Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become an increasingly controversial diagnosis because it is most commonly diagnosed in children and stimulant medications are often prescribed to control symptoms. People concerned about the effects of stimulant medication should take heart, because therapy can be highly effective at treating ADHD symptoms, particularly when used in conjunction with short-term medication.

Causes and Symptoms
ADHD can affect both children and adults. At this time, there is no single explanation for the root cause of ADHD. In some instances it appears that ADHD runs in families, and therefore there may be a genetic cause for ADHD. However, ADHD also may have a strong environmental component.

Children tend to learn coping skills from their parents, so if parents model distracted, hyper attention patterns, children are more likely to mimic them. Some theorists have argued that ADHD is a product of an increasingly stressful society and that the incredible academic demands children must meet can result in hyper, distracted behavior. Other studies link ADHD symptoms with diet and other lifestyle choices.

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD may include the following

  • Trouble listening
  • Difficulty sitting still for long periods of time
  • Easily distracted
  • Extremely hyper behavior - tends to be always moving
  • Tendency to make careless mistakes
  • Procrastination
  • Difficulty establishing healthy study skills or work habits
  • Trouble with time management
  • Easily bored and may need constant stimulation

While all people exhibit these symptoms from time to time, ADHD is differentiated from typical difficulties in attention by a matter of degree. While most people can concentrate on tasks by simply resolving to do so, people with ADHD often feel that they truly cannot concentrate, rather than that they are choosing not to concentrate.

Therapy for ADHD

The most effective treatments for ADHD typically combine both therapy and medication. Medication may be used as a temporary measure to help a person with ADHD focus on therapy or changing their behaviors, or medication may be a longer-term solution for managing ADHD symptoms.

Common therapy treatments for ADHD include:

  • Skills-Based Therapy - Particularly effective with young children, therapists specializing in attention problems may focus on helping children develop specific skills and time management strategies.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - CBT is extremely helpful for changing unhealthy habits and thinking patterns. Adults with ADHD may find it particularly helpful because CBT helps people reframe and retrain their thought processes. CBT is typically short- lived, with clients attending only a few sessions before they experience marked changes.
  • Traditional Psychotherapy - Traditional talk psychotherapy, which may include discussions of anxiety, analysis of family relationships, and a variety of other topics, may be helpful at improving one's understanding of ADHD and the impact of ADHD on one's life. People experiencing ADHD commonly must cope with other concerns as well, such as family issues or anxiety. Talk-therapy can help alleviate some of these concerns, making it easier for the client to focus on treating their ADHD.
  • Family Therapy - ADHD does not just affect the person with the diagnosis. Parents of children with ADHD must also learn to cope with their child's symptoms and support their child. Family therapy can help an entire family to support the person with ADHD and establish healthy coping skills that minimize stress and power struggles.

Finding a qualified therapist can be the first step in coping with ADHD.

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