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Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. ADHD typically manifests in childhood, although symptoms may persist into adolescence and adulthood. It is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, affecting approximately 5-7% of children and adolescents worldwide.

Here are the key features of ADHD:

  1. Inattention: Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty sustaining attention, organizing tasks and activities, following through on instructions, and maintaining focus on tasks that require sustained mental effort. They may be easily distracted by external stimuli and frequently make careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.

  2. Hyperactivity: Hyperactivity symptoms in ADHD may manifest as excessive fidgeting, restlessness, difficulty staying seated, running or climbing excessively (in children), or feelings of inner restlessness in adolescents and adults. Individuals with ADHD may appear to be "on the go" or driven by a motor.

  3. Impulsivity: Impulsivity involves acting without considering the consequences or engaging in risky behaviors without appropriate forethought. Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty waiting their turn, blurting out answers in class or during conversations, interrupting others, or engaging in risky activities without considering potential dangers.

 

ADHD is classified into three main presentations based on the predominant symptoms:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This subtype is characterized primarily by symptoms of inattention, without significant hyperactivity-impulsivity. It was formerly referred to as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD).

  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This subtype is characterized primarily by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, without significant inattention.

  3. Combined Presentation: This subtype involves a combination of symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which is the most common presentation of ADHD.

The exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors. Risk factors for ADHD may include genetics (family history), prenatal exposure to toxins (e.g., alcohol, tobacco), prematurity, low birth weight, and certain environmental factors.

Treatment for ADHD often involves a multimodal approach, including behavioral interventions, psychoeducation, parent training, school accommodations, and medication management. Stimulant medications (e.g., methylphenidate, amphetamine) and non-stimulant medications (e.g., atomoxetine, guanfacine) are commonly used to manage symptoms of ADHD. Treatment approaches are tailored to the individual's specific needs and may evolve over time based on response to treatment and changes in symptoms. Early identification and intervention are important for improving outcomes and minimizing the impact of ADHD on academic, social, and occupational functioning.

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