ADHD - What is ADHD? - 09/Feb/2024

ADHD – What is ADHD? – 09/Feb/2024

### Understanding ADHD: A Comprehensive Guide to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ###

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition characterized by patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that are atypical for the person’s developmental level. It affects millions of individuals worldwide and can have a significant impact on their daily lives, education, work, and interpersonal relationships.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a common brain disorder that affects both children and adults. It is one of the most researched areas in child and adolescent mental health, and the diagnosis has been increasingly recognized over the years. Despite this attention, it remains under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed in many individuals.

Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD presents with a variety of symptoms that usually appear early in life, typically before the age of 12. These symptoms must cause significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning to be considered part of ADHD and must be present in two or more settings (e.g., at home and school).

Symptoms are divided into two categories:
– Inattentiveness
– Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

Inattentiveness symptoms may include trouble staying focused on tasks, being easily distracted, forgetfulness in daily activities, difficulty organizing tasks, and avoidance of tasks requiring sustained mental effort.

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness symptoms might involve fidgeting, excessive talking, difficulty waiting for one’s turn, interrupting conversations or intruding on others’ activities, and impetuous actions without consideration of consequences.

Types of ADHD

ADHD comes in three main types, each with slightly different sets of symptoms:
1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Individuals find it hard to organize or finish tasks, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations.
2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Individuals who are fidgety are unable to sit still for long. They may be impulsive, interrupting others’ activities or talking over them.
3. Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the individual.

The type of ADHD diagnosed can change over time due to the variation of symptom prevalence throughout an individual’s development.

Causes of ADHD

While the exact cause of ADHD is not known, it is understood to involve complex genetic, environmental, and neurological factors.

– Genetics play a sizable role – children with ADHD are more likely to have at least one close relative with the condition or another family member who has similar symptoms.
– Brain imaging studies have shown differences in the size of certain brain structures, as well as activity in certain parts within the brain tunnels between counterparts.
– Environmental factors speculated to contribute include premature birth, low birth weight, smoking during pregnancy, and high exposure to lead at a young age.

Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD often involves comprehensive assessments which may include: predetermined criterion-based behavioral ratings scales by parents and teachers; interviews or reports from parents regarding development history; a medical evaluation including hearing and vision tests; psychological tests.

There’s no single test to diagnose ADHD; hence a combination of strategies is employed to determine if a child has ADHD according to symptom presentations across multidimensional aspects of their life.

Treatment typically includes medications such as stimulants (e.g., methylphenidate and amphetamines) which are effective for about 70%-80% of people with ADHD. Behavior therapies, parental training interventions, lifestyle alterations such as exercise and sleep regulation also play an important role in treatment plans.

Impact on Life

ADHD has pervasive effects. It may lead to educational challenges like higher failure rates and lower achievement tests scores. Many individuals experience interpersonal difficulties – struggling with forming and maintaining relationships.

On the other hand, with awareness and appropriate coping strategies such as organizational aids or support systems at work or in schools can substantially improve life quality for individuals with ADHD.


  • According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), approximately 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD.
  • There’s a higher occurrence reported among males than females during childhood; however, these differences appear to level out in adulthood.
  • Coexistence with other disorders is common with ADHD. Around 60-70% of individuals with ADHD have at least one other comorbid condition, such as a learning disability or mood disorder.
  • Image description:

    A neat row of different colored pencils lines up against a blurred background signifying organization – contrasting with scattered pencils lying around demonstrative of chaos commonly experienced by individuals with ADHD due to disorganization difficulties. A calendar is partially visible in the background hinting at strategies (like scheduling) that help manage time better for people affected by ADHD.