Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric condition that has long been recognized as affecting children's ability to function. Individuals suffering from this disorder show patterns of developmentally inappropriate levels of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. Although there used to be two different diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder vs. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the DSM IV combined this into one disorder with three subtypes: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, or combined type.

The symptoms begin at a young age and usually include lack of attention, lack of concentration, disorganization, difficulty completing tasks, being forgetful, and losing things. These symptoms should be present before the age of 12, have lasted six months, and interfere with daily life activities in order to be labeled as 'ADHD.' This must be present in more than one setting (i.e., at home and school, or school and after-school activities). It can have large consequences, including social interactions, increased risky behaviors, loss of jobs, and difficulty achieving in school.

ADHD must be considered within the context of what is developmentally and culturally appropriate for a person. It is considered a dysfunction of executive functioning, predominantly a frontal lobe activity. Therefore, patients with ADHD show disability not only in attention and focus but also in decision making and emotional regulation. Children with ADHD can have difficulty with social interactions, can be easily frustrated, and can be impulsive. They are often labeled as "trouble makers."

ADHD is not a new condition and has been called different names throughout history. It was labeled as 'minimal brain dysfunction' in the 1930s and has ever since changed names to ADD and ADHD, respectively. Its prevalence has increased over time, with a seeming spike in the 1950s as school became more standardized for children.

It is important to diagnose and treat the disorder at a young age so that the symptoms do not persist into adulthood and cause other comorbid conditions. The treatment for the disorder is mostly related to stimulants and psychotherapy. This review would further shed light upon the causal factors, pathophysiology, and management of ADHD.

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