What is ADHD?

Everyone, at one time or another, may have difficulty sitting still, paying attention or controlling impulsive behavior. But for some people, these problems interfere with their lives consistently, making it difficult for them to function effectively at home, in school, in social situations and at work.

ADHD is a neurobiological condition that affects 11 percent of school age children.These symptoms often persist into adulthood in as much as 75 percent of cases.

Research clearly indicates that ADHD tends to run in families and that the patterns of transmission are to a large exent genetic. Problems in parenting or parenting styles may make ADHD better or worse, but these do not cause the disorder. ADHD is clearly a brain-based disorder.

ADHD frequently co-occurs with other conditions, such as depression, anxiety or learning disabilities. Recently, deficits in executive functioning have emerged as key factors impacting academic and career success. Executive function refers to the "variety of functions within the brain that activate, organize, integrate and manage other functions." This permits individuals to appreciate the longer-term consequences of their actions and guide their behavior across time more effectively. Critical concerns include deficits in working memory and the ability to plan for the future.

Diagnosis and Treatment

People with ADHD can still be successful in life and have every reason to be hopeful and encouraged. With proper diagnosis and treatment the impact of this disorder can often be managed successfully by various treatment methods and by learning new coping skills and strategies.

However, undiagnosed and untreated ADHD may have serious consequences such as failure at school, heightened family stress, relationship problems, substance abuse, delinquency, risk for accidental injuries and job failure. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important.

There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. A comprehensive evaluation is necessary for a proper diagnosis. This requires time and effort but is so critical. There are several types of professionals who can diagnosis ADHD, including school psychologists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, nurse practicioners, neurologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians.


Source: National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of CHADD. Excerpts and summary from fact sheet on ADHD titled "About ADHD."

For more information: Click here for the complete listing of ADHD fact sheets available in PDF format from the National Resource Center on ADHD.


For more comprehensive,
in-depth research and information about ADHD

Please visit the National Resource Center on ADHD website.