It is estimated that around 5% of children of school age suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a psychiatric disorder that, being a chronic disorder, persists in some cases in adulthood in those who have it. suffered during his childhood and adolescence.

According to Dr. Celso Arango, secretary of the Spanish Society of Biological Psychiatry (SEPB), Head of Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital and Scientific Director of the Center for Biomedical Research in the Mental Health Network (CIBERSAM), "ADHD, being a chronic disorder, persists into adulthood. Up to 60% of those who have suffered in childhood and adolescence can maintain some isolated symptoms, although only 30% still meet the diagnostic criteria. " And he adds that "It is important to emphasize that it is a disorder that always begins in childhood so it should not be diagnosed in someone who did not have clear symptoms at this stage. "

The fundamental symptoms presented by those affected are the inability to maintain attention in a task for a minimum of time, restlessness, impulsivity, the defective concept of time and precipitation in the answers.

However, although it is a pathology that can have important consequences, ranging from school failure in childhood, and labor difficulties in adulthood, to be able to be the source of social difficulties (more likely to use drugs or suffer traffic accidents, for example), and that has a high prevalence in the child population, "Is marked by a great social stigma, determined by the ignorance of the population, the lack of specialized professionals, the delay and errors in diagnosis, and the absence of prevention programs", says Dr. Arango.

Need for a comprehensive treatment for ADHD

Early detection is fundamental in this disease, since "It improves its evolution and prognosis and, what is more important, it improves the quality of life of the child and the family", Dr. Arango emphasizes, adding that "Although the first symptoms can manifest in children of 4 or 5 years, and even before, it is not until around seven when parents usually consult the doctor".

However, and despite its importance, there is still a very significant percentage of children and adults who are not diagnosed and who, therefore, are deprived of receiving the corresponding treatment, with the risks that this implies.

"Like the rest of the mental disorders, treatment must be comprehensive, including pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment. Intervention with the family and the school is very important. Stimulant drugs are the most effective pharmacological treatments of all that we have in psychiatry, if we take into account the size of the effect ".

Dr. Arango warns that "More specialized psychiatrists are needed in children and adolescents. And is that, diagnose and treat well requires the doctor to be well trained and have knowledge and experience, in addition to a full dedication to the child psychiatry.

"Child-Juvenile Psychiatry is a complex and extensive specialty that requires the doctor's exclusive dedication. One of the greatest shortcomings of Spanish medicine has been the absence of the specialty of Child Psychiatry "concludes Dr. Arango.

Sources: Spanish Society of Psychiatry, Spanish Society of Biological Psychiatry and Spanish Foundation of Psychiatry and Mental Health

ADHD As A Difference In Cognition, Not A Disorder: Stephen Tonti at TEDxCMU (November 2019).