World Mental Health Day: What is ADHD; how can I tell if my child has it?

GOERLITZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 03: A student reads concentrated during the lesson. Feature at a school in Goerlitz on February 03, 2017 in Goerlitz, Germany. (Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

Credit: Florian Gaertner

Credit: Florian Gaertner

GOERLITZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 03: A student reads concentrated during the lesson. Feature at a school in Goerlitz on February 03, 2017 in Goerlitz, Germany. (Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

World Mental Health Day, observed annually on Oct. 10, is a day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues.

According to The World Health Organization, the day “provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”

Of those issues, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly seen in children.

It is estimated that 5 percent of children suffer from the disorder, which is often first identified when the child disrupts classrooms or fails classwork.

Here is a look at the disorder, who has it and what can be done.

What is ADHD?

According to the American Psychological Association, ADHD is a “lifelong, persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development across time and settings.”

Who has it?

ADHD affects children, teens, and adults. It is more common in boys than in girls.

What are the symptoms?

There are three types of diagnosed ADHD, inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type and combined type. A diagnosis is based on the symptoms that have occurred over the past six months.

Here are the symptoms for each.
Symptoms in Children

Is easily distracted
Doesn't follow directions or finish tasks
Doesn't appear to be listening
Doesn't pay attention and makes careless mistakes
Forgets about daily activities
Have problems organizing daily tasks
Doesn't like to do things that require sitting still
Often loses things
Tends to daydream


Often squirms fidgets, or bounces when sitting
Doesn't stay seated
Has trouble playing quietly
Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things (In teens and adults, this is more commonly described as "restlessness.")
Talks excessively
Is always "on the go," as if "driven by a motor"


Has trouble waiting for his or her turn
Blurts out answers
Interrupts others

Symptoms in Adults

Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
Low self-esteem
Problems at work
Trouble controlling anger
Substance abuse or addiction
Easily frustrated
Chronic boredom
Trouble concentrating when reading
Mood swings
Relationship problems

In addition, for a diagnosis of ADHD, the following conditions must be met:

Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.

Several symptoms are present in two or more settings, (e.g., at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).

There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.

The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder).

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis includes talking to parents, teachers and the child, completing a checklist, and ruling out other medical issues.

There is no one test that will diagnose ADHD.

What can be done?

Medication and therapy are used to treat ADHD.

Medication: Stimulant and non-stimulant medication can help with ADHD. Stimulants that can help include:
Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
Dextroamphetamine (AdderallDexedrine)
Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
Methylphenidate (ConcertaDaytrana, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin, Quillivant)
Nonstimulant medications include:
Atomoxetine (Strattera)
Clonidine (Kapvay)
Guanfacine (Intuniv)

According to WebMD, dietary supplements with omega 3s have shown some benefit.

Therapy can also help someone with ADHD learn better ways to handle their emotions and frustration. It can also help improve their self-esteem.

Sources: CHADDAmerican Psychological AssociationWebMDNational Institute of Mental Health