What helps against hyperactivity

ADHD - just a lot of energy or already hyperactive?

Frequency and cause

ADHD is a mental illness that begins in childhood: around 5 out of 100 children in Germany are affected. The symptoms can decrease or change with age, but they often do not go away completely: Around 50 to 80 out of 100 children and adolescents with ADHD still have to deal with it as adults.

There are many causes of ADHD. How this happens is not yet fully understood. Experts assume that hereditary factors and environmental influences are the main contributors.

What exactly is meant by ADHD?

People with ADHD often stand out compared to their peers. Because their behavior and their inattentiveness always go far beyond the "normal". This can lead to difficulties, for example in the family, at school or at work. In addition, the disease can strain all those involved - those affected, parents, educators, teachers or colleagues - and pull them on their nerves.

The three main characteristics are:

  • inattention: Children with ADHD, for example, are easily distracted, quickly lose interest in an activity, are often confused or can barely follow explanations.

  • Restlessness: Affected children often have trouble sitting still. Among other things, this can lead to them simply standing up in the classroom or climbing over chairs and tables.

  • impulsiveness: Due to the disease, the children often react uncontrollably and very spontaneously. For example, you keep blurting out the answer to a question before it's finished. In addition, it is often difficult for them to wait.

Experts only speak of ADHD if scientific criteria are met. The following must apply:

  • There is a minimum number of signs of inattention, restlessness, and impulsiveness. These last at least 6 months.

  • The problems started before the age of 7.

  • The signs show up in several situations, such as at home and at school or at work.

  • Those affected suffer from their complaints or are restricted in everyday life as a result.

  • There are no other mental illnesses that explain the behavior.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

A contact point is a medical or psychotherapeutic practice. First there is a conversation. For example, it is about which signs of ADHD occur and how strong they are. The life story, problems at school or at work and other illnesses are also discussed. If children are affected, parents, carers or teachers can provide important information. Therefore, they should also be interviewed.

Physical exams are added to rule out other diseases. Tests, for example to measure attention, or questionnaires can provide further information.

What does the treatment look like?

Experts recommend a treatment made up of several components. Are important:

  • Consultation:At the beginning, those affected, parents, kindergartens and schools receive comprehensive information. Knowing about the disease will help you deal better with ADHD.
  • Parent, educator or teacher training:Here you learn to understand affected children and adolescents and to help them. There are individual and group training courses.
  • Behavior Therapy:Affected people and their families can learn techniques to control behavior and thus change it. This should help to cope better with everyday life.
  • Medication:If the diagnosis is certain, they can be used under certain conditions. Regular check-ups are important during treatment. So-called medications are used Stimulants as well as the active ingredients Atomoxetine and Guanfacine in question. The best known ADHD remedy is Methylphenidate. It is one of the stimulants and can be misused as a stimulant. All drugs can cause side effects, such as loss of appetite, weight loss, drowsiness, or fluctuations in blood pressure.

As a rule, the treatment is carried out on an outpatient basis. Which procedures are right in your situation depends primarily on the severity of the illness and the age of the person affected. Your needs and living conditions also play a role. Counseling, training and psychotherapy should be offered primarily to children under the age of 6 or with mild ADHD. For severe ADHD, medication is the focus of treatment.

What you can do yourself

  • You may have concerns about a proposed treatment or are considering other procedures. Don't be afraid to speak to your treatment team about it.
  • In individual cases it can be helpful to avoid foods with artificial colors or other food additives. Certain foods such as wheat flour or citrus fruits can also possibly influence the symptoms of ADHD. Keeping a food diary can help find this out. Talk to your doctor and get advice.
  • It often helps to exchange ideas with other affected people or relatives in self-help groups.
December 2019, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians