attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: ADD

attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder



A persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, or both, occurring more frequently and severely than is typical in those at a comparable level of development. ADHD is the most commonly reported neurobehavioral disorder of childhood. The illness may begin in early childhood but may not be diagnosed until after the symptoms have been present for many years. The prevalence is estimated to be 3% to 5% in children; 4% in adults.


Signs may be minimal or absent when the person is under strict control or is engaged in esp. interesting or challenging situations. They are more likely to occur in group situations. Although behaviors vary widely, affected people typically exhibit motor restlessness, impulsivity, and difficulty concentrating on a single task or chore. They tend to do more poorly in school than one might predict based on assessments of their intelligence alone. While characteristics of ADHD are found in many people at one time or another, a key feature of ADHD is the excessive or unusual pattern of behavior outside normal bounds of exuberance or excitement. The findings must be severe enough to be maladaptive and inconsistent with specified levels of development, and last at least six months.



ADHD may sometimes be confused with other disorders.

The disorder is difficult to diagnose in children under age 5. It is important to distinguish ADHD from age-appropriate behavior in active children and from disorders such as mental retardation, primary learning disabilities, alteration of mood, anxiety, petit mal seizures, or personality changes caused by illness, family stress, or drugs. The criteria determined by the American Psychiatric Association include specific limits concerning the duration and severity of symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. The findings must be severe enough to be maladaptive and inconsistent with specified levels of development.


In both children and adults, the domestic, school, social, and occupational environments are evaluated to determine contributing factors and their relative importance. Standard treatment includes behavioral and psychological therapy, environmental changes, and medication. Medications commonly used to treat ADHD include methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, atomoxetine, and pemoline. These agents, with the exception of atomoxetine, are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. Adverse reactions to CNS stimulants include decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, stomach ache, headache, jitteriness, and social withdrawal (the latter in children).

Behavior therapy for patients with ADHD includes positive reinforcement, time-out, response cost (loss of rewards or privileges for problem behaviors) and token economy (a combination of positive reinforcement and response cost). Combinations of drug therapy and behavioral therapies, or drug therapies alone, appear to have a more beneficial effect than behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, or parent skills training alone.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

A condition in which a person (usually a child) has an unusually high activity level and a short attention span. People with the disorder may act impulsively and may have learning and behavioral problems.
References in periodicals archive ?
The serotonin 5-HT1D receptor gene and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in Chinese Han subjects.
Table 2: Sales forecasts of drugs currently marketed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the seven major markets ($m), 2008-2018 21
Despite the correlation, children with low birth weight still make up a small percentage of the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) population.
With a range of additional products in development, including MethyPatch(R) for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Noven is committed to becoming the world's premier developer, manufacturer and marketer of transdermal drug delivery systems.
Children and adolescents who had symptoms of conduct disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or anxiety disorder before the first episode of major depressive disorder were at higher risk of adult depression and other problems, said Dr.
The study was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of Noven's developmental methylphenidate patch for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which Noven intends to market under the trade name MethyPatch(R).
An imaging study indicated that disturbances in a network of brain regions that participate in control of attention and behavior underlie attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids and teens (164: 339 *).
A class action lawsuit alleging that the American Psychiatric Association and others conspired to broaden the diagnostic criteria of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder has been dismissed by a California federal judge who ruled that the plaintiffs' complaints had no legal basis, and the defendants' activities to advance the medical understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD were free speech protected under California statute.
Scientists have identified brain alterations that may underlie attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a psychiatric condition that affects 3 percent to 6 percent of U.
For both boys and girls, by around age 15, childhood ailments, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had largely been replaced by adult disorders such as depression, panic disorder, and substance abuse.
Ritalin and other stimulants for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder were the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs for children in 1996, followed by antidepressants and anticonvulsants used for mood disorders.

Full browser ?