What is ADHD?
ADHD is a mental health condition marked by a collection of behavioral symptoms affecting attention, concentration, activity levels and impulse control.
Because ADHD affects a person’s actions, the condition may be evident to those around the individual with ADHD.
ADHD is more visible than many other mental health conditions. A person with depression or anxiety may not display obvious, visible symptoms. ADHD symptoms, however, are relatively noticeable.
Due to an incomplete understanding of how ADHD presents, many myths surround the condition. Some people believe that ADHD is not a real condition or that ADHD is a product of poor parenting or laziness. Others may believe that only children have ADHD, and as they age, they “grow out of” the disorder. Of course, these myths are inaccurate and can limit a person’s access to helpful treatment.
In reality, ADHD is a real condition that affects people whose brains display a chemical imbalance in certain locations. When regions of the brain built to organize thoughts and behaviors do not get enough of these chemicals, ADHD symptoms may result.
Nearly every person shows signs of the condition, but only about 5% of children in America have ADHD. Although symptoms change over time, many of these children with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD.
ADHD vs. ADD
Another misunderstanding surrounding ADHD is the difference between ADD and ADHD. People may think ADD stands for attention-deficit disorder, which implies they do not have the hyperactivity of ADHD.
The truth is that ADD and ADHD are the same thing. The proper name for the condition is attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), so those referring to the condition as “ADD” are using outdated terminology.
Causes of ADHD
Like many other mental health conditions, the cause of ADHD is not well-known. People may wonder if ADHD is hereditary or caused by external experiences. Many believe there are several genetic and environmental causes of ADHD.
Experts believe an imbalanced brain chemistry causes ADHD, but they continue to research what causes this imbalance. Possible causes of ADHD include:
Sex and gender are also linked to ADHD. Boys are more likely than girls to have the condition, but females are more likely to have a form of ADHD that only affects attention, not hyperactivity.