Attention Deficit Disorder

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What is ADHD ?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – is a common behavioural disorder that affects around one in 20 people, mainly men.

The diagnosis is most commonly made in childhood and children with ADHD present constant challenges for parents, teachers and medical profession. Until recently, it was thought that a child outgrew ADHD during adolescence, due to developmental changes in brain chemistry. However, it seems that seven out of 10 children with ADHD mature into adults with ADHD.

Adults with ADHD, like kids with ADHD, have difficulty paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours and keeping thoughts on track.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The most common symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults are:

  • Have unpredictable mood swings
  • Make careless mistakes at work
  • Find it hard to sustain attention in work or leisure
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Not follow instructions or finish tasks
  • Find it hard to organise tasks and activities
  • Avoid sustained mental effort in work
  • Lose things like keys, paperwork and things needed for tasks
  • Be easily distracted by other stimuli
  • Be forgetful in daily activities
  • Fidget with hands or feet, or squirm in their seat
  • Find it hard to remain seated
  • Constantly run to do things
  • Be impatient
  • Have trouble doing things quietly
  • Talk excessively
  • Blurt out things without thinking
  • Have trouble waiting their turn in queues and other such situations
  • Butt into conversations or other activities.

A patient with ADHD may have difficulty in school, home, maintaining relationships or holding down a job. If their condition was undiagnosed and untreated in childhood, their academic record may be poor. A lifetime of grappling with this behavioural disorder often means the person has low self-esteem.

In many cases, a person with ADHD turns to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to cope with their feelings of frustration and failure. Rates of personality disorders and other psychological problems, such as anxiety or mood disorders, are high. On the other hand, an adult with properly managed ADHD often shows great imagination and creative flair.

Slideshow: A Visual Guide to ADHD in Adults

What causes ADHD?

Despite intensive research, the exact causes of ADHD remain unknown. Studies so far indicate that ADHD could be caused by structural and chemical differences in the brain.

One theory is that a lack of a particular group of brain chemicals, called monoamines, may play a part. The fact that ADHD can, in some cases, be managed with drugs seems to support the theory that brain chemicals are at least partially involved.

Diagnosis of ADHD is Complex

It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms of ADHD can be similar to those for anxiety, depression or other mental illness. To date, there is no single test to determine whether or not ADHD is present.

A typical investigation might include :

  • Ruling out other psychological problems that have similar symptoms to ADHD.
  • Ruling out alcohol or drug abuse that might be responsible for the symptoms (although these problems may coexist with ADHD).
  • Rating the person’s current behaviour and lifestyle.
  • Checking back to see if the person showed ADHD symptoms in childhood.
  • Interviewing family, friends, spouse and others about the person’s behaviour.
  • Electroencephalograph (EEG)

Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder

The treatment of ADHD depends on the severity of the disorder, but can include :

  • Education – to help the person understand and better manage their condition.
  • Lifestyle improvement – such as cutting back or quitting drugs and alcohol, and taking up regular exercise.
  • Medication – psycho stimulant drugs are used.
  • Psychotherapy – to address self-esteem problems or substance abuse.
  • Therapy – to teach anger management, organisational skills or social skills, depending on the needs of the individual.
  • Vocational counselling – to increase the person’s chances of success and satisfaction in the workplace.
  • Family therapy – when one member suffers with ADHD, the whole family suffers and needs support.

How We Can Help With Treating ADHD

The staff at MMBC has developed a comprehensive assessment and treatment program for children and adults with ADHD based on worldwide scientific opinion and experience.

Reference EEG analysis may be used to dictate medication choice. Quantitative EEG and biofeedback may be used. A targeted day treatment program is used at MMBC to assist with many aspects of management of ADHD and its impact on one’s life.

MMBC continues to work closely with International Institute of Psychopharmacology, US based CNS response, and Melbourne based Neurotherapy clinics and the industry in ongoing research and clinical activities to improve understanding and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

A New Research on ADHD

The University of Sydney researchers have confirmed that use of omputerized neurocognitive assessment improves accuracy and efficiency of identifying ADHD.

The assessment used at Melbourne MediBrain Centre NeuroTrax Mindstreams battery  detects variations in a person’s sustained attention, impulsivity, intrusions, executive memory, information processing speed and provides robust information in addition to the clinical interview.

The use of such testing has been implemented at Melbourne MediBrain Centre for the last five years as part of assessment for ADHD, to reliably diagnose it and to support treatment decisions and monitor treatment outcomes.

“ADHD is of immense concern with at least one child affected in every classroom worldwide”  said Dr.Leanna Williams, Professor of cognitive Neuropsychiatry. “Yet, there is currently no consensus on objective medical tests to help doctors make diagnostic and treatment decisions.”

ADHD in adults

A review of the literature can be found here

Research Update…

Cognitive-Behavioural therapy is better than relaxation with educational support in adult ADHD

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) significantly improved attention deficit symptoms in adult patients who were already taking medication compared with patients who used relaxation with educational support, according to data from a study of 86 adults aged 18-65. The study was published in Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010.

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