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Quick Facts on ADHD

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Quick facts on ADHD: A brief overview of the signs and symptoms, and how it's treated, in children and adolescents.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a condition that makes it unusually difficult for kids to concentrate on tasks, to pay attention, to sit still, and to control impulsive behavior. While some children exhibit mostly inattentive behaviors and others predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, the majority of those with ADHD have a combination of both, which may make it very difficult for them to function in school, and create a lot of conflict at home.

Symptoms of hyperactive or impulsive ADHD:

  • Fidgeting or squirming, trouble staying in one place or waiting his turn
  • Excessive running and climbing
  • Trouble playing quietly
  • Extreme impatience
  • Always seems to be "on the go" or "driven by a motor"
  • Excessive talking or interrupting, blurting out answers

Symptoms of inattentive ADHD:

  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Is easily distracted
  • Has difficulty following instructions
  • Doesn't seem to be listening when spoken to directly
  • Has trouble organizing
  • Avoids or dislikes sustained effort
  • Is forgetful, always losing things

Treatment and Prognosis

In most cases, the first line of treatment for ADHD is medication which helps children concentrate and limit impulsiveness. Psychostimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) are commonly used to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters that regulate attention and impulse control.

Behavior therapy is sometimes used in combination with medication. Parent-child interaction therapy and other forms of parent training teach parents how to cultivate good behaviors while minimizing impulsive or inattentive ones. When a child is old enough, cognitive behavioral therapy can help teach a child to control his behaviors by understanding how his thoughts and feelings influence them.

More on ADHD

For a complete guide to ADHD, see our Mental Health Guide. For more articles and videos on ADHD, see our Hot Topics.

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