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

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

Inattentive type ADHD – Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is characterised by a lack of attention at times when it is important, often tending to be in a dream-like state.

Hyperactive ADHD is characterised by always being on the go, moving onto new things without completing previous tasks, being impulsive and acting without thought.

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.

The signs of ADHD

Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, sitting still, controlling their behaviour, or making decisions. This can make it hard for them to succeed in school or play well with others.

The condition often persists into adulthood, although not all adults experience the same symptoms.

Symptoms of ADHD are often less evident in adults than children.

However, some adults may:

  • have problems with concentration and focus
  • be forgetful and easily distracted
  • be impulsive and overactive
  • have trouble completing tasks
  • be easily annoyed or angry
  • be unable to follow through on promising plans
  • have trouble with sports and exercise
  • be more likely to make careless mistakes
  • have sleep problems
  • have mood problems
  • have problems with their self-esteem or confidence.

Strengths of those with ADHD

  • Ability to hyperfocus
  • spontaneous
  • outside-the-box thinkers
  • creative
  • resourceful
  • great leaders
  • solid decision-makers
  • loyal

What causes ADHD?

ADHD is a developmental disorder that impacts a persons ability to organize 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, as is childhood trauma. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 15% of children experience severe traumatic events during childhood such as the death of a family member, physical abuse, or sexual abuse.

Treatment and support for adults with ADHD

Regular sleep, a healthy diet with sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, and exercise have been shown to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Adults with ADHD are often overlooked in treatment, but they can also have similar needs as children with ADHD.

Additionally, adults with ADHD are more likely than the general population to have health problems such as obesity, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It is important for adults with ADHD to be checked by health care providers on a regular basis.