What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” This condition affects many cognitive functions, including memory, concentration, and energy. While often diagnosed in childhood, ADHD can affect people of all ages. Experts estimate that 11 percent of children in the United States live with ADHD. In adults, the number is approximately 4.4 percent.

What’s the Difference Between ADHD and ADD?

In previous years, mental health care providers considered ADD and ADHD as different conditions, although they seemed related. After more research and understanding, it has become clear that what was previously called “ADD” is really a sub-type of ADHD.

All told, there are three types of ADHD:

  • Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD: Symptoms include excess energy, trouble sitting still, and excess talking.
  • Primarily Inattentive ADHD: This is the condition that used to be called ADD. People with this type struggle to focus, finish tasks, or remember things.
  • Combination ADHD: People with this condition show symptoms of both other types of ADHD, though they may have more symptoms of one.

A trained mental health expert can test patients not only for ADHD, but also for which type of ADHD they may have.

Treatment Options for ADHD

While some children outgrow ADHD, there is no known cure for the disorder. However, medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes can all help people with ADHD manage their symptoms.

Medication for ADHD

Stimulant medications are the first-line treatment option for people with ADHD. In other words, it’s the most effective for the most people. In fact, stimulants help about 80 percent of people with ADHD. Contrary to what many people thinks, stimulants can actually relax someone with ADHD, even though they may make someone without the disorder overly hyperactive.

There are some non-stimulant medications that may help people with ADHD. For example, some providers prescribe Wellbutrin for ADHD as an off-label use.

Behavioral Therapy for ADHD

Often, parents do not wish to go straight to medication for their child with ADHD. Similarly, an adult with ADHD may wish to treat the condition without medication. Behavioral therapy can help. In these sessions, patients:

  • Learn more about their unique minds
  • Discover how to stop their most destructive behaviors
  • Learn to replace destructive behaviors with positive ones

When children enter behavioral therapy, caregivers are often involved as well. Therapists teach he whole family their roles in helping the person with ADHD.

Making Lifestyle Changes for ADHD Treatment

In addition to professional interventions, many people with ADHD can improve their mental health with specific lifestyle changes, including:

  • Creating and sticking to a routine
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating healthfully

These changes are often not enough to eliminate symptoms by themselves. However, they can improve the results of other interventions.