There are numerous causal factors involved in ADHD. Many people diagnosed with the disorder are believed to have inherited it from one of their parents or grandparents. However, there are also many people with unexplained causes of ADHD.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, the individual must have 6 or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  2. Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
  3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  5. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
  6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework).
  7. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  8. Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  10. Often fidgets with hands or feet, squirms in seat.
  11. Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
  12. Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate ( in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
  13. Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
  14. Is often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”.
  15. Often talks excessively.
  16. Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
  17. Has difficulty awaiting turn.
  18. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts onto conversations or games).

Symptoms of ADHD usually first appear during childhood, and some symptoms may persist into adolescence or adulthood.

ADHD is frequently seen among people diagnosed with other psychiatric conditions, such as, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Learning Disorders, and some others.

Therapy of ADHD is aimed at improving academic and vocational functioning. There are non-medication and medication-based therapies.

Non-medication based therapy consists of two parts:

  1. Lifestyle and diet modifications
  2. Biofeedback and other psychological interventions

Lifestyle changes include regular physical exercise, strict adherence to wake and sleep schedule. Certain dietary modifications should also take place, including abstinence from sugar and any psychoactive substance, such as caffeine and alcohol.

Biofeedback therapy teaches the individual to “listen” his/her own body. Through these techniques, the patient learns to relax and control restlessness and impulsivity. The use of other psychological interventions would depend on the presented symptoms and the age of the individual. Group, vocational, play, and cognitive-behavioral therapies can be utilized.

Medication-based therapy is aimed at controlling behavior by activating specific brain regions which are normally responsible for impulse control, focusing, and attention. These regions are located in the frontal lobes of the human brain, and are believed to be under-active in individuals with ADHD.
Two groups of medications are used: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants are based on different salts of Amphetamine. Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Focalin, Metadate, Daytrana are among the most popular brand names on the market at the moment. They are available in different forms, such as oral medications and skin patches.
Non-stimulants include Strattera, Wellbutrin, Provigil, and Effexor. Strattera, which is the most popular medication out of all those previously listed, is effective for both adults and children. The rest of the non-stimulants on the list are prescribed mostly to adults. There are a few other non-stimulant medications that are being used experimentally at the time.