A person with many thoughts

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioral condition that is usually first diagnosed during childhood. More than six million children between the ages of two and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. It is characterized by patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that make it difficult for people to pay attention and control their behaviors.

ADHD is a lifelong condition. While symptoms do change with time, they can still interfere with an adult's functioning. Relationships, health, work, and finances are just a few areas that may be impacted. There are treatment options, including medications and therapies, as well as coping strategies that can help you to live well with ADHD.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes ADHD?

    The exact causes of ADHD are not known but experts believe there are a number of factors at play. Genetics are thought to play a significant role in causing ADHD, but environmental factors also contribute and often interact with genetic predispositions. Factors that can increase the risk of ADHD include certain illnesses such as meningitis, exposure to toxins such as lead, and poor nutrition or substance use during pregnancy.

  • How is ADHD diagnosed?

    There is no simple lab test or questionnaire that can determine if a person has ADHD. Mental health professionals conduct an evaluation and can use a variety of tools including IQ tests, interviews, measures of attention, rating scales, and other assessments to evaluate symptoms and determine if they meet the criteria for diagnosis.

  • Is ADHD a mental illness?

    ADHD is classified as a mental illness, but can also be described as a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is important to recognize that mental illness is a broad term that refers to any type of condition that impacts a person's thoughts, moods, or behaviors. Because the three primary symptoms of ADHD—inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity—all impact these areas, ADHD is considered a form of mental illness.

  • Is ADHD genetic?

    There is a strong genetic component to ADHD. Estimates suggest that the genetic heritability of the condition is over 70%. However, having a genetic predisposition does not necessarily mean that you will develop ADHD. Research has found that there are several genes that play a role and it is the interaction of these genes along with environmental influences that may cause the disorder.

  • Is ADHD considered a disability?

    ADHD may be considered a disability according to the guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if you have impairments that limit one or more major life activities (such as work or school). There must be a record of this impairment or others must be able to perceive these challenges. This means some people who have ADHD may request accommodations at work or school.

  • What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

    ADHD has gone through several name changes over the years and one of these former names was attention deficit disorder (ADD). While the term no longer represents an official diagnosis, it is still sometimes used to describe the inattentive presentation of the condition without hyperactivity. People with this presentation of the condition have trouble staying on task.

Key Terms

Girls leaving school on last day for summer break.
Attention Deficit Disorder Without Hyperactivity
Kids swimming in pool
Does Your Child Have ADHD or Is It Just High Energy?
Happy mature woman looking at friend in forest
How You Should Not Speak to Someone With ADHD
Businesswoman with headache
Understanding Hypersensitivity in ADHD
School age boy looking out window
The ADHD Brain vs. the Non-ADHD Brain
Preschool students lining up in classroom
Dr. Daniel Amen's 7 Types of ADD
Children playing in park
Is ADD the Same Thing as ADHD?
Focused businessman working at laptop hand on chin
The Relationship Between Hyperfocus and ADHD
student in library
What Is Executive Function?
man holding fidget spinner while using smartphone
The Importance of ADHD Awareness
Boy listening to music and using his mobile phone and laptop
The Three ADHD Subtypes and How to Recognize Them
Woman frustrated while working.
The Relationship Between ADHD and Depression
Lonely Caucasian woman sitting in living room
How to Tell ADD and Bipolar Disorder Apart
Dad playing with his kids outside
ADHD Combined Type: Symptoms and Diagnosis
Mother and daughter with doctor in doctor's office
How to Help Your Child Understand Their ADHD Diagnosis
People in a work meeting
ADHD and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
woman putting on a transdermal patch
Daytrana: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
man holding a small white pill
Generic Adderall: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
CBD as ADHD treatment
CBD Oil for ADHD: Research, Considerations, and Side Effects
Adderall XR can improve your focus.
What to Know About Adderall XR
Girl writing on paper
Clonidine as a Medication Choice for ADHD
white pills spilled out on table
How Long Does It Take for ADHD Medication to Work?
pills spilling from bottle
Adderall Side Effects in Men
What's the Connection Between Adderall and Depression?
Mother sitting with her son
Intuniv for ADHD Side Effects and Dosage
A teen taking her medicine.
Taking Vayarin for Treating ADHD
A teen waiting to see his pediatrician.
When to Stop Using ADHD Medications
Business people talking in office
How ADHD Coaching Can Help Teens and Adults Get Focused
Vyvanse vs. Adderall for ADHD: Similarities and Differences
Girl With Reward Stickers
Using a Reward System to Improve ADHD Behavior
woman doctor with curly hair talking to male patient
Can I Use Wellbutrin for ADHD?
Kids in school
Overview of Ritalin for ADHD
Boys playing in a park
Vyvanse for Treating ADHD in Children
Woman helping young girl take medicine in bedroom
How to Save Money on ADHD Medications
Prescription Pills
Generic Medications to Treat Your ADHD at Lower Cost
Babysitter teaching little girl how to ride a bike
Practical and Natural Remedies for ADHD
A boy sitting in class, head in hands.
Non-Stimulant ADHD Medication
girl taking pill while mother looks on
Medications to Treat ADHD in Children and Adults
Boy holding glass of water and tablets
Tips for Preparing Yourself to Take ADHD Medication
A teen taking her medicine.
How to Get Kids With ADHD to Take Their Medication
Male medicine doctor hands hold jar of pills
How Strattera and Adderall Treat ADHD
White pills spilled out on table
How Stimulants Work to Reduce ADHD Symptoms
Child Making Funny Silly Faces
Managing Side Effects of ADHD Medications
Child tossing autumn leaves into the air
ADHD Adderall Drug Holidays for Children
Black multi-generation family blowing bubbles outdoors
Treatment for Women With ADHD
Woman helping young girl take medicine in bedroom
Taking Dexedrine to Treat ADHD
woman talking with doctor
Finding a Doctor to Diagnose and Treat ADHD
boy with pills in one hand and glass of water in other
When ADHD Medications Are Not Working for Your Child
Female doctor talking to father and son
Concerta for ADHD in Children Medication Profile
Man holding glass of water and tablets, cropped
Titrating ADHD Medication to Determine Your Optimal Dosage
5 year old boy reading a book in the dark
Reducing Side Effects of ADHD Medicine in Children
Boy (4-6) posing in bedroom, portrait
How to Manage ADHD Medication Rebound
Woman crying with other woman hugging her.
What Is Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation (DESR)?
Omega-3 fish oil supplements
Can Fish Oil Improve ADHD Symptoms?
Mother and son playing with blocks
Conditions That Can Produce ADHD-Like Symptoms
Bored school boy in classroom
Sluggish Cognitive Tempo in ADHD
boy playing on tricicle outdoors
The Link Between Tic Disorders and ADHD
Bored student in class
Checklist of ADHD Symptoms in Children
tween girl grimacing at bowl of cereal
Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity With ADHD
Smiling friends talking at dinner party
Why It's Tough to Keep Friends When You Have ADHD
Page Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National prevalence of ADHD and treatment: information on children and adolescents, 2016. Reviewed September 9, 2020.

  2. Zasler ND, Martelli MF, Jacobs HE. Neurobehavioral disorders. Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;110:377-88. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52901-5.00032-0

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Inattentive type in adults. Updated September 25, 2019.

  4. Magnus W, Nazir S, Anilkumar AC, et al. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Updated June 29, 2020.