attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): What You Need to Know

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. People with ADHD may experience difficulty paying attention, controlling behaviour, feeling restless, and focusing on tasks or activities. ADHD is diagnosed in children and adults, though it is more commonly diagnosed in children. Treatment for ADHD usually involves a combination of medication, therapy, and other strategies to improve impulse control and behaviour, as well as other associated functions like sleep and stress management.

Looking for information on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? This guide covers the symptoms and diagnosis, providing valuable insights for patients and caregivers.

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition characterized by difficulty concentrating, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It is most commonly diagnosed in children and can persist into adulthood. It is estimated to affect 4-5% of school-aged children, predominantly boys. Symptoms may include difficulty following instructions, difficulty with organization, and restlessness. Treatment of ADHD can include medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.


  • Impulsivity: Acting without thinking, difficulty waiting for a turn or inline 
  • Hyperactivity: Fidgeting, restlessness, difficulty engaging in quiet activities 
  • Inattention: Easily distracted, difficulty concentrating, trouble focusing on tasks 
  • Disorganization: Poor organizational skills, missing deadlines, difficulty multi-tasking 
  • Impulsivity: Poor impulse control, difficulty following instructions, blurting out comments 
  • Memory problems: Poor short-term memory, difficulty retaining new information 
  • Lack of focus: Trouble paying attention, difficulty concentrating on one task for an extended amount of time 
  • Poor judgment: Poor decision-making, lack of awareness of consequences of actions
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Interrupting conversations or intruding on others

Who is more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects children and adults but is most commonly diagnosed in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.2 million children (ages 2-17) in the United States had an ADHD diagnosis in 2016. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.

Causes and Risk Factors

  1. Genetics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is believed to be genetically inherited from birth parents or other close relatives.  
  2. Brain injuries: Research suggests that brain injuries, especially in the brain’s frontal regions, may contribute to ADHD symptoms.  
  3. Exposures during pregnancy: Some research suggests that exposure to certain toxins or drugs may increase the risk of a child developing ADHD.  
  4. Environmental factors: Environmental factors like chaotic or unstable family life may contribute to developing ADHD symptoms.  
  5. Low Birth Weight: In some cases, ADHD may be linked to significantly lower birth weight.  
  6. Nutrition deficiencies: Deficiencies in certain minerals or vitamins, such as omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc, have been linked to an increased risk of developing ADHD.  
  7. Parenting styles: Studies suggest that some parenting styles, like those overly punitive or lacking structure, may contribute to developing ADHD symptoms.

How is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosed?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically diagnosed with the help of comprehensive clinical evaluation. It involves a physical exam, patient history, a review of symptoms, and formulating a general assessment of the child’s behaviour. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that to diagnose ADHD, a comprehensive evaluation by a specialist in child development or mental health should be conducted. The evaluation should include information from various sources, including parents, teachers, and healthcare providers. This evaluation may include a questionnaire, interviews with parents and teachers, an assessment of behaviour, and tests of cognition and achievement. A diagnosis of ADHD is based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which outlines the symptoms of ADHD.

Do you know?

  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), is used by healthcare professionals to diagnose, assess, and treat mental disorders. It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is considered the gold standard for psychiatric diagnosis. The DSM-5 contains recent updates on the diagnosis and classification of mental disorders, a discussion of appropriate treatments and accompanying research.

How is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder treated?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is usually treated with medication, counselling, and behaviour therapy. This treatment approach can help reduce ADHD symptoms and improve focus, concentration, and impulse control.

  1. Stimulant medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta can be prescribed to improve focus and impulse control. 
  2. At the same time, non-stimulant drugs such as Strattera and Intuniv may also be used. 
  3. Additionally, psychotherapy (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and psychodynamic therapy) or alternative forms of therapy, such as mindfulness and biofeedback, may help children and adults with ADHD manage and respond to the emotions and stress associated with the condition. 
  4. Behavioural therapy can help children and adults with ADHD to manage time better, organize tasks, and improve focus and attention. Education and training can help ADHD individuals understand and manage their condition more effectively.

Collaborating with a mental health professional or physician is crucial to determine the best treatment course.

How to manage ADHD child?

First and foremost, it is vital to have a good understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Knowing the typical behaviours of children with ADHD can help you identify and manage symptoms. 

  • Follow a Schedule: Set a routine and stick to it. It helps children with ADHD know what’s expected of them daily. Having an established schedule reduces chore-time arguments and keeps everyone on the same page.  
  • Look for patterns: Look for patterns in your child’s behaviours and activities to identify triggers and challenges.   
  • Find activities your child enjoys: Find activities your child enjoys that also provide development opportunities.
  • Monitor Diet: It’s essential to consider food’s impact on children with ADHD. A diet high in refined sugar can increase the risk of hyperactivity and other ADHD symptoms, so choose balanced, nutrient-rich foods. 
  • Encourage Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways to manage the symptoms of ADHD. Exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety and provides an excellent outlet for excess energy.  
  • Establish Rules: It’s essential to set clear rules and expectations for children with ADHD. It will help reduce frustrating behaviour and give them a sense of structure.  
  • Break tasks into small, manageable steps: Breaking them into smaller steps makes them seem more achievable and can help reduce the overwhelming frustration children with ADHD may experience. 
  • Avoid distractions: Minimize clutter and other distractions in your child’s environment and monitor their media consumption to reduce the chances of distractions. 
  • Be Patient: Managing ADHD can be difficult, and it’s important to remember that it can take time for changes to take effect. Remain patient and positive when working with a child with ADHD.


  1. Biederman, J. (2005). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Selective Overview. Biological Psychiatry57(11), 1215-1220.
  2. PLISZKA, S. R., et al (2006). The Texas Children’s Medication Algorithm Project: Revision of the Algorithm for Pharmacotherapy of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry45(6), 642-657.
  3. Faraone, S. V., Perlis, R. H., Doyle, A. E., Smoller, J. W., Goralnick, J. J., Holmgren, M. A., & Sklar, P. (2005). Molecular Genetics of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Biological Psychiatry57(11), 1313-1323.
  4. Nijmeijer, J. S., Minderaa, R. B., Buitelaar, J. K., Mulligan, A., Hartman, C. A., & Hoekstra, P. J. (2008). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and social dysfunctioning. Clinical Psychology Review28(4), 692-708.
  5. El-Gilany, A., Khater, M., Gomaa, Z., Hussein, E., & Hamdy, I. (2016). Psychiatric Disorders among Prisoners: A National Study in Egypt. East Asian Archives of Psychiatry, 26(1), 30.

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