Inside Behavioral Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Tag Archives: mental illness

Inside Behavioral Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Inside Behavioral Health Blog on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a complex and often misunderstood neurological disorder. Millions of children and adults live with ADHD. While the disorder is commonly diagnosed in childhood, it often continues into adulthood. Additionally, there are 3 subtypes of ADHD. New research and data on ADHD are constantly being published. The medical condition is undoubtedly difficult to fully understand. Our goal of posting a general overview of ADHD is to begin a journey of education with research and further resources.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

Signs You May Notice in Children

People with ADHD are often easily distracted, forgetful, and hypersensitive. It is not out of the ordinary for children to have behavior issues and trouble paying attention. The distinction for children with ADHD is these behaviors do not change or improve over time. More than six million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Two million of these children were diagnosed between the ages of 2-5 years olds. For children, symptoms may include:

  • Distracting daydreams
  • Impulsiveness
  • Constant movement, including squirming and fidgeting 
  • Forgetfulness
  • Careless mistakes 
  • Difficulty listening to instructions 
  • Excessive talking
  • Failing to complete tasks, such as chores and homework

The Difficulty of Diagnosis in Adults

In some cases, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not recognized or diagnosed until adulthood. Adults with ADHD show symptoms in different ways than children. Symptoms in adults may not be as clear as in children. It is common to notice a lack of executive function in adults with ADHD. Signs of ADHD in adulthood may include:

  • Difficulty organizing and prioritizing tasks
  • Lack of productivity in the workplace
  • Trouble with working memory
  • Struggles with emotional regulation
  • Excessive talking 
  • Ongoing procrastination
  • Lack of attention to detail

Three Types of ADHD

A common misconception of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is all people living with the deficit struggle with the same issues. Misconceptions may stem from medical terms changing over the years. Since 1994, medical professionals have officially used the term ADHD. Before this date, many people remember (and possibly still use) the term ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Now, instead of having ADD vs. ADHD, doctors use ADHD as the official medical term to describe both hyperactive and inattentive attitudes. Individuals often struggle more predominantly with particular symptoms, which will allow doctors to diagnose one of three subtype presentations: inattentive, hyperactive, and combined. What is the difference between these three subtypes?

Inattentive ADHD

Individuals with inattentive ADHD have trouble completing tasks. People may notice they often seem spacey in conversation. These individuals often have trouble listening. This is noticeable when they can’t follow through on instructions or keep up in a conversation. An inattentive ADHD diagnosis will include signs of procrastination, memory issues, and hesitant behaviors.

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD makes it difficult to stay still for a long time. This difficulty may manifest in constant fidgeting or excessive talking. The constant need for activity will cause restlessness and impulsivity issues. Children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are often not able to play quietly.

Combined ADHD

This ADHD subtype definition is explained in the name, a combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive presentations. These individuals test equally for symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. A detailed evaluation is given when a patient is diagnosed with ADHD. Through a list of questions, a clinician can determine which subtype someone is struggling with. Scores are split into the two subtype categories. When a patient scores equally on both inattentive behaviors and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors, they are diagnosed with the combined ADHD subtype. Among children, combined ADHD presentation is the most common diagnosis. 

Treatment Options

Just as each case for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is different, each treatment plan is different. Adolescents with ADHD will have a treatment based on the child’s and family’s needs. Treatment plans for adolescents may be formed with input from multiple healthcare professionals, parents, teachers, and more. Many children benefit from behavioral therapy as a treatment for ADHD. Behavioral therapists can additionally provide training and best practices for parents. Therapy can also benefit adults struggling with ADHD. Medication is a treatment option for ADHD in children and adults. It is important to work closely with healthcare professionals to form the best course of treatment.

Other Facts and Figures on ADHD

Here are a few more facts about ADHD:

Graphic displaying that 6 in 10 children with ADHD also live with one other behavioral, emotional or mental disorder
  • Around 6 in 10 children diagnosed with ADHD also live with at least one other behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder. For example, 3 in 10 children with ADHD have anxiety. 
  • Boys are more often diagnosed with ADHD than girls. Although, many researchers have recently focused on ADHD in women going undiagnosed.
  • In 2016 it was found that 62% of children with ADHD were taking medication and only 46.7% received behavioral therapy. 

As previously mentioned, research on ADHD is constantly evolving. There are many resources to provide further education on ADHD.  For more information on ADHD, check out the following resources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) National advocacy organization for adults and children 

ADDitude Online Magazine

Patagonia Health works to continue the conversation on ADHD and other behavioral health issues. To fight the stigma against mental health, speak up to those around you and share our posts.


Inside Behavioral Health: Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Did you know suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States? Suicide is complicated. Tragic. But most of all, it’s often preventable. A critical starting point is suicide awareness. Knowing the warning signs, methods for prevention and where to go for help or resources. Additionally, it is crucial any suicidal talk or behavior be taken seriously. It’s not just a warning sign the person is thinking about suicide. It’s a cry for help.

Suicide Warning Signs

Suicide rates are on the rise. They’ve increased more than 30% since 1999. In 2017, more than 47,000 American lives were lost. However, many of these lives could have been saved had the warning signs been identified and acted upon.

Most suicidal individuals give signs of their intentions. Suicide prevention begins with recognizing these warning signs and knowing how to respond if you spot them. If you believe someone is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing you care and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Signs of Suicidal Tendencies

The warning signs of suicide should be taken very seriously. They are indicators a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.

  • Making threats or comments about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Claiming to be a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Exhibiting impulsive or reckless behavior

Is there Imminent Danger of Suicide?

Keep in mind the risk of suicide is greater if the behavior is new, has increased or if it appears to be related to a painful event, loss or change. So, if someone you care for is exhibiting the behaviors below, don’t hesitate. Take immediate preventative action.

  • Putting affairs in order and giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • Planning, possibly by looking to buy, steal or borrow the tools needed to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication

Suicide Risk Factors

The causes of suicide are complex. For example, contributing factors include mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, social isolation or any combination of these. However, research has found more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

A person may be at risk if he or she has or exhibits:

  • A family history of suicide
  • Substance abuse: drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows exacerbating suicidal thoughts
  • Intoxication: more than one in three people who die from suicide are found to have been under the influence
  • A serious or chronic medical illness
  • A history of trauma or abuse
  • Prolonged stress
  • Isolation
  • Age: people under 24 or above 65 are at a higher risk for suicide
  • A recent tragedy or loss
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation
Suicide Awareness, Prevention & Warning SIgns

Suicide Prevention Methods

Suicide prevention and treatment are based on the patient’s risk factors. Treatments are prescribed based upon a combination of underlying factors and preventing suicidal thoughts and actions. Suicide prevention efforts aim to:

  • Reduce factors increasing the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and
  • Increase the factors helping to strengthen, support and protect individuals from suicide.

If a client has a mental health concern, a treatment plan to address the issue will be implemented first. Then, suicide prevention techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), are added. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, commonly known as talk therapy, is a method of psychotherapy helping teach ways of dealing with stress. With CBT, the client learns to redirect suicidal thoughts and implement coping mechanisms. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps clients recognize disruptive or unhealthy feelings or actions. This method introduces techniques for dealing with difficult situations.

Prescribing antidepressants can be risky. Research has shown antidepressants to potentially increase the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts in teens. Although it appears this isn’t as likely in adults.

A final, and somewhat surprising prevention technique is awareness among medical professionals. Research has indicated many people who have completed or attempted suicide actually sought medical attention prior to reaching that state. However, warning signs were missed or not identified. Further suicide awareness and education for medical professionals could literally be the difference between life and death.

Help Prevent Suicide

If you or someone you know is in distress, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support. Crisis resources are available for you or your loved ones, as well as best practices for professionals.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Finally, if you believe someone may be thinking about suicide:

  • Call 911, if danger for self-harm seems imminent.
  • Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. This will not put the idea into their head or make it more likely they will attempt suicide!
  • Listen without judging and show you care.
  • Stay with the person or make sure the person is in a private, secure place with another caring person until you can get further help.
  • Remove objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Lastly, one of the best ways to help prevent suicide is to talk about it. When talking about it, hashtags such as #SuicidePrevention and #SuicideAwareness further the conversation. Together, we can help save lives.

At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.

If you liked this blog, you might also like Inside Behavioral Health: 8 Signs of Mental Illness.

Inside Behavioral Health: 8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Inside Behavioral Health 8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Mental disorders are common and widespread. You might be surprised to know an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from mental illness in any given year. 1

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a disease causing disturbances in thought and/or behavior. This results in a person’s inability to cope with life’s typical demands and routines.

There are more than 200 forms of mental illness. Common illnesses are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. 1 Staying aware of the warning signs of mental illness can help you determine whether a client, friend or coworker is in need of help or further testing.

8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks

Retreating into oneself and avoiding hanging out with friends or participating in social activities could be a sign of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

Severe mood swings

Mood swings can not only cause problems in relationships but can also be a sign of mental health concerns.

Intense worries or fears

If these fears get in the way of performing daily activities, then they should be addressed to help the individual make it through a typical day.

Trying to injure or kill oneself, or making plans to do so

Suicidal thoughts are nothing to be trifled with and should be taken very seriously. They are often signs of a mental illness needing immediate intervention.

Significant weight loss or weight gain

Not wanting to eat or refusing to eat entirely are the central symptoms of anorexia nervosa, which is a serious psychiatric disorder. Anorexia often occurs alongside other mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Binge-eating and night eating have been linked to schizophrenia.

Severe risk-taking behavior with potential to harm self and others

Impulsivity and sensation-seeking behaviors can lead to risk-taking behavior, including promiscuity, gambling, reckless driving and alcohol or drug use. Before a dangerous situation occurs, it’s critical to get to the root cause of these behaviors.

Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits

Up to 80% of people with a mental illness have problems with sleep. This is frequently seen with different anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder. It could mean sleeping too much or too little, tossing and turning or waking up a lot during the night. These sleep disturbances can impact treatment.

Extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still

Most often people think of ADHD with this sign; however, in depression, this could mean trouble focusing and remembering things. Similar problems with memory and concentration can occur with schizophrenia, along with difficulty solving problems and slower reaction times. Other mental illnesses have cognitive problems, which can affect daily functioning.

Diagnosing a Mental Illness

Inside Behavioral Health 8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test to accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional will assess symptoms and make a diagnosis using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual lists criteria, such as feelings, behaviors and time limits needed to officially classify a mental health condition. After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan. Treatment plans usually include medication, therapy and, potentially, lifestyle changes. 2

At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.