ADHD is estimated to affect anywhere between 2 to 20% of the population, with most studies settling on a figure around 7%. The attention-deficit disorder afflicts both children and adults but is much more prevalent in males than in females, with the most conservative ratio set at 2:1. Symptoms of ADHD are usually present by the age of 3, but often not diagnosed until the structured setting of school or even adulthood.
The most common symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, emotional instability, restless fidgeting, interrupting others and a lack of organization. About 75% of patients suffering from ADHD frequently show behavioral symptoms of aggression and defiance. These symptoms tend to manifest themselves in academic difficulties—it is harder for a child with ADHD to acquire, retain and display knowledge on a consistent basis.
The Neurobiology of ADHD
The exact causes of ADHD are unknown, but like many other psychiatric disorders, genetics play a significant role in its etiology. Biological parents of children with ADHD are more frequently discovered to also have the disorder than adoptive parents. Siblings of hyperactive children are twice as likely to have the disorder as the general population.
While most patients with ADHD have little evidence of structural damage in the central nervous system, scientists have repeatedly linked a few neurotransmitters to the disorder. Noradrenergic neurons have been cited for their role in influencing attention, and adrenergic and dopaminergic neurons are mentioned because they are affected by the medicines that have the most success curbing the ill effects of the disorder.
Symptoms generally must persist over a six-month period to warrant a diagnosis. It is important to consider how the patient relates to people (parents, peers, teachers, etc.) and how his or her response differs to participation in structured and unstructured events.
There has been a lot of coverage in the media about ADHD, its mis- or self-diagnosis, over-medication and prescription abuse. All of these are serious cause for concern. Dr. Ahmad has successfully and safely managed patients with ADHD by educating and partnering with them, thoroughly investigating, carefully diagnosing and ultimately providing treatment plans through a combination of neurocognitive testing, psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.
An educated decision on the best treatment plan can only be made by an informed patient in partnership with the treating physician.
Neurocognitive testing, which is offered at the Center, is a safe and effective method to identify frontal lobe deficits and executive dysfunction commonly associated with ADHD patients. It can also be helpful in distinguishing patients for whom psychopharmacology may alleviate ADHD symptoms.
Psychotherapy is also essential in the treatment of ADHD. Therapy is a collaborative approach that can help patients with ADHD increase self-esteem, improve social skills, and recognize that, while the symptoms of ADHD are not their fault, each patient can look forward to and take responsibility for meeting reasonable, agreed-upon expectations.
Take an adult- Attention Deficit Disorder (adult) screening quiz