Mental disorders are running rampant in the community and are no stranger to the general population. Certain disorders are more prevalent than others. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one name that many parents dread. However, it is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in teens and children. Much of the stigma of this disorder is due to lack of awareness. Many people would have heard of the name, ADHD, but only a few actually know what it really is. Here we will explain all about this common mental disorder along with some common questions that parents have when dealing with this problem.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental disorder that results in hyperactivity and short attention spans in children. The exact cause is still under investigation, but research has proven that the disorder runs in families. The disorder results in children being unable to control their impulses, which makes them react and behave in a particular way. The most problematic aspect of the disorder is that this behavior tends to affect and disrupt a child’s school and personal life, which is why it needs proper attention and treatment. The disorder can extend into adulthood and result in difficult to manage relationships, jobs, communication and can lead to low self-esteem and addiction problems.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
Identifying that your child has ADHD is of primary importance. You can only do this if you know the symptoms and signs of this disorder. Here we describe the most common signs and symptoms, divided into two common groups that can help you identify whether your child has this disorder.
- Inattentiveness is basically characterized by a short attention span, carelessness, and forgetfulness. It also includes the inability to commit to one activity, having difficulty in following instructions and having difficulty in organizing things.
- Hyperactivity is another consistent symptom of ADHD and usually presents as a fidgeting child, who is unable to sit still, acts before thinking and is unable to concentrate. A potentially serious manifestation is the lack of awareness of any danger or the realization of the consequences that can land the child into a dangerous situation.
These symptoms are characteristic of a child with active ADHD, that is someone who has the disorder, which is expressed significantly. In other children, the disorder may not be active. In these situations, the child is said to have passive ADHD. These children are simply unmotivated and have a mild form of all the symptoms. They fared far better than children with the active type, but they still need management in order to avoid exaggeration of the symptoms.
Clearly, these symptoms can also be seen in normal children. However, the difference between the two is when these symptoms occur frequently. Often the condition can get to the point where the child simply acts in this manner all the time. Hence, having these symptoms doesn’t mean the child necessarily has ADHD, but it does raise a red flag and should not be taken lightly.
What is the treatment for ADHD?
Once a child is diagnosed with ADHD, the parents strive to try and control it. Naturally, every parent wants the betterment of their child, this is why they are apt for opting for the one treatment that their doctor introduces. Usually, this is in the form of medicines. However, medicines are not the only treatment options. Here we describe the different ways in which you can manage and treat your child’s ADHD.
Medication, certain medicines, including methylphenidate, dexamphetamine, and atomoxetine are helpful for treating the condition. They will not treat the disorder, but, they can surely elevate the symptoms so that your child can concentrate and focus better. Certain regimes are available for daily administration, whereas others only prescribe drugs during school days. There are different advantages and disadvantages with this treatment, and it might not be the sole solution for the problem.
Psychoeducational Therapy, this is an important part of treating ADHD. You need to interact with the child at certain levels to help him cope with the disorder. Here, professionals or you, yourself can talk with the child and motivate him to speak about the condition. It helps in making the disease easier to manage and gives the child the capability to deal with their disorder.
Behaviour therapy, again, parents and medical professionals come side by side to handle the disorder. During behaviour therapy, the child is encouraged to control his or her symptoms and when they manage to do so, are given a reward. This reward-based learning helps children cope with their tendencies and gives them better control over their impulses.
Social skills therapy, parents, and teachers need to step in at this point and encourage children to interact. This helps children build relationships and be more accepting. Furthermore, parents can also create a role play to help these children understand how to behave in certain social situations.
Diet can play an important role in the behaviour of a child. We know how certain foods can Influence the metabolism and behaviour of normal children. These have an even larger impact on ADHD children because they are already susceptible. One study suggests greatly exaggerated behavioural disruptions after eating large amounts of sugar or caffeine. Hence it is a great idea to modify the children’s diet accordingly.
Supplements, studies suggest that dietary supplements, particularly of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have a positive effect on children with ADHD. However, you need to consult your doctor before you administer any medicines to your child.
The pros and cons of medicines
Of course, like every other treatment, medical treatment for ADHD also has its highs and lows. Therefore, it is always a balancing situation where the parents and the doctor weigh the advantages with the disadvantages to reach a solution. The most prominent advantages include:
Prevents long term effects that include depression and substance abuse. Studies, such as the MTA, proved a significant reduction in the effects of ADHD as compared with behavioural therapy.
Not addictive, most drugs, especially the stimulants are not addictive. On the contrary, studies suggests that these drugs actually counteract addiction.
Improve behaviours in school, the medicines allow better performance in schools, allowing the child to learn and act better in the special circle. There are many studies that recorded an improve in educational performance with ADHD meds.
Depresses appetite, studies have proven that children with ADHD actually have a suppressed appetite that can interfere with their growth. However, this growth lag can be covered in years of follow as the children adapt and raise their capabilities to almost normal levels.
Side effects such as irritability and sleep disruption may seem to counterproductive at first, but once the regime is modified to suit the child, most of these effects go away.
Hence, there are a number of reasons to choose medicines, as well as problems that suggest that staying away may be better. Some parents choose to opt out of medical treatment. For them, the side effects, the regular troubles of giving their child drugs and the potential threat of addiction makes them choose different paths of treatment. However, most of these worries have been laid aside by long clinical trials. Then again, a treatment based solely on medication isn’t beneficial either.
Studies have proven that the child avails maximum benefit from a mixed therapy. All in all, it comes down to each individual child. Every child is different and will need a management plan designed specifically for him. However, you need to be open to a variety of treatments, all of which can contribute their share towards improving your child’s health.
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