The signs, symptoms, and effects of ADHD can be different for every person impacted. Learning about ADHD is one of the first steps towards getting better.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very common neurodevelopmental disorder that often follows an individual into adulthood. Those who have ADHD struggle with remaining focused or paying attention, as well as controlling their behaviors. In addition, they often appear overly active at times. All of these symptoms make it difficult for a child or adolescent to succeed at school and for adults to perform occupationally. The presence of ADHD symptoms can also make it challenging for individuals to get along with others and to uphold responsibilities at home. Those with ADHD often face challenges with low self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Many of the symptoms of ADHD will decrease as time passes; however, there are some people who are plagued by them throughout their lives.
There is no cure for ADHD. However, obtaining the correct treatment can help individuals learn how to handle their symptoms. Additionally, with the right treatment, individuals who have ADHD can be successful academically and occupationally, and live highly productive lives.
ADHD is a very common disorder that affects roughly 8% to 10%of school-aged individuals, with boys being three times more likely to battle this disorder than girls. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), approximately 5% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD.
Causes and Risk Factors for ADHD
The development of ADHD has been connected to a number of potential causes and risk factors, including the following:
Genetic: Children and adolescents who have a biologically-related, first-degree relative who suffers with ADHD are more likely to also suffer from the symptoms of the disorder than those who do not share this same family history. According to the APA, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a substantially heritable condition, however, the presence of certain genes are not necessary for symptoms of ADHD to develop.
Environment: Some mental health experts believe that there might be a link between smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol during pregnancy that can lead to a greater risk for ADHD in children. In addition, the APA notes that having a very low birth weight can also increase a child’s risk for developing ADHD. That being said, however, most children who have a low birth weight do not go on to grapple with this condition.
- Possessing a novelty-seeking temperament
- Possessing negative emotionality
- Having multiple foster care placements
- History of child abuse
- Prenatal exposure to alcohol
- Being male
- Family history of ADHD
- Reduced behavioral inhibition
- Prenatal exposure to cigarettes
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
The signs and symptoms of ADHD will vary from person to person and will depend on the subtype of the disorder that he or she is battling. The following symptoms are categorized into three subtypes and include examples of behavioral patterns that may be present:
- Is unable to pay attention to details or has a tendency to make careless mistakes
- Appears to have problems listening
- Has difficulty maintaining attention during tasks or activities
- Dislikes or avoids tasks that require mental effort
- Problems with organization
- Has a tendency to lose things
- Has a difficult time following directions
- Is easily distracted
- Has difficulty engaging in activities quietly
- Has a hard time staying seated
- Seems to always be on-the-go
- Is constantly fidgeting or squirming
- Talks excessively
- Often runs around and/or climbs on things (for children and adolescents)
- Has a hard time waiting his or her turn
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others
- Blurts out answers
Combined type: This is the most common form of ADHD and includes many symptoms from the inattentive type and the hyperactive-impulsive type of this disorder.
Effects of ADHD
If not treated effectively, the long-term effects of ADHD can make one’s life extremely challenging. Some of the negative effects of this disorder when it goes untreated can include:
- Academic or occupational failure
- Being judged by other children and adults
- Having more accidents and obtaining injuries
- Relationship difficulties
- Poor self-esteem
- Difficulty interacting with and being accepted by peers
- Problems at home
- Increased risk for substance abuse
Many individuals who have ADHD also battle with co-occurring mental health conditions. Those with ADHD are six times more likely to have at least one other mental health condition or learning disability. The most common disorders that co-occur alongside of ADHD can include:
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Specific learning disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Tic disorders
- Autism spectrum disorder