Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of ADHD

Understanding ADHD

Learn More About ADHD

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly recognized mental health disorders in children and adolescents. Recently, however, it is becoming more prominently recognized in adults as well. ADHD is a mental illness that is characterized by the presence of a combination of factors, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, chronic inattention, or all three. While these are all things that everyone experiences at various points throughout their lives, individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder experience them in such extremes that it causes dysfunction in their ability to appropriately manage the tasks of everyday life.

While there is no cure for ADHD, the implementation of a combination of appropriate therapy and medication can allow for symptoms to be successfully managed.


Statistics of ADHD

According to the American Psychiatric Association, population surveys show that approximately 5% of children and 2.5% of adults have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for ADHD

Although research continues to be conducted to determine what causes and factors lead to the onset of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, there has yet to be any one specific cause identified. Rather, the common belief is that it is a combination of factors working together that instigate its development. Some of these factors include:

Genetic: ADHD is believed to have a strong genetic component as the symptoms tend to run in families. In other words, individuals who have a first-degree family member who suffers from ADHD are at a higher risk of experiencing the onset of the disorder.

Physical: ADHD is believed to result in part from an imbalance in the chemical composition of the brain. There are certain areas of the brain that work together in order to properly regulate behaviors and when there is a chemical imbalance in this management system, the regulation of the behaviors is interrupted. This dysregulation can ultimately lead to the onset of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Environment: Some professionals in the field believe that factors such as suffering from child abuse and neglect can play a role in the development of ADHD. Prenatal exposure to toxins like lead, alcohol, and nicotine have also been noted as potentially playing a role in the onset of the disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male, as boys are believed to be twice as likely as girls to develop ADHD
  • Trauma to the brain
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Prenatal exposure to toxins
  • Premature birth
  • Presence of other mental health conditions

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

The signs that a person is suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder will vary greatly from person to person based on the severity of the symptoms, as well as on the age of individual who is suffering from the disorder. The following are examples of various behavioral, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that may be exhibited by a person who has ADHD:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Poor listening skills
  • Struggling to complete tasks
  • Chronic lateness
  • Talking excessively
  • Poor self-control
  • Extreme hyperactivity at inappropriate times
  • Restlessness
  • Engaging in dangerous, high-risk behaviors

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Excessive procrastination
  • Chronic inattention
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Lack of patience
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory impairment
  • Becoming easily bored

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Low self-esteem / feelings of insecurity
  • Depression
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling a sense of underachievement


Effects of ADHD

If left without treatment, the effects of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be long-lasting. Some examples of these negative effects can include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Academic difficulties
  • Difficulty finding and maintaining a career
  • Poor social skills / social isolation
  • Family discord
  • Financial difficulties
  • Substance abuse

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders & the Complexity of ADHD

It has been said that individuals with ADHD are six times more likely to have another psychiatric condition or a learning disorder. The most common disorders that occur alongside ADHD include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Conduct disorder (in adolescents)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (in children)
  • Tourette’s syndrome
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