It seems most people are familiar with the symptoms that accompany Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) According to the National Resource Center on ADHD, the disorder affects 5-8% of American schoolchildren and persists into adulthood in 60% of all cases. Given the commonality of the disorder, most people have been directly affected by the phenomenon and can recognize the symptoms which include, but are not limited to:
Tendencies towards forgetfulness
Poor time management skills
Difficulties beginning/finishing tasks
Impulsivity (acting/decision making without the consideration of possible consequences)
Poor short term memory/ difficulty following instructions
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However, though there seems to be a general familiarity with the disorder and its symptoms, there are some common misconceptions that follow ADHD one of which being that 4% of adults in America have been diagnosed with ADHD, despite the notion that the disorder is often associated with school-age children. Adult ADHD is a neurological disorder that demands notice. If the disorder goes unrecognized and untreated, the affected individual may have trouble establishing relationships, completing necessary tasks, or even holding down a job. Another common misconception is that ADHD is a disorder that is always resultant in hyperactivity. In some cases this is true, but there are types of the disorder that cause inattentiveness sans the impulsive or hyperactive behaviors. It is important to recognize that an individual who is without the hyperactive behavioral issues still deserves medical monitoring so that he/she may be more functional in successfully completing everyday activities.
First, a proper diagnosis must be made to ensure effective treatment. Because ADHD may be both neurologically and psychologically caused, patients should be advised to undergo brain mapping and other forms of neurological analysis to isolate the kind of under-functioning that is occurring in the frontal regions of the brain. Another equally important factor in determining a diagnosis is a personalized, comprehensive evaluation that includes a structured interview between the patient and the examiner. It is highly important to distribute personal attention to the diagnosis process (especially if the patient will be prescribed pharmaceuticals as part of his treatment) because numerous concerns have arisen amongst psychiatrists and doctors about the possibility of the over diagnosis of ADHD. According to an article from the August 2011 issue of the “Psychiatric Times” the presence of ADHD experienced a near 8-fold increase between the years of 1980 and 2007. In 2007, the National Survey of Children's Health revealed that nearly 8% of youths had been diagnosed with ADHD and nearly 5% were taking medication for the disorder. Given the concerns of over diagnosis, it is important to properly evaluate patients so that they may receive appropriate care.
Once the clinical symptoms are identified, patients should be provided with integrated therapies that aid in teaching the patient strategies for focusing and monitoring their own behaviors. Only then, after a keenly executed medical evaluation, may the patient begin his/her road to a more functional, healthy, lifestyle.