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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a one of the most common mental disorders of childhood, affecting up to 10% of children. ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The symptoms can persist in up to two-thirds of children with ADHD, affecting an estimated 2.5% of adults.


It’s not clear what causes ADHD. Genetics appear to play a factor, as it sometimes runs in families. Environmental factors may also contribute to ADHD. 

Possible environmental factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or drug use during pregnancy

  • Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy

  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead, at a young age

  • Low birth weight

  • Brain injuries

ADHD perks

ADHD is described as a mental health disorder but many successful entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes, celebrities, politicians, artists, and scientists have (or had) ADHD. They are successful in spite of (or even because of) the traits associated with ADHD. 

Some of the positive attributes of ADHD include:

  • Ability to hyperfocus

  • Creativity

  • Ability to take risk

  • Spontaneity

  • Energetic

Signs and symptoms

Before people with ADHD learn to harness the positive traits to their benefit, living with ADHD can be a challenge. 

Symptoms of ADHD that may interfere with activities of daily living include:

  • Impulsiveness

  • Disorganization

  • Lack of attention to detail

  • Being easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli

  • Being forgetful in daily activities

  • Talking too much or interrupting others in conversation

  • Need to be constantly in motion


The diagnosis of ADHD requires information gathering of symptoms, current medical issues, personal and family medical history. ADHD rating scales or psychological tests are used to collect and evaluate symptoms.  There is no lab test to diagnose ADHD.


ADHD is typically managed by a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.

There are two main types of medications for ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants:

  • Stimulants. Methylphenidate and amphetamines are commonly prescribed to treat ADHD.

  • Non-stimulants. Medications like atomoxetine and guanfacine are alternatives for those who do not respond well to stimulants or if a non-stimulant is preferred.

Anyone taking medications should be monitored closely and carefully by their prescribing doctor.

Behavioral therapy to treat ADHD include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to change irrational thought patterns that prevent people from staying on task or getting things done

  • Family and marital therapy can help family members and spouses find better ways to handle disruptive behaviors

  • Behavioral coaching to teach strategies for organizing home and work activities

  • Relaxation training and stress management


Thapar A, Cooper M. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lancet. 2016 Mar 19;387(10024):1240-50.

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