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It’s ADHD Awareness Month
- Have you heard of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
- Did you know that ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions in children and can last into adulthood?
- Learn all about ADHD for ADHD Awareness Month!
MPH, MSN, WHNP-BC
ADHD Awareness Month
October is ADHD Awareness Month! Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is one of the most common (and often misunderstood) neurodevelopmental conditions in American children.
As more research on mental health and behavioral health continues to increase, ADHD has garnered more attention in nursing care and mainstream media.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning that it is a health condition that affects behavior as a result of the way someone’s brain grows and develops. Often times, ADHD is detected in childhood. However, ADHD can be diagnosed later on in adulthood.
Because of stigma around mental health, ADHD was historically seen as a condition that “problem children” outgrew and not a “real health problem.”
Now, with more evidence-based research, ADHD is more known as a chronic health condition with no cure and deserves adequate detection, assessment, and management.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is unique in that many people have different symptoms, while some people have no symptoms. Some people also present in varying severity and duration of symptoms.
Hallmark criteria for ADHD involves the presence and extent of someone’s inattention, hyperactivity, behavior modulation, or impulsivity that interferes with their quality of life or ability to function.
Some common signs and symptoms of ADHD include:
- Unable to focus on details
- Has difficulty following through on instructions
- Trouble with task organization
- Experiences feelings of restlessness
How Common is ADHD?
ADHD presently affects 10% of children and 4% of adults in America. Rates of ADHD are often under-represented as there are many people who are unable to access mental health and behavioral health services in order to be adequately assessed and diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD is also more common in boys and men compared to girls and women.
If ADHD is left undetected and untreated, unmanaged issues with attention, behavior, and impulse can emerge, leading to lifelong issues with job retention, relationships, and self-identity.
How is ADHD Diagnosed?
There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, which makes obtaining an ADHD diagnosis a lengthy journey for many. This is one of the reasons for ADHD Awareness Month. With diagnosis being difficult to navigate, it is important to be familiar with resources to share with patients seeking help with diagnosis and providers.
While an ADHD diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional or primary care provider, it frequently takes a coordinated effort and consistent documentation of behaviors to receive an ADHD diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is no single known cause for ADHD. There are several theories on ADHD’s cause, but no definite answer.
Who Is at Risk for ADHD?
Some possible risk factors for ADHD include:
- Family history of ADHD
- Brain injury
- Premature delivery
There is still more research to be done to determine exact risk factors for ADHD. Because more research needs conducted to understand risk factors, a goal of ADHD Awareness Month is to reduce the stigma around ADHD as it is not “laziness”, but a more complex neurobehavioral disorder.
ADHD can be managed with therapy, medication, or both.
It is important to note that there is no one single way to manage ADHD. ADHD management is something to be discussed with your health care provider and care team to determine the best course of action for your needs and health goals.
ADHD Awareness Month Resources
Some evidence-based organizations that can provide you with the latest information and patient education tools on ADHD include:
The Bottom Line
Often, there can be mixed messages people see on social media and from their community members regarding their health, especially mental health. With this month being ADHD Awareness Month, it’s a time to spread awareness to prevent misinformation and stigma.
Nurses are the most trusted profession for a reason. Patients often turn to nurses for information since there can be so many misconceptions about health, treatment options, and more.
It is also crucial for nurses to recognize that there are several reasons why someone would not want to discuss their behavior and mental health concerns. There are people who have had negative experiences with the health care system and people with cultural differences who might not feel comfortable discussing their mental and behavioral health concerns.
By providing that safer space and having a non-judgmental approach, you can work to establish trust between yourself and the patient. This can provide an opportunity to discuss health history and provide as much education as possible.
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