If your child has problems paying attention, is always on the go and is always talking, then it is possible your child may have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that most symptoms of childhood ADHD begin between the ages of 3 and 6. However, ADHD can go on throughout the child’s teenage years and adult years. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), 11% of childhood cases of ADHD were diagnosed between the ages of 4 and 17 in 2011.
There are three types of ADHD:
- hyperactive-impulsive (constant talking, always interrupting others in conversation, and always on the go)
- inattentive (problems finishing tasks, following directions, and focusing)
- combination of both hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention
The ADHD Diagnosis
The CDC estimates that the number of children diagnosed with ADHD has increased steadily from 2003 to 2011 (from 7.8% to 11%). FDA representative and child psychiatrist Dr. Tiffany R. Farchione says the increase in ADHD diagnoses is due to more knowledge available about psychiatric conditions.
Dr. Farchione also adds that ADHD diagnoses are more prominent among males (13.2%) than females (5.6%). This discrepancy also may be due in part to boys typically having the more active type of ADHD–the hyperactive-impulsivity type—than the quieter type (inattention) that is harder to identify.
Get your child evaluated by the family physician if you believe your child has ADHD. That way, you can eliminate other culprits of inattention (i.e., hearing and vision problems). Some pediatricians opt to give a referral to a mental health professional if they do not do the evaluation themselves.
Stimulants and non-stimulant drugs for children as young as 6 years old are approved by the FDA as suitable medications for relieving ADHD symptoms and for promoting optimum functioning.
When most people hear the name stimulant, they often think that’s the wrong type of medication to give an already overactive child, but these type of medications actually have the opposite effect on children with ADHD. Stimulants contain amphetamine and methylphenidate, which increases dopamine levels in the brain. The increased dopamine has a calming effect on children because dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for human attention, motivation and movement.
Children sensitive to stimulants are still able to get medical treatment for their ADHD symptoms. Strattera (atomoxetine), Intuniv (guanfacine), and Kapvay (clonidine) are approved by the FDA as non-stimulants that effectively treat ADHD symptoms. So discuss with your child’s physician the available options for your child concerning stimulant and non-stimulant medications.
ADHD: Adults Can Have it, Too
Research has shown that adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD if it can be proven some symptoms of the disorder were present when the adult was a child (as early as age 7). The 4% of the adult population diagnosed with ADHD exhibit a lot of the same symptoms children exhibit with ADHD. However, adults have slightly different ways of exhibiting inattention and hyperactivity, such as having difficulty with activities required a lot of focused attention, difficulty resting during times of rest, difficulty multi-tasking, and difficulty managing time.