ADHD: What Is It & Do I Have It?
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ADHD: What Is It & Do I Have It?





According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 6.1 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or ADHD).


Additionally, roughly 4.4 percent of American adults struggle with this condition as well.


Despite the prevalence, ADHD is confusing, and there’s a lot of misinformation circulating about it. So, for those who want to learn more, the answers to the following questions can shed light on this condition, its symptoms, and potential treatments.





What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?


The National Institute of Mental Health defines ADHD as a neurological disorder characterized by the following:

  • Inattention: A person with ADHD might have difficulty sustaining focus, may show a lack of persistence, and may not pay attention to details. In turn, they might have poor time management skills
  • Hyperactivity: A person with ADHD might constantly feel the need to move around, even when it seems inappropriate. Thus, they may be extremely restlessness or fidgety, too
  • Impulsivity: A person with ADHD might make hasty decisions without thinking carefully. Because of this, they may show an inability to delay gratification, too


Symptoms of ADHD


Some people with ADHD show more symptoms related to inattention. On the other hand, others show symptoms that more closely align with hyperactive impulsivity.


First, symptoms of inattention include:

  • Overlooking or missing details/instructions
  • Have trouble paying attention at school, work, in conversation, etc.
  • Not seeming to listen when spoken to
  • Difficulty staying organized
  • Disliking or avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Frequently losing things


Second, symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity including the following:

  • Constantly fidgeting or squirming
  • Leaving one’s seat or desk when they’re not supposed to
  • Feeling restless
  • Being unable to sit quietly
  • Non stop talking
  • Blurting out answers, finishing other people’s sentences, frequently interrupting




At What Age Can ADHD First Start to Show?


Some children show signs of ADHD as early as age 3. Further, most symptoms show up before age 12.


Most children exhibit behaviors that align with an ADHD symptom at certain points. However, not all of these children will go on to receive an ADHD diagnosis and treatment.


Children who show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness in certain places but not others (e.g., at school but not at home) likely are not struggling with ADHD.



What Causes ADHD?


Experts aren’t sure at this time what causes ADHD. But, they’ve identified some potential risk factors, including the following:

  • Genetics (a child whose blood relatives have ADHD or other mental health conditions may be more likely to be diagnosed)
  • Environmental Toxins (lead, which can be found in the paint and pipes of old buildings, appears to be the main culprit)
  • Maternal drug use, as well as alcohol use or smoking while pregnant
  • Premature birth



None of these issues directly cause ADHD, though. Instead, these are related events.



Is There a Difference Between ADD and ADHD?


These days, the term ADD is considered outdated. As such, it isn’t used in medical advice/diagnosis.


ADHD is the official term, even when a patient doesn’t show symptoms of hyperactivity. ADHD is also divided into the following categories:

  • Inattentive Type
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
  • Combined Type (patient shows both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms)



A person’s treatment plan will vary depending on which type of ADHD they’re diagnosed with.




How Is ADHD Diagnosed?


There is not one specific ADHD test doctors run before offering medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


For a doctor to diagnose ADHD, a patient must exhibit at least 6 of the symptoms outlined above. Also, the patient must also have shown these symptoms before age 12 and show symptoms in two or more settings.


There must be evidence that the symptoms interfere with one’s functioning at school, work, or social events, too. In turn, the patient’s doctor must also verify that the symptoms aren’t caused by another condition (such as learning disabilities).


ADHD symptoms


Does ADHD Go Away or Does it Need Treatment?