ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a  brain function developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to control attention, impulsivity, and activity levels. More people are now receiving an ADHD diagnosis. This is because previously, it was only diagnosed in children, but now, more adults are seeking help for ADHD symptoms. There is also more awareness and less stigma around this disorder. Some research suggests that, increased screen time can cause symptoms similar to those in this disorder, but more research is needed to confirm this claim.

Symptoms

  • Persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Types

  • Inattentive Presentation:
    – Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
    – Frequent careless mistakes in work or other activities.
    – Forgetfulness in daily activities.
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation:
    – Fidgeting or tapping hands or feet.
    – Inability to stay seated in situations where it is expected.
    – Impulsive actions without consideration of consequences.
  • Combined Presentation:
    – A combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.

Causes

ADHD can be caused by a combination of genetic, neurological (brain), and environmental risk factors:

  • Family history/Genetics (runs in the family / genetic factors / brain abnormalities)
  • Neurobiology (differences in brain structure and function in areas related to attention and impulse control, control)
  • Environmental factors (exposure to prenatal tobacco smoke, premature birth, low birth weight, and exposure to lead)
  • Childhood trauma, adult trauma and highly stressful life events (e.g. abuse, loss, disaster)

Treatment

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Parental training on managing child with ADHD diagnosis
  • School Support

African Context

Although at a very slow pace, ADHD is gradually becoming more understood as a condition rather than ‘bad behavior’, in Africa. Most people with this disorder struggle in school and at work because they, or those around them believe that these symptoms are poor character traits. It is important to share this information with family and friends because there are ways to help a person either resolve, or cope with ADHD, to live a fulfilled and productive life. If you or someone you know may be struggling with ADHD, reach out to a professional for help.

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