What is ADD?

Malcolm Tatum

ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, is a condition in which an individual is unable to focus sufficiently on tasks to follow them through to completion. People with ADD tend to be easily distracted, which is one of the reasons that completing even basic tasks may be difficult. It is not unusual for both children and adults with this type of disorder to also exhibit behavior that appears rash and impulsive to other people. While there is no known cure for the condition, there are treatments that can help minimize the symptoms.

Someone with ADD has a harder time on focusing on a single activity.
Someone with ADD has a harder time on focusing on a single activity.

Many people use the phrases ADD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) interchangeably. While true ADHD encompasses all the symptoms of ADD, the disorder also involves the need for constant movement. A child or adult with ADD is easily distracted and may occasionally exhibit excitable behavior, but is also capable of remaining quiet for extended periods of time. In contrast, an individual living with ADHD will find it almost impossible to remain quiet or to sit for any length of time.

Although there is no "cure" for attention deficit disorder (ADD), there are various treatments that can help people better manage the symptoms.
Although there is no "cure" for attention deficit disorder (ADD), there are various treatments that can help people better manage the symptoms.

The presence of ADD can impact just about every aspect of life. In learning situations, the ability to listen to lectures and presentations as well as the ability to participate in a test or exam are often compromised. Social interaction is difficult, as the individual suffering with this disorder may find it hard to focus on one person long enough to engage in meaningful conversation. Since ADD manifests itself early in life and may continue into adulthood, young children may have a great deal of difficulty assimilating basic information, developing social skills, and in general learning what they need to know in order to become a responsible adult member of the community.

Modern medicine has not yet determined the root cause for the development of ADD. Many researchers agree that genetics play a role in the development of this disorder, as there is some evidence of ADD showing up in successive generations in a direct family line. There is also some conjecture that differences in the formation of the brain may play a role. A number of experts agree that while environmental conditions do not appear to be the root cause of ADD, negative aspects of the home and school environment may complicate a pre-existing condition.

While there are no cures for ADD, there are a number of treatments that can help minimize the symptoms and allow the individual to enjoy a more normal life. Medication is one of the more common approaches and does provide some amount of relief from symptoms. However, medication alone is not always effective. When this is the case, behavior therapy as well as other forms of counseling may help to bring the condition under control.

Because no two people with ADD respond to treatment in the same manner, settling on the right course of treatment is often a matter of trial and error. Over time, different ADD drugs may be tried in order to determine which one seems to provide the most benefit. Dosages are also often adjusted in order to find the ideal level. If other support, such as therapy, is needed, it may take some time to determine what type of counseling or therapy would be in the best interests of the patient.

Many people believe that ADD is strictly a childhood condition. That is far from the case. A significant number of people carry the disorder well into adulthood. Adult ADD sufferers sometimes choose careers or jobs where their disorder is less of an issue when it comes to job performance, while others continue with drug therapy as a way of keeping control of their condition.

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