Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that can cause disruption in the daily lives of those who are affected by it.  ADHD can impact school performance, interpersonal relationships, and employment, as it affects concentration, activity levels, and impulse control.

An estimated 3 – 5 % of individuals in the U.S. are thought to have ADHD. While it develops in childhood, ADHD can continue throughout life. At least 30% of affected children continue to experience symptoms as adults.

The Nature of ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by three hallmark symptoms:  inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity.  While all children demonstrate some degree of these traits due to their immature development, these behaviors are more frequent and severe with ADHD.  To receive a diagnosis, an individual must exhibit symptoms to a greater degree than their peers for at least six months.

Three ADHD subtypes have been identified:

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive — difficulty controlling behavior and over-activity, with few attention problems;
  • Predominantly inattentive – difficulty with inattention, with few problems with hyperactivity or impulse control;
  • Combined hyperactiveimpulsive and inattentive – presence of strong symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.  Most children are found to have the combined type of ADHD.

While adult symptoms of ADHD may be similar, they may be expressed differently– for example, restlessness rather than hyperactivity.

Causes of ADHD

As with many other disorders, ADHD is the likely result of a combination of factors.  Researchers have found that levels of certain chemicals or neurotransmitters in the brain tend to be lower in individuals with ADHD.  Known or suspected contributing factors include:

  • Genetics. ADHD often runs in families, and scientists are attempting to isolate genes that may contribute to the development of the disorder.
  • Prenatal problems.  Low birth weight and difficulty pregnancies have been linked to ADHD.
  • Environment.  Studies have found potential links between ADHD and alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy and exposure to high levels of lead and such environmental toxins as PCBs or pesticides.
  • Brain injury.  Head injuries, particularly to the frontal lobe, seem to increase the risk for ADHD.
  • Nutrition.  Much speculation has focused on the possible effects of refined sugar and food additives, but research is inconclusive.

Treatment of ADHD

While there is no known cure, ADHD is a manageable disorder that responds to proper treatment.  Treatments focus on symptom reduction and management.

Medication is the primary treatment mode. Stimulant drugs are often used with children because, unlike with adults, they actually have a calming effect.  A few non-stimulant medications have demonstrated benefits. While parents are understandably cautious about medication, the proper regimen can help a child learn to focus and behave more appropriately.

In addition, treatment may include psychotherapy, education, or specialized training.  For example, behavioral therapy can assist a child in controlling his or her symptoms.  Structured routines can be developed that will assist parents and teachers in managing behaviors.  Social skills training can provide children with tools to interact more appropriately with others.

The good news for many:  most individuals “outgrow” ADHD as they mature into adulthood.  But strides in treatment give hope to all, regardless of age.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex mental health issue that is not always easy to diagnose. This is often due in part to the existence of signs and symptoms indicative of other conditions such as anxiety and depression.

There are also various classifications of ADHD where either the attention deficit symptoms or the hyperactivity symptoms are more dominant; or where a near equal combination of both is present. Each individual case is unique. Many times an accurate assessment of symptoms requires a rather lengthy diagnostic process.

Those involved in the life of a child or young adult with ADHD struggle along with them in many ways. Parents, teachers and peers at times become frustrated with the ADHD sufferer’s symptoms and behaviors. These include being easily distracted, disruptive, impulsive and an inability to sit still.

A Comprehensive Approach to ADHD Treatment

Incorporating multiple modes of treatment usually produces the best results in those with ADHD. These often include psychotherapy and behavior modification combined with education and medications. Talk therapy and behavioral therapies will help a child better understand their condition and what may trigger certain responses. These will also enable a child with ADHD to be more aware of their behaviors and discover ways to break out of destructive patterns.

Most medications used in ADHD treatments come in the form of stimulants, antidepressants and mood stabilizers. It may take several tries to determine which medication works best for a particular child. But once a medication is settled upon, it will often have a calming effect on the child and will help them significantly improve their focus.

ADHD education programs are recommended for both parents and children as part of the treatment process. Through these programs, goals will be established, progress will be evaluated and strategies outlined in order to help parents recognize and understand ADHD symptoms. These programs also help children with ADHD build self-esteem and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Multimodal treatment plans have a proven track record. This method attacks ADHD from all angles and often helps clear the path for a child to one day live a successful and fulfilling life.



This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

Diagnosing specific mental health problems and disorders is not always easy. The human mind is very complex. Even highly-trained and vastly experienced mental health professionals may occasionally experience some difficulties in pinning down a definitive diagnosis.

This is especially true in regard to co-occurring disorders. Also referred to as “dual disorders” or a “dual diagnosis,” a co-occurring disorder exists when a mental health condition is accompanied by at least one other disorder.

Co-occurring disorders are relatively common. It is often the case where the symptoms of one condition will present themselves while other conditions lie beneath the surface. This is the challenge for psychiatric professionals; to determine whether there are underlying issues that may be affecting or exacerbating what appears to be a particular mental illness.

For example, it is not uncommon for ADHD to be accompanied by anxiety or mood disorders; or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to coexist with depression. The symptoms of these illnesses can play into each other, overlap or display themselves as a result of the other.

Such is the case with addictive disorders that are well-known for existing with other conditions. Many who struggle with depression or mood and anxiety disorders turn to substance abuse to relieve their symptoms.

Treating Co-occurring Disorders

To effectively treat co-occurring disorders, each condition must be isolated and addressed. Every patient has their own unique background and set of circumstances. Therefore a treatment plan must be tailored to meet the needs of each individual.

After initial evaluation and assessment, an “integrated” approach to counseling and psychotherapy is usually preferred when treating co-occurring disorders. This is where substance abuse counselors, psychotherapists and anyone else involved in the treatment process will coordinate efforts and share information regarding the patient’s condition, care and progress.

An integrated program for those with co-occurring disorders is usually administered in stages. Various avenues of treatment are incorporated into a comprehensive strategy that includes helping the patient understand their condition, establishing goals and guiding the patient toward the development of healthier behavior patterns. Group therapy and aftercare can also play an important role in an overall plan to help a co-occurring disorder sufferer heal.

There is an overriding tendency within human nature to fear what we don’t understand. Throughout history, this “fear of the unknown” has shaped our perception in regard to those who suffer from mental illness.

Assumptions and judgments are formed about people with mental health issues often without any understanding of the causes, symptoms and treatment of a particular disorder. Moreover, people tend to believe that those who are mentally ill have a greater propensity toward displaying violent behavior.

However this is simply not the case. Numerous studies have shown those with mental disorders are no more likely than anyone else to commit violent acts. In fact, the mentally ill are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators.

The Stigma Softens

In the past, the portrayal of those with mental illness in books, film and television were major contributors to the negative reaction that terms such as “mental disorder” and “schizophrenia” often received from the general public.

However, in more recent years, a greater effort has taken place to educate the public about mental illness.  These positive developments include:

  • Mental health centers with educational programs that raise public awareness  about the truths of  mental disorders, as well as addressing successful treatment modalities for OCD, ADHD, depression,  and eating disorders.
  • Organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that work with media and news organizations to raise awareness about mental illnesses.
  • TV shows and documentaries focusing on the lives and struggles of people with bipolar disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and other illnesses.
  • The emergence of celebrities who are beginning to discuss their mental health issues in public forums.

By increasing exposure to the facts and attaching names and faces to various disorders, the stigma and stereotypes surrounding mental illness are gradually fading. All these factors contribute to encouraging those with mental illness and other mental health concerns feel empowered to discuss their issues and seek help.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorders in children. In the U.S., ADHD affects roughly 8 percent of children ages 3-17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), up to 60 percent of children with ADHD will experience symptoms through adolescence and into adulthood.).

Countless studies from reputable health organizations have been conducted on the causes, symptoms and treatment of ADHD. But a decisive ADHD diagnosis can often be difficult to pin down, especially in young children.

Core Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD encompasses a wide spectrum of symptoms. While the “attention deficit” and “hyperactivity” aspects of this disorder can occur separately, they coincide in cases of ADHD. Attention deficit characteristics include trouble listening, inattention to detail, forgetfulness, lack of organization and an inability to stay focused on a subject or activity. Hyperactivity symptoms include the inability to sit still,  the constant need to be in motion and excessive talking.

Not Hard to Misdiagnose

Some of the symptoms of ADHD can also be present in adolescent depression, bipolar disorders and other mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and mood disorders. While ADHD can occur in conjunction with another disorder, it is also possible for a child exhibiting symptoms common to ADHD diagnosis, to be actually be suffering from a different  problem altogether.

When a child is disruptive in class or has difficulty listening and cannot sit still at home, ADHD is often the first concern  a teacher or parent has. However, a recent Michigan State University study reports nearly one million children in the U.S. might  have been misdiagnosed with ADHD. This can translate into ADHD treatment such as medication being initiated too soon, which in some cases might have a negative long-term impact on a child’s health.

It is important for a child displaying ADHD symptoms to be thoroughly evaluated over a period of time by a mental health professional. Any initial treatment should begin with behavioral therapies in lieu of medication.

A fairly recent study has found evidence linking Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to genetics.

A team of scientists scanned gene maps of more than 1,400 children for the study. After comparing the abnormal samples to the DNA of children without ADHD, the researchers discovered those with ADHD were more likely to have small pieces of their DNA missing or duplicated.

The DNA irregularities among ADHD children were prevalent in the same region where schizophrenia and autism is believed to develop; solidifying the belief ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition.

ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood and causes impulsiveness, restlessness and difficultly focusing. In the U.S., ADHD affects roughly two million children and three to five percent of the global child population. Medication and behavioral therapy are common forms of ADHD treatment.

The results from the study are expected to help researchers develop better methods for ADHD treatment. However, it is doubtful the findings will lead to an ADHD genetic test, as many experts consider environment part of the cause as well.

Speaking of environmental factors, another recent study suggests children with high levels of the pesticide malathion in their urine have a greater risk of developing ADHD.

The new study is the first to base its findings on a general U.S. population sample rather than on children from farm-working families or those living in locations where high chemical exposure is prevalent. Researchers estimate the majority of participants in the study were exposed to the malathion through food consumption.

The study compared data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted during 2000 to 2004. The findings concluded children with malathion metabolite levels 10 times above the normal rate are 55 percent more likely to have ADHD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can carry with it a variety of symptoms including hyperactivity, the inability to stay focused and impulsivity. Depending on the individual, these symptoms can manifest themselves in different ways.

ADHD is synonymous with the older term, “ADD,” and is commonly associated with children who have trouble paying attention and controlling their behavior. It is considered to be a mental disorder. Clinics and mental health centers across the country offer ADHD treatment to both children and adults.

More than 7.5 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. are said to be affected by ADHD, according to a recent Mayo Clinic study. If left untreated, roughly two out of three children will struggle with ADHD into adulthood and may end up suffering from depression or other mood disorders.


Mental health treatment specialists will evaluate individuals suffering with ADHD on a case-by-case basis. Although some of the generally-accepted ADHD symptoms may exist such as inattentiveness, inability to complete tasks and extreme impatience and fidgetiness, each patient’s circumstances are unique.

A multi-faceted approach is usually employed in treating adults and children with ADHD. This can include antidepressant and stimulant medications as well as various forms of psychotherapy and behavior modification.

Learning to Harness ADHD

Despite some of the hardships experienced by those with ADHD, there are some potentially positive aspects. This is evidenced by the many achievers and famous people in our society with ADHD, such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison among many others, who believe it has benefited them in certain ways.

Many of these people attribute their energy and creativity to the symptoms associated with ADHD, in addition to their ability to apply great focus within the areas that interest them. They have turned the ADHD “weaknesses” into “strengths.”

Those with ADHD should take notice that not only can their disorder be controlled, but with focus and determination it is possible that they can use it to their advantage.