Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, bouts of excessive energy, hyper-fixation, and impulsivity, which are otherwise not appropriate for a person’s age. Some individuals with ADHD also display difficulty regulating emotions or problems with executive function.

For a diagnosis, the symptoms have to be present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, work, or recreational activities). In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance. Additionally, it is associated with other mental disorders and substance use disorders.

Although it causes impairment, particularly in modern society, many people with ADHD can have sustained attention for tasks they find interesting or rewarding (known as hyperfocus).

Despite being the most commonly studied and diagnosed mental disorder in children and adolescents, the precise cause or causes are unknown in the majority of cases. Genetic factors are estimated to make up about 75% of the risk. Nicotine exposure during pregnancy may be an environmental risk. It does not appear to be related to the style of parenting or discipline.

Rates are similar between countries and differences in rates depend mostly on how it is diagnosed. ADHD is diagnosed approximately two times more often in boys than in girls, although the disorder is often overlooked in girls because their symptoms are often less disruptive.

About 30–50% of people diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms into adulthood and between 2–5% of adults have the condition. In adults, inner restlessness, rather than hyperactivity, may occur.] Adults often develop coping skills which compensate for some or all of their impairments. The condition can be difficult to tell apart from other conditions, as well as from high levels of activity within the range of normal behavior.

Although mainly diagnosed in children, it is also diagnosed in adults (especially when pertaining to females getting a diagnosis). Women are often diagnosed far later in their lives than males living with the same condition. ADHD in females often presents in much less disruptive ways.

These two factors leave an abundance of women to be diagnosed only once they are well into adulthood.
ADHD management recommendations vary by country and usually involve some combination of medications, counseling, and lifestyle changes.

The British guideline emphasises environmental modifications and education for individuals and carers about ADHD as the first response. If symptoms persist, then parent-training, medication, or psychotherapy (especially cognitive behavioral therapy) can be recommended based on age.

The medical literature has described symptoms similar to those of ADHD since the 18th century. ADHD, its diagnosis, and its treatment have been considered controversial since the 1970s. The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents, and the media. Topics include ADHD’s causes and the use of stimulant medications in its treatment.

Most healthcare providers accept ADHD as a genuine diagnosis in children and adults, and the debate in the scientific community mainly centers on how it is diagnosed and treated. The condition was officially known as attention deficit disorder (ADD) from 1980 to 1987, while before this it was known as hyperkinetic reaction of childhood.

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