Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) | Overview

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What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the name of a group of behaviors found in many children and adults. People who have ADHD have trouble paying attention in school, at home or at work. Even when they try to concentrate, they find it hard to pay attention. Children may be much more active and/or impulsive than what is usual for their age. These behaviors contribute to significant problems in relationships, learning and behavior. For this reason, children who have ADHD are sometimes seen as being "difficult" or as having behavior problems.

People who have ADHD have a hard time organizing things, listening to instructions, remembering details and controlling their behavior. As a result, people who have ADHD often have problems getting along with other people at home, at school or at work.

There is a lot of information in the news about ADHD. Usually the news is about ADHD in children. Not as much is known about the way ADHD affects adults. Often adults who have ADHD are diagnosed when they find out their children have ADHD. This health problem may run in families.

ADHD is more common in boys than in girls. You may be more familiar with the term attention deficit disorder (ADD). This disorder was renamed in 1994 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Will my child outgrow ADHD?

We used to think children would "grow out" of ADHD. We now know that is not true for most children. Symptoms of ADHD often get better as children grow older and learn to adjust. Hyperactivity usually stops in the late teenage years. But about half of children who have ADHD continue to be easily distracted, have mood swings, hot tempers and are unable to complete tasks. Children who have loving, supportive parents who work together with school staff, mental health workers and their doctor have the best chance of becoming well-adjusted adults.

Source

Adult ADHD: Evaluation and Treatment in Family Medicine by HR Searight, Ph.D., JM Burke, Pharm.D. and F Rottnek, M.D. (American Family Physician November 01, 2000, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20001101/2077.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 04/97

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