What is adhd?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that makes it hard to pay attention and focus on tasks. People who have ADHD tend to act without thinking and have trouble sitting still.

ADHD may begin in early childhood and can continue into adulthood. Without treatment, it can cause problems at home, at school, at work, and with relationships.

What happens when you have ADHD?

ADHD most often starts in childhood and can last into adulthood. It can disrupt many aspects of a child's life. Learning, adjusting to change, sleeping, and getting along with others are all areas where children with ADHD may need extra help.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

ADHD can cause three types of symptoms:

Trouble paying attention (inattention).

People with ADHD often have a hard time focusing on any one task.

Trouble sitting still for even a short time (hyperactivity).

Children with ADHD may squirm, fidget, or run around at the wrong times. Teens and adults often feel restless and fidgety. They aren't able to enjoy reading or other quiet activities. Most people with ADHD are hyperactive only some of the time, even if hyperactivity is their main symptom.

Acting before thinking (impulsivity).

People with ADHD may talk too loud, laugh too loud, or become angrier than the situation calls for. Children may not be able to wait for their turn or to share. This makes it hard for them to play with other children. Teens and adults may make quick decisions that have a long-term impact on their lives. They may spend too much money or change jobs often.

How is ADHD treated?

Treatment for ADHD will depend on the age of the person. It may include medicines and behavior therapy. Younger children are first treated with behavior therapy. As children get older, behavior therapy and medicines may be used. Adults are usually treated with medicines. Counseling to learn more about ADHD may also help.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

A doctor uses a combination of exams, tests, and other information to check for ADHD. The doctor will look at guidelines created by the American Psychiatric Association. The diagnosis will be based on:

  • A talk with your child.
  • Your child's medical history. The doctor will ask about your child's social, emotional, educational, and behavioral history.
  • A physical exam.
  • Behavior rating scales or checklists for ADHD. These are used by parents and teachers to evaluate your child's symptoms.

Before meeting with your doctor, think about at what age your child's symptoms began. You and other caregivers can help by recording when the behavior occurs and how long it lasts. An important part of checking for ADHD is thinking about the kinds of problems caused by the behaviors. How much do they affect schooling and social behavior?

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition. A person who has ADHD has trouble paying attention and focusing on tasks, tends to act without thinking, and has trouble sitting still.

It may begin in early childhood and can continue into adulthood. ADHD can be treated with medicines, behavior therapy, and counseling. Treatment can improve your life.

In the past, ADHD was called attention deficit disorder (ADD).

What causes ADHD?

The exact cause of ADHD is not clear. It tends to run in families, so genetics may be involved. Scientists are studying other possible causes, such as things in the environment and things that happen before or after birth.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.