Mohave County
May 2024
Volume 24 Issue 3

Jun 2023 | Health | 0 comments

Does an ADHD Spectrum Exist?

Health | 0 comments

June 2023

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) indeed exists on a spectrum with symptoms varying from mild to severe. According to a 2016 article, the behavioral and cognitive symptoms of ADHD differ significantly from person to person. The clinical criteria for ADHD diagnosis now take this variation into account.

Healthcare professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) to diagnose ADHD and gauge symptom severity. This classification system diagnoses mental health conditions and brain disorders. It categorizes ADHD into mild, moderate, or severe, based on the number and impact of symptoms on daily life.

Types of ADHD

The DSM-5-TR identifies three main types of ADHD:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
  3. Combination of both

Each type may vary in severity depending on the number of symptoms and their interference with regular functioning. Inattentive ADHD symptoms might include difficulty paying attention, following instructions, or maintaining organization, among others. Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD symptoms may include fidgeting, excessive talking, and difficulty waiting turns.

ADHD Diagnosis

Doctors use the DSM-5-TR criteria for ADHD diagnosis. Symptoms must be present for at least six months and inappropriate or disruptive for the individual’s developmental level. For children under 12, several symptoms need to be present. In adults, at least five ADHD symptoms should appear in at least two different settings, reducing the person’s functionality.

ADHD Treatment

ADHD treatment varies for each individual and symptom severity. The main treatments include behavioral therapies and medications. For children under six, parent training in behavior management is the first-line treatment.

Behavior therapy promotes positive behaviors and reduces problem behaviors, including strategies at home and school and skills training like organization. Medications include stimulants and non-stimulants. Adult treatment may involve medications, psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral therapies, or a combination of these approaches.

ADHD, considered to be on a spectrum, leads to varying levels of symptom severity and different types of symptoms in each person. Therefore, when diagnosing ADHD, doctors use set criteria to identify the type and severity, with treatments differing accordingly.

— By Beth Sissons

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