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ADHD: A Neurological Disorder of the Brain

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ADHD, often used interchangeably with ADD, is a neurobiological disorder of the brain characterized by inability to focus on tasks or follow through with tasks, or hyperactivity. It’s important to distinguish life stressors which can cause these symptoms, to that which can be considered a true disorder.  

The DSM outlines specific criteria that patients exhibit who are clinically diagnosed with the disorder. ADHD can be treated with a multi-pronged approach, including pharmacological options and talk therapy, but the first step is to understand what it is and how it works.

What ADHD Feels Like

The DSM defines the following three symptoms as indicative of someone suffering from ADHD:

  • Inattention: The inability to maintain focus on tasks, both during work and play, that results in lack of follow through. This can manifest in different tasks for different ages, whether a high school student unable to complete their homework or a professional adult who’s incapable of meeting deadlines no matter how hard they try. Other signs include difficulty with organization, being easily distracted and losing objects necessary to function such as eyeglasses or phone.
  • Hyperactivity & Impulsivity: These two symptoms hand-in-hand and overlap, but are essential pieces to what comprises ADHD. These include traits such as excessive fidgeting, being unable to sit still, a feeling of pervasive restlessness in adults, an inability to participate in activities calmly, a sense of being “on the go” all the time, excessive talking and being interruptive during group activities such as conversations or games.

Who Experiences ADHD

There are many misconceptions about who experiences ADHD and how from popular culture and incorrect portrayals in media. The commonly held belief is that ADHD is limited to children and experienced primarily by men. As research has shown, however, this is unequivocally untrue. Although ADHD is indeed more commonly diagnosed in children, five percent of American adults, or 11 million people, deal with ADHD throughout their lifetime. Discrepancies in the prevalence of ADHD by gender are now being attributed to women historically being under-diagnosed and untreated.

One key element of ADHD is that diagnosis and recognition of the disorder in new populations is ongoing. Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention if you suspect that you or your children are experiencing these symptoms.

What To Do If This Sounds Familiar

You’ll need to work with a medical doctor to be diagnosed and find a suitable route of treatment. ADHD is most commonly treated with prescription stimulants, though other options can be explored. Therapy and education can also help manage the disorder. If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with ADHD, working with a qualified, experienced counselor can help learn how to manage the disorder and live a fully functional life. Call today for a free consultation with a certified counselor to explore how you can benefit from therapy.

About the Author:

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer has spent over 12 years in private practice working with individuals, couples, and parents who are faced with kid-drama, mamma-drama, and family-drama, and she claims that although some stories make a grown woman cry, she loves it.
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