Attention Deficit (ADHD)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. Although the symptoms of ADHD begin in childhood, ADHD can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Even though hyperactivity tends to improve as a child becomes a teen, problems with inattention, disorganization, and poor impulse control often continue through the teen years and into adulthood.

What causes ADHD (formerly called ADD)?

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and across the country are studying the causes of ADHD. Current research suggests ADHD may be caused by interactions between genes and environmental or non-genetic factors. Like many other illnesses, a number of factors may contribute to ADHD such as:

  • Genes
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or drug use during pregnancy
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead, at a young age
  • Low birth weight
  • Brain injuries

Warning Signs

People with ADHD show an ongoing pattern of three different types of symptoms:

  • Difficulty paying attention (inattention)
  • Being overactive (hyperactivity)
  • Acting without thinking (impulsivity)

These symptoms get in the way of functioning or development. People who have ADHD have combinations of these symptoms:

  • Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
  • Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
  • Seem to not listen when spoken to directly
  • Fail to not follow through on instructions, fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace, or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
  • Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as doing tasks in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, keeping work organized, managing time, and meeting deadlines
  • Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
  • Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
  • Become easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
  • Forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments



According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) research has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD is a combination of medication and therapy.

Medication serves to manage brain based functions and symptoms and therapy addresses daily thoughts, behaviors, and coping strategies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based practices have been found to be the most effective therapeutic interventions. Studies have begun to show promising results using dialectical behavioral therapy as well. This is because these modalities focus on identifying internal and external barriers to adaptive coping behaviors and working towards developing new, workable actions and skills in the present moment. Find a clinician that is familiar with ADHD so that minor obstacles such as being late to a session, interrupting the therapist, or experiencing trouble following through on therapy goals will not be seen as a result of a deep psychological neurosis, but instead understood as a function of a brain-based condition. An ADHD-friendly therapist will view these situations as opportunities to help you step away from shame-based stories about your challenges.

In addition to building new skills and coping strategies, it is often helpful to process the emotional and interpersonal effects of ADHD, as most people with the diagnosis experience feelings of shame, guilt, failure, and chronic stress or overwhelm. Group therapy programs and peer support groups are immensely helpful in this regard. There is simply no replacement for being around other people who “get it.” It’s also important to remember that ADHD doesn’t exist within in a vacuum – it affects those you love, too. Couples and family therapy, as well as simple psychoeducation about what it means to live with ADHD, can be extremely helpful in navigating the waters of relationships with this condition.

ADHD coaching has been found to be effective in guiding those with ADHD towards identifying and meeting goals, maintaining a positive approach to change, and improving productivity while providing a source of accountability. Many seek out coaching when their goals involve improving organizational skills, time management, goal completion, and productivity.

Medication is often used to help normalize brain activity and must be carefully prescribed and monitored by a physician, preferably a psychiatrist and not a primary care physician. Stimulant medications (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Adderall XR, Vyvanse, and Focalin XR) are commonly used because they have been shown to be most effective for most people with ADHD. Some adults with ADHD prefer long-acting formulations, while others respond better to short-acting medication. Sometimes people with ADHD take a long-acting medication and short-acting “booster” dose later that same day. However, not everyone with ADHD responds well to stimulants, and so other non-stimulant medications (Strattera, Intuniv, SNRI’s such as Welbutrin, etc.) may also be used at the discretion of the physician. Given the rate of co-occurring challenges with depression and anxiety, some adults with ADHD take additional medications to manage those conditions.




There are many organizations that provide support through local chapters, state affiliates, and support groups. Click on the links below to view their websites.


American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  (AACAP)
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) is the leading national professional medical association dedicated to treating and improving the quality of life for children, adolescents, and families affected by mental, behavioral, or developmental disorders. AACAP provides an extensive list of related organizations.
Autism Society of America (ASA)
The Autism Society of America (ASA) is dedicated to increasing public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by individuals with autism, their families and the professionals with whom they interact. ASA and its chapters share a common mission of providing information and education, supporting research, and advocating for programs and services for the autism community.
Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF)
A national, nonprofit organization of families raising children diagnosed with, or at risk for, pediatric bipolar disorder. The state directory contains information posted by groups seeking to provide support to families raising children or teens with bipolar disorder. Some local groups are intended for children and/or teens who have bipolar disorder themselves.
Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH)
A national family-run organization dedicated exclusively to helping children with mental health needs and their families achieve a better quality of life. The state directory contains organizations focused solely on the needs of children with mental health issues.
Mental Health America (MHA)
Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) dedicates its work to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. The organization has 320 affiliates nationwide that represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation—every day and in times of crisis.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. NAMI has organizations in all 50 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. There are also more than 1,200 local affiliates spanning all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.


CHECK OUT CHADD (National Resource on ADHD) :


Workbook and Readings on ADHD

Driven to Distraction ADHD  Driven to Distraction.

Attention Deficit Disorder in adults.pngAttention Deficit Disorder in Adults – Workbook.

Understand Your Brain, Get More Done - The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook.png  Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook

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