Terms explained

Antipsychotic drugs

A type of medicine that is sometimes used to treat serious changes in mental state (such as seeing or hearing things that are not real).

Anxiety

Feelings of worry or fear that can be difficult to control.

Assessment

A meeting with a healthcare professional, when they will ask questions about a person's physical and mental health, to establish what the illness is, how severe it is and what treatments would suit the person best. An assessment may involve a physical examination and tests.

Atomoxetine

A type of drug called a 'selective noradrenaline re‑uptake inhibitor' used to treat ADHD. At the time of publication, atomoxetine may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means.

Child psychiatrist

A doctor specialising in the treatment of children's mental health.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

A psychological treatment where people work with a therapist to look at how their problems, thoughts, feelings and behaviour fit together. CBT can help people to challenge negative thoughts and change any behaviour that causes problems.

Conduct disorder

A disorder affecting children who show antisocial, aggressive or defiant behaviour. It is more serious than childish mischief or teenage rebelliousness.

Dexamfetamine

A type of drug called a stimulant; it can improve concentration and reduce restless or hyperactive behaviour in people with ADHD. At the time of publication, dexamfetamine may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means.

Jaundice

A condition that causes yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.

Learning difficulty

A condition in which children experience problems with specific aspects of learning such as reading, writing or concentrating. It is often used to describe children and young people with special educational needs.

Learning disability specialist

A person with expertise in working with people who have learning disabilities or learning difficulties.

Methylphenidate

A type of drug called a stimulant; it can improve concentration and reduce restless or hyperactive behaviour in people with ADHD. At the time of publication, methylphenidate may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means.

Occupational therapist

A person with expertise in treating psychiatric and physical conditions using activity.

'Off-label' use

In the UK, medicines are licensed to show that they work well enough and are safe enough to be used for specific conditions and groups of people. Some medicines can also be helpful for conditions or people they are not specifically for. This is called 'off‑label' use. There is more information about licensing medicines on NHS Choices.

Paediatrician

A doctor specialising in the treatment of children.

Personality disorder

A condition that leads to a person having unstable moods, thoughts, behaviour and self‑image.

Psychological therapy or treatment

A general term used to describe meeting with a therapist to talk about feelings, moods and behaviour.

Severe ADHD

Also called hyperkinetic disorder. A person with severe ADHD has all the symptoms of ADHD (inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity) in more than one situation (such as school or workplace, home, or with friends). The symptoms affect a person's life to a great degree.

Social skills training

Teaching people to be more socially aware in their relationships with other people.

Specialist

A psychiatrist, paediatrician, learning disability specialist, social worker or occupational therapist with expertise in ADHD.

Stimulant

A drug that increases activity in the brain, and has a calming influence on hyperactivity and improves concentration.

Tics

Movements of the muscles over which a person has no control.

Tourette's syndrome

A disorder in which a person has tics and speaks involuntarily (sometimes in obscenities).

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