ADHD Primer

Presented By Dr. Sergei Shushunov

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is defined as a behavioral disorder characterized by atypical levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that impair daily living activities. Although commonly associated with children and adolescents, current literature and practice demonstrate that it is not uncommon in adults as well.

ADD and ADHD are two abbreviations used in place for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Similar condition were described over a century ago as a disorder in which there was unruly behavior and hyperactivity, mainly noted in boys. Later, attention dysfunction and conduct disorder behavior were noted in children who recovered from encephalitis (viral brain infection). Subsequently, a group of children were identified with similar symptoms but without a history of encephalitis and a term “Minimum or Minimal Brain Dysfunction” was adopted to describe these children’s condition. Prior to 1970’s the term Minimal Brain Dysfunction along with 37 other related terms, including “hyperkinetic syndrome” and “hyperactive reaction of childhood” were used for children with what we call now Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has become the only term used in medical literature since 1980’s.

The first studies of this condition were published in 1940’s. It was already then recognized that Minimal Brain Dysfunction syndrome represented a variety of problems, some behavioral and some cognitive, which put a child at difficulties with his social and familial environment and that Minimal Brain Dysfunction did not represent a single entity.

It is estimated that 3 to 9% of children and adolescents in the United States are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with 3:1 boy to girl ratio. It is commonly associated with children and adolescents, but current research demonstrates that it affects adults as well. Current estimates suggest that half of children with ADHD never fully outgrow this condition with 3 to 5% of adults over age 20 have it. In 2006, 5 million individuals in the United States were prescribed psychostimulant medication, 3.5 million between ages 3 and 19 years, and 1.5 million between ages 20 and 64 years. Hyperactivity may improve as the child matures, however it may still be significant enough to negatively impact the adult’s life. In addition to attention span dysfunction, the adult may have difficulties with time management, frustration control, quality of sleep (insomnia) and self-motivation. This may result in having all sorts of problems at work or in social situations, affecting not only patints but also their families, coworkers and friends.

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