Detecting ADHD has always been difficult, no matter the age range. It is tough to diagnose in adults because they have more deep-seated coping mechanisms to the disorder than children.
However, a new study conducted by the University of Buffalo used machine learning to uncover a new detection method with nearly 99% accuracy. This article discusses the implications of that study and how it can change the way doctors and psychiatrists treat ADHD in both teens and adults.
Continue reading to learn more about the study, ADHD residential treatment programs, and how ADHD symptoms present differently depending on the individual.
Study: Detecting ADHD WIth Near Perfect Accuracy
A University of Buffalo study recently identified specific communication patterns among brain regions known as brain connectivity that may serve as a biomarker for ADHD.
Machine Learning and ADHD
Machine learning makes the new way of detecting ADHD possible. Its deep architecture identifies ADHD with 99% accuracy. The study used a control group of adults who had already received an ADHD diagnosis in their childhood years to determine its accuracy.
Brain Connectivity as a Valid Biomarker
Not only does the study represent the validity of using machine learning for medical diagnoses. It also describes the efficacy of using brain connectivity as a biomarker. These findings are significant because they have implications for detecting ADHD and helping clinicians target treatments using their deeper understanding of the ADHD spectrum.
Pairing Pharmacology Using Brain Connectivity
The study also helps clinicians pair medications based on their deeper understanding of the different ADHD symptoms and brain effects. ADHD is one of the most common psychological disorders among children. However, many subtypes complicate the clinical diagnosis.
Patients may exhibit behavioral symptoms at first and then change over time, complicating the diagnosis for ADHD patients. Brain connectivity signatures eliminate the guesswork as to whether patients’ symptom fluctuations are atypical or typical. Identifying these symptom changes will help physicians initiate more comprehensive diagnoses.
What Is Attention Deficit Disorder?
Attention deficit disorder is a psychological disorder marked by hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with regular functioning or development. ADHD can split into three categories that present themselves with different symptoms and problems.
The patient may appear off task, get bored quickly, and have trouble sustaining focus. They may also be disorganized. These characteristics will not have connections to defiance or lack of comprehension.
The person moves about constantly, fidgets, taps, or talks excessively. Adults with hyperactivity will have extreme bouts of restlessness, wearing others down with constant activity.
The patient doesn’t think about their actions before committing them. Some of these actions have a high potential for harm, so it’s critical these patients receive help and treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of ADD?
The following symptoms suggest ADHD in children. They are all subsects of either inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. The previously mentioned study will help physicians devise treatment plans with more accuracy. Children with ADHD may be:
- In constant motion
- Squirm and fidget
- Make careless mistakes
- Often lose things (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile phones)
- Do not seem to listen
- Are easily distracted
- Do not finish tasks
- Often leave their seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
- Often run about or climb in cases where it isn’t appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless)
- Can’t play or take part in leisure activities quietly
- Talk excessively
- Blurt out an answer before a questions
- Have trouble waiting for their turn
- Interrupt or intrude on others (e.g., butting into conversations or games)
- Have trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Forget daily activities
Children and teens can experience these symptoms in conjunction with other disorders such as anxiety disorders or depression, so it is critical to receive a formal diagnosis before jumping to conclusions.
Diagnosing ADD in Adults
Diagnosing ADD in teens is somewhat more challenging than diagnosing ADD in children. It is more difficult because adults typically develop coping mechanisms for their conditions that can be tricky to identify. Adults may not even recognize their symptoms, adding a layer of difficulty to diagnosis.
Adult ADHD symptoms also pertain to inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity, but their symptoms may manifest in different ways than children’s. The following symptoms are examples of adult ADHD symptoms:
- Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
- Poor organizational skills
- Low self-esteem
- Employment problems
- Short temper
- Hard time finishing a task
- Unthinking and immediate response; hard time controlling behavior
If these symptoms go unnoticed and undiagnosed, adults can experience significant turmoil in their social, professional, and academic lives. For up to half the children who experience ADHD, their symptoms continue into adulthood. That is why an accurate diagnosis is so critical. To receive a precise diagnosis, adults who suspect they may have ADHD should present the following information to a physician:
- A history of the adult’s behavior as a child
- An interview with the adult’s life partner, parent, close friend, or other close associates
- A thorough physical exam that may include neurological testing
- Psychological testing
Adults with ADHD who commit to these processes will experience better results in their diagnosis and treatment than those who have no history of ADHD who start to identify their symptoms later in life. The earlier the detection, the more thorough treatment plans will be available.
Conclusion- Detecting ADD in Teens With Near Perfect Accuracy
ADHD has always been a notoriously elusive psychological disorder to diagnose and treat- in part because people experience feelings of hyperactivity and restlessness in their everyday lives. However, ADHD may be present when inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity continue into adulthood.
The recent study uncovering brain connectivity is a positive step in the more thorough diagnosis of ADHD. It gives physicians access to more complete metrics that will help them understand ADHD subtypes and prescribe more individualized treatment plans. As with other medical fields, it’s exciting to see where machine learning can potentially take the medical community.
Troubled teens, children, and adults everywhere could see the positive effects of this study and others like it. Other treatment plans, such as ADHD residential treatment programs, will also benefit from more accurate diagnoses.