In the United States, the number of children receiving an ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) diagnosis has increased significantly in recent years. Between 2012 and 2020, the rate of positive diagnoses went up 30 percent, suggesting a rise in behavioral health issues. However, while ADHD cases are undoubtedly becoming more common, some of the upticks in the rate of ADHD diagnosis can be explained by misdiagnoses. Therefore, if you believe you have ADHD, it is essential that you get professionally diagnosed and not throw around the term ADHD loosely.

What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a medical condition that most frequently affects children but also many adults. It is a neurodevelopmental disease that interferes with normal functioning and development and is one of the most common conditions affecting behavioral health. The most frequent ADHD symptoms are:

    • Inattention: Difficulty maintaining focus and remaining on task.
    • Hyperactivity: Extreme restlessness and inability to refrain from constantly moving about.
    • Impulsivity: Difficulty maintaining self-control and a tendency to act without thinking.

If you think you or your child has any of these ADHD symptoms, it is important to see a behavioral health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis.

Why the uptick in ADHD Diagnosis?
There are several reasons for the increase in diagnoses. Some of the most significant include:

    • Higher survival rate for preterm babies. People born preterm or with low birth weights are more likely to develop ADHD.
    • Adoption of inattention as a criterion for ADHD. This change in the diagnostic criteria especially increased the number of girls receiving an ADHD diagnosis.
    • Misdiagnosis. This may account for a large percentage of the increased number of ADHD diagnoses. Because there is no medical diagnosis for ADHD, many older children and adolescents who are suffering from depression and anxiety are misdiagnosed as having ADHD. Since ADHD shares many symptoms with these other conditions, diagnosing ADHD can often be challenging.

What to do if you have ADHD?
Only a professional behavioral health provider can properly diagnose you with ADHD. Once you receive your diagnosis, your provider will then help you or your child manage your condition. Although there is no cure for ADHD, medications, behavioral therapy, and counseling can help manage many ADHD symptoms. In addition, schools or other educational institutions may be able to provide special support to make sure you or your child is able to maximize their learning. Receiving a proper diagnosis is the first step toward returning to normal functioning and development.

About the Author

Kimberly Sandberg Aloha Integrative Health
Kim Sandberg is the owner and founder of Aloha Integrative Health and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She has two advanced degrees: a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Anesthetist and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She has worked in a variety of settings, though the biggest impact on Kim and her work came from her 28 years of service in the Navy Reserve.

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