More children are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than ever before. Since 2010, the number of diagnoses has increased 31 percent to 2.4 million External Site, according to a recent study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).
Because so many children and families are being impacted by these diagnoses, it’s important to have an understanding of the condition and how it can be managed.
Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD makes paying attention difficult and often increases impulsive behaviors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some common behaviors of ADHD External Site include:
- Missing details at home or in school
- Difficulty listening during conversations
- Struggling to keep an organized room or workspace
- Losing important items like homework, glasses, or cell phone
- Fidgeting or squirming
- Talking constantly
- Interrupting others' conversations or activities
ADHD and its connection to other behavioral health conditions
The BCBSA report also showed that forty percent of children with ADHD are also diagnosed with other behavioral health conditions. Depression, anxiety, and learning disorders are a few of the diagnoses that can often accompany ADHD.
If you notice any symptoms of ADHD or other behavioral health conditions in your child, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. To find a doctor near you, you can log in to myWellmark® Opens New Window and search Wellmark’s in-network doctors.
If you do meet with a doctor to discuss possible symptoms, make the most out of your visit. Here are a few things you should think about before, during, and after your appointment.
- Behavior log. Try to document specific behaviors and the times and locations in which they take place. This record can help your doctor identify patterns and accurately diagnose your child.
- Medical history. A thorough assessment would include getting your child's full medical history from birth to present. Having the whole picture is integral to understanding your child's specific case.
- Family history. Do grandparents, parents, or siblings exhibit similar behaviors? Are there treatments that did or did not work for these relatives? Discussions about family history can help guide you, your child, and your doctor in the right direction.
- Questionnaires and rating scales. Ask your doctor for some questionnaires or rating scales to share with other adults in your child's life. A trusted teacher or daycare provider can observe for certain behaviors and provide insight to the child's behavior outside the home.
ADHD treatment options
The primary treatments for ADHD are medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. You can work with your child’s doctor to determine the best treatment plan.
While diagnoses have increased, treatment options have started to change gradually. Since 2010, there has been a 14 percent decrease in children who receive only medication as a treatment. Instances of children being treated with both medication and behavioral therapy or behavioral therapy have increased by 13 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
Test your knowledge about ADHD
There is a lot of information — and misinformation — about ADHD out there. See if you can determine which of these statements are true and which ones are false.
- ADHD is most common in elementary school children.
FALSE. Middle school children (ages 11–13) are most commonly diagnosed.
- Boys are diagnosed more often than girls.
TRUE. Boys are diagnosed two times more often than girls.
- Diagnosis rates are highest on the east and west coasts.
FALSE. Diagnosis rates are higher in the south and lower in the west.
- Medication is the only treatment option available.
FALSE. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends both behavioral therapy and medication, preferably together, as ADHD treatment options for children 6 years old and up.
- Children can experience ADHD with additional behavioral health conditions.
TRUE. Depression, anxiety, and learning disorders are a few of the diagnoses that can present themselves with ADHD.
While ADHD is diagnosed most commonly in children, it also impacts 4.4 percent of adults External Site. And, hyperactivity is one of the top 10 conditions affecting millennials External Site, which are people who were born between 1981 and 1996. If you feel you might have some of these signs, contact your personal doctor.