Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type.It is characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age.The symptoms appear before a person is twelve years old, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities).In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance.Although it causes impairment, particularly in modern society, many children with ADHD have a good attention span for tasks they find interesting.
People with ADHD show an ongoing pattern of three different types of symptoms:
- Difficulty paying attention (inattention)
- Being overactive (hyperactivity)
- Acting without thinking (impulsivity)
A child with ADHD inattentive type has most or all of following symptoms, excluding situations where these symptoms are better explained by another psychiatric or medical condition:
- Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
- Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
- Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
- Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
- Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
- Seem to not be listening when spoken to
- Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
- Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
- Struggle to follow instructions
- Have trouble understanding minute details
A child with ADHD hyperactive-impulsive type has most or all of the following symptoms, excluding situations where these symptoms are better explained by another psychiatric or medical condition:
- Fidget and squirm in their seats
- Talk nonstop
- Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
- Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, doing homework, and story time
- Be constantly in motion
- Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities
- Be very impatient
- Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
- Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
- Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities
- Girls tend to have less hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity but more intellectual problems. Symptoms of hyperactivity tend to go away with age and turn into “inner restlessness” in teens and adults with ADHD.
ADHD is a complex diagnosis and it’s important to work with a professional familiar with ADHD when seeking diagnosis.
ADHD can be diagnosed via extensive interview procedures, behavior and symptom rating skills, third party observations, and obtaining comprehensive history. Comprehensive neuropsychological and psychoeducational testing can have many benefits, though it is not necessary for diagnosis. Neuropsychological testing can help you learn the ins and outs of your unique brain profile, which can be extremely beneficial in learning to live well with ADHD after being diagnosed.
Neuropsychological and psychoeducational testing are also pivotal in the process of attaining academic, standardized testing, and workplace accommodations. As ADHD is a disorder that is present throughout the lifespan, family members, spouses, and teachers (if applicable) are often asked to provide third-party observations and complete behavior rating scales to verify course of symptoms over time.
- Consider medication
- Think about therapy
- Get educated
- Nurture relationships
- Get organized
- Limit distractions
- Think before you act
- Plan ahead
- Get moving
- Train your brain
- Exercise and spend time outdoors
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat right
- Eat foods high in protein like eggs, fish, beans, nuts, soy and dairy products. Protein-rich foods increase the production of dopamine, which in turn helps a person stay focused.
- Complex carbohydrate foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar, such as whole grains, will help manage ADHD symptoms by stabilizing blood sugar levels as too much blood sugar can disrupt proper brain functioning.
Include magnesium-rich foods like spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, soybeans and black beans in your diet. Magnesium will help reduce irritability, increase attention span and lessen mental confusion.
- Include foods rich in vitamin B6 to combat irritability. Some good options are avocados, bananas, spinach, sunflower seeds, prunes and nuts.
- Low levels of zinc are also associated with ADHD so include zinc-rich foods in your diet. Foods high in zinc include oysters, liver, cheese, sesame seeds, squash and peanuts.
- Eliminate foods with artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, flavorings and preservatives from your diet.These foods can cause hyperactive behavior and learning disabilities.
- Fish oil
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