Imagine living in a world where sights, sounds, images and thoughts are constantly changing and shifting. Unable to focus on whatever task is at hand; your mind wanders from one activity or thought to the next. Sometimes you become so lost among all the thoughts and images that you don't even notice when someone is speaking to you.
This is what it is like for many people who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Once called hyperkinesis or minimal brain dysfunction, ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, and it is likely to occur two to three times more in boys than in girls.
People who have ADHD may be unable to sit still, plan ahead, finish tasks, or be completely aware of what is going on in the world around them. However, on some occasions, they may appear "normal", leading others to believe that the person with ADHD can control such behaviors. As a result of this, ADHD can hinder the person's relationships and interactions with others in addition to disrupting their daily life and lowering self-esteem.
“Research has demonstrated that ADHD has a very strong neurobiological basis. Although precise causes have not yet been identified, there is little question that heredity makes the largest contribution to the expression of the disorder in the population.”
In instances where heredity does not seem to be a factor, difficulties during pregnancy, prenatal exposure to alcohol and tobacco, premature delivery, significantly low birth weight, excessively high body lead levels, and postnatal injury to the prefrontal regions of the brain have all been found to contribute to the risk for ADHD to varying degrees.
ADHD symptoms usually arise in early childhood. Current diagnostic criteria indicate that the disorder is marked by behaviors that are long lasting and evident for at least six months, with onset before age seven. There are three primary subtypes, each...