Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder of neurology which affects the brain centers that control all the steps required to plan, focus on, and complete tasks with efficiency. The symptoms of ADHD are broken down into 3 subtypes: The “hyperactive”, the “inattentive”, and a combination of the previous two, or what’s called the “combined” type. Below is a summary of symptoms, their causes, the previously mentioned subtypes, and some self-tests to help identify if you or someone you know may need to see a professional for help.
Symptoms and Meaning
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is an enigmatic disorder of the brain that affects about 11% of children and about 5% of adults in the United States.1 It is a developmental delay of executive functioning. Many with ADHD have difficulty with controlling their impulses, focusing on any one given thing at a time, and the ability to be organized.
Through the channels of clinical research and the use of brain imaging, neuroscience has identified several, very important things: ADHD is not a disorder of behavior, a mental illness, or a specific learning disability. It is actually a developmental impairment of our brain’s systems of self-management.
Some of the most prominent signs of ADHD include:
- The Inability to properly regulate emotions
- An overall lack of focus
- Difficulty controlling impulses
- Challenges with executive functioning
- Difficulty with managing time effectively
- hyperactivity (either physical or intellectual/mental)
It should be noted that ADHD is unique to the person, thus the saying “if you’ve met one person with ADHD, you’ve met one person with ADHD.
Many people describe ADHD as an iceberg, where many symptoms remain below and unseen, but can wreak havoc on the ADHD person’s life.
On the surface: ADHD can look like the inability to focus, daydreaming/mind-wandering, fidgeting, difficulty remaining seated, doing things without thinking/impulsivity.
While below the surface, ADHD can present with far more difficulties, such as sleeping too much, sleeping too little, lucid dreaming, issues with emotional control, difficulty with time management, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, codependency, sensory processing issues, financial troubles, trouble recalling commonly used words, losing items a lot, forgetting to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom, forgetting to brush your teeth, constant exhaustion, difficulty switching to a different task, etc. There are myriad more items on this list, but that should do for now.
The 3 Subtypes of ADHD
According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders2
Physically Hyperactive ADHD
Physically Hyperactive ADHD presents as someone “driven by a motor” can exhibit almost no impulse control, tend to be impatient, usually need movement, interrupt or talk when it’s not appropriate.
Inattentive ADHD (Formerly ADD)
Also considered mentally or intellectually/mentally hyperactive, people with this form of ADHD struggle with finishing tasks, following instructions, and focusing, are easily distracted and forgetful, and may be considered daydreamers who lose things often, and lose track of conversations.
Combined Type ADHD
As may be obvious, this is a combination of the above types. If someone presents 6 of the 9 criteria for both Hyperactive and Inattentive ADHD, they will be diagnosed as combined.
What Causes ADHD?
The truth about what actually causes this neurodevelopmental disorder are still rather unclear. Research concludes that genetics and heredity play a huge role in whether or not an individual has ADHD.3 Researchers also believe that genes related to the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine play a distinct role in developing ADHD. Current research also identifies that being exposed to specific chemicals may increase a child’s risk of having ADHD.4
Furthermore, it has also been suggested more recently that ADHD can be resultant of things such as (but not limited to) traumatic brain injuries (TBI), general trauma, the intensity of our common age, etc.
Free ADHD Self-Tests:
If you’re still wondering about yourself or a loved one’s possibility for ADHD, please follow the appropriate links below to help assess if you should seek help.
- Take the ADHD Symptom Test for Adults
- Take the ADHD Symptom Test for Children
- Take the ADHD Symptom Test for Women
- Take the ADHD Symptom Test for Girls
The Importance of a Proper Diagnosis:
While seeming more of a bother, or somewhat innocuous, especially for adults who’ve “done just fine without a diagnosis so far,” it is imperative that the importance of a proper diagnosis is stressed. There are myriad ramifications upon the undiagnosed person who has ADHD. I’ll leave you with this quote:
1 “Data & Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ed. Center for Disease Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.
2 Association, American Psychiatric, ed. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington: American Psychiatric, 2014.
3 Thapar, Anita, and Evangelia Stergiakouli. “An Overview on the Genetics of ADHD.” Xin li xue bao. Acta psychologica Sinica (Aug. 2008) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854824/
4 Philip J. Landrigan, Jordan Slutsky. Are Learning Disabilities Linked to Environmental Factors? Learning Disabilities Worldwide. https://www.ldworldwide.org/environmental-toxins
5 Dovey, Dana. “Doctors May Soon Be Able To Diagnose ADHD With An MRI Scan.” Medical Daily. IBT Media Inc., 30 Apr. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.6 Barkley, R. A., & Fischer, M. (2018). Hyperactive Child Syndrome and Estimated Life Expectancy at Young Adult Follow-Up: The Role of ADHD Persistence and Other Potential Predictors. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(9), 907–923. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054718816164
6 Barkley, R. A., & Fischer, M. (2018). Hyperactive Child Syndrome and Estimated Life Expectancy at Young Adult Follow-Up: The Role of ADHD Persistence and Other Potential Predictors. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(9), 907–923. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054718816164