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What are Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD/ADHD)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common disorders diagnosed in children. Nine percent of children in the USA have been diagnosed with ADHD. Symptoms, which include hyperactivity and difficulty maintaining focus or paying attention, can last into adulthood for some patients. Boys are four times as likely to be diagnosed as girls, although we don’t know why this is.

There are three main types of ADHD:
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive types show symptoms such as constant fidgeting, talking non-stop, touching everything, having trouble sitting still and waiting their turn, and interrupting others.
  • Predominantly inattentive types tend to be distracted, get bored and wander off during tasks, forget things or instructions, daydream, and appear not to be listening. This type is sometimes misdiagnosed because they are not hyperactive and there are fewer behavior issues.
  • Combined types show symptoms from both categories. This is actually the most common type of ADHD.

When diagnosing ADHD, it is important to rule out other issues that may be causing the symptoms. Seizure disorders, hearing loss, anxiety, and domestic problems are some examples of problems that can cause behaviors similar to those seen with ADHD.

Treatment can include stimulant medications, behavioral therapy to teach patients ways to navigate their world and control symptoms better, and accommodations at school or work. A structured environment (with lots of organization and well-defined rules) seems to help most kids with ADHD function at their best.

ADHD is mainly thought of as a disorder that affects children, but symptoms can last into adulthood for a third to half of those diagnosed. In adults, ADHD has similar symptoms as when it is seen in children: impulsive behavior, difficulty maintaining focus, being easily distracted, or a tendency to fidget. These symptoms can cause problems in a patient’s careers and relationships. Additionally, adults with ADHD are at increased risk for substance abuse. Medications can be an important part of treatment for adults, as well as stress reduction techniques and organization skills training. Specialized ADHD coaches can help adults with ADHD manage their symptoms and succeed in all areas of their life.