Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a problem with behaviour which causes a rage of symptoms including inattentiveness (problems with concentrating), hyperactivity (being too active) and impulsiveness (difficulty staying focused).
ADHD is estimated to affect 5% of individuals worldwide. It is often diagnosed in childhood, but in some cases is not recognised until adulthood.
There are three recognised subtypes of ADHD:
- Hyperactive-impulsive subtype
- Inattention subtype
- Combined subtype
Each of the three subtypes of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may present with different symptoms:
- Difficulty playing quietly
- Talking excessively
- Interrupting others
- Difficulty in waiting their turn
- Difficulty in concentrating and paying attention
- Makes careless mistakes
- Easily distracted
- Commonly forgets essential items
- Trouble with organisation
- Features of both other subtypes
Symptoms are commonly first seen in children of primary and middle school age. For a diagnosis of ADHD to be made symptoms must occur in two or more settings, commonly home and school. The symptoms must also be present for at least six months.
The cause of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not fully known, however there is evidence that it may run in some families.
Risk factors for ADHD include:
- Male gender
- Exposure to maternal smoking or alcohol during pregnancy
- Preterm delivery
- Presence of developmental or mental health disorders
A diagnosis of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is made as part of a longitudinal process of assessing a child, or in some cases teenager or adult.
If as an individual/parent you are concerned that you/your child displays any of the symptoms associated with ADHD the first port of call should be your general practitioner (GP).
The formal diagnosis of ADHD is made by a specialist in the condition by comparing an individual’s symptoms against a list of diagnostic criteria.