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What Is ADHD?

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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD) is one of the most common childhood mental health conditions, affecting an estimated 8% to 10% of all school-age children worldwide.
Many people think of ADHD as a character flaw, a need for attention, or a result of bad parenting. It's not though. ADHD is a health condition, just like heart disease. If left untreated, ADHD can have long-term effects on a person's ability to make friends or do well at school or work.
No one knows exactly what causes ADHD. But it's thought that an imbalance of brain chemicals in the parts of the brain that control focus and behavior plays a major role.
Because there is no medical test for diagnosing ADHD, doctors recognize ADHD by its symptoms. And not everyone has the same symptoms. In fact, there are three subtypes of ADHD, each with its own pattern of behaviors.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may have a lot of questions or concerns, such as: What are the symptoms of ADHD? What causes it? And how can it be managed?
In the next few minutes we hope to answer these questions and help you better understand this condition. We'll explain things like the types of ADHD, what happens in the brain of someone with ADHD, medications for ADHD, and strategies for coping with the disorder.

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