Hyperactivity and ADHD syndrome in children and adults
The syndrome of hyperactivity and attention deficit , also known as syndrome hyperkinetic and ADHD , is a brain disorder.
This pathology is characterized by causing in the person suffering from it a continuous inattention and / or hyperactivity and impulsivity, which are capable of interfering with the functioning and correct neurological development.
Causes of hyperactivity and ADHD
Currently, the most accredited among the hypotheses in the scientific community is that ADHD does not have a single cause, but is instead the result of a genetic predisposition associated with one or more environmental factors or pollution.
In fact, attention and hyperactivity disorder tends to recur more frequently in certain families, and research shows that both the parents and siblings of a child diagnosed with ADHD have a 5 times greater risk compared to rest of the population, to suffer from this same problem.
The studies conducted so far, also inform of the fact that there can be important differences between people suffering from hyperactivity and ADHD syndrome in general: the maturation times of the brain change depending on the case, and the balances between people also vary. neurotransmitters, as well as the size of certain brain structures.
Instead, the studies do not confirm the popular view that the disorder hyperactivity and attention deficit may be caused by excessive consumption of sugar, excessive use of television or some family and social factors (growing up in an unhealthy environment, and / or in poverty). However, it is certain that these conditions can accentuate the symptoms and manifestation of this disorder.
Here is a list of the main risk factors for hyperactivity and attention deficit :
- Familiarity: the condition tends to be hereditary.
- Smoking, drugs, alcohol, exposure to environmental toxins in pregnancy: pregnant women have a greater chance of giving birth to children with hyperactivity and attention deficit if they use substances that are harmful to health, or expose themselves to environmental toxins.
- Food additives: artificial colors and preservatives taken by a child are likely to contribute to the development of his hyperactive behavior. Instead, there is no scientific evidence that sugar makes you hyperactive.
- Premature birth, i.e. before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy.
- Brain damage within the womb, or in the early years of the baby’s life.
- Low birth weight.
Noteworthy is also the fact that the syndrome of hyperactivity and attention deficit affects mainly males, and sometimes occurs together with other disorders, including: anxiety, depression, oppositional disorder, learning disorders (e.g., dyslexia) , and an increased risk of drug use (according to statistics).
Symptoms of ADHD
Hyperkinetic syndrome or ADHD syndrome can be diagnosed in a patient when he exhibits certain symptoms. It is not certain, however, that if he demonstrates these symptoms he has necessarily the hyperactivity syndrome and attention deficit .
Adults and children who are hyperactive or with attention disorder, to be judged as such, must assume certain behaviors in at least 2 different situations, and these behaviors must be observed for at least 6 months.
Certain symptoms of inattention were classified, as well as others inherent in hyperactivity and impulsivity. An individual may have multiple ADHD symptoms of the first or second classification just mentioned, but could also have elements of one or the other categorization.
For example, a person could have ADHD if they have at least 6 symptoms of inattention and are 17 years of age or younger. If you are 18 years of age or older, you may have ADHD if you have at least 5 symptoms. The observation of these symptoms must take place in at least 2 different situations, for a period of not less than 6 months.
Symptoms of inattention are as follows:
- Not paying attention to details, or making careless mistakes;
- Having trouble staying alert to tasks or play activities
- Give the idea of not paying attention when talking to him face to face.
- Not following instructions, and failing to complete assigned tasks, at school or at work;
- Having difficulty organizing;
- Having aversion, avoidance, or being reluctant to do activities that require prolonged mental effort
- Losing the material necessary to carry out certain school or work activities;
- Be easily distracted;
- Often being careless in everyday activities.
A person could have ADHD if they have at least 6 symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity and are 17 years of age or younger. If you are 18 years of age or older, you may have ADHD if you have at least 5 symptoms. The observation of these symptoms must take place at least in 2 different situations, for a period of at least 6 months.
The symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity are as follows:
- Being restless and fidgeting
- Not being able to sit when needed;
- Not being able to do without running and climbing, even when that would not be allowed;
- Not being able to participate in games or recreational activities that require you to be silent;
- Being on the go too often
- Talking excessively
- Respond without thinking first;
- Having trouble waiting for your turn
- Interrupting a person in the middle of a speech, or intruding on other children’s games.
Also, a person can generally be suspected of having ADHD if they exhibit inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive behaviors that:
- They last for more than 6 months.
- They occur in 2 different situations (for example at home and at school or at work).
- They interrupt or annoy other people’s activities (while working, talking, studying, playing, etc.).
- They cause problems for those who suffer from it in relating to other people (friends, acquaintances, relatives, etc.).
Criteria for diagnosing ADHD
It is not enough to observe the symptoms: the diagnosis of ADHD must be made by a mental health professional with adequate training.
This diagnosis is made in several stages, and there is no single test that can diagnose this syndrome. Also because, the symptoms listed in the previous paragraph are very similar to the symptoms of other pathologies.
There are 2 methods that can be adopted to assess whether a person suffers from hyperactivity syndrome and attention deficit : these are the DSM method and the ICD-10 method. In the USA there is a tendency to use the first system, in Europe the second.
In both cases these are guidelines, which among other things establish certain criteria so that the patient can be diagnosed with this disorder.
In the case of the DMS criteria, to diagnose the pathology in adults, the situation is more complex:
- The scientific community has not yet found an agreement on which symptoms to refer to to diagnose the disease.
- In some cases, an adult can be diagnosed with ADHD if they have 5 or more symptoms of inattention, or 5 or more ADHD hyperactivity and impulsivity, but the diagnosis cannot be confirmed if there is no evidence that these symptoms are were also present in the childhood period. One way to find out may be to consult the parents and former teachers of the adult.
In fact, it is currently thought that ADHD cannot develop from adulthood.
Regarding the diagnosis of hyperactivity and attention deficit syndrome for children, the DSM criteria to be followed are the following:
- The child must show at least 6 symptoms of inattention, or at least 6 symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
- In addition, the following additional conditions must be attributable to the child:
- Show symptoms for at least 6 months.
- Start showing symptoms before 12 years of life.
- Symptoms must be encountered in at least 2 different situations.
- Having symptoms that make her social and school life difficult.
- These symptoms cannot derive from its development, or from any other pathology.
To be able to diagnose ADHD following the guidelines of the ICD-10 described by the World Health Organization, it is necessary that:
- The person presents simultaneously: symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.
- These symptoms must appear before 6 years of age, as well as be long lasting.
- Symptoms must occur in at least 2 different situations.
- Diagnosis of other problems must be excluded, such as: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, developmental disorders.
Dangers of ADHD
The hyperactivity and attention deficit syndrome can be the source of several problems.
For example, regarding children who suffer from it:
- They may have difficulties in relating with other children;
- They may have more difficulties at school level;
- They are more likely to suffer physical trauma.
And as far as adults are concerned:
- They may have professional difficulties due to concentration problems.
- They are at greater risk of abusing alcohol and drugs and becoming addicted to them (according to statistics).
In addition, some pathologies can overlap with that of ADHD . They are:
- Loop disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder and negative and disruptive behavior towards authority figures, such as teachers and parents;
- Conduct disturbance, with a tendency towards very antisocial behaviors: theft, violence, vandalism, damage to people and animals.
- Depression and bipolar disorder.
- Sleep disturbances, including difficulty sleeping and / or poor sleep quality.
- ASD, or autism spectrum disorders. They can very negatively affect any social and communicative interaction, but also behaviors and interests.
- Epilepsy: a disease that affects the brain and causes fits of convulsions and other symptoms.
- Dyslexia or other learning difficulties.
- Tourette’s Syndrome: involuntary noises and movements (so-called tics) caused by a particular condition of the nervous system.
How to cure ADHD
Once diagnosed, the syndrome of hyperactivity and attention deficit can be kept under control. There is no definitive cure for the disorder in question, but currently available treatments can help alleviate its symptoms. The two categories of existing treatments are often used concomitantly, and are pharmacological and psychotherapeutic.
When it comes to drug therapies, doctors typically prescribe one of the following three types of products:
- Stimulants: they increase dopamine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that has an essential function for thinking and attention.
- Non-stimulants: they are used when the stimulants have had side effects or do not offer the desired results. Sometimes the doctor may recommend both stimulants and non-stimulants to increase the effectiveness of both drugs.
- Antidepressants: Not all government regulators approve the use of these drugs for the treatment of hyperkinetic syndrome , but in some cases tricyclic antidepressants are prescribed because they increase the concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
With regard to psychotherapy, it must be said that over the years various approaches have been carried out to help adults and children suffering from hyperactivity and attention deficit . The results of these approaches always vary from patient to patient.
One of the approaches that has had and is having great success is cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps a person change their behavior in order to:
- manage emotionally stressful situations
- increase concentration at work
- better organize your homework for school
- keep your behavior under control
- indulge in small rewards when you do what you want
- curb anger
- think before doing something.
In everyday life, adults suffering from ADHD can also:
- Set up and maintain a routine of fixed daily actions.
- Compile lists to get organized day after day.
- Use a calendar for the purpose of planning events and activities.
- Decide on specific places to put your keys, wallet, bills and important documents.
- Learn to divide complex activities into small, smaller and therefore more easily manageable activities, and be rewarded for every small goal achieved.
Parents of a child with hyperactivity and attention deficit can help their child in the following ways:
- Be affectionate with him.
- Help him maintain a precise routine of daily activities.
- Help them establish places for all their most important items.
- Help him organize himself for the performance of tasks.
- Offer them consistent, clear and easy to follow rules, explaining them in a simple way.
Gratify him, praise him and / or reward him when he performs all the rules given to him. Among other things, children with hyperactivity syndrome and attention deficit often receive criticism, and this is what they generally expect from adults. For this reason, unexpected praise can be a huge reward for them.