The Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children and teens. ADHD is mostly recognised during the early school years and can also continue into adulthood. ADHD includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Often referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders, it is neither preventable nor cured.
It is observed that boys are most affected with ADHD as compared to girls. As per the NCBI, ADHD affects up to 1 in 20 children in the USA. Among the seven major markets (the United States, EU5 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK) and Japan), the US accounted for about 28% of the total ADHD prevalent cases in 2017.
The process of identifying ADHD in children includes several steps. During the growing up, children often face difficulties in listening, following routine, paying attention, etc. but in the case of ADHD it is much harder for kids to maintain normal functioning. If goes undiagnosed, it affects their learning skills, social relationships and overall development process. Most of the cases are diagnosed during the age of 6-12 years due to the visible signs and symptoms such as behaviour and activity at different settings such as school, home or at other concerned places. However, the symptoms of ADHD overlap with other many medical conditions such as Depression, Conduct disorder, Anxiety disorders, Bipolar disorder and others; and these physiological and emotional behaviors are generally treated along with ADHD.
The signs and symptoms of ADHD are categorised into two subtypes namely Inattentive symptoms and Hyperactive (impulsive) symptoms. However a third subtype which is a combination of both ADHD might also occur.
Inattentive symptoms of ADHD includes:
- The kids affected with Inattentive symptoms find it difficult to keep their attention and concentration on tasks or play.
- The kids didn’t pay attention to details, which results in careless mistakes at work, school homework or any other related activity.
- Forget or lose necessary things to perform essential tasks and activities.
- The affected kids often find it difficult to properly organise an activity and track of time.
- Difficulty in following instructions (misinterpreting of instructions), which make the completion of tasks difficult or take more time than required.
- Easy distraction by noise, unrelated thoughts or any other such stimuli.
- Lose track of daily activities, appointments, and schedules.
Hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms of ADHD includes
- Fidgeting and squirming is one of the major signs of ADHD, the affected kids find it difficult to sit still or remain restless.
- Interrupts or intrudes others on their work.
- Constant physical movement, touching and grabbing objects.
- Running, jumping, and climbing even in the situation when it is not expected to.
- Interrupt in between conservations or activity.
- Hard to wait for their turn.
- Talking excessively during an event, activity or game.
- Impulsive decision making without thinking.
Usually the symptoms of ADHD improve with age. However, some of the symptoms that were present during teenage might persist during adulthood. As per the NHS, UK, ‘by the age of 25, an estimated 15% of people diagnosed with ADHD as children still have a full range of ADHD symptoms, and 65% still have some symptoms that affect their daily lives”. Forgetfulness, mood swings, irritability, carelessness, lack in time management and organisational skills, trouble in multitasking, impulsivity, hyperfocus and emotional sensitivity are some of the key symptoms of ADHD in adults. At the latter age it becomes harder for the individual with ADHD to handle the personal, professional and family matters.
As of now it is not clear what exactly causes ADHD. Genetics, environmental toxins (such as exposure to lead), premature birth, brain function and structure are considered as possible risk factors for ADHD. Moreover, the treatment option for ADHD includes behavior therapy, education (training), parent coaching and intake of certain medicine that slows down the ADHD symptoms. For the children below age 6, behavior therapy is considered as the first step for managing symptoms of ADHD prior medication use. The behavior therapy for ADHD focuses on learning and adopting positive behaviors. Along with medications that include Stimulants, non-stimulants and antidepressants, behavioral therapy, a healthy diet, proper sleep, regular exercise, limited use of gadgets (such as mobiles, TVs, computers) and parental support can be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.
However, the medication available in the market does not provide a permanent cure for ADHD. Medications can only help in managing the symptoms of ADHD. Research is ongoing to find a cure for the disorder. Although several pharma players at the global level such as AEVI Genomic Medicine, Amarantus Bioscience, NLS Pharma, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Genentech, Otsuka pharmaceuticals, and RespireRx pharmaceuticals are involved in the therapeutic development of ADHD, the ADHD market needs a standard therapy.
Conclusively, the launch of therapies in the pipeline, ongoing R&D, and heightened awareness about the disorder shall change the ADHD treatment landscape in the coming years.