What is ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder which can involve problems with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Symptom Variation in ADHD

Although individuals with ADHD share common neuropsychological deficits, it is important to recognize the variation which can occur with this disorder. To qualify for a diagnosis, it is not needed to exhibit all of the symptoms of ADHD. As a simple example, the inattentive presentation of ADHD (formerly referred to as “ADD”) may not include any significant hyperactivity (or it may include only a few hyperactive symptoms).  

Prevalence Rates

Estimates of the prevalence of ADHD vary from study to study, but most estimates seem to range between 5 and 10 percent for the prevalence of ADHD in children. Most estimates for adult ADHD seem to range between 4 and 8 percent.

ADHD in Adults

Yes, ADHD is not just a childhood disorder, although in some respects, the symptoms of ADHD can be stronger, or more problematic, in childhood. After all, the way ADHD is defined by the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic threshold is higher for children; children need to show a greater number of symptoms in order to qualify for the condition when compared with adults (it is expected that the number of ways that ADHD impacts an individual decreases in adulthood). Some individuals can technically “outgrow” a diagnosis of ADHD as the brain matures in late adolescence and early adulthood. When individuals no longer qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood, it is common to show some residual symptoms of the condition. For example, the physical agitation which can come with ADHD can be experienced by some adults as a sort of “inner restlessness.”

ADHD and Executive Functioning

Often times, ADHD is accompanied by executive functioning problems. These are the complex actions that our brains carry out. Using short-term memory, planning, organizing, starting behaviors, stopping behaviors, and thinking in flexible ways are all examples of executive functioning. Also, as you may have guessed, regulating attention is an example of executive functioning.

Explore Related Topics:

Females and ADHD
Are All Attention Problems Caused by ADHD?
How can ADHD be Identified?
How can ADHD be Treated?
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