Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people's behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.
Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child's circumstances change, such as when they start school.
Most cases are diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old.
The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who were diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems.
We know that if you have ADHD you’re more likely to experience a mental health problem.
There’s evidence that anxiety, depression, conduct disorder (persistent patterns of antisocial, aggressive or defiant behaviour), substance abuse, and sleep problems are all more common with people who have ADHD.
What is ADHD like?
If you experience ADHD, you might find that you:
· have difficulty concentrating
· tend to fidget
· are forgetful
· sometimes make impulsive decisions.
This isn’t a complete list of all symptoms, but they are some of the symptoms which are also common in mental health problems.
Lots of the main symptoms of ADHD are things that impact your behaviour, mood, and thinking. So you might be misdiagnosed with a mental health problem like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a personality disorder.
Many children go through phases where they're restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD.
But you should consider raising your concerns with your child's teacher, their school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or a GP if you think their behaviour may be different from most children their age.
It's also a good idea to speak to a GP if you're an adult and think you may have ADHD, but were not diagnosed with the condition as a child.
There are also several organisations that support people with ADHD:
What causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families.
Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those without the condition.
Other factors suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:
· being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
· having a low birthweight
· smoking or alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it's more common in people with learning difficulties.
How attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is treated
Although there's no cure for ADHD, it can be managed with appropriate educational support, advice and support for parents and affected children, alongside medicine, if necessary.
Medicine is often the first treatment offered to adults with ADHD, although psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help.
Living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it's important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour.
Some issues that may arise in day-to-day life include:
· getting your child to sleep at night
· getting ready for school on time
· listening to and carrying out instructions
· being organised
· social occasions
Adults with ADHD may also find they have similar problems, and some may have issues with relationships or social interaction.