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      What is ADHD?

      In less than a month, kids across the Heartland will be headed back to school. ??While they??ll all be deep in their studies, some kids seem to have more trouble than others. Dr. Justin Puckett, from Complete Family Medicine, stopped by the set of Good Morning Heartland to discuss one of the more common problems, ADHD. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE to learn more.

      Question: Could you define ADHD?

      Answer: ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity. ADHD begins in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. About 30% to 50% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as adults.

      Question: What are some of the symptoms of ADHD?

      Answer: Symptoms of ADHD can differ from person to person, but there are three basic types of ADHD. Each one is identified by some combination of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. When activity levels are normal or low, the type is usually called primarily inattentive. The symptoms of hyperactivity and possibly impulsiveness appear to diminish with age but are seen in the primarily hyperactive/impulsive type. The third type has some symptoms from each of the other two and is called the combined type.

      Question: How does ADHD usually affect children?

      Answer: Children with ADHD have trouble functioning at home and in school and often have difficulty making and keeping friends. If left untreated, ADHD may interfere with school and work, as well as with social and emotional development.

      Question: Do boys or girls seem to have the problem most?

      Answer: ADHD is more common in boys, whose impulsivity and hyperactivity may be evident. Inattentiveness is a hallmark of ADHD in girls, but because they aren't often disruptive in the classroom, they may not get diagnosed. ADHD tends to run in families. When one person is diagnosed with ADHD, there is a 25%-35% chance that another family member will also have the condition, compared to 4%-6% of the general public.

      Question: It seems like lots of kids are diagnosed with ADHD, has that increased since when we were in school?

      Answer: No one knows for sure whether ADHD is more common today, but it is very clear that the number of children getting diagnosed and treated for ADHD has risen over time. Some of this increase in diagnosis and treatment is due to greater awareness of the symptoms. Some experts feel that ADHD is over diagnosed, while others feel it is underdiagnosed or undertreated. ADHD often coexists with other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. Some symptoms may overlap with other medical conditions, as well.

      Question: How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

      Answer: ADHD is a complex condition and is sometimes difficult to diagnose. There is no single test for ADHD. Doctors diagnose ADHD in children and teens after discussing symptoms at length with the child and parents -- and possibly teachers -- and observing the child's behaviors. The doctor will also gather information about any similar problems that run in the family, and consider all possible causes. ??To confirm a diagnosis of ADHD and/or learning differences, a battery of tests may be given to assess a child's neurological and psychological status. The tests should be given by a physician or mental health provider with experience in diagnosing and treating ADHD.

      Question: What Are the Treatments for ADHD?

      Answer: The most effective treatment for ADHD is thought to be a combination of medication and psychological and behavioral therapies. Close cooperation among therapists, doctors, teachers, and parents is very important, and team meetings help. Stimulants: Although there is considerable controversy about their possible overuse, stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating ADHD. Stimulants often decrease hyperactivity and improve concentration. A doctor needs to monitor the dosage of the stimulant medication closely, both to determine the most effective level of drug and to watch for any side effects. Generally, most side effects of stimulants are mild and may include decreased appetite, stomach aches, sleep problems, headaches, and an increase in anxiety. However, in rare cases, stimulants can have more serious side effects. For instance, some are linked to a higher risk of heart problems and sudden death in children with preexisting heart disease. They may also worsen psychiatric conditions like depression or anxiety or cause a psychotic reaction in some individuals. Before your kids start taking an ADHD medicine, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

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