What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is significantly the most common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting millions worldwide. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and characterized by low attention span, hyper activeness, and controlling impulsive behavior.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 3-6% of children in the US are diagnosed with ADHD; however, a recent study by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) suggests that ADHD may affect as many as 8% to 17% of America’s youth.

Contrary to popular opinion, ADHD cannot be triggered by excessive sugar consumption, bad parenting, or too many video games. People with this condition experience a significant increase in emotional and social problems, including poor academic performance, occupational underachievement, and increased risk-taking behavior.

Causes of ADHD

While scientists have yet to discover the specific cause of ADHD, several pediatric and psychological associations classify ADHD as an actual neurobehavioral condition. 

Factors that can contribute to the development of ADHD include brain injuries, genetic factors, exposure to environmental risk, premature delivery, and excessive alcohol consumption or stress during pregnancy.

While it is difficult to understand the symptoms compared to other psychological conditions common in childhood, it is essential to approach a professional for specialized diagnostic tests and interviews.

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD are frequently diagnosed in children because they exhibit noticeable hyperactivity and inattention, which can result in distressing conditions at home or school. ADHD develops over time based on the symptoms exhibited. 

Other symptoms of ADHD include:

  • daydream a lot
  • Fidgeting or squirming
  • talk too much
  • have difficulty getting along with others
  • Take unnecessary risks or commit careless errors

Types of ADHD

Types of ADHD are classified based on the predominant symptoms exhibited by the affected individual. ADHD falls into three types which are:

Inattentive presentation

Individuals diagnosed with this type of ADHD encounter difficulty executing and finishing tasks, paying attention to details, or remembering daily tasks. Scientists believe that children with this type of ADHD may never receive a diagnosis as they do not interrupt learning environments.

Hyperactive-Impulsive presentation

Common behavioral changes exhibited in people with this type of ADHD include fidgeting, restlessness, and troubled impulsiveness. People with this condition often interrupt the learning environment.

 A person with impulsiveness usually gets involved in domestic accidents or injuries more than others and may speak at an inappropriate time.

Combined Type presentation

People who exhibit combined type ADHD exhibit both Inattentive ADHD and Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD. A specialist will diagnose an individual exhibiting combined type ADHD if they show 6 of the symptoms for each subtype.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of ADHD is dependent on symptoms exhibited by the affected person. Your doctor will perform an examination using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Your doctor will also review your medical report to rule out psychological conditions that may cause your symptoms.


The appropriate treatment option your specialist will suggest will depend on the affected individual and family. The first line of treatment for a patient with ADHD is a combination of behavioral therapy and medication; however, a suitable treatment plan will require close monitoring and regular checkup meetings.

The two common types of medication your doctor may prescribe for ADHD are stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall and non-stimulant like Strattera or Intuniv. Stimulant medications are more effective in treating ADHD; however, if a patient experiences adverse side effects, non-stimulants can be considered a second treatment option.

Participating in a healthy behavioral lifestyle such as eating healthy and having enough sleep may encourage and bolster a quick response to treatment.