Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) explained

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects about 4% of the UK population.

ADHD is a developmental disorder that impacts a person’s ability to organise their time, pay attention, resist impulses, and regulate emotions. It is not yet clear what causes this disorder but there are some factors that are known to contribute to its development.

Scientists have found that differences in brain structure can be related to ADHD. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in the functioning of the brain. Studies suggest that ADHD is caused by abnormalities in the part of the dopamine system.

Genetic factors are also thought to play a role. According to the National Institutes of Health, severe childhood trauma can also be a risk factor, with about 15% of children with an ADHD diagnosis having experienced severe traumatic events during childhood (such as the death of a close family member, physical abuse, or sexual abuse).

Individuals who have sustained a brain injury in early childhood are also at risk of developing ADHD.

There are three core symptoms of ADHD.

  • being ‘hyperactive’ – being generally restless, overactive and impulsive
  • being ‘inattentive’ – being distracted, forgetful and disorganised
  • being ‘impulsive’ – interrupts others will act without thinking

The three types of ADHD

  1. Inattentive type ADHD – ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is characterised by a lack of attention at times when it is important, often tending to be in a dream-like state.
  2. Hyperactive ADHD is characterised by always being on the go, moving onto new things without completing previous tasks, impulsive and acting without thought.
  3. Combined inattentive and hyperactive ADHD is characterised by a mixed profile of both inattentive and hyperactive ADHD. Females tend to be more prone to inattentive ADHD, better known now as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

It is important to remember that each individual who has ADHD will have their own experiences and although many may share common strengths and challenges, how an individual experiences ADHD will be unique to them.

Once individuals have learned to better manage their ADHD symptoms, they have access to some great strengths and skills such as the ability to hyperfocus, problem solve, stay calm in stressful situations and be great leaders as well as lots of creativity.

The way an individual chooses to manage their ADHD is a personal one. Some individuals prefer to take medications, others rely on clean living and multi vitamins, and some individuals rely on exercise. The management of ADHD is a personal one and however an individual chooses to manage their condition should be respected.