LANHAM, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--When is it ADHD? And what can look like ADHD, but isn’t? With the arrival of ADHD Awareness Month in October, CHADD ─ the leading resource on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) ─ shares essential information about how to recognize the signs and symptoms, and how to better distinguish ADHD from other disorders.
In the United States, ADHD affects eight percent of school-age children and more than four percent of adults. Despite the fact that this common neurodevelopmental disorder is one of the most well-researched medical diagnoses, it often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed by healthcare professionals. ADHD can mimic numerous other conditions, including anxiety, depression, learning disorders, sleep difficulties, stress, substance abuse, hyper or hypothyroidism, blood sugar issues, hearing or vision problems, bipolar disorder, side effects from medications, and more. It’s important to note that ADHD often coexists with other disorders.
According to Max Wiznitzer, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio; Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Case Western Reserve University; and Co-chair of CHADD’s Professional Advisory Board, there needs to be much greater focus on the underlying causes that might be driving certain behaviors, as opposed to considering just the symptoms themselves.
“ADHD has three components,” explains Dr. Wiznitzer. “The first component is inattention. This is a broad category that includes poor organization, poor time management, forgetfulness, losing things, and the inability to finish tasks. The second component is overactivity. The third is impulsivity. So, you have to ask, what else might these symptoms indicate? For example, let’s look at inattention. If you’re anxious or worried, you’re not paying good attention. If you’re tired because you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not paying good attention. If you’re bored with your job or your class, you’re not paying good attention. So, while inattentiveness may very well be caused by ADHD, it might actually be the result of something else.”
Dr. Wiznitzer says the reverse is also true. Many people are being treated for other conditions ─ particularly anxiety or depression ─ when they actually have ADHD. Also important to note is that most people don’t realize that ADHD and ADD are one and the same. The only difference within ADHD is that some individuals have hyperactivity and some do not.
“When symptoms present themselves, we shouldn’t jump immediately to any specific diagnosis,” he cautions. “Preconceived labels send thinking in the wrong direction. Always start with the underlying symptoms and stay open-mined regarding all of the possibilities as to why a problem exists.”
A proper ADHD diagnosis requires a comprehensive evaluation by an experienced professional who can thoroughly assess signs and symptoms, rule out other causes, and determine the presence or absence of coexisting conditions.
When not properly identified, diagnosed, and treated, ADHD can have serious consequences, including academic and work failure, family stress and disruption, depression, relationship problems, substance abuse, accidental injuries, and financial and legal difficulties. ADHD is very manageable using an individualized, multimodal treatment approach that can include behavioral interventions, parent and patient training, educational support, and medication. With the proper treatment, individuals with ADHD can be highly successful.
To learn more, visit www.CHADD.org or call 301-306-7070.
CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is the leading resource on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), providing support, training, education and advocacy for the 17 million children and adults in the United States living with ADHD, their families, educators and healthcare professionals. As home to the National Resource Center on ADHD, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CHADD is the most trusted source of reliable, science-based information regarding current medical research and ADHD management.