ADHD & ADD: Facts & Research


Facts and information relating to ADHD and ADD including symptoms and treatments for children and adults

Definition: Defining the Meaning of ADHD & ADD

ADHD - Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Similar to hyperkinetic disorder in the ICD-10) is a developmental neuropsychiatric disorder in which there are significant problems with executive functions (e.g., attentional control and inhibitory control) that cause attention deficits, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness which is not appropriate for a person's age. These symptoms must begin by age six to twelve and persist for more than six months for a diagnosis to be made. In school-aged individuals inattention symptoms often result in poor school performance.

ADD - Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder predominantly inattentive (ADHD-PI), formerly attention deficit disorder (ADD), is one of the two types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The term was formally changed in 1994 in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), to "ADHD predominantly inattentive" (ADHD-PI or ADHD-I)

Main Document

There are two types of attention deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD) H-standing for Hyperactivity. ADD - is Attention Deficit Disorder Inattentive Type without hyperactivity.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD, often abbreviated as ADHD) is usually considered to be a neuro-behavioral developmental disorder. It affects about 3 - 5% of children with symptoms starting before seven years of age. It is characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness and inattention, with or without a component of hyperactivity.

ADHD occurs twice as commonly in boys as in girls.

ADHD is generally a chronic disorder with 10 to 40% of individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to meet diagnostic criteria in adulthood. As they mature, adolescents and adults with ADHD are likely to develop coping mechanisms to compensate for their impairment.

The most common symptoms of ADHD are:

  • Impulsiveness: acting before thinking of consequences, jumping from one activity to another, disorganization, tendency to interrupt during conversations.
  • Hyperactivity: restlessness, often characterized by an inability to sit still, fidgeting, squirming, climbing on things, restless sleep.
  • Inattention: easily distracted, zoning out, not finishing work, difficulty listening.

Methods of treatment usually involve some combination of medications, behavior modifications, life-style changes, and counseling. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that stimulant medications and/or behavior therapy are appropriate and generally safe treatments for ADHD.

Many people today believe ADHD is a "condition" that did not exist in the days of good parental discipline and in the days when schools were allowed to apply discipline.

The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents, and the media, with opinions regarding ADHD that range from not believing it exists at all to believing there are genetic and physiological bases for the condition, and also include disagreement about the use of stimulant medications such as Ritalin used in treatments.

Children who have symptoms of inattention may:

  • Struggle to follow instructions.
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Have difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities

Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

  • Talk nonstop
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight

Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:

  • Be very impatient
  • Often interrupt conversations or others' activities.
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences

Facts: Interesting ADHD

  • The average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years old.
  • Symptoms of ADHD typically first appear between the ages of 3 and 6.
  • Males are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
  • ADHD isn't just a childhood disorder. Today, about 4 percent of American adults over the age of 18 deal with ADHD on a daily basis.
  • During their lifetimes, 12.9 percent of men will be diagnosed with the attention disorder. Just 4.9 percent of women will be diagnosed.

Children are also diagnosed at different ages.

  • 8 years old: average age of diagnosis for children with mild ADHD
  • 7 years old: average age of diagnosis for children with moderate ADHD
  • 5 years old: average age of diagnosis for children with severe ADHD

Statistics: ADHD

  • Rates of diagnosis and treatment have increased in both the United Kingdom and the United States since the 1970s.
  • ADHD is estimated to affect about 6 - 7% of people aged 18 and under when diagnosed via the DSM-IV criteria. When diagnosed via the ICD-10 criteria rates in this age group are estimated at 1 - 2%.
  • Children in North America appear to have a higher rate of ADHD than children in Africa and the Middle East; this is believed to be due to differing methods of diagnosis rather than a difference in underlying frequency.
  • ADHD is diagnosed approximately three times more often in boys than in girls. This difference between sexes may reflect either a difference in susceptibility or that females with ADHD are less likely to be diagnosed than males.

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