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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects about 5 to 10% of children and adults. Contrary to popular misconception, the disorder does not disappear after adolescence. There are many adults who continue to suffer the disorder, needing ongoing help from their doctors.

People with attention deficit disorder suffer from the classical triad of:

  • Concentration problems
  • Distractibility
  • Impulsiveness

Different people suffer from the above three symptoms in different proportion and degree. So, some may be more impulsive than others whilst others may just be lacking in concentration.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be subtyped as follows:

  1. ADHD, inattention type. The symptoms are inattention, concentration difficulty, distractibility, inability to complete tasks and lack of organisation.
  2. ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive type. The symptoms are restlessness, overactivity, fidgetiness, failure to take turns in games or conversations and a tendency to interrupt others.
  3. ADHD, combined type. The symptoms are a mixture of the above two types.

Personal profile of ADHD sufferers

ADHD sufferers are usually noted to be restless babies with an irregular rhythm. They are overactive toddlers who are a handful for the parents. Young ADHD sufferers tend to underachieve at school. Those who are impulsive tend to present as a challenge to their teachers and parents alike because of their behavioural difficulties. Frequent detentions and suspensions from school are not unusual. Many are too restless to complete their education. Unfortunately, most traditional education systems are inadequate to cater for the needs of these students. Those who are simply inattentive and not impulsive usually go undiagnosed because they do not present with behavioural problem at school. At times, they are misidentified as slow learners. Their peers and teachers may even consider them as lazy.

Adult sufferers usually attain a professional achievement below their actual potential. Their personal history is usually replete with frequent job changes and difficult relationships. They are just too restless and do not give themselves the opportunity to succeed. They may also commit minor offences such as drunk driving and infringements of traffic regulations. They may suffer socially because of their disorganisation, lack of punctuality impulsiveness and irritability.


ADHD is best managed with a combination of complementary treatments including medications and psychological therapies. The two commonly prescribed medications are Methylphenidate and Dexamphetamine. Generally, the impulsive symptoms respond better to medication than the inattention symptoms. For those people who suffer from ADHD, inattention type, a Tricyclic antidepressant such as Imipramine may be effective.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is useful for ADHD sufferers, especially when the persons are young because the problems are not too entrenched. Through the therapy, the sufferers learn to deal with and control their impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Other problems

It is important to note that ADHD sufferers have a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder and depression than the general population. As such, it is useful to include anxiety and stress managements in their treatment plan. When their anxiety and depression go untreated, these people tend to self-medicate with alcohol or other harmful drugs to calm their nerves.

The treatment approaches for anxiety or depression problems in ADHD sufferers are similar to those anxious and depressed sufferers who do not have ADHD.

The golden rule in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is:

“Treat the ADHD disorder but also treat the stress, anxiety and depression!”

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