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ADHD: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It often continues throughout adulthood. People with ADHD may have trouble remaining attentive, controlling impulsive behaviors, and can be very active.

Whether you're a parent, educator, or someone personally affected by ADHD, this guide aims to provide valuable insights and resources to help navigate the complexities of this condition.

  1. What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

  2. Types of ADHD

  3. ADHD Symptoms

  4. Signs of ADHD in Different Age Groups

  5. Signs of ADHD in Different Genders

  6. Cause of ADHD

  7. ADHD Treatment Options

  8. Choosing Between ADHD Therapies

  9. Free ADHD Resources: Exceptional Needs Today

What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder that often persists into adulthood. Research shows that genetics play a role; however, the possibility of other risk factors, such as brain injury, exposure to environmental hazards during pregnancy, premature birth, and alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy may also contribute to a predisposition to the disorder. 

Treatments currently include behavioral therapy, parent training, and medication. 



ADD and ADHD were at one time how ADHD was diagnosed. ADD, or attention deficit disorder, was ADHD (Inattentive Presentation). A person would appear as though they were not paying attention or were disinterested and could become easily distracted. ADHD diagnosis refers to a person who would present with more hyperactivity. The current diagnosis is ADHD (Hyperactive Presentation.)


A person who is predominantly hyperactive with ADHD will more likely have a hard time sitting still, struggle to take turns and have issues with impulsivity. There is also a third type referred to as ADHD mixed presentation, and as you may imagine, a person with mixed ADHD will have a combination of symptoms from both Inattentive and hyperactive. A person with mixed ADHD is still likely to lean more towards one side or the other of this diagnosis, and the distribution or existence of different symptoms can change over time. 


ADHD and Anxiety


ADHD can often cause symptoms of anxiety. Having to constantly worry about forgetting something others seem to easily remember or wondering if you have missed details to a paper you have already gone over repeatedly. People with impulsivity often struggle to know if they behave appropriately in social situations. Anxiety can also be a co-occurring disorder that presents alongside ADHD, which can exacerbate symptoms of either type of ADHD. Anxiety symptoms can also often mimic ADHD. A proper diagnosis is essential to receive the kind of help that can make life much more manageable and enjoyable for a person struggling with ADHD and, or anxiety. 


ADHD and Autism


Although autism and ADHD have many similarities, they are not diagnosed the same. However, it is not uncommon for ADHD and autism to co-occur. Many symptoms of ADHD and autism can overlap.


ADHD and Depression


ADHD and Depression often coincide. Some findings suggest a genetic link. However, according to a study in The Psychological Journal of Medicine, published in 2020, there is also evidence that children with ADHD have a higher likelihood of developing Major Depressive Disorder as young adults.

Children with ADHD tend to be very hard on themselves and feel very deeply. Helping a child find the right support early in life can assure a better outcome for many who struggle with the symptoms of ADHD.


ADHD and Relationships


ADHD can pose problems in a relationship, such as difficulty remembering important dates, difficulty completing chores, causing a possible imbalance in a relationship, and impulsivity, which can wreak havoc on any relationship. On the flip side, People who struggle with symptoms of ADHD also tend to be more spontaneous, more hands-on as parents, and more sexually engaged as partners. In friendships, people with ADHD may find very similar struggles and strengths. It is important to know that ADHD is often well managed with medication and behavioral interventions.

Types of ADHD


There are three types of ADHD.

  1. Inattentive ADHD

  2. Hyperactive ADHD

  3. A combination of symptoms from both types


Inattentive ADHD


ADHD Inattentive type, previously referred to as ADD, is a type of ADHD that causes a person to struggle with focus and attention. A person with the Inattentive type might appear disinterested or have difficulty remembering things and working to remain engaged for long periods, although it shouldn’t be confused with intellectual disability.

Hyperactive ADHD


ADHD, or ADHD Hyperactive type, is a form of ADHD where a person struggles with impulse control and may appear restless or talkative due to an inability to self-regulate. A person with Hyperactive ADHD will commonly have trouble sitting still, remaining with one task, and may appear fidgety. They may find it difficult to stop themselves from indulging in self-gratifying behavior.


ADHD Symptoms

  1. Inattentiveness

  2. Impulsivity

  3. Hyperactivity




A person with ADHD will consistently miss details and appear to be not listening. They will also have trouble with follow-through and focus.



A person with ADHD will often blurt things out and say something that they may not have thought all the way through. They can also have issues with extraneous spending and other impulsive behaviors.



A person with symptoms of hyperactivity due to ADHD has difficulty sitting still. They may fidget or tap their foot, fingers, etc. They may need to get up and move about when the situation requires them to remain seated. They may talk quite a lot and struggle with interrupting others.


Signs of ADHD in Different Age Groups


There are different signs of ADHD depending on the type and the age. Symptoms can vary.

Signs of ADHD in Children


Children with ADHD might hear that they can’t stay still. They often struggle to keep from interrupting; no matter the person or circumstance, it is challenging to remain engaged for long periods. A child with ADHD may also have a lower frustration level.

Signs of ADHD in Teens


ADHD can look very different in a teen, and due to frustration, hormones, and increased pressure, you may begin to see symptoms of other disorders, such as depression, begin to manifest.

Signs of ADHD in Adults


Many people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in childhood believe that this disorder will not continue to affect their lives in adulthood and often struggle due to this myth. Adults with Attention Deficit may struggle to hold down a job, and they may find themselves being late to work or other obligations and again find themselves depressed due to pressures and demands continuing to pile up. It is essential that someone, at any age, who feels they are struggling with symptoms of ADHD, which appear to be interfering in their life, talk to their doctor. It may be necessary to be diagnosed again, but that is a small step to a better life.


Signs of ADHD in Different Genders


ADHD presents differently in men and women, as with most neurological disorders. Doctors were more aware of what symptoms looked like in boys for many years. A study from 2020 suggests that boys are more likely to present with Hyperactive symptoms, and girls are more likely to show symptoms of inattention. It is important to note that symptoms can be seen in either sex or sexual identity.

Signs of ADHD in Women


Daydreaming, body image issues, “spacing out,” impatience, body-focused repetitive behaviors (body picking), and forgetfulness are commonly witnessed in girls dealing with ADHD.

Signs of ADHD in Men


Some symptoms in men include high-risk behaviors, such as unhealthy spending, fast driving, and substance abuse. Other signs include aggression, interrupting people, and apathy in relationships.


Cause of ADHD


There is no one cause of ADHD, and there are believed to be many things that appear to increase the risk of developing ADHD. However, studies do show that there is a genetic link within families. Other risk factors that may play a role include smoking while pregnant, drinking while pregnant, being exposed to environmentally dangerous substances such as lead paint, low birth rate, and brain injuries.


ADHD Treatment Options


Treatment options for ADHD depend on symptoms. Common treatments for ADHD are medications, cognitive behavioral therapy in conjunction with medication, behavioral therapy, and natural treatments such as a healthy diet and exercise routine. In all cases, an early intervention would be better than a late intervention.

Stimulants for ADHD


The first line of medication for people struggling with symptoms of ADHD is referred to as stimulants. These medications have been used for a long time and have the most research behind them. Some medicines include Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, and Vyvanse. These medications usually will begin working as soon as they are started.

Non-Stimulants for ADHD


Nonstimulants are just as effective. However, it can take up to a few weeks to see any improvement. The upside is that their effects can last for up to 24 hours.

Natural Remedies for ADHD


Some natural remedies for ADHD include exercise, vitamins such as Omega 3, following a healthy diet, and getting on a bedtime routine to ensure a good night’s sleep.


Choosing Between ADHD Therapies


Everyone is different, and choosing what works best for you or someone you love will take trial and error, research, and your doctor’s guidance.

Best Treatment for ADHD


The best treatment for ADHD is going to be different for every person. Aside from getting help with symptoms, often contacting your school to set up a meeting for a 504 Plan (a plan schools develop to give students with different abilities the support they need) or an IEP Individualized Education Program (a plan developed for students eligible for special education at public schools) can also help a child in school manage their academics and prepare themselves for a successful future.


ADHD Treatment for Adults


Treatments for adults are much the same as for children. It is about learning to manage your symptoms and play to your strengths.


Free ADHD Resources: Exceptional Needs Today


CHADD is an organization designed to help support those living with symptoms of ADHD to live successful lives that exhibit their strengths. CHADD’s toolkits provide specific information for different situations.

Wright’s Law is a website designed to assist parents with education law to assist children with different needs.

For free resources on managing diagnoses, mobility, and accessibility support, self-advocacy, personal rights, educational rights, occupational therapy, mental health support, schools and camps, transitioning to adulthood, job opportunities, financial planning, supporting the family/caretakers, subscribe to Exceptional Needs Today. Subscribing to our award-winning e-magazine is free, and it enables us to connect with more readers, helping us support the special needs community more effectively. We publish a new issue every quarter - delivered straight to your email.

Exceptional Needs Today magazine is an award-winning different abilities publication that supports working together to promote awareness, acceptance, and inclusiveness for ALL. Visit our other articles for helpful information about

  1. Autism

  2. Down Syndrome

  3. Dyslexia

  4. Intellectual Disability

  5. Speech Delay

  6. Developmental Delay

  7. Early Intervention

  8. Individualized Education Program (IEP)


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD

Katie Foley is an advocate for The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania (, where she runs Sibshop, creates and presents content and trainings focused on assisting others in advocating for themselves or their loved ones and assists in individual advocacy in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Her education is in communications with a focus on theater, and she has a secondary degree in elementary education.

Types of ADHD
ADHD Symptoms
Signs of ADHD in Different Age Groups
Signs of ADHD in Different Genders
Cause of ADHD
ADHD Treatment Options
Choosing Between ADHD Therapies
Free ADHD Resources: Exceptional Needs Today
Inattentive ADHD
Hyperactive ADHD

She also enjoys teaching an Acting class for Adults of all abilities that focuses on socialization and emotional understanding through Acting techniques. She has written You May Never Be French, a children's book that looks at autism through a cultural lens.

Katie has also written and contributed to other children's books and has been a contributing author for Autism Parenting Magazine and a guest blogger for other nonprofits.

She is on the Family Advisory Board for Community Cares Behavioral Health in Pennsylvania and a founding board member of The Art's Alliance in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. Katie also enjoys volunteering for Equestrian Special Olympics; however, she is most grateful for her role as a parent of exceptional children who teach her new things about herself and life daily.

  1. Riglin L et al (2021). ADHD and depression: investigating a causal explanation.

  2. Psychological Medicine 51, 1890–1897. S0033291720000665 Received: 4 September 2019 Revised: 10 January 2020 Accepted: 4 March 2020 First published online: 6 April 2020

  3. Tina Stibbe, Jue Huang, Madlen Paucke, Christine Ulke, Maria Strauss, Published: October 15, 2020

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