What is ADHD?

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is a neurodevelopmental disorder which can effect someone’s ability to focus, study, work, and socialise. Its symptoms usually begin at an early age and often continue into adulthood. There is no link what so ever between intelligence and ADHD, but it can have a major effect on everyday life, creating daily challenges for individuals and families.

What are the symptoms?

Inattention (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Inattention is where someone is easily distracted, and struggle to focus on the task at hand. Their mind will wander easily, they can have issues listening, and sometimes forget what they were about to say. An inability to organise work, study, and life is common in people with ADHD, with a big impact on their lives often surfacing when working on tasks requiring great attention or at the start of school.


Hyperactivity is where someone is often restless, having a hard time sitting still, relaxing, watching a movie or listening to a lecture. Hyperactive people will often talk non-stop and loudly on subjects that interest them. They will be constantly active with a project or idea to be worked on, sometimes many projects at once! Fidgeting is often prominent at an early age, and can evolve into an inner restlessness for teenagers and adults.


Impulsivity can cause people to be impatient, butting in to conversations or games, and be prone to impulsive purchases. They can easily get into trouble, not thinking about the consequences of their actions and struggling to understand them after the fact. This can result in difficulties in school for younger children, and for adults in keeping relationships and jobs. Impulsive decisions can lead to poor financial decisions, putting people into debt.

In addition to these symptoms, many adults with ADHD can suffer from mood swings, excitability, sensitivity to stress, and difficulties with organisation.

It is important to recognise that not everyone with ADHD will experience all of these symptoms, or will experience them to different degrees, depending on each person and their age.

What causes adhd?

Researchers have shown that ADHD is a genetic condition, inherited by children from their parents. Often, but not always, more than one person in the same family will have ADHD. A bad childhood does not cause ADHD! The most prominent factors causing ADHD are:

  • Heredity (60-80% of cases)
  • A shock during pregnancy
  • Premature delivery
  • Brain damage during the first year
  • Disease or accidents
  • Other developmental disorders

The causes of ADHD are biological and result in disruption to the flow of neurotransmitters in areas of the brain important to controlling behaviour and attention.

Different types of adhd

ADHD can roughly be categorised into three types:

  • Inattentive ADHD
  • Hyperactive ADHD
  • Inattentive and Hyperactive ADHD

How do I get an adhd diagnosis?

Diagnosis of ADHD differs from country to country, and although there are some similarities, it would be too complicated for us to explain what happens in each country. If you would like more information about diagnosis of ADHD, please contact one of our member organisations.

How do you treat adhd?