Paper Example on ADHD: Understanding Its Symptoms and Causes

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1547 Words
Date:  2023-02-06


If one has difficulty paying attention or feel the need to continuously move and interrupt other people at the wrong time, it is likely that one could be suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Cortese et al., 2015). ADHD is considered as a brain disorder caused by an ongoing pattern of hyperactivity-impulsivity or inattention that interferes with healthy development or functioning (Goodman, Mitchell, Rhodewalt & Surman, 2016). Although most symptoms of ADHD are seen first in childhood, it is not just a childhood disorder as it can extend to the adolescence and adulthood age. Hyperactivity, one of the common symptoms of the disease, becomes severe towards the teens age of a child. However, issues of being disorganization, inadequate attention, and poor control of impulses will often persist to adolescence and even adulthood.

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Warning Signs for Parents and Caregivers

The exact causes of ADHD have not been established. However, according to current research by the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD may be linked to interactions between environmental and genetic factors (NIH, 2019). Some of the factors that have been suggested as contributing to ADHD include genes whereby persons with blood relatives such as siblings or parents suffering from ADHD or other mental health disorders are at risk of having ADHD , alcohol use, cigarette smoking or use of drugs during pregnancy, exposure to such environmental toxins as high lead levels at a young age, brain injuries, low birth weight and premature birth, and problems with the central nervous system is crucial stages of development (Friedman & Rapoport, 2015).. Sugar is commonly linked to hyperactivity but has not been found to have any causal relationship with ADHD. Worth mentioning is that difficulty in sustaining attention during childhood is common and is not necessarily ADHD.

Signs and Symptoms

The main symptoms of ADHD include inadequate attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some signs of inadequate attention include; lack of persistence, shifting to and from various tasks, difficulty in sustaining focus, and disorganization. These problems are not as a result of lack of comprehension or defiance but due to brain disorder. Persons with inattention symptoms often tend to miss or overlook details and make mistakes at work, in schoolwork or other activities that require concentration and are also forgetful in their day to day activities (Goodman et al., 2016). They also appear as not listening when being spoken to and have difficulties sustaining attention during such activities as lectures, conversations, and lengthy reading. Besides, they also have problems with the organization of activities and tasks such as keeping belongings and materials in order, what to do in sequence (Friedman & Rapoport, 2015). They are also poor in time management, often fail to meet deadlines and show disinterest in activities that require mental effort.

Hyperactivity manifests through constant movement even when it is inappropriate, excessive taps, talks, or fidgets. In adults, it shows as extreme restlessness and wearing other people out with frequent activity. Impulsivity entails making hasty actions occurring at the moment without thinking about them first, or desire for instant gratification (NIH, 2019). Impulsive persons are sometimes socially intrusive, hasty in making important decisions without putting into consideration their long-term consequences and are also interruptive to other people (NIH, 2019). Persons with hyperactivity-impulsivity show such symptoms as frequently fidgeting and squirming in their seats, leaving their positions, where they are expected to be seated, running, dashing or climbing around where it is not appropriate, inability to engage in play or hobbies quietly, talking non-stop, blurting out answers before a question is complete, speaking without pausing during conversations, and finishing other peoples sentences and often intrude or interrupt other people in activities, conversations, and games.

Age and Type of Onset

The ADHD symptoms may appear from ages 3 to 6 and continue into adolescence and adulthood. The symptoms are, in some cases mistaken for disciplinary or emotional problems or even missed, especially in composed and well-behaved children. It causes delays in diagnosis, which results in poor outcomes in such areas as academic performance, relationships, and work, among others (Goodman et al., 2016). Symptoms of ADHD have been observed to change over time. For instance, hyperactivity-impulsivity is the most common symptom in children with the disorder. However, as the child grows and gets to the elementary school level, the inattention symptom becomes more pronounced, thereby causing the child to have academic difficulties.

Similarly, at adolescence, the hyperactivity lessens and manifests more often as fidgeting or restlessness while impulsivity and inattention may persist. Adolescents with ADHD have also been observed to struggle with antisocial behaviors and relationships. Anxiety, inattention, and impulsivity tend to continue into adulthood.

Criteria for Diagnosis

For diagnosis of ADHD, a comprehensive evaluation by such licensed clinicians as psychiatrists, psychologists, or pediatricians with expertise in the disorder is required. For a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, their symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention must have lasted long, impaired their functioning and caused them to fall behind what is considered as a normal development for their age (Goodman et al., 2016). The clinician handling the diagnosis must be keen enough to ensure that another psychiatric or medical condition is not causing the ADHD symptoms manifesting. For most children with ADHD, a determination is made during their elementary school years. On the other hand, for adults or adolescents to be diagnosed with ADHD, they should have had symptoms before age 12.

Effect on Family

People with ADHD require understanding and guidance from their families, parents, and teachers to succeed and reach their full potential. For families with school-going children with ADHD, blame, frustration, and anger are common before a proper diagnosis is made, and this may strain family relations (NIH, 2019). As such, children and parents should be guided by overcoming negative feelings. Mental health practitioners should educate parents on ADHD and how it affects family while also helping the affected children and their families to develop new attitudes, skills and ways to improve their relations with each other (NIH, 2019). Support groups for families with similar struggles with ADHD are also a great way to share successes and frustrations as well as information on strategies and specialists.

Treatment Options and Best Outcomes

There's no known cure for ADHD. However, some treatments improve functioning and reduce symptoms. Such treatments include psychotherapy, medication, training or education, or a combination of more than one treatment (MTA, 2004). ADHD medication helps in the reduction of impulsivity and hyperactivity while also improving the ability of persons with ADHD to focus, learn, and work (MTA, 2004). The most commonly used medication type for ADHD is stimulants. Stimulants work by increasing the production of norepinephrine and dopamine, both of which are important for attention and cognitive ability. While stimulants are considered safe when taken under medical supervision, there are side effects and risks linked to their misuse or overdose. Some of ADHD medications are non-stimulants. While they take longer than stimulants to start working, they also improve attention, focus, and impulsivity for persons with ADHD. Non-stimulants are often prescribed where the person with ADHD has had harsh side effects with the stimulants, where the stimulant was ineffective, or in combination with stimulants to increase their effectiveness.

Psychotherapy is also applied in the treatment of ADHD. It takes such forms as behavioral and family/marital therapy. Behavioral therapy is aimed at helping the person with ADHD change their behavior through such ways as practical assistance with tasks where they have difficulty, teaching them social skills, negative or positive feedback for behavior and establishment of clear rules and routines to help in controlling behavior (Cortese et al., 2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy is aimed at teaching persons with ADHD meditation and mindfulness to improve their awareness and acceptance of their thoughts and feelings while also improving their concentration and focus (Cortese et al. 2015). Family or marital therapy is aimed at helping spouses and families to deal with disruptive behavior, foster behavior change, and improve interaction with persons with ADHD.

ADHD is a mental disorder that inhibits the ability to control impulsive behavior and pay attention. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it affects the quality of life of persons with it in the areas of academics, work, relationships, and generally all areas that require attention and concentration to succeed. With proper management through medication, therapy, or training, persons with ADHD can concentrate, function normally, succeed, and reach their full potential.


Cortese, S., Ferrin, M., Brandeis, D., Buitelaar, J., Daley, D., Dittmann, R. W., & Zuddas, A. (2015). Cognitive training for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: meta-analysis of clinical and neuropsychological outcomes from randomized controlled trials. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(3), 164-174. DOI:

Friedman, L. A., & Rapoport, J. L. (2015). Brain development in ADHD. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 30, 106-111. DOI:

Goodman, D. W., Mitchell, S., Rhodewalt, L., & Surman, C. B. (2016). Clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in older adults: a review of the evidence and its implications for clinical care. Drugs & Aging, 33(1), 27-36. DOI:

MTA Cooperative Group. (2004). National Institute of Mental Health Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD follow-up: 24-month outcomes of treatment strategies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 113(4), 754-761. Accessed September 3, 2019.

National Institute of Mental Health (2019). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. NIH. Accessed September 3, 2019.

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