Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Alternative Names

ADD; ADHD; Childhood hyperkinesis

Definition of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child’s age and development.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Imaging studies suggest that the brains of children with ADHD are different from those of other children. These children handle neurotransmitters (including dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline) differently from their peers.

Symptoms

The symptoms of ADHD are divided into inattentiveness, and hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Signs and tests

Too often, difficult children are incorrectly labeled with ADHD. On the other hand, many children who do have ADHD remain undiagnosed. In either case, related learning disabilities or mood problems are often missed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued guidelines to bring more clarity to this issue.

Treatment

The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines for treating ADHD:

Expectations (prognosis)

ADHD is a long-term, chronic condition. If it is not treated appropriately, ADHD may lead to:

Review

David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/22/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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