What causes ADHD?
ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is one of the most common brain disorders among children, which can continue through adolescence and adulthood. ADHD is characterized by inattention and/or impulsivity (sometimes with hyperactivity), which significantly impacts many aspects of behavior and performance both at school and at home.
ADHD usually appears early in life (between ages 3-6) but not all individuals receive a diagnosis as a child or even teenager. Some adults have ADHD but have never been diagnosed. Many people with ADHD can become distracted, act impulsively, struggle to concentrate and have high energy from time to time, or are challenged daily to focus on everyday requests and routines. The symptoms can cause difficulty at work, at home, or with relationships.
What are symptoms?
Some examples of symptoms that are commonly noticed in children with ADHD include:
- Struggles to follow through on instructions
- Does not appear to listen
- Has difficulty sustaining attention
- Fails to give close attention to details and makes careless mistakes
- Has difficulty with organization
- Is very impatient
- Blurts out inappropriate comments and acts without regard for consequences
- Has difficulty waiting for things or taking turns
- Interrupts conversations or others’ activities
- Fidgets and squirms in their seat
- Has difficulty remaining seated
- Runs and climbs excessively
- Talks excessively
What causes ADHD?
The causes of ADHD are still under study, but scientists believe genes play a large role. Other factors currently being studied include environmental factors, fetal exposure and development, brain development, nutrition, and social environment, which may contribute to higher risk factors. Brain imaging studies have revealed delayed brain maturation and abnormal growth patterns in the structure of the brain of children with ADHD. Areas of the brain involved in thinking, paying attention, planning, and communication within the brain have been identified as abnormal compared to peers in those with ADHD.
According to the National Resource Center on ADHD, approximately 10 million adults have ADHD. In early adulthood, ADHD may be associated with depression, mood or conduct disorders and substance abuse. Adults with ADHD may suffer from chronic feelings of frustration, guilt or blame.
What can be done to treat ADHD?
While there currently is no cure, best outcomes are often achieved through a comprehensive treatment plan which includes behavioral intervention strategies, education regarding the diagnosis, and medication, when necessary. Many struggle with inconsistent performance at work or in their careers, difficulty with day-to-day responsibilities, or experience relationship issues.
Increased levels of stress, depression, and marital discord can occur within families when a spouse or parent has ADHD. Seeking treatment for the adult with ADHD and their family members can lead to better understanding, coping, and education within families.