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Healthwise: Treating ADHD Disorder

March 14, 2012

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be caused by genetics or abnormalities in your brain. The condition impacts grade school children through adults.

Doctor David Mahoney, of Charlottesville Wellness Center, says in children the disorder can often be confused with bad behavior.

"There is a difference between bad behavior and ADHD. ADHD is a disease that is diagnosed by very specific criteria. Essentially, the child must be experiencing different criteria for at least six months and in more than one setting, home and school," said Dr. Mahoney.

The criteria falls under three categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Inattention refers to things like being easily distracted or procrastination. Hyperactivity is fighting, or running, or climbing excessively, and impulsivity is impatience or frequently interrupting others.

"People who truly suffer from ADHD really do have a difficult time getting things done. In school life, grades suffer and in work life, it is very difficult to multitask or to go from task to task to finish things up in a timely fashion," said Dr. Mahoney.

Dr. Mahoney says it is important to get to your doctor for an evaluation. There, they can figure out a treatment plan which may include medications such as a stimulant and therapy. If left untreated, ADHD could make achieving goals difficult. It can lead to repercussions like job loss or poor school grades.

Dr. Mahoney suggests treatment, but he does warn patients and parents about the dangers of medication. Some prescription pills can potentially cause sudden death in some children with heart conditions and other medications can become habit forming.

"So, it's something that I take very seriously when I diagnose a person and instruct them on these medications, so it's not a quick fix, it's a long term commitment to medication," said Dr. Mahoney.

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