What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder affecting around 8% to 10% of children in the United States. Initially manifesting in childhood, the disorder is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. 30% to 50% of people diagnosed to have ADHD in childhood continue to develop symptoms into their adult lives.

Causes of ADHD?

The specific causes of ADHD have not been completely defined. However, there are several factors (genetic and nongenetic factors) that may lead to this disorder. Twin studies suggest that ADHD can be inherited and that genetics account for around 75% of all ADHD cases. It also appears that hyperactivity is principally a genetic condition, but other factors may also have an effect.

Twin studies have also indicated that around 9%-20% of the variance in ADHD symptoms can be pointed to nongenetic factors such as tobacco smoke and alcohol exposure during pregnancy as well as lead exposure in early life.

Symptoms of ADHD

Impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention are the common symptoms of ADHD. People with ADHD are usually disorganized, act before thinking of the consequences and jump from one activity to another. They are often restless, characterized by squirminess, fidgeting, inability to stay in one place, restless sleep, and climbing on things. People with ADHD are always day-dreaming and easily distracted, have difficulty listening, and have the tendency not to finish work.

How ADHD is diagnosed?

Evaluation of a child thought to have ADHD involves several disciplines. Diagnosis is usually made after comprehensive developmental, medical, psychological, and educational evaluations. It is also crucial for healthcare professionals to interview the child and his or her parents and teachers. Investigation on the family history for social and/or behavioral problems is helpful in diagnosing ADHD.

How ADHD is treated?

ADHD is typically managed using behavior modifications such as behavior therapy, psychoeducational input, interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, school-based interventions, family therapy, parent management training, and social skills training. ADHD is also treated using medication, counseling, life-style changes, or a combination of these treatment methods.