What is ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
ADHD is a neurological disorder, and typically starts in childhood and adolescence. ADHD makes it hard to focus and concentrated, stay on task, and complete tasks. Some types of ADHD show symptoms primarily of inattention, while other children tend to be more hyperactive. True ADHD is more that just an active, creative child. However, at the same time, many children diagnosed with ADHD do not have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Instead, they have some other cognitive or emotional disturbance that is causing symptoms similar to ADHD symptoms. It is very important to have a complete and thorough evaluation by a qualified mental health professional (not just a pediatrician) to discover what is causing your child’s symptoms. Then, everyone is in a much better position to make treatment decisions.
Signs of ADHD
Signs of ADHD include:
- Difficulty paying attention
- Easily distracted
- Seems not to listen
- Forgets things
- Difficulty staying still or seated
- Always in motion, fidgety
- Talks too much
- Has trouble waiting their turn
ADHD Test – Evaluations for ADHD
1) A shorter ADHD test that only evaluates whether or not the child or teen has ADHD – this testing is a good option if ADHD is the only behavioral or emotional problem your child seems to have, and his/her symptoms are fairly “classic” symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It can also be a good choice to confirm a pediatrician’s diagnosis, or to rule out ADHD. Sometimes this happens when one parent thinks the child has ADHD and the other parent does not agree. A shorter version ADHD test can help to determine if ADHD is the likely cause of your child’s behavior or learning problems.
2) A longer, more in-depth PsychoEducational Evaluation that would include the ADHD test but would also include other mental health and educational tests. For example, in a complete PsychEducation Evaluation, we would look at the child’s emotional functioning, cognitive skills, IQ (intelligence quotient), learning ability and style, etc. Many times, other disorders (such as anxiety disorders) can create symptoms that are very similar to the symptoms of ADHD. This more in-depth evaluation will give you a complete psycho-social and academic picture of what may be going on with your child.
What is ADD Attention Deficit Disorder?
In children, ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder is simply the “primarily inattentive type” of ADHD. More commonly, the term ADD is used to refer to adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (also called “Adult ADD”).
The symptoms of adult ADD are:
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Irritability and Mood Swings
- Difficulty Competing Tasks
- Low frustration tolerance
- Anger / Short Temper
- Trouble Coping with Stress
- Unstable Relationships
Just as with any mental health issue, not everyone has all of the symptoms, and its important to keep in mind that you should not be diagnosing yourself on the internet! Including this post! So if you recognize yourself in these symptoms (or your spouse) please get an evaluation by a qualified professional who can also explain to you the different treatment options.
ADD & ADHD Medications
Medication for ADHD and ADD can be a useful addition to other treatments, such as behavior therapy. ADHD medication for children is often prescribed by pediatricians, and this may be a good option if the child and family are also working with a psychotherapist. This is because a pediatrician will typically not see your child often, where as a psychotherapist will likely see your child weekly and can monitor changes. The psychotherapist should then be communicating that information to the pediatrician to help ensure that your child’s medications are working well.
Another option is to get ADD medication or ADHD medication from a psychiatrist. For adults, we almost always recommended that a psychiatrist manage this type of medication. Most patients get better results that way because psychiatrists are experts in psychotropic medication, and can help determine what will work best for you.
Behavior Therapy for ADHD and ADD
Behavior therapy is an important part of the treatment plan for ADD and ADHD. Behavior therapy helps individuals (children or adults) learn how to focus their hyperactivity, manage their inattention better, and improve performance at work or school.
For adults with ADD, in addition to individual behavior therapy, it is often useful to have couples counseling sessions as well. Adult ADD symptoms generally have a significant impact on relationships and marriages.
Treatment for ADD and ADHD in Plantation, FL
Dr. Gagnon, together with other associated mental health therapists and psychologists in her Plantation Florida office, can provide you with testing and evaluation services for ADHD in children and teens, and for adult ADD. Dr. Gagnon also offers therapy and counseling services to help improve and learn how to manage ADD and ADHD symptoms.