ADHD, which stands for Adult Attention Hyperactivity Disorder, is a mental condition that includes a series of symptoms like difficulty paying attention, persistent problems, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity. This condition can begin at the age of 12, but it starts to manifest at 3 years of age in some children. ADHD is more common in males than females, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Causes and Risk Factors
Before getting to the major symptoms of ADHD, it is important to understand the causes and risk factors. It is not clear about the major cause of ADHD. However, some of the factors that may contribute to the development of the condition include genetics, problems with the central nervous system, or environmental problems.
The main risk factors of ADHD include:
- Premature birth
- Maternal drug use
- Smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy
- Exposure to environmental toxins like lead, which is found in pipes and paints in old buildings
- Family relatives with ADHD or a similar mental disorder
Symptoms Of ADHD
Healthcare providers are required to diagnose ADHD following the guidelines set out in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the 5th Edition, also called DSM-5. This standard ensures people are sufficiently diagnosed and treated. People suffering from ADHD exhibit persistent signs of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity that affects their cognitive functions and development.
Children will show six or more signs of inattention up to the age of 16 years. On the other hand, adolescents show five or more signs of inattention from age 17 to adulthood. In adults, the symptoms of inattention should be at least 6 months old. The main symptoms of inattention include:
- Being easily sidetracked or distracted
- Making careless mistakes while doing schoolwork, chores, or work assignments
- Difficult paying attention to instructions
- One seems distant when being spoken to directly
- Failing to complete work in the school or at work
- Avoiding or resisting tasks that require prolonged mental effort
- Losing important things like books, backpacks, homework assignments, sports equipment, wallet, and mobile phones
- Trouble organizing tasks
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
Children show six or more signs of hyperactivity-impulsivity until the age of 16 years. On the other hand, adolescents show five or more symptoms until they attain adulthood. Adults show five or more signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity for at least six months.
The common signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity include:
- Unable to engage in leisure activities quietly. For example, making noise when playing.
- Talking excessively
- A person cannot wait their turn
- A person interrupts others. For example, interrupting games or conversations.
- Answering before a question is completed
- Running or climbing when it is not appropriate to do so
- Restlessness. For example, a person is always on the move
- Fidgeting or squirming
Types of ADHD
Given the above symptoms, there are three subtypes of ADHD. Predominantly inattentive ADHD is where the person mainly experiences symptoms of inattention. On the other hand, there is predominantly hyperactive or impulsive ADHD, where the person mainly experiences symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. A person may also have a mixture of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
ADHD may also occur along with symptoms from other conditions. Some of the preexisting conditions that go along with ADHD include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychiatric disorders, and learning disabilities. When ADHD co-exists with other conditions, an accurate diagnosis and treatment become difficult.
The complications that are likely to occur for someone with ADHD include unemployment, unstable relationships, poor mental and physical health, alcohol or substance abuse, and poor school or job performance. The best time to get is when the ADHD symptoms mentioned above persistently disrupt your life.