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University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Introduction

Have you ever felt like your brain was on its own trip? Well, that’s how it is for people with ADHD. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This disorder can make it tricky to pay attention for a long time or sit still. But don’t worry, understanding ADHD helps medical providers support the unique way minds work.

Typical presentation

The classic picture of ADHD is a very hyper child who can’t sit still, always getting out of the seat, speaking out of turn, running around the classroom, getting distracted, and not paying attention. These are examples of hyperactive symptoms that can be easier to spot. Many people describe ADHD children as “bouncing off the wall.”

People with ADHD often show signs around 9 to 10 years old with difficulty paying attention at school and at home. Spotting ADHD is important since 10% of children from ages 4 to 17 in the U.S. have it. Health care providers can help assess children to determine if they have ADHD or if they just have a lot of energy that will improve as they get older.

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Atypical presentation

Some signs of ADHD are more difficult to spot. A young child who isn’t hyper, stays seated, and appears to be listening, may also have ADHD. They may present with constant daydreaming, taking longer to complete homework, forgetting books/assignments, and forgetting instructions or chores. These inattentive behaviors may be harder to see.

Some individuals may not be diagnosed until adulthood. At older ages, ADHD may present differently than in children and teens. People may struggle with time management, controlling emotions, planning, and organization.

Myths vs. facts

Myth: More people have ADHD now than 20 years ago.

Fact: Better testing has allowed more people to be diagnosed that may have gone unnoticed in the past.

Myth: ADHD symptoms are normal and will go away.

Fact: ADHD symptoms are lifelong but can be less noticeable as people may become better at managing them.

Myth: Medications can cure ADHD.

Fact: Medications help manage symptoms to help a person with ADHD live a better life, but can’t cure ADHD.

Myth: Having ADHD means you cannot focus on anything.

Fact: People with ADHD can sometimes become hyper-focused on certain things. Because ADHD is an issue of impulse control, they just lose focus more easily.

Myth: Stimulant medications are addictive and dangerous.

Fact: This is mostly false. It’s more common for undiagnosed/untreated people with ADHD to use drugs than it is for treated patients to become addicted. All medications have side effects that should be discussed with a health care provider.

Myth: More boys have ADHD than girls.

Fact: ADHD affects both equally.

Treatment:

Behavioral therapy is recommended for children less than 6 years old. Parents can encourage good behaviors and work closely with schools to come up with unique plans.

Adding a stimulant, like Adderall, to behavioral therapy may be recommended for children ages 6 or older. Non-stimulant medications are also an option. Speak with a health care professional to determine what will work best. Make sure to follow up with this provider regularly.

Conclusion:

ADHD often looks like a person who struggles to sit quietly, has a hard time completing tasks, or frequently misplaces things. Usually, ADHD is first noticed during childhood and lasts into adulthood. ADHD cannot be cured, but behavior therapy, communication between teachers and caregivers, and medicine can help treat symptoms.

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Do you think you may suffer from ADHD and live in Florida, California or New York?

If so, please consider scheduling a proper virtual online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis with one of our physicians. Although we have an online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis tool, a proper diagnosis from a Board-Certified Medical Doctor will help you know for sure. If appropriate, a customized treatment program will be recommended at the conclusion of that initial visit.

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