What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that makes it hard for you to focus and can make you hyper or impulsive. ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in young people. An estimated 8.8% of children aged 4-17 have ADHD. While ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it does not only affect children. An estimated 4.4% of adults aged 18-44 have ADHD. With treatment, people with ADHD can be successful in school, work and lead productive lives.


While some behaviors associated with ADHD are “normal” and not a cause for concern to most people, someone with ADHD will have trouble controlling these behaviors and they will go on longer than 6 months.

Signs of inattention include:
• Becoming easily distracted and jumping from one thing to another.
• Becoming bored with a task quickly.
• Difficulty focusing attention.
• Trouble completing or turning in homework assignments.
• Losing things such as school supplies or toys.
• Not listening or paying attention when spoken to.
• Daydreaming or wandering with lack of motivation.
• Not getting things the first time they are explained.
• Struggling to follow directions.

Signs of hyperactivity include:
• Fidgeting and squirming, having trouble sitting still.
• Non-stop talking.
• Touching or playing with everything.
• Difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

Signs of impulsivity include:
• Impatience.
• Acting out without care of the consequences, blurting things out.
• Difficulty taking turns, waiting or sharing.
• Interrupting others.

Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

There are several factors believed to contribute to ADHD:
• Genetics. Research shows ADHD often runs in families.
• Environmental factors. Studies show a link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy and children who have ADHD as well as exposure to lead.

ADHD occurs in both children and adults. Getting a diagnosis for ADHD can be challenging at a young age because the symptoms are often confused with childhood behavior. This means teachers are often the first to notice ADHD symptoms.

There is no one single test that can diagnose a child with ADHD, so talk to a doctor or mental health professional to be diagnosed. The goal is to rule out any symptoms that can be mistaken for ADHD.

ADHD is managed and treated in several ways:
• Medications
• Therapy
• Self-awareness, including education programs and assistance through schools

Related Conditions

Related Conditions
Some children and adults with ADHD also have another condition. Some symptoms include:
• Learning disabilities
• Taking directions from authority
• Violent tendencies
• Anxiety and depression
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Bipolar disorder
• Tourette’s syndrome
• Sleep disorders