A person with ADHD may have trouble focusing, organizing tasks, staying on task, remembering things, and completing homework or other schoolwork. They may also make careless mistakes, have trouble regulating their emotions, and be forgetful or late for appointments and events. People with ADHD often have difficulty maintaining a regular sleep schedule, find it difficult to wait for their turn at games or in lines, and may be easily distracted by social activities or noise. They might have trouble staying on track with work or making good decisions about their finances, career, or relationships.
The type of treatment for ADHD varies from person to person, but all treatments aim to reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Medication is an important part of the treatment plan for many children and adults with ADHD. Medication works by increasing the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which help people pay attention. Medications are generally safe, but can have side effects that vary from person to person. Several different medications and dosages are often tried before finding the one that works best for each person.
Psychotherapy or counseling is another common part of the treatment plan for someone with ADHD. Therapy can help people learn to focus better, manage distractions, improve their self-esteem and relationships, and cope with their feelings and frustrations. Therapists can also teach practical skills that help people get along with others and perform at their best.
Parents and family members can benefit from education about ADHD, as well as help in coping with the challenges of raising a child who has it. It is not uncommon for negative feelings to build up in a family when a child has been diagnosed with ADHD. Frustration, blame, and anger can be replaced with understanding and support if parents and children receive specialized mental health counseling to address these issues.
Although it is not fully understood what causes ADHD, scientists know that genes and environment play a role. Some of the genes associated with ADHD affect how the frontal lobes and caudate nucleus in the brain develop. Environmental factors may include low birth weight, exposure to toxins during pregnancy, and stress during early childhood.
The most effective treatment plans for people with ADHD include a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. With time and effort, a person with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms, live successfully, and contribute to their family and community. For more information about what is adhd, visit the National Institute of Mental Health. You can also call the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at 1-800-950-NAMI, a local NAMI affiliate, or talk with your healthcare provider. NIMH information and publications are in the public domain and can be used without permission, provided that proper credit is given to NIMH. See our Citing NIMH Information and Publications page for more information.