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Coping With Attention Deficits

May 18, 2014
Plain English Version

adult-adhdAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is found in children. It is called attention deficit disorder (ADD) in adults.

People with the disorder find it hard to concentrate and to stay focused. They act on impulse. For years, drugs have been used to treat the condition.

There are new findings. A study showed that teenagers in Finland and the U.S. had the same rate of ADHD. However, most of the youngsters in the U.S. were taking drugs to control it. Most of the teens in Finland were not.

A doctor asks, “Should drugs be the first line of treatment?”

Another study showed that the effects of taking drugs wear off over time. He said, “There are no long-term lasting benefits.”

A new idea to deal with attention deficits is called “mindfulness.”  Practicing mindfulness may help in treating ADHD or ADD.

The practice of working to make change by mental behavior is called cognitive therapy. It is about training the mind to work better through:

  • Meditation
  • Delaying gratification
  • Exercising self-control
  • Suppressing irrelevant thoughts
  • Paying attention

Therapists do this by teaching people to monitor their thoughts and feelings. People learn to notice when their mind is wandering. They begin to concentrate their thoughts. Adults who use mindfulness become less impulsive. They have longer attention spans.

Children’s cognitive control gets better as they age from about 4 to 12 years old. Teenagers may find it hard to control their impulses. In the 20s, most people have reached adult levels of control.

Cognitive control begins to wane in the 70s.

The research is not yet clear about the best way to treat children with ADHD. But it is clear that scientists are looking to treat attention deficits with fewer drugs.

Source: The New York Times                                                                   May 12, 2014

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