Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder often characterized by the poor attention, distractibility and impulsive behaviors of an individual.  With the use of stimulants to aid in this disorder dating back to the late 1930s, ADD/ADHD is the most commonly studied and diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children.

Affecting 3% to 5% of children around the world, ADHD is a chronic disorder with 30% to 50% of those diagnosed in childhood continuing symptoms into adulthood.  An estimated 4.7% of American adults live with ADHD and tend to develop coping mechanisms to counteract for some or all of their impairments.

Diagnosed two to four times more frequently in boys than girls, the diagnosis of ADHD has been controversial since the 1970s.  However, in 1998, the American Mental Association concluded that the diagnostic criteria for ADHD are based on extensive research and, when applied correctly, can lead to the diagnosis of the disorder with high reliability.

ADHD has three subtypes:

1)    Predominately hyperactive-impulsive

2)    Predominately inattentive

3)    Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive

Although most people exhibit some of the above-listed behaviors, they are generally not to the degree where it significantly interferes with their work, relationships or school.  Cases where they exhibit behavior listed above, combined with meeting other behavioral and diagnostic criteria, can lead to diagnosing the disorder.

Although the exact cause of ADHD has yet to be determined, it is a condition that is thought to have genetic and biological components as it tends to run in families.

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