What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by frequent disturbances of a person’s attention and activity. The disease is caused by a disturbance in the development of the brain, which is why ADHD is also referred to as a ‘developmental disorder’. In this regard, children and adults with ADHD have different brain structures compared to people without the disorder.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
People with ADHD will usually experience symptoms such as:
Disturbed attention and concentration
Hyperactivity and impulsivity
Difficulty gaining an overview of things, structure and planning
Poor sense of time
Reduced working memory
In children with the disorder, a delay in the development of the brain for up to several years can usually be seen – especially in the parts responsible for controlling and planning activities.
These symptoms frequently appear in children aged 4-6. They may disappear with age, but in 50 % of all cases, the symptoms continue into adulthood.
What are the causes of ADHD?
Why some people develop ADHD and others do not is unclear. Researchers strongly suspect it to be caused by a complex interplay between heritage and environment. It is known that the risk of ADHD is about 25 % if one of the parents have the disorder. A few genes are known, which may play an important role in the development of ADHD, but it seems like many genes interact when a person develops ADHD. Some of the environmental factors connected with an increased risk of a child developing ADHD include the mother smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, being exposed to certain toxic substances such as ‘dioxins’ or ‘PCB’ during pregnancy. Moreover, a low birth weight and ‘Apgar score’ can also contribute to an increased risk of the child developing ADHD.
What are the treatments for ADHD?
For those suffering from ADHD, the treatment can vary depending on the person’s general state, degree of symptoms and level of function at home, at school, at work and during leisure time. It is recommended that children undergo psychosocial treatment, performed by an interdisciplinary team combining parental teaching, counselling, supportive conversations, adaptation of everyday life and cognitive behavioural therapy. The cognitive behavioural therapy, which also plays a very important role in the treatment of adults with ADHD, is used to train the compensatory mechanisms and potential secondary complications such as anxiety and low self-esteem, which are not unusual in people with ADHD.
Medical treatment of children consists of central stimulants, but this treatment is reserved for children with severe symptoms. These stimulants can relieve symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity, and improve the performance in school and in social situations.