Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder characterized by a chronic pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. Some people only exhibit one of these behaviors while others exhibit a combination. People with symptoms of inattention may have trouble concentrating or focusing, get easily distracted or be overly forgetful. People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may seem to have excess energy or be unable to sit still, stop talking or wait his/her turn.
In order for someone to be diagnosed with ADHD, they must experience one or more of the behaviors for at least several months and have it interfere with their functioning and development. Most of those diagnosed are children under the age of 12. There is no cure for ADHD, but several treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, specialized education or training and support groups. Training can teach parenting skills and stress management techniques (for parents with a child who has ADHD) or help children who have ADHD with organization, scheduling and the importance of following rules. Adults with ADHD may benefit from talking with a therapist or engaging in family or marital therapy.
Symptoms of ADHD may be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems, and they can change or progress as a child grows. ADHD may make it difficult for a child to do well in school or get along with friends and family. Adults with ADHD describe the disorder as making them feel “hyper-focused” or forcing them to work twice as hard to keep up with conversations or movies. It not only involves memory and concentration problems, but also racing thoughts and the sudden loss of interest in projects and activities. Many feel frustrated by their attempts to carefully manage a disease that inherently makes them scattered and disorganized.
A variety of organizations are available as resources to provide education, support and connections to people with ADHD as well as their friends and families.