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What Is ADHD

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was once known as ADD or attention deficit disorder but was renamed in 1994 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

ADHD is a mental and developmental condition of inattention and distractibility that becomes evident in some children in the early school years. ADHD is the name of a group of behavioral disorder found in many children and adults. Studies show that people with ADHD have differences in the parts of their brains that eventually control their attention and activity. It is a condition characterized by their behavioral and learning disorders. The disorder is three times more common among boys than girls. Symptoms are always present before the age of 7 and can continue through adolescence, causing children and adults significant social or academic impairment. Symptoms of this disorder often become less severe in the late teenage and early adulthood years.

Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, a physician who wrote books on medicine and psychiatry, first described ADHD in 1845. In 1902, Sir George F. Still published a series of lectures in England in which he described a group of hyperactive children with significant behavioral disorders — caused by a dysfunction in their genetic makeup and not by poor child-rearing practices — as having ADHD. Nowadays, these children are easily recognized as thousands of studies and scientific investigations into ADHD have been published. These studies provide sufficient information on the nature, causes, symptoms and treatments of ADHD.

A child with ADHD faces a complex situation. He or she should receive help, guidance, and understanding from his or her environment, especially from parents. Naturally, all children, particularly younger ones, act anxious or excited at times. However, the difference with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is that symptoms are there over a longer period of time and occurs in different settings. They disrupt a child’s capacity to function socially, academically and at home.

The cause of this disorder is a deficiency of chemicals in the brain that are responsible for systematizing thought. Without enough of these chemicals, the organizing centers of the brain don’t perform well. Studies show that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is more common in children who have close relatives with the disorder. Recent studies also link smoking and other substance abuse during pregnancy to the disorder. Medications such as Ritalin are used most often to treat the disorder.

For more information about understanding and managing the effects of ADHD please visit Recognizing and Treating ADHD.

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