Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects behavioral inhibition, attention, resistance to distraction, and self-regulation. One of the major challenges of ADHD is the very high comorbidity rates of anxiety, depression, and externalizing problem behavior. Children with ADHD have difficulty stopping and thinking before acting. They often are described as being excessively fidgety, restless, and "on the go." When engaging in activities, they may show poor sustained attention or persistence. This is most obvious when children are assigned tedious, protracted, or repetitive activities. Although these are the most common areas of difficulties, research also indicates that at times it may also impact other areas of psychological functioning, including regulation of emotions. Children with ADHD often times have more difficulty managing their emotional reactions to situations. They are more likely to publicly show their emotions and consequently are often perceived as less emotionally mature and more reactive.
The first-line treatment for ADHD is the combination medicine management with behavioral modification training for the child, parent, and teachers. This typically involves the prescription of a psychostimulant such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) or d-amphetamine (Adderall). In certain cases, a tricyclic antidepressant such as desipramine may be prescribed to address ADHD as well as other co-existing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Behavior modification techniques have been shown to augment improvements of children with ADHD and help in managing co-occurring conditions. Clinicians at the Child Anxiety Center are experts in behavioral treatments for ADHD, executive functioning coaching, and cognitive behavioral therapy for co-occurring conditions. If you suspect your child has ADHD, we are able to complete a comprehensive evaluation, consult with school-based personal to help ensure adequate supports, and provide effective treatment.