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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to concentrate and control impulsive behaviors. ADHD affects millions of adults as well as children. Although ADHD may manifest in childhood, it can continue through the teen years and into adulthood.

Who gets ADHD?

Researchers continue to investigate the causes of ADHD and who is more likely to develop the disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), ADHD “may be caused by interactions between genes and environmental or non-genetic factors.” They go on to suggest the following may play a role in the development of ADHD:

  • Genes
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or drug use during pregnancy
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead, at a young age
  • Low birth weight
  • Brain injuries

How can we tell if someone has ADHD?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that “deciding if a child has ADHD is a several-step process.” To diagnose ADHD, your doctor or APP may turn to the guidelines in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5). The DSM-5 suggests people who show a “persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development” may have the disorder. The CDC breaks it down as the following:

  1. Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
    • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
    • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
    • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
    • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • Is often easily distracted
    • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
    • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
    • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
    • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
    • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
    • Often talks excessively.
    • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
    • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
  • Several symptoms are present in two or more settings, (such as at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

If you experience signs of ADHD, or notice these signs in your children, please talk with your doctor or APP here at Horizon Family Medical Group. Call us at 1-800-859-0085 to make an appointment.