Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is perhaps the most common neurodevelopmental condition among children. This condition is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It can also affect the social, financial, and educational aspects of a patient's life. Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is often diagnosed in childhood, it often lasts throughout adulthood. The good news is with proper treatment, individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are fully capable of living very productive and successful lives.
Stimulant medications are often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It may seem counter-intuitive to provide this type of medication to an over-stimulated, hyperactive individual, but it works in most cases. This medication helps improve the patient's concentration and focus. Of course, patients and their caregivers (should treatment begin in childhood) should be aware of the potential side effects, which include loss of appetite and loss of sleep. Dry mouth, rapid heart rate, and some other side effects can also be experienced. Some side effects go away, some are worth living with, and some encourage patients to change medications, though this should only be done in consultation with a doctor.
If stimulants do not go over well, there are non-stimulant alternatives. Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are non-stimulant medications that prevent cells from absorbing norepinephrine resulting in higher norepinephrine levels outside the cell, where communication with the nervous system occurs. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone that usually gets the body ready for action. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the muscle. So norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors have similar effects as stimulants, just without some of the negative side effects. Although non-stimulant medications have fewer side effects than stimulants, it may take longer to notice their effect on symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can affect relationships. Imagine 'waking up' or stopping to take a breath and realizing you missed something. You look around and everyone is staring at you and waiting for you to do something. You are lost. What is it you are supposed to be doing right now? Why are they staring at you? How did you act? All the questions come over you, filling you with anxiety. This cannot be good for you or those around you. Life at work, school, home, and in public require attention and focus. This is precisely why, in conjunction with medication, counseling is often used to help treat patients with ADHD, particularly as children. This helps patients cope with the effects of their condition so they are better able to manage themselves and deal with others.
Unfortunately, the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can rob patients, particularly children, of the opportunity to learn. The great news is skills training provides another opportunity. Many children diagnosed with ADHD have a period in their life in which they missed out on learning basic skills and did not learn sufficiently for their age.
Some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may not have learned how to tell time or count change. No matter what, however, they need to catch up with skills training. Tests are completed to determine proficiency in basic skill levels throughout childhood development. The areas patients are lacking in are taught again during this training while ADHD is being managed.
Behavioral therapy is an important part of the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD patients can develop undesirable behaviors that can be disruptive to others. These can range from interrupting to hyperactivity to throwing tantrums. These behaviors negatively affect relationships between the individual with ADHD and their classmates, colleagues, family, and friends. To save those relationships, treatments including behavioral therapy are needed.
A behavioral therapist teaches the patient to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. By learning new behaviors and eliminating undesirable behaviors, people can change the way they relate to others. Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will learn to express their feelings in appropriate ways.
Being physically active cannot treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder alone, but it is often a part of a successful treatment regimen. Physical activity is essential to a healthy lifestyle and is recommended for everyone. Research has revealed as little as twenty minutes of exercise on a treadmill allowed children with ADHD to perform better on an academic computer game.
In general, children perform better on math and reading skills test after they have exercised. This has nothing to do with 'running the hyperactivity out' or 'exhausting them into good behavior.' Engaging in exercise regularly helps regulate many physiological and psychological processes through hormonal modulation.
Sleep, like the other options on this list, is not intended as a sole treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, without adequate sleep, other ADHD treatments may not be as effective. Like physical activity, engaging in adequate amounts of sleep is paramount to a healthy lifestyle. Experts indicate children, in general, reveal they are fatigued differently than adults, who often get sluggish. Instead, children can get hyperactive, which is even more intense in those who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
An extra thirty minutes of sleep decreases the number of tantrums and expressions of frustration in children with and without ADHD. Sleep is necessary for cognitive processing and memory consolidation. Experts recommend eight to ten hours of sleep for children, and seven to nine hours for adults, each night. Getting enough sleep sets a foundation for ADHD management.