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Hyperactivity

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Defining hyperactivity is difficult at best, as there are so many interpretations of the term, depending on the different behaviors of people. The root word “hyper” means “above”, and the closest, and most accurate definition of hyperactivity refers to any activity performed by a person that is considered above the normal capacity for this person's age group and capabilities.

A person who is hyperactive is described to be in a physical state of excitability and exuberance. Hyperactivity is manifested by impulsive behavior, as well as strong emotional responses to everyday stimuli. To a certain extent, nearly everyone has experienced the feeling of being hyperactive. Most people who are in this state manifest it through excitability, the inability to sit still in one place, or being unable to rest or sleep sufficiently due to the thoughts racing through one's mind.

HYPERACTIVITY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

People who are hyperactive usually have short attention spans, through these manifestations differ from one person to the next. When hyperactivity starts to hamper a person's daily activities as well as adversely affect the people around them, then it can be considered a medical disorder. In slang terminology, a person who is “hyper” is someone who is in a constant state of hyperactivity.

Children who are described as hyperactive display a certain set or pattern of behaviors, such as wriggling, twitching, moving constantly, being unable to sit still, bouncing, or jiggling a leg or a foot. When these behaviors are accompanied by a short attention span, they point towards a condition known as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a condition that affects adults as well as children.

Hyperactivity is manifested by several unmistakable symptoms. In children below the age of seven years, the condition appears in the form of squirming and fidgeting while in a seated position; frequently getting up to walk or run around; inappropriate and excessive running or climbing; interrupting others; difficulty in engaging in quiet activity or play; consistent high energy; talking excessively, and being too impatient wait their turn. In teenagers, hyperactivity is often seen as restlessness.

People who are hyperactive also exhibit lack of control, and often act on impulse. This behavior frequently gets them into a lot of embarrassing situations, as well as arguments and fights. In some instances, it can even get them in trouble with the law.

On the other end of the scale, people with ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactive disorder) are frequently hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive. They are often on the move, and attempt to do several things at once, particularly when they are forced to sit still.

HYPERACTIVITY CAUSES

There are a lot of causes for hyperactivity, and they mostly focus on the behaviors of children below the age of 7. Hyperactivity, as well as short attention spans can be pinpointed as the behavior of normal and lively children. Hyperactivity in teenagers can stem naturally from the process of puberty. However, hyperactivity can also be attributed to boredom, mental conflict, or problems at home, such as during divorce, in a dysfunctional family or even sexual abuse.
hyperactivity
Image: Hyperactivity


In some cases, the condition is brought about by a learning disability, or even in a child or adult who is gifted. This is particularly apparent in autistic savants. Hyperactivity can also stem from vision or hearing problems, hypothyroidism, bipolar disorder, mania, lead poisoning, atypical depression, sleep deprivation, and high levels of anxiety. Other psychiatric illnesses also have the potential to cause hyperactivity.

ADD or ADHD, accompanied by such symptoms as impulsivity and inattention, may also cause hyperactivity. In the United States, nearly 5% of all children are affected by ADHD, usually before the child reaches the age of 4.

HYPERACTIVITY DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing hyperactivity will take more than a few days. It is a process that takes years. This is particularly true with children who are suspected to have ADD or ADHD due in part to their symptoms of hyperactivity. In these cases, a mental health professional will be the best physician to consult.

In children, teenagers and adults who exhibit hyperactivity symptoms, the doctor will ascertain whether there have been any major life events that have occurred in the recent past, such as a move, bullying, divorce, job loss, a major illness, or the death of a loved one, that may have resulted in considerable stress for the patient.

The doctor will take down the patient's complete medical history, taking note of any physical illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, epilepsy, sleep disorders, or other neurological conditions, such as coordination problems, that may contribute in part to hyperactivity. Diagnostic tests may also be performed to check for the presence of allergies, hearing loss, vision problems, seizure disorders, genetic illnesses, and other chronic medical ailments, such as bed-wetting, night terrors, encopresis (a soiling problem in children), and sleep difficulties.

HYPERACTIVITY TREATMENT

The doctor will also determine whether the patient has a history of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia (a learning and language disability), and motor skill problems. The doctor will also check for any evidence of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, or a bipolar disorder. Any behavioral disorders will also be subject to examination, such as deviant behaviors, conduct disorders, pervasive development disorders, or oppositional defiant disorders.

There are many ways with which doctors treat hyperactivity, particularly if it accompanies ADD or ADHD in children. One treatment option is medication, such as the use of stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, Dextrostat, or Cylert, which have proven to dramatically decrease hyperactivity in children, as well as increase the ability to concentrate. These medications have also improved a patient's physical coordination, such as in matters of handwriting and sports activities. However, these medications carry side effects, such as liver damage, anxiety, involuntary movements, headaches, insomnia, nausea, weight loss, and changes in blood pressure. Because of this, doctors have decided that stimulants should be administered only on a case-to-case basis.


Behavior modification is another option for treatment. This will involve positive reinforcement in order to reduce hyperactive traits. In line with this type of therapy, patients are constrained to become more disciplined in following a structured set of behaviors, and avoiding negative emotions.

Counseling and psychotherapy will help patients deal with negative self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other emotional problems that cause hyperactivity. In children, learning social skills and self-management skills is another method of helping them avoid impulsivity and other hyperactivity-related behaviors.

Children and teenagers may outgrow hyperactivity, while those who are positively diagnosed with ADD or ADHD may carry this disorder until adulthood. However, treating the symptoms of this condition is possible, and patients are able to carry out normal lives after successful therapy.
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