In today’s world of perpetual breaking news, social media stimuli, and ever-increasing demands of workplace and home, it is easy to feel our attention skipping from one item to the next. We may feel overwhelmed or like we cannot complete a task before we must move on to the next or scattered. But when does this rapid-fire cognition become a clinical issue?
National Institute of Health defines Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a condition which presents as:
“Inattention: Difficulty staying on task, sustaining focus, staying organized; missing details; making careless mistakes; appearing not to listen or follow through; losing items; distracts easily; forgetfulness; and avoiding tasks that require mental effort.
Hyperactivity: Constantly moving, including in situations when it is not appropriate, or excessively fidgets, taps, or talks, restlessness.
Impulsivity: Self-control issues, need for immediate rewards or the inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may interrupt others or make important decisions without considering long-term consequences,” according to the NIH website.
To properly diagnose ADHD primary care providers and mental health professionals evaluate the individual to determine if “… the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to fall behind typical development for their age,” according to NIH’s website. A physical exam must be completed to rule out other causes of symptoms and for information gathering (medical history, and history of symptoms). Mental health professionals perform ADHD rating scales or psychological tests to evaluate symptoms, according to Mayoclinic.org. Diagnosis can be made as early as three years old and into adulthood.
After diagnosis, treatment may include: medication, activity therapy, outpatient therapy, or skills training. These can help improve: time management and organizational skills; reduction in impulsive behaviors; problem solving skills; coping with failures and improving self esteem; relationship building; anger management; and stress management, per Mayo Clinic’s website.
For further information, explore: The National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD®) supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) : online or by phone at 1-866-200-8098; https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd; https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/documents/adhdfactsheetenglish.pdf