Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a problem that starts in young children with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be greater than normally seen in a child of that age and development. ADHD affects millions of children and is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder in childhood.
ADHD includes some combination of problems such as difficulty sustaining attention, over-activity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD struggle with school performance, social relationships, emotional problems and low self-esteem. While there is no cure for ADHD, treatment with medication and/or behavioral therapy can help a great deal with the symptoms. In 30-60% of children diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms will continue into adulthood.
ADHD affects about 3 - 16% of school aged children and is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls. Every child suspected of having ADHD should be evaluated carefully by a doctor to rule out other conditions or reasons for the behavior. Depression, lack of sleep, learning disabilities, seizures and tic disorders may cause similar symptoms. Many children with ADHD also have at least one other developmental or behavioral problem.
Parents sometimes feel it is their fault when a child is diagnosed with ADHD, but the causes are more likely to be genetic than choices made by parents. At the same time, the environment a child is in may contribute to or worsen their behavior. While the disorder may run in families, it is not clear exactly what causes it although it seems to start early in life as the brain is developing. Some of the causes being studied are: