Paying attention to ADHD, in all its forms

November 2, 2015

ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It's a condition that is common in young and old alike, and can occur in both males and females. It tends to start during the early grade school years and very often persists into adulthood.

There are three different types of ADHD, so not everyone who has this condition acts the same way. Amanda Schuh, behavioral health nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System, shares more information about the nuances of each form:

Predominantly inattentive type. This type is most common in girls, but can occur in boys as well. Some of the most common symptoms are:

— Daydreaming

— Losing track of time

— Easily distracted

— Procrastinates

— Difficulty finishing tasks

— Seems not to listen

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type. This is the least-common type of ADHD, and when it does occur, it tends to happen in very young children. Signs of this type of ADHD include:

— Lots of energy

— Restless, fidgets, can’t sit still

— Impatient

— Blurts out statements, interrupts often

— Aggressive behavior toward others

Combined type. This is, by far, the most common type of ADHD and the most noticeable. Signs of combined type ADHD include:

— Being loud and disruptive

— Prone to breaking rules

— Gets into trouble repeatedly

— Easily distracted

— Frustrated with school

— Difficulty finishing tasks

"While many of those symptoms are just the way kids sometimes behave, a parent may suspect ADHD if it’s consistent behavior lasting longer than six months, occurs at home and school, and causes problems in relationships with other children and adults," says Schuh. Adults with ADHD have similar symptoms, but often somewhat different problems from children. ADHD in adulthood might manifest as having problems staying organized, remembering things, keeping schedules and managing household responsibilities. There can also be issues with listening to others, interrupting, making very quick decisions and a chronic sense of boredom.

There are many things that ADHD is not. It has nothing to do with intelligence. Many brilliant people in our history have had ADHD, such as Benjamin Franklin and John F. Kennedy. Also, ADHD has nothing to do with being lazy, lacking self-control or not trying hard enough. People with ADHD have brains that work differently from those without the disorder.

Treatment for ADHD can be of two types. The first involves learning techniques to help improve organization, completion of tasks, time management and strategies to improve impulse control. The second type of treatment is medication. Many people benefit from a combination of both.

"Evaluation and treatment should be considered when the problems caused by ADHD are either making it hard to function at school, home, work or in relationships, or are causing suffering for the person with ADHD," adds Schuh. "A mental health professional can perform an evaluation and determine if ADHD is present."

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have ADHD, contact your health care provider team.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services