What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD (also known as Hyperkinetic Disorder in the UK and Europe) show excessive levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity which cause problems at school or work, with peers and family relationships.
While these behaviours can be seen as part of normal behaviour (we can all be impatient, lose our concentration or find it difficult to focus), for a person with a diagnosis of ADHD, these symptoms can cause real problems with daily life (e.g. school work, making friends), be present from the early years and be present in more than one setting (not just at home).
Getting a diagnosis of ADHD requires detailed assessment. A series of assessments with specialists (such as school psychologists, paediatricians or psychiatrists) takes place before any diagnosis can be made.
ADHD symptoms start in childhood, but are not always recognised and treated at this age. For some, symptoms reduce or are less obvious by adolescence, but for others symptoms and impairment continues into adulthood.
ADHD is one of the most common reasons for children to be seen by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and affects 1.4-3% of school age children.
Some individuals with ADHD also have additional problems such as antisocial behaviour (fighting, lying or stealing), Autistic Spectrum Disorders, tics, dyslexia or other learning difficulties.
ADHD in adulthood
It is being increasingly recognised that symptoms and impairment from ADHD sometimes continue into adulthood.
The presentation of ADHD may be more complicated in a person who also has other mental health problems, like anxiety, depression or psychosis.