Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

At Kindbridge, our online counselors are experts in diagnosing and treating a range of mental health conditions, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This blog explains the main causes, common symptoms and different types of ADHD, and how to get professional help.

What is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – also known as ADHD – is a common mental health condition. According to the American Psychiatric Association, an estimated 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. It is more prevalent in males than females, and behaviors can vary in boys and girls. For example, boys may be more hyperactive and girls may be more inattentive.

People with ADHD often struggle to pay attention, control impulsive behaviors and/or be overly active. Symptoms of ADHD are usually noticed at an early age and may become more apparent at school if they lead to learning and behavioral problems. The majority of cases are diagnosed in children aged 6 to 12 years old and ADHD symptoms usually improve with age. However, some people continue to experience problems – or even receive a first-time diagnosis – in adulthood.

ADHD can co-exist with other conditions such as sleep issues, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.

Causes of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Scientists have not yet identified the exact cause of ADHD, although a combination of factors are thought to play a role. A 2018 study identified differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared with those without the condition. Research from family, twin and adoption studies shows a strong genetic contribution to ADHD. The disorder is also linked to other non-inherited factors including:

  • Premature birth / low birth weight.
  • Suffering a brain injury.
  • Mother smoking, consuming alcohol, taking drugs or experiencing extreme stress during pregnancy.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins – such as lead – during pregnancy or at a young age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “There is no research to support the popularly held views that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos.” The CDC concludes that these factors might exacerbate symptoms in some people but the evidence is not strong enough to support the view that they are the main causes of ADHD.

Symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Many symptoms of ADHD – such as finding it difficult to focus, struggling to sit still or high activity levels – are common to children in general. Therefore it may seem difficult to gauge whether the symptoms are completely normal phases that all children go through, or if they meet the definition of ADHD. The difference in children with ADHD is that the symptoms are persistent, long lasting, affect their ability to do age-appropriate tasks and often cause problems at home, at school or with friends.

If you, or a loved one, are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, please get in touch and we can help.

Types of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

There are three types of ADHD, depending on which symptoms present more strongly. As symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.

Inattentive type

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a diagnosis for inattentive type ADHD can be given if six of the following symptoms occur frequently (or five symptoms for people over 17 years old). A person with inattentive ADHD:

  • Does not pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
  • Struggles to stay focused on tasks or activities.
  • Does not appear to listen when spoken to.
  • Does not follow instructions; they may start tasks but quickly lose focus.
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks, does not manage time well and misses deadlines.
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained effort.
  • Often loses things needed for tasks or daily life.
  • Is easily distracted.
  • Forgets daily tasks and routines, such as doing chores and running errands. Older teens and adults may forget to return phone calls, pay bills and keep appointments.

Hyperactive/impulsive type

The American Psychiatric Association suggests that someone with hyperactive/impulsive type ADHD, displays six of the following symptoms on a regular basis (or five symptoms for people over 17 years):

  • Fidgets a lot.
  • Struggles to sit still.
  • Small children may run, jump or climb where it is inappropriate.
  • Cannot play or do leisure activities quietly.
  • Always on the go.
  • Talks too much or at inappropriate times.
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished.
  • Has difficulty taking turns, such as in a queue.
  • Interrupts conversations, intrudes on others games or activities, or starts using other people’s things without permission. Older teens and adults may take over what others are doing.

Combined type

Combined type will be diagnosed when symptoms of the above two types of ADHD are equally present.

Help for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Although there is no cure for ADHD, it can be managed with professional support. Medicine is often the first treatment offered to adults with ADHD, but psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also help.

If you are the concerned parent or guardian of a child whose behavior may be different from other children their age, or you think you could have ADHD, but were not diagnosed with the disorder as a child, please get in touch.

At Kindbridge, we provide online therapy that is tailored to your specific needs. We can remotely diagnose ADHD and give you, or a loved one, high-quality treatment from the comfort of your home.

Get started today by booking your free 30-minute consultation.