You’ll find that a lot of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, such as struggling to pay attention, acting impulsively or finding it hard to sit still, appear in many children and adults. But people who have ADHD may experience them more frequently and more intensely. Symptoms affect their performance, relationships, or social interactions.
Many behaviors associated with ADHD are typical for younger children, but in most children, they improve with age. They are not signs of defiance or an inability to understand directions. ADHD symptoms can make children lag in development compared to their peers.
If you or a loved one has ADHD, you might notice difficulty in these areas.
Symptoms of ADHD can be mild or severe and can shift as a person ages. Often, young children mainly exhibit hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Inattention can be a bigger factor in elementary school years. In adolescence, symptoms can shift to restlessness, fidgeting, relationship problems and antisocial behaviors. Adults often notice inattention, restlessness and impulsivity.
Living with ADHD can be a challenge, and if you have the condition, you could be more likely to experience:
Sometimes people who have ADHD also have other mental health conditions:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, experts don’t know exactly what causes ADHD. However, genetic factors seem to play a role, and some genes are linked to the disorder. You’re also at higher risk for ADHD if you have a parent or sibling with ADHD or other mental health disorders.
ADHD probably stems from a combination of risk factors. More research is needed to see if environmental factors, environmental toxins, brain injury, nutrition or social settings contribute to developing ADHD. It’s not caused by eating sugar, poor parenting or too much screen time.
Brain imaging has shown that children with ADHD have different brain activity during certain tasks. Brain development factors such as low birth weight, premature birth and exposure to toxins during pregnancy are also risk factors for the condition. Childhood lead exposure may also be linked with the condition.
While we don’t know what causes ADHD in the brain, we know that it’s diagnosed more often in males than in females. Females may be underdiagnosed. Females with ADHD are more likely to have problems with attention rather than hyperactivity.