Health A-Z


Clinical Definition

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a developmental and behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. While the exact causes have not been determined, research suggests that it has a strong neurobiological basis. Impairment of executive brain functions that activate, organize, integrate and manage relate to symptoms associated with ADHD. The disorder is typically treated with medication, behavioral therapy or a combination of both.

In Our Own Words

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to have trouble paying attention, focusing and controlling impulses. While distractibility and impulsivity are common and normal in all young children (and in adults who are stressed out or overwhelmed), individuals with ADHD continually have these symptoms, and they persist despite adequate sleep and nutrition, and the result may be difficulties at school, at work, with friends, or at home.

While the exact cause is unknown, researchers have found a strong genetic component. Environmental factors and exposures during pregnancy/development are also important, with links found in the case of certain toxins, like lead, as well as being born prematurely and alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy. ADHD is not just a children’s condition. Many adults who were diagnosed as children carry at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. Also, if you had an ADHD-like childhood but were never officially diagnosed, it is possible you are still affected by it as an adult.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Inability to pay attention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
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