Adult ADHD (cont.)

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What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, often referred to as ADHD or ADD, is a behavioral disorder that is characterized by symptoms of distractibility, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. This condition often has a significantly negative impact on an adult's ability to make and keep relationships and do well at work and/or in the community in general.

What are causes and risk factors for adult ADHD?

Although there is no single cause for ADHD, there are a number of biological and social risk factors that seem to increase the likelihood of a person developing the disorder. Children who have ADHD are at risk for growing into teens and adults with the condition. Brain-imaging studies show that characteristics of the brains of people with ADHD include a tendency to be smaller, to have fewer connections between certain parts of the brain, and less regulation of the neurochemical dopamine compared to people who do not have the disorder.

Risk factors for ADHD that can occur in the womb include maternal stress, as well as smoking during pregnancy and low weight at birth. Being male and having a family history of ADHD increase the likelihood that an individual is diagnosed with ADHD. Socially, low family income and low paternal education are risk factors for developing ADHD.

How prevalent is adult ADHD?

While about 2%-6% of adults are thought to have ADHD, this disorder actually begins during childhood. Although it is diagnosed more often in boys than in girls in childhood, it appears to occur in men and women equally. Almost two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to have some symptoms of the disorder during adulthood, and about half continue to experience just as many symptoms of enough severity to continue to qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Other notable statistics include that over 90% of adults with ADHD are aware that they have trouble paying attention, and more than 50% have a combination of distractibility and hyperactivity/impulsivity, while more than one-third have just inattention.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2015

ADHD in Adults Pictures Slideshow: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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