We recently hear about ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) very often. People more or less know what it is, but here is the problem. This “more or less“ knowledge automatically makes all more active, and problematic, children suffering from ADHD. The major medical groups admit the existence of this condition and in some cases it really may be ADHD.
However, it is a bit questionable that suddenly we have so many ADHD patients. Some people (including doctors) doubt that there is something like ADHD, and some others believe that there is something like this, but we have trouble with the right diagnosis. Actually, we really use the term too often and probably many diagnoses are wrong – that is why ADHD has become almost epidemic.
Why is it so?
ADHD or not ADHD?
Children are very often claimed to have ADHD, while the symptoms, so characteristic of this condition, can be caused by a wide range of other illnesses. Problems with hyperactivity and attention can be caused by…sleep disorders. Also depression or problems with hearing or vision can have such effect. So here is the problem – we misdiagnose our kids.
Is the diagnosis so hard to make? In fact, it is because we have no lab tests or brain scans which would objectively help recognize the disease. Instead, we have only our doctor’s own interpretation of a child’s behavior, which is supposed to assess where the problem lies. Such diagnosis is based on: health history, observation, “Conner’s Teacher Rating Scale” or “Vanderbilt questionnaire” which ask about behaviors like: not listening to a person who speaks directly to the child, trouble with organizing tasks and activities, trouble with waiting in line.
Probably all of us could claim to experience some of these ourselves to larger or smaller extent… It is very easy to make mistakes in such evaluation. It demands a long and thorough observation, exclusion of other illnesses, disorders or substance abuse. It is also recommendable to cooperate with a psychologist at the same time.
ADHD and Brain
We still do not know much about ADHD and its influence on our brain. But, there has been discovered that people with this disease have some differences in their brains – in prefrontal cortex which is the area responsible for behavior, problem solving and emotions. Unfortunately, this is still too little to help in the right diagnosis.
It is believed that if the treatment proves to work well, it is the evidence for the accuracy of the diagnosis. If you are not sure whether it really is ADHD, you may consult a psychiatrist or psychologist who is well-trained in this area and ask for advice. He or she will help you find the right treatment and this will improve your life quality.
If it is not ADHD, you do not have to take any medications, but you will be advised to change your TV or computer into sports, to limit your time spent looking at fast-paced media and to train in self-control (which is possible if we are finally aware of our condition and know in what way we want to change it).