Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that is often first diagnosed in childhood and may persist into adulthood. It can include a combination of behavioral symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, disorganization, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.

It is not always diagnosed in childhood, nor is it a condition found only in children. ADHD is a neurological disorder and not a result of insufficient discipline, personal weakness, or bad parenting.

A child with ADHD may require an individualized education program (IEP).  

Symptoms

If you think that you or your child may have ADHD, your first step in getting help is to be assessed by a doctor. Common symptoms of ADHD in children and adults include:

  • Excessive activity, fidgeting, or restlessness; an inability to sit still appropriately
  • Chronic disorganization and losing or misplacing possessions frequently
  • Problems focusing on a or completing a task; inattention to detail
  • Difficulty following directions or paying attention
  • A pattern of making careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks
  • Being quick to anger or experiencing frequent mood swings 
  • Trouble getting along with others or taking turns in a conversation; difficulty with waiting one's turn 
  • Talking non-stop, interrupting others
  • Frequent daydreaming and an inability to concentrate
  • Time management issues
  • Trouble remembering important dates, appointments, or other daily activities

Causes

There is no known root cause of ADHD. It can affect anyone. An individual's risk of ADHD may increase if:

  • You have relatives, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or another mental health disorder
  • Your mother smoked, drank alcohol, or used drugs during pregnancy
  • You or your child have suffered a brain injury
  • During pregnancy or childhood, you or your child were exposed to environmental toxins such as lead
  • You or your child were born prematurely or had a low birth weight

ADHD treatment can be made more complex if you also have autism spectrum disorder, a learning disability, or additional mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or a substance use disorder. A doctor or therapist can help create a personalized treatment program that helps address all of your medical conditions. 

Treatment

ADHD can be managed to reduce the impact of its symptoms on your life and your family. A standard treatment plan for ADHD can involve a combination of medication, education, therapy, and support.

Medication: Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. Antidepressants and other drugs may also used to treat ADHD. The effectiveness of different medications may vary, so it's important to talk to your doctor about how your medication is working for you. 

Education: Learning more about ADHD will help you, your family, and your friends cope with the stresses and life changes that come with an ADHD diagnosis. Your treatment provider can help you find the resources that you need to stay informed about ADHD. Learn more about mental health conditions and treatment options in our Knowledge Center.

Therapy: Counseling for ADHD can include psychological counseling, talk therapy, family or couples therapy, and occupational therapy to help you or your child learn skills to help control ADHD symptoms and recognize triggers. Your treatment provider can help you learn coping skills to help minimize the impact of ADHD on your life and your family. Find treatment options through Sheppard Pratt.

Support: It's important to have support from your friends and family as you manage ADHD. Support groups are available for families, parents, children, and adults. Learn more about support groups at Sheppard Pratt.