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Oct 05 2022

ADHD: A Comprehensive Guide.

Shot of an adorable little boy playing with building blocks at home.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition characterized by many persistent issues, like hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and trouble paying attention. 

This article details everything you need to know about ADHD — what it is, its symptoms, and how it’s diagnosed. Read on!

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder (a disorder that affects brain function). It often occurs in childhood but can also be diagnosed in adulthood. 

People with this disorder experience higher levels of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and trouble focusing than their peers. Also, it can affect daily life and productivity, and lead to poor work/school performance, unstable relationships, and low self-esteem.

What Causes ADHD?

A definite cause for ADHD hasn’t been identified yet; however, scientists believe that certain factors may affect, trigger, or enhance the condition, including:

  • Genetics
  • Brain injury
  • Diet choices
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Alcohol and tobacco use by pregnant mothers

Confused pretty young woman with ADHD holding her phone.

Types of ADHD

ADHD manifests in three different ways, depending on the symptoms an individual experiences.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation:

A person who experiences this type of ADHD may fidget a lot and be talkative, interrupting others a lot or speaking inappropriately. They’d feel restless and find it hard to sit still for long, wait in line in a queue, or listen to instructions.

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation:

The individual may find it challenging to pay attention to details, follow instructions, or carry on conversations. They may get easily distracted and forget things quickly.

Combined Presentation: 

A person with Combined Presentation experiences symptoms of the two types of ADHD above.

NOTE: ADHD symptoms may change over time, so presentation may also change.

Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD symptoms can be categorized into 2 types:

  • hyperactivity and impulsiveness
  • inattentiveness (difficulty with focus and concentration)

Many people experience symptoms that fit into both categories, but that’s not always the case. For instance, 3 of 10 people with ADHD experience difficulty concentrating but not hyperactivity/impulsiveness.

This form of ADHD (experiencing inattentiveness but not hyperactivity/impulsiveness) is also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). But the symptoms are less obvious, so they can sometimes go unnoticed. 

ADHD symptoms differ in children and adults. Also, males and females can experience different symptoms. 

4 young children playing a garden.

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

The main signs of ADHD in adults may include restlessness, impulsiveness, and difficulty focusing. Some adults with ADHD experience fewer symptoms as they age, but others have significant symptoms that may interfere with daily life and productivity. These symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Typical ADHD symptoms in adults may include:

  • Poor time-management skills
  • Poor planning abilities
  • Disorganization (of thoughts and items)
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Difficulty prioritizing
  • Impulsiveness
  • Anxiety
  • A hot temper — fits of rage
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Frequent/excessive mood swings
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty paying attention to details
  • Trouble following instructions
  • A tendency to be easily distracted
  • Difficulty building and maintaining relationships
  • Procrastination
  • Difficulty focusing on conversations
  • Restlessness
  • Poor self-image

Young African American using his phone in a social gathering.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

ADHD is one of the most common childhood mental disorders. Boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. Why?

Boys and girls are likely to display very different symptoms. Girls are more likely to show signs of inattentiveness. But boys tend to exhibit the more obvious symptoms, like hyperactivity and disruptive behavior. 

Boys usually exhibit the common external symptoms people think of when they think of ADHD behavior. For instance:

  • Difficulty focusing on one task
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Being unable to sit still, even in quiet or calm environments
  • Talkativeness
  • Little or no sense of danger
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Having trouble taking turns
  • Acting without thinking
  • Difficulty learning or organizing new information

Little boy playing brick games with his father.

On the other hand, ADHD can easily go unnoticed or be overlooked in girls because the symptoms are not the “typical” ADHD behavior. Symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and low self-esteem
  • A tendency to daydream
  • Having a short attention span
  • Getting bored easily
  • Difficulty organizing tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Being unable to stick to complicated or time-consuming tasks
  • Appearing to be unable to listen to/carry out instructions
  • Difficulty learning or organizing new information

These symptoms can cause significant issues, such as social withdrawal, difficulty interacting with peers and adults, underachievement at school, and problems obeying authority.

A black family compriising mother, father, and daughter.

Conditions Related To ADHD

Although ADHD doesn’t directly cause other medical conditions, people with ADHD — especially children — are more likely to have/develop:

Pretty black woman with an empty shopping basket screaming with hands up in the air.

Risk Factors of ADHD

You are most likely to develop/have ADHD if:

  • You were born prematurely
  • Your mother drank alcohol, smoked, or used drugs during pregnancy
  • You have relatives with ADHD or other mental disorders
  • You were exposed to environmental toxins (like lead) as a child

ADHD Complications

ADHD has been linked to many issues that can affect your daily life and productivity, like:

  • Poor school/work performance
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Poor self-image
  • Financial problems
  • Trouble with the law
  • Frequent (car) accidents
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unemployment
  • Poor physical health
  • Poor mental health
  • Unstable relationships

Pediatrician talking to the father of a healthy and happy little girl with ADHD during a checkup at a hospital.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

For a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, they must have 6 or more symptoms of inattentiveness or 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. They must also have:

  • been showing signs before age 12
  • been showing symptoms continuously for at least 6 months
  • been displaying symptoms in at least 2 different settings (e.g., at home and at school)
  • symptoms that make social and academic life significantly difficult

For adults to be diagnosed with ADHD, their symptoms should have substantial effects on different aspects of their life, such as:

  • difficulty building and maintaining relationships
  • underachieving at work/education
  • reckless driving
  • impulsive spending

Pretty young african american woman preschool teacher exercising with happy curly little girl, sitting at table together, making constructions with colorful wooden play bricks, giving high five

How is ADHD Treated?

Standard treatment for ADHD involves medication, therapy, and psychological counseling. These treatments can help manage many symptoms and make the condition less of a problem in daily life, but they don’t cure it. 

Final Words on ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be treated using a combination of treatment and therapy, but it’s best to figure out what works for you. 

Also, note that teachers or religious entities cannot diagnose ADHD. Only well-vetted and qualified mental health professionals like therapists associated with can diagnose and administer ADHD treatment. 

If you relate to any of these symptoms, consult a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis. And if you need help finding one, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

And if you have any questions or need to make any clarifications, please use the comment box. 


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