For over 35 years, Vantage Point is the area's only full service mental health facility with a complete continuum of psychiatric and behavioral health services for children, adults and seniors.
Learn about ADHD and mental illness
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prominently diagnosed mental health disorders in children, adults, and adolescents. It is an illness that is marked by the presence of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and chronic inattention. While everyone will experience these symptoms at various times throughout their lives, people who suffer from ADHD experience these symptoms in such a way that it disturbs their ability to function appropriately on a daily basis.
ADHD occurs when the parts of the brain that work together to perform executive functions such as controlling inhibition, planning, motor control, self-monitoring, and verbal regulation, become disturbed. In children, the impairment must be significant and must occur in more than one setting (e.g. both in school and at home). For an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, he or she must have experienced the symptoms at some point during his or her childhood.
- 5.2 million children between the ages of 3-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.
- Of that 5.2 million, 11.2% were boys and 5.5% were girls.
- About 1.2% of the American population (of all ages) have been diagnosed with ADHD.
- The average age of onset for ADHD is 7 years old.
Causes and risk factors for ADHD
While a specific cause has yet to be solidified as the sole reason that ADHD develops in people, there are different factors that have been said to play a role in its onset. Some of these factors may include:
Genetic: Heredity is said to be the most common cause of ADHD, as the symptoms tend to run in families. Studies have been done on adopted children who have ADHD where the children’s biological parents and the adoptive parents were compared to see whose traits the children resembled more. The result of these studies showed that the symptoms of ADHD in the children more closely resembled traits in the biological parents rather than the adoptive parents.
Physical: The chemical makeup of a person’s brain can play a significant role in the development of ADHD because certain areas of the brain work together to regulate behaviors. When those areas are imbalanced or when abnormal activity exists in the neurotransmitters that work to connect the information sent and received from those specific areas, the regulation of the behaviors becomes disturbed. This can then lead to the onset of ADHD.
Environmental: It has been said that things such as suffering from child abuse and neglect can lead to the development of symptoms of ADHD. Exposure to toxins (such as lead), contracting certain infections (such as encephalitis), or exposure to alcohol and tobacco in utero could also lead to the onset of the disorder.
- Being male (Boys are more than twice as likely as girls to have ADHD.)
- Family structure
- Trauma to the brain
- Exposure to toxic substances (such as tobacco and alcohol) while in utero
Signs and symptoms of ADHD
The signs and symptoms of ADHD will vary based on the severity of the symptoms as well as the age of the person suffering from the symptoms.
- Interrupting others
- Excessive hyperactivity
- Talking rapidly and excessively
- Failure to complete homework and/or tasks
- Initiating conversations at inappropriate times
- Chronic inattention
- Difficulty concentrating
- Easily distracted
- Low self-esteem
- Mood swings
Effects of ADHD
The effects of ADHD can include:
- Relationship difficulties
- Poor social skills
- Family discord
- Receiving failing grades (for children) or losing a job (for adults) due to an inability to successfully perform the required tasks
- Low self-esteem
ADHD and co-occurring disorders
- Depressive Disorders
- Learning Disorders
- Oppositional Defiance Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder