adult with ADHD symptoms, here at Eappen Clinic we will help you think about any patterns that developed before age 12 and build a treatment plan that works for you in your life right now.
We also know there’s a connection between ADHD and problems with alcohol and drug use, especially for adolescents. The risk for substance use disorders can complicate the treatment choice for a child because some of the most commonly used medication treatments for ADHD carry at least some risk for misuse.
Here at Eappen Clinic, we’ll work with you to figure out any possible diagnosis of ADHD as well as other disorders that might be causing you distress. A complete look at what’s going on will be important before we work on your treatment plan.
How is ADHD treated?
The good news is that structured treatment can help you (or your child) overcome the barriers to a better life. The most effective strategies combine medication and therapy, with treatment designed around your goals.
Stimulant medications often are the first course of treatment for ADHD and have been shown to help children and adults. Medication options include methylphenidate-based and amphetamine-based treatments.
Careful dosing with these stimulant medications will be important. Extended-release versions have become popular because their effects don’t wear off as much and they have less potential for misuse.
We also might consider non-stimulant medication options, but medication isn’t the only choice.
Structured psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has helped patients build the skills they need for organization and time management while also combating self-defeating thoughts. For example, if you couldn’t finish a project, you might need new skills to improve your follow-through and to learn how to stop thinking that you’re “no good.”
Ongoing CBT can also greatly improve the chance that you (or your child) will be able to stick to a helpful medication schedule.
For a child with ADHD, specialized educational planning can help with difficulties at school. Parent training or family support will also help to nurture a healing environment for your child at home.
How long does treatment for ADHD take?
Selecting the best care plan will be critical to determining how long you (or your child) will need treatment to continue.
Managing medications along with therapy is a process that may require a long-term approach. The use of medication in children will often help into adolescence and even adulthood, so that might mean several years of treatment.
It’s also possible that a prescribed medication will not help enough or could lead to unpleasant side effects. That’s why you might need to try a different medication or a different dose before finding what’s right for you.
If you (or your child) also have another diagnosis, such as anxiety or depression, developing the right treatment plan might take a little longer. It’s important to remember that effective treatment for ADHD may hold the key to improving other conditions too.
Should I get treatment for ADHD?
If you (or your child) have an occasional bout with inattention or distraction, you might not need treatment. None of us can keep everything under control at all times in our busy, fast-paced lives.
But if you look back on your life and see a pattern of poor academic and work performance, struggles with personal and financial management, and even relationship problems, treatment might be your best decision. Parents of children who have ADHD symptoms should seek an evaluation early in order to give the child the best chance to learn and grow while managing those symptoms through a good treatment plan.
At Eappen Clinic, we can help you (or your child) understand your symptoms and whether they suggest ADHD. Your first appointment with us is a detailed evaluation. At the end of your first appointment, you’ll leave knowing the next steps.
Let’s work together to help you feel well again.