TVH Blog

Teton Valley Health's blog

Pay attention to attention deficit

Anna Giemza-Palmer, NP

I was watching a film with my husband the other day and before I knew it, I was on my phone checking out Facebook even though I really enjoyed the show. I lost track of the plot and we had to rewind so I could catch up. I thought to myself, why can’t I just concentrate on the movie?

A report from Pew Research Center shows that a third of our society believes cell phones make it more difficult to focus on a single task. Well, that sounds like me, I thought. But is it a habit or a distraction, or perhaps neither?

Although frequent cell phone use is a habit that I can control, some people struggle to maintain control over their ability to stay on task. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 6 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), or ADD (attention deficit disorder, a subset of ADHD). Unfortunately, CDC also indicates that in Idaho, not many children receive medical management or behavioral therapies for this brain disorder.

Children, adolescents, or even adults who suffer with ADHD or ADD present with several symptoms, such as daydreaming or zoning out, forgetting appointments or assignments, making frequent mistakes, having difficulty waiting for their turn and many other symptoms. Patients may appear to be overly active or inattentive or a mixture of both. Many times, causes of such behaviors can be identified. Sometimes, we don’t really know what causes these symptoms but we can identify risk factors that may predispose people to have problems managing these types of behaviors.

Diagnosis can consist of several steps and it is very important to rule out other factors that may contribute to either a child or adolescent not paying attention in school such as bad vision, problems with hearing, or other causes. When physical problems are ruled out, the probability of ADHD is somewhat high. Then, we can use therapy and medications to help manage the symptoms. Often, we see noticeable improvement in kids, adolescents, or adults who have begun treatment and therapy for ADHD. They’re able to pay attention in class, at home, and while playing sports, and their academic performance improves.

If you or a loved one seems to have symptoms of attention deficit disorder, I encourage a visit with your medical provider. Together, you can decide what steps to take to better manage your life.

Anna is a Nurse Practitioner specializing in psychiatrics. She works closely with mental health professionals and physicians to support patients living with mental health disorders. Anna is available to meet with patients 12 and older. Call (208) 354-2302 or follow our patient portal link here to schedule a visit.

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