According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, 5% of adults in the United States of America have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD). This is a brain-based disorder that usually begins in childhood but can persist into adulthood. It affects the brain activities known as executing function skills. This causes inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. It was previously known as Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD) but this name was changed. ADD is now considered to be a type of ADHD.



The exact cause of ADD/ADHD still remains unknown. However, scientists have come up with a set of risk factors that contribute to ADD/ADHD. Here are some of them

  1. Genes

The genes you inherit from your parents greatly determine whether or not you are likely to get ADD/ADHD. Research shows that siblings of people with ADD/ADHD are three to four times more likely to have it. Additionally, people whose parents have it are more likely to have it.

  1. Being born prematurely and low birth weight

Babies born before their 37th week have been found to have higher chances of developing ADD/ADHD. Babies who have a low birth weight are also at risk.

  1. Alcohol intake and drug abuse in pregnant women

Research shows that women who drink alcohol or abuse drugs during their pregnancy are more likely to have babies with ADD/ADHD.

  1. Exposure to toxic chemicals

Research shows that children exposed to toxic chemicals such as lead may develop ADD/ADHD symptoms. Some insecticides are also suspected to increase the risk of ADD/ADHD. However, the evidence in this area is still inconclusive.

  1. Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury while in the womb or earlier stages of life may lead to the development of ADD/ADHD. In fact, studies show that at least 30% of children who have experienced this type of trauma later on developed ADD/ADHD. This is mainly due to brain damage caused by the occurrence.


ADD/ADHD Symptoms

ADD/ADHD symptoms vary depending on which type of ADD/ADHD you have. Here are the different forms of and their symptoms.

  1. Inattentive ADD/ADHD

Inattentive ADD/ADHD is characterized by the inability to concentrate. It is commonly referred to as ADD. People with this condition get easily distracted but are not hyperactive or impulsive. Inattentive ADD/ADHD in children presents itself in the following ways:

  • They make careless mistakes
  • They are not detail oriented
  • They tend to daydream a lot
  • They easily get confused
  • They avoid activities that are mentally draining
  • They ignore people speaking to them
  • They tend to ignore instructions
  • They are generally disorganized
  • They have problems with losing and forgetting things


  1. Hyperactive and impulsive ADD/ADHD

This form of ADD/ADHD is characterized by tendencies of being overly active and impulsive. Hyperactive/impulsive ADD/ADHD in children may present itself though the development of the following set of behaviors:

  • They never seem to shut up
  • They never perform any activity quietly
  • They are fidgety and squirmy in their seats
  • They find it difficult to await their turn
  • They tend to intrude others a lot


  1. Combined ADD/ADHD

Children with combined ADD/ADHD display symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADD/ADHD.


ADD/ADHD in Adults

As you get older, ADD/ADHD presents itself differently. ADD/ADHD in adults is usually associated with the following character traits:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Constant restlessness
  • Constant lateness to engagements
  • Relentless anxiety
  • Anger management issues
  • Propensity to depression
  • Serious mood swings
  • Propensity to substance abuse
  • High levels of disorganization
  • Severe impatience
  • Unnecessary taking of risks
  • Inability to handle stressful situations


Criteria for diagnosis

It’s worth noting that you may experience some of the ADD/ADHD symptoms without necessarily having it. There are certain criteria you have to meet to even be diagnosed with this syndrome. First of all, you must have experienced ADD/ADHD symptoms between the ages of 6 to 12 for 6 months or more.

Secondly, they have to have been to a degree that is higher than that of other people of your age. Finally, these symptoms must have caused substantial functioning problems in two or more settings. These settings include social, home and school/work.


ADD/ADHD Diagnosis

ADD/ADHD diagnosis can be done in several ways. Doctors can employ the use of interviews, physical exams, and relevant checklists. During the interviews, the doctor will generally ask about your symptoms and relevant medical background.

Children may also be asked to undertake verbal and written tests in order to make sure that the behavioral symptoms aren’t indicative of other syndromes. This is because ADD/ADHD usually affects learning skills.

For proper ADD/ADHD diagnosis, you should ideally seek out a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist with extensive experience in this field.


ADD/ADHD Treatment

It’s worth mentioning that there is currently no cure for this syndrome. However, there are treatment plans available that reduce ADD/ADHD symptoms. These treatments include the use of ADD/ADHD medication, behavior therapy and even a combination of both.

In most cases, the best ADD/ADHD treatment is a combination of both medication and behavior therapy.


ADD/ADHD Medication

ADD/ADHD medication usually improves focus while suppressing hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The types of medication available mainly fall into two categories. These are stimulants and non-stimulants.

  1. Stimulants

Stimulants increase the production of the brain chemicals known as dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals are responsible for the thinking and attention functions. Stimulants are the most popular type of ADD/ADHD medication.

However, they may have some undesired side effects such as anxiety, irritability, and sleep problems. When this happens, the doctor may decide to prescribe non-stimulants.

  1. Non-stimulants

The use of non-stimulants as a form of ADD/ADHD medication is also quite efficient. However, non-stimulants don’t take effect as quickly as stimulants.

Behavior therapy

Behavior therapy is a kind of psychotherapy that aims to improve a patient’s behavior through learning of skills like communication and problem-solving. Family members are also taught how to use tools such as positive reinforcement.


Living with ADD/ADHD

According to the National Health Service (NHS), there are several ways to cope with ADD/ADHD in adults. Here are a few

  • Make sure to plan your day using lists and diaries
  • Release pent-up tension by use of exercise and other activities
  • Join a suitable support group
  • Learn relaxation techniques


Conditions associated with ADD/ADHD

When you have ADD/ADHD, you can easily develop a myriad of other conditions. These conditions include anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, personality disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


The bottom line

In conclusion, although dealing with ADD/ADHD may seem stressful at first, the condition is highly manageable. Just take deep breaths and take it one day at a time.

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018

Chris Riley

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