Symptoms, Signs & Effects of ADHD

If you or your loved one are struggling with ADHD, Vermilion is here to help. Learning about ADHD can help you or your loved one manage its symptoms.

Understanding ADHD

Learn about ADHD

Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are key components of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. Marked by an inability to maintain focus, be organized, and stay on task, the inattentive aspect of ADHD is known to cause significant impairment in multiple settings. A disorder common in teens and adolescents but also found in adults, ADHD’s symptoms of inattentiveness can cause a decrease in functioning and achievement in academic settings, as well as in work environments.

Hyperactivity can also create a number of hindrances in a person’s life. Not being able to sit still, excessive talking, and incessant fidgeting are often distracting to others and could bring about disciplinary action for a teen in school and decrease productivity for an adult at work. Both of these scenarios could cause feelings of failure when, in fact, that individual’s brain is struggling to regulate and control behaviors that he or she not doing on purpose.

The third aspect of ADHD, impulsivity, has the possibility to cause life-threatening consequences for a person with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This aspect can cause a person to engage in risky behaviors that could involve breaking the law or risking exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, impulsivity can cause a person to constantly interrupt others or make decisions without thinking things through.

For those struggling with these symptoms of ADHD, there is treatment available. The combination of medication and therapy has shown effectiveness in reducing symptoms. This combination of treatment modalities has shown promise in increasing a person’s occupational functioning without the disruption of the uncontrollable symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Statistics

ADHD statistics

It is estimated that 5% of teens and adolescents are diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In the adult population, 3% of people are believed to meet criteria for the disorder as well. More commonly found in males, ADHD will affect males and females differently. Males often present with more hyperactive symptoms, whereas females often struggle with the inattentive symptoms of the disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for ADHD

The following causes of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are commonly agreed upon as research has yet to determine the single cause for the development of ADHD in a person:

Genetic: It is a widely accepted notion that genetics play a role in the onset of ADHD symptoms. Studies have found that those with a first-degree relative with the disorder are at an increased risk of developing ADHD. In fact, researchers have found specific genes that are believed to contribute to an ADHD diagnosis.

Physical: The parts of the brain responsible for managing behavior have been found to be adversely affected in those diagnosed with ADHD. The cause of these effects is due to chemical imbalances in neurotransmitters that regulate mood. This inability to self-regulate ultimately causes a disruption in functioning and decreases a person’s ability to fully control impulses.

Environmental: Experts believe that exposure to violence or being raised in a chaotic home environment contribute to an eventual ADHD diagnosis. Other studies have found that exposure to poor diet, infections, toxins, drugs, and alcohol while in the womb also increase a person’s chance of being diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder at some point.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male
  • Exposure to infections pre-birth
  • Contact with toxins, drugs or alcohol in utero
  • Family history of mental health disorders
  • Preexisting mental illness

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ADHD

The signs of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder vary depending on the severity of the symptoms present. With effects on an individual’s behavior, cognition, and emotions, the following can occur in a person suffering from ADHD:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Poor impulse control
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Agitation
  • Chronic tardiness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Excessive talking
  • Reduced task completion

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Procrastination
  • Decreased patience
  • Inattentiveness
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Boredom
  • Easily distracted

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Drastic shifts in mood
  • Feeling like an underachiever
  • Insecurity

Effects

Effects of ADHD

The symptoms of untreated ADHD can adversely affect a number of areas of a person’s life. Impairment as a result of these symptoms can cause:

  • Social isolation
  • Academic failure
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Problems with finances
  • Family conflict
  • Unemployment
  • Decline in good interpersonal relationships

Co-Occurring Disorders

ADHD and co-occurring disorders

It is common for other mental disorders to occur alongside ADHD. Below are mental health conditions which are often diagnosed in a person with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Tic disorders
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder