Attention Deficit Disorder
Are you paying attention? TheSite.org looks into ADD and ADHD, conditions now commonly in the public eye.
What is it?
About 1.7% of the UK population have either Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - behaviours associated with poor attention span. Boys are more likely to be affected. Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the USA), Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone), Napoleon (former Emperor of France) and Leonardo da Vinci (painter, scientist, mathematician, all-round 'Renaissance-man'!) all had ADD.
How does it affect people?
Behaviours include attention difficulties, impulsiveness, hyperactivity and difficulty learning and socialising.
What causes ADD/ADHD?
There are biological factors - temperament, genetics, brain injuries (birth trauma or pre-birth problems), and also environmental factors such as family stress and educational difficulties.
This can only be made by a doctor. It will often be appropriate for other professionals such as psychologists and teachers to contribute their observations. There is no single diagnostic test for ADD/DHD, so different sorts of information needs to be gathered, such as history of symptoms, and medical, psychiatric, educational and family history.
What treatment is available?
Behavioural, educational and psychological therapy can help. The most common and effective medications are amphetamine-like stimulants like methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin) and dexamfetamine (Dexedrine), however there is concern about the side effects of using Ritalin, including damage to the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
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