Are you feeling an increasing sense of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness that has lasted for several weeks, or longer?Read More
Typically when we think of children’s inability to focus, we presume it is simply the innate behavior of children to be hyper and impulsive. But in reality, these behaviors might be a symptom of a much larger mental condition like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
As of 2016, 6.1 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Since then, this number has only grown. And now, we have a responsibility to replace the judgment that accompanies hyperactivity with awareness and resources for children and young adults to succeed,” said Brandy Lee Brown-Weikel, Clinical Social Worker at Inspira Health Outpatient Behavioral Health Services Bridgeton.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder most commonly seen in children. Those with ADHD might present the characteristic symptoms of being forgetful, zoning out frequently, talking excessively and having difficulty focusing. Despite being diagnosed at a young age, children with ADHD may continue to suffer from this condition as they age into early adulthood. Yet with an early diagnosis, a patient can find the right health care team and treatment plan to get them on a stable path forward.
“The first step in finding an effective treatment plan is identifying which form of ADHD the patient has,” said Brown-Weikel. “The three types of ADHD are inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive and combined presentation. While the first and second form are defined by the individual having difficulty completing tasks and sitting still, respectively, the third form is where these symptoms are equal in the individual.”
Although the cause for ADHD is still unknown, researchers believe that family history may be linked to an increased prevalence of this condition. Additionally, the CDC states that researchers are looking at brain injury, environmental factors and substance use during pregnancy as potential risk factors for children developing ADHD.
“Because the risk factors for ADHD aren't well defined, it is increasingly important to monitor your child for potential symptoms,” says Brown-Weikel. “Diagnosing a patient with ADHD is multifactorial, but the first step is always speaking with a health care provider, such as a mental health expert or pediatrician.”
In the event that your child is diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to note that treating ADHD varies based on severity and type. Treating ADHD typically begins with more behavioral treatments such as therapy and counseling. However, if this is shown to be ineffective, a provider may suggest medication.
“ADHD can develop into a severely debilitating condition. What might look like just an inability to concentrate might actually be a disorder with chronic, long-lasting effects,” said Brown-Weikel. “So, trust your gut. ADHD isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s something to get checked out. If something seems to be worrisome, speak with your doctor. It is always better to be proactive versus reactive.”