Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of those mental health disorders that still dominates the mental health conversation. This is because diagnoses of ADHD are becoming increasingly common. Unfortunately, because ADHD has made its way into the public consciousness, the seriousness of the disorder can seem diminished. It can seem that “because so many people have it, it must not be so bad.” This is apathy, and it has no place in the conversation surrounding mental illness and our children.
What Exactly Is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?
Interestingly enough, while ADHD is regularly discussed, much of the discussion about it is not grounded in facts. According to the publication, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, by Doctors Magnus, Nazir, Anilkumar, and Shaban, “[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.”
It is these symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or impulsivity that make ADHD so recognizable. However, these are not the only symptoms of this disorder. Also, many children who have these symptoms do not meet the criteria for ADHD.
Knowing the difference between common inattentive symptoms and the actual disorder can be very helpful in getting our children the help they need. Also, knowing what the signs and symptoms are can help us from misdiagnosing our kids with ADHD, and in turn, negatively affecting them with unnecessary treatments.
What Are Some of the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?
As previously mentioned, ADHD has several warning signs and symptoms that many people may not associate with the disorder. ADHD is not strictly defined by the descriptors in its moniker. The following are just a few (but certainly not all) of the warning signs and symptoms of ADHD:
- Displaying a short attention span and becoming easily distracted
- Continually losing things and being overly forgetful
- Becoming careless in activities and making needless mistakes, especially in school
- Not sticking to assignments, especially those that feel time-consuming and/or monotonous
- Having trouble organizing tasks, as well as having difficulty performing tasks
- Showing excessive hyperactivity and impulsiveness
- Not being able to sit still, and having trouble staying calm
- Continuous fidgeting
- Displaying risky behaviors
- Being interruptive
- Having trouble waiting until it is their turn
- Acting before thinking things through
- Appearing overly anxious and being unable to explain why
If any, some, or many of these warning signs are present, it is highly recommended that a professional be contacted sooner than later. Doing so can mean the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences.
How Common Are Comorbidities of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Substance Use Disorder?
Another common aspect of ADHD is that it can co-occur with other mental health disorders, especially substance use disorder (SUD). According to the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, “Research has shown that those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an increased risk for life-controlling issues and disorders.” Also, “It has been estimated that up to 50% of adolescents and adults with substance abuse disorders have a lifetime diagnosis of ADHD.”
This high comorbidity factor can also make ADHD and SUD hard to diagnose. Many of the symptoms overlap with one another. That is why relying on a licensed professional mental health specialist for a diagnosis is critical. Also, regardless of comorbidities, when a proper diagnosis is made, it is important to follow the next steps recommended for treatment and recovery.
What Are Some Effective Treatment Options for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?
According to the previously mentioned write-up by Doctors Magnus, et al., “Pharmacological therapy remains the mainstay of treatment for patients who have ADHD.” Also, “It is divided into two major categories, which fall into stimulants or non-stimulants.” These “stimulants are further broken into amphetamines and methylphenidates” and “both types of stimulants block the reuptake of dopamine at the presynaptic membranes and postsynaptic membranes.” However, pharmacology is not the only option for treatment (though this treatment is what dominates the treatment conversation surrounding ADHD).
The other options for treating ADHD fall under the category of psychotherapy. These are psychotherapies such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and interpersonal therapy.
Group therapy can also be a highly effective form of treatment. This is especially true for students with ADHD and SUD. The reason is that relating to others who either are in residential care or have recovered can be crucial in accepting that there is an issue that needs to be addressed and then taking action toward fixing it.
Lighting Her Path: Our Recovery Mission at Clearview Girls Academy
We understand that a diagnosis of ADHD can be difficult. It’s also true that seeking treatment for this disorder can be challenging. However, we are here to help ease these difficulties and alleviate these challenges.
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we aim to light all of our students’ paths away from mental illness toward long-term wellness. This is our recovery mission, and we’re sticking to it.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more common among teens than many people realize. However, ADHD is a mental health disorder that is often misdiagnosed and sometimes inappropriately treated pharmacologically. To avoid misdiagnosis and improper treatment, it’s important to become better acquainted with ADHD. This includes its warning signs and symptoms and why seeking professional mental health care can be crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you feel like your daughter may be struggling with ADHD, other mental health issues, or substance use disorder (SUD), we can help. For more information on treatment and recovery options for ADHD and other mental health issues, please reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.