Answers FAQ

ADHD FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

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Q:The abbreviated term ADHD denotes what condition?

A:Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, refers to a chronic biobehavioral disorder that initially manifests in childhood.

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Q:Stuttering is a symptom of ADHD. True or False.

A:False. Stuttering is not symptomatic of ADHD. For an accurate diagnosis, the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity must be present to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with the developmental level of the child.

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Q:For an accurate diagnosis in children, ADHD symptoms must be present for how long?

A:At least six months. There is no single test used to diagnose ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed after a person has shown some or all of symptoms of ADHD on a regular basis for more than six months.

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Q:ADHD can be an inherited condition. True or False?

A:True. Research has shown that ADHD does seem to cluster in families. Several investigations have demonstrated that children who have ADHD usually have at least one close relative who also has ADHD.

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Q:Which class of drugs is NOT used to treat ADHD in children or adults?

A:Antipsychotic medications. Psychostimulant medications are by far the most widely researched and commonly prescribed treatments for ADHD, though two types of antidepressant medications, tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and bupropion have also been shown to have a positive effect on all three of the major components of ADHD.

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Q:Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that affects children usually resolves itself by adulthood. True or False?

A:False. Children who are diagnosed with ADHD may continue to exhibit symptoms that persist into adulthood. While up to 5% of school-aged children are believed to have ADHD, its prevalence in the adult population is difficult to estimate, but it's likely to be in the range of 1%-5% of the population. Symptoms of ADHD in adults can include difficulty following directions, difficulty with concentration, and trouble with organizing tasks or completing work within time limits.

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Q:There are no differences in stimulant use for treatment of ADHD across racial and ethnic groups. True or False?

A:False. There are significant differences in access to mental-health services between children of different racial groups, and consequently, there are differences in medication use. In particular, African-American children are much less likely than Caucasian children to receive psychotropic medications, including stimulants, for treatment of mental disorders.

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Q:What diseases or conditions are closely associated with childhood ADHD?

A:Cigarette smoking and drug and alcohol abuse. Although an increased risk of drug abuse and cigarette smoking is associated with childhood ADHD, this risk appears due to the ADHD condition itself, rather than its treatment. In a study jointly funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), boys with ADHD who were treated with stimulants were significantly less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol when they got older. Caution is warranted, nonetheless, as the overall evidence suggests that people with ADHD (particularly untreated ADHD) are indeed at greater risk for later alcohol or substance abuse.

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Q:Which of the following is the best definition for the term “diversion” as it relates to ADHD treatment?

A:Giving, trading, or selling prescribed medications. "Diversion" is the transfer of medication from the patient for whom it was prescribed to another individual. Diversion is more likely with short-acting stimulant preparations. The most common reasons cited for use on non-prescribed stimulants were they "helped with studying," improved alertness, drug experimentation, and "getting high."

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Q:What percentage of children with ADHD will have persistent symptoms into adulthood?

A:At least 50%. Research supports the clinical observation that as many as 50% of children with ADHD will have symptoms that persist into adulthood.

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Q:In teens with ADHD, what is a major area of concern?

A:Driving. Teens with ADHD are two to four times more likely to have motor-vehicle accidents or have their licenses suspended than peers without such a diagnosis. Impulsivity and inattention again seem to be limited when at-risk teens consistently take their recommended medication.

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Q:What is another name for ADHD?

A:Hyperkinesis. ADHD has assumed many aliases over time, from hyperkinesis (the Latin derivative for superactive) to hyperactivity in the early 1970s. In the 1980s, the condition was dubbed attention deficit disorder (or ADD), which could be diagnosed with or without hyperactivity. This definition was created to underline the importance of the inattentiveness or attention deficit that is often but not always accompanied by hyperactivity. The revision to the term returned the emphasis back to the inclusion of hyperactivity within the diagnosis, with the official name of ADHD.

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Q:Which behaviors and problems are common in adults with ADHD?

A:A history of poorer educational performance; a lower socioeconomic status, and multiple marriages and divorces. Adults with ADHD may have difficulty following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, or completing work within time limits. If these difficulties are not managed appropriately, they can cause associated problems such as behavioral and relationship problems (such as multiple marriages and divorces), emotional problems (such as low self-esteem), social problems (such as lower socioeconomic status), and vocational problems (such as fewer occupational achievements).

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Q:Which vitamins or supplements have no benefit for people with ADHD?

A:St. John's Wort. Recent findings conclude that St. John's Wort has no effect on the symptoms of ADHD. Some scientists have reported improved symptoms in children with ADHD who took zinc supplements along with traditional ADHD treatment. There are some findings that suggest that, in children with ADHD who are 8 to 12 years old, fish oil supplementation may improve mental skills. For instance, it may help improve a child's ability to organize activities.

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Q:Pregnant women who smoke or drink alcohol may increase the risk of having a child with ADHD. True or False?

A:True. Studies show pregnant women who smoke or drink alcohol may have an increased risk of having a child with ADHD. Some studies also show that women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have ADHD themselves. Other studies conclude that alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy can reduce activity of the neurons that produce neurotransmitters. In addition, ADHD risk is higher in children who had a low birth weight or whose mothers had difficult pregnancies.

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