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ADHD 101: The Basics and Beyond

You’ll often see this definition provided by researchers and doctors for ADHD, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by a combination of inattentiveness, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.”

What does that mean in our everyday life or for our kids? It means every little thing that most people tune out becomes very interesting to someone with the symptoms of ADHD. Or it could refer to the ability to remember something that happened a year ago but not recall something that was studied the night before. It can also mean that sitting for a long time feels more like a punishment than an opportunity to unwind.

At New Directions Mental Health, we offer our clients ADHD treatment to help with understanding ADHD and how to manage it better. Treatment for ADHD is customized based on the individual, their symptoms, and overall needs. To get a better understanding of ADHD and treatment options, call us today at 724.374.7414.

What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that interfere with daily functioning or development. Individuals with ADHD may find it challenging to focus on tasks, follow instructions, remember details, and control impulsive behaviors. They might also exhibit excessive physical activity, often seeming to be “on the go.”

It’s important to note that these symptoms go beyond occasional forgetfulness or energetic behavior. They are chronic and significantly disrupt a person’s life. ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood but can continue into adulthood. Despite its challenges, with appropriate treatment and support, individuals with ADHD can lead successful, fulfilling lives.

How Is ADHD Measured?

It is measured by:

  • Lack of impulse control – Verbal and physical acting without thinking
  • Increase in hyperactivity – Disregard for future, cannot defer gratification
  • Decrease in attention – Distracted, low attention span, not alert

How ADHD Affects the Brain

ADHD affects various regions of the brain, influencing how they communicate and coordinate with each other. Key areas impacted include:

  • The prefrontal cortex – Responsible for executive functions such as decision-making, attention, and impulse control
  • The basal ganglia – Regulates communication within the brain
  • The reticular activating system – Involved in alertness and attention

Research suggests that individuals with ADHD may have less activity in these areas, leading to difficulties in focusing, controlling impulses, and organizing tasks. Additionally, studies show differences in the brain’s neurotransmitter systems, particularly dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play crucial roles in regulating attention and behavior. Understanding these neurological aspects of ADHD is critical in developing effective treatment strategies.

What Are Executive Functions?

Our current executive functions as we understand them today are:

  • Self-awareness or insight
  • Inhibition and impulse control
  • Working memory (short-term memory)
  • Emotional self-regulation
  • Problem-solving
  • Preplanning and organization

Delays in these executive functions expose why people with symptoms of ADHD have trouble in relationships, work, and school.

How to Treat ADHD

Treating ADHD often involves a multi-faceted approach tailored to the individual’s specific needs. Medication is commonly used, with stimulant drugs like methylphenidate and amphetamine being most effective in reducing symptoms in many individuals. Non-stimulant medications are also available.

In addition to medication, behavioral therapy is a vital component of treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals develop skills to manage their symptoms, improve organization, and cope with daily challenges. For children, parent training and school-based interventions can be beneficial.

Lifestyle modifications, such as regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep, can also contribute to managing ADHD symptoms. Anyone with ADHD must work closely with their healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that best suits their needs.

Get Help from New Directions Mental Health’s ADHD Treatment in Greensburg, Pennsylvania

If you believe you or someone you know has symptoms of ADHD that are impacting their enjoyment of school, work, or life, please contact New Directions Mental Health. We can provide a full evaluation and all recommended treatments with our collaborative therapists and knowledgeable doctors. Call us now today at 724.374.7414 to get a better understanding of ADHD and learn about our ADHD treatment options.