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Self Help Leaflets - Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD - The Basics


The ADHD brain is like a Ferrari engine with Bicycle brakes.

Overview of ADHD

Do you know anyone who finds it hard to pay attention? Does the person feel the need to move constantly every time, even when they shouldn’t? Are they constantly interrupting others? If these issues are ongoing and it is negatively impacting the daily life of the person, it could possibly be a basic symptom of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Difficulty in paying attention and controlling impulsive behaviors are some of the reactions of people suffering from ADHD. He or she may also be restless and almost constantly active.

There is a misconception about ADHD that it just a childhood disorder.

Although ADHD symptoms start appearing in childhood, it can continue throughout adolescence and adulthood. Even though hyperactivity subsides as the person grows the issues related to inattention, disorganization, and poor impulse control continue haunting the individual across adolescence and adulthood.

What causes ADHD?

The researchers across world are trying to find the answer to this question. According to the research so far, the causes of ADHD can be interactions between genes and environmental or non-genetic factors. There could be multitude of factors which are responsible for onset of ADHD:

  1. Genes
  2. Cigarette, alcohol, or drug use during pregnancy
  3. Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead
  4. Low birth weight
  5. Brain injuries

Warning Signs of ADHD

People with ADHD show an ongoing pattern of three different types of symptoms:

  1. Difficulty paying attention (inattention)
  2. Being overactive (hyperactivity)
  3. Acting without thinking (impulsivity)

These symptoms get in the way of functioning or development. Showing some of these symptoms does not essentially mean presence of ADHD. Many other problems, like anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, might have similar manifestations. If you are concerned, the first step is to talk to a health care professional to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, primary care provider, or pediatrician.

Treating ADHD

Although there is no cure for ADHD, treatments in the market can only reduce some symptoms and improve functioning. The common prescription for treatment of ADHD symptoms are medication, education or training, therapy, or a combination of any of them.


For many people, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. The first line of treatment for ADHD is stimulants.

  1. Stimulants
  2. Non-Stimulants Some examples are atomoxetine and guanfacine.
  3. Antidepressants: Some examples are tricyclics like norepinephrine and dopamine.


There are different kinds of therapy that have been tried for ADHD, but research shows that therapy may not be effective in treating ADHD symptoms.

For Children and Teens: Parents and teachers can help children and teens with ADHD stay organized and follow directions with tools such as keeping a routine and a schedule, organizing everyday items, using homework and notebook organizers, and giving praise or rewards when rules are followed.

For Adults: A licensed mental health provider or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as keeping routines and breaking down large tasks into more manageable, smaller tasks.

Education and Training

Children and adults with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, families, and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed. Mental health professionals can educate the parents of a child with ADHD about the condition and how it affects a family. Some of the essential training tips are

  1. Parenting skills training teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children.
  2. Stress management techniques can benefit parents of children with ADHD by increasing their ability to deal with frustration so that they can respond calmly to their child’s behavior.
  3. Support groups can help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concern