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About ADHD

Signs and symptoms

Inattention, hyperactivity (restlessness in adults), disruptive behavior, and impulsivity are common in ADHD.Academic difficulties are frequent as are problems with relationships. The symptoms can be difficult to define as it is hard to draw a line at where normal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity end and significant levels requiring interventions begin.

To be diagnosed per the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), symptoms must be observed in multiple settings for six months or more and to a degree that is greater than others of the same age.They must also cause problems in the person's social, academic, or work life.

Based on the presenting symptom ADHD can be divided into three subtypes—predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, or combined if criteria for both types are met.

An individual with inattention may have some or all of the following symptoms:

Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task

Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
Not seem to listen when spoken to
Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
Struggle to follow instructions

Associated disorders

In children ADHD occurs with other disorders about â of the time.Some of the commonly associated conditions include:

Learning disabilities have been found to occur in about 20–30% of children with ADHD. Learning disabilities can include developmental speech and language disorders and academic skills disorders. ADHD, however, is not considered a learning disability, but it very frequently causes academic difficulties.

Tourette syndrome has been found to occur more commonly in the ADHD population.


The cause of most cases of ADHD is unknown; however, it is believed to involve interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Certain cases are related to previous infection of or trauma to the brain.


See also: Diet and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Environmental factors are believed to play a lesser role. Alcohol intake during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder which can include symptoms similar to ADHD.


ADHD is diagnosed by an assessment of a person's childhood behavioral and mental development, including ruling out the effects of drugs, medications and other medical or psychiatric problems as explanations for the symptoms.[14]:p.19–27 It often takes into account feedback from parents and teachers with most diagnoses begun after a teacher raises concerns.It may be viewed as the extreme end of one or more continuous human traits found in all people.[14]:p.130 Whether someone responds to medications does not confirm or rule out the diagnosis. As imaging studies of the brain do not give consistent results between individuals, they are only used for research purposes and not diagnosis


There is good evidence for the use of behavioral therapies in ADHD. and they are the recommended first line treatment in those who have mild symptoms or are preschool-aged.

Main article: History of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Hyperactivity has long been part of the human condition. Sir Alexander Crichton describes "mental restlessness" in his book An inquiry into the nature and origin of mental derangement written in 1798.

Special populations
Main article: Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

It is estimated that between 2–5% of adults have ADHD.Around half of children with ADHD continue to have ADHD as adults. Of those who continue to have symptoms approximately 25% have the full disorder and 75% partially 'grow out' of it.Most adults remain untreated. Many have a disorganized life and use non-prescribed drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Children with high IQ scores

The diagnosis of ADHD and the significance of its impact on children with a high intelligence quotient (IQ) is controversial. Most studies have found similar impairments regardless of IQ, with higher rates of repeating grades and having social difficulties. Additionally, more than half of people with high IQ and ADHD experience major depressive disorder or oppositional defiant disorder at some point in their lives. Generalised anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and social phobia are also more common.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD), which occur with ADHD in about 50% and 20% of cases respectively. They are characterized by antisocial behaviors such as stubbornness, aggression, frequent temper tantrums, deceitfulness, lying, and stealing. About half of those with hyperactivity and ODD or CD develop antisocial personality disorder in adulthood.[

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