Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a common condition that typically starts in childhood. It has been estimated to affect 5-7% of school age children. It is sometimes is associated with a hyperactivity component (ADHD). This occurs more commonly in males than females. It is often the hyperactivity that gets noticed first by parents and teachers.
Children with ADD or ADHD are noted to have problems with maintaining focus and are unable to pay attention at school. This inattentive behavior at school is manifested as making careless mistakes in schoolwork or homework, not listening to instructions, forgetful about assignments or daily activities, appears disorganized, and is easily distracted by minor extraneous stimuli. The ADD/ADHD child is often impulsive and has difficulty waiting his or her turn, blurts out answers before the question is completed and interrupts others frequently. The hyperactivity component is demonstrated by leaving the seat in the middle of class, talking excessively, difficulty in engaging in quiet behaviors, and runs around inappropriately. These children may also have a mood disorder associated with the ADD. They often get isolated and made fun of by other children because of their problematic social interaction with non-ADD children.
In the past most physicians and psychologists felt that children outgrew ADD. Now we believe that a significant percent of these children, maybe as high as 50%, do not grow out of the condition. Many adults learn ways to cope with the problems associated with ADD. They also find that certain jobs and career fields are more suitable to their impairment. However, the basic problems of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity continue to cause some personal, social, educational, and occupational problems in their lives. In adulthood the hyperactivity becomes more of a restlessness with impatience and fidgetiness as the primary symptoms. The impulsivity is now more verbal with saying the wrong thing, interrupting, or speaking out of turn. Sometimes things like impulsive buying maybe a symptom of ADD. The most problematic symptom is the inattention, which manifests as trouble staying on task and completing work assignments. It results in poor organization skills and trouble with making and maintaining a schedule. The inattention results in social problems because these adults commonly forget anniversaries, birthdays, and other important dates. ADD in adults often prevents advancement in their careers and limits more advanced educational opportunities.
Treatment for ADD mainly involves use of medications. Behavioral and psychotherapy do not have much of a role in treatment of ADD. The traditional medications are all psycho stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta. Strattera is in a new class of medication that works on norepinephrine, a chemical in the brain. This medication is useful in the group of patients that are intolerant of the traditional stimulants.
If you believe that you may suffer with ADD you should consult your pediatrician or family physician. There are many good treatment options available.
– – – Mark Smith, MD – – –