Somewhere between being naughty and hyperactive a thin line is drawn, and that is where the realm of ADHD starts. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), characterized by problems in paying attention or being excessively hyperactive, is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. But this disorder is the most underdiagnosed and generalized disorder of present day.
The symptoms are such that one often tends to overlook them. The child gets labelled as either a hyperactive or inattentive child, while the root cause for hyperactivity or inattentiveness being ADHD gets unrecognized. Some parents, do not even want to acknowledge the fact that ADHD is a disorder that actually needs treatment, until and unless complains from schools really get serious. These symptoms generally show up by age six to twelve, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings like home, school or recreational and co-curricular activity places.
Despite being the most commonly studied and diagnosed mental disorder in children and adolescents, the exact cause is unknown in the majority of cases. However, it is assumed that a mix of genetic and environmental factors might play a role in triggering this.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, there are roughly about 39 million people affected by ADHD, as of 2013. Due to its symptoms, that can easily be confused as being a hyperactive child, this often gets diagnosed late, hence treatment starts late. In some cases even after diagnosis, parental acceptance of it takes longer. So it has often been seen that in almost 30 to 50 per cent of those affected by ADHD in childhood, continue to see symptoms even into adulthood. Some of the environmental factors include alcohol intake during pregnancy, which can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, including ADHD or symptoms like it. Children exposed to certain toxic substances, such as lead may develop problems which resemble ADHD. Even exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy can cause problems with central nervous system development and can increase the risk of ADHD. Extreme premature birth, very low birth weight, and extreme neglect, abuse, or social deprivation also increases the risk of ADHD as do certain infections during pregnancy, at birth, and in early childhood. These infections include various viruses like measles, rubella and the like. In 30 per cent of children with a traumatic brain injury it has been seen that they later develop ADHD.
A combination of counseling, behavioral therapy, lifestyle modification and medication is recommended as treatment options for ADHD, depending on the age of the patient and the severity of the disorder. ADHD is divided into three sub-types – predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and the combined type. This categorization is based on the symptoms, but as psychiatrists reiterate, in this disorder the first line of impediment is parental acceptance. Once that is done, treatment can be started so that the child overcomes the symptoms, which if persist can hamper one in several walks of life.
Some symptoms of ADHD include: