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ADHD: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Prof. Dr. Javaid Akhtar

3 min read

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Previously known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), The word ‘Hyper’ was added to best describe the characteristic Hyperactivity, Impulsivity, and Inattention experienced by those diagnosed with this disorder. ADHD is a common childhood mental disorder that affects focus, self-control, organization, and time-management, often continuing into adulthood.

The Stereotypes:

  • Always Doing Something: While most children with ADHD are more hyperactive than those without, it is but one facet of the condition; many children might only be the ‘Inattentive’ type, and not be hyperactive at all.
  • An Issue of Willpower: Those with ADHD are often inattentive while performing uninteresting tasks, such as schoolwork, and hyper-focused during activities of interest, to the point that they cannot even hear their name called, leading to the condition’s reputation as a mere avoidance maneuver; when in fact, the brain simply has a harder time shifting focus, resulting in inattention and loss of focus, even when a child is aware of the task’s importance.
  • Too Fast: ADHD can manifest as both an urgency to complete tasks, and an inability to do so. More often than not, children with ADHD have a relatively slower processing speed, which often contributes to learning difficulties.
  • Mentally Challenged: People, particularly children, with ADHD are often perceived to have a comparatively lower IQ. However, the condition does not affect intelligence, with children diagnosed with ADHD often excelling at creative tasks as compared to their peers.


The signs vary for both children and adults, with symptoms in children being grouped into 3 distinct categories:

In Children:

  • Inattention:

Not paying attention and making careless mistakes, not following directions or finishing tasks, problems organizing daily activities, unwillingness for stationary tasks, forgetting about daily activities, daydreaming tendencies, misplacing things and becoming easily distracted all indicate attention issues.

  • Hyperactivity:

Squirming, fidgeting or bouncing while sitting, trouble remaining quiet, excessive talking, always being in motion, and high energy levels are common signs of hyperactivity.

  • Impulsivity:

Trouble waiting for their turn in a conversation or task, blurting out answers, and interrupting others are indicators of impulsive behavior.

While some will be diagnosed early on, others might not show symptoms until their early or late teens, due to increased challenges requiring attention, focus, and self-control. Furthermore, hyperactivity / impulsivity are more prominent in younger children, later transcending to only inattention, and hyperactivity/inattention in older children and adolescents, respectively.

In Adults:

Adults often display an entirely different set of symptoms, including chronic forgetfulness, tardiness, and boredom, Low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, anger-management issues, impulsivity, lack of organization, procrastination, mood swings, and relationship troubles


The leading causes are considered to be chemical imbalances in the brain, development delays and reduced activity in areas of the brain that control ‘attentivity’, which is why certain children with ADHD might act 1-3 years younger than their age. Other causes include brain injury or disorders, and poor nutrition, infections, and smoking during pregnancy

Co-Occurring Conditions:

Despite delayed learning in most cases, ADHD is not a Learning Disability. Yet, it often results in other learning disabilities such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia, along with anxiety and depression.


Certified specialists often conduct interviews with both parents and the child, along with questionnaires to grade the child’s behavior. However, the characteristic symptoms in multiple areas, such as at school and at home, in children, while they must be present prior to age 12 for a positive ADHD diagnosis in adolescents and adults.


An optimal treatment for ADHD consists of a combination of medication and therapy:


A class of medicines known as ‘stimulants’ elevate dopamine and nor-epinephrine levels to control hyperactivity and impulsive behavior control and increase attention span.

However, since the medication can contribute towards anxiety, increased blood pressure and heart rate in people with hypertension, glaucoma, liver, kidney and heart disease, anxiety disorder and seizures, some patients are prescribed non-stimulant medications; which can also be prescribed in combination with stimulants to boost effectiveness in some cases.

Moreover, prescription supplements containing omega-3 have also been shown to be useful in symptom control.


The following therapies may be applied to promote positive behavioral changes:

  • Special Education at home or in specialized institutions can help with learning difficulties via tailored-made curriculum.
  • Behavior Modification Techniques to replace bad behaviors, such as interrupting conversations, with good ones can be taught at home.
  • Psychotherapy, particularly Behavioral or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Family Therapy can help with behavior management and emotional control, improve self-esteem and aid other family members in better understanding the condition.
  • Social Skills Training can help reduce negative social skills and instill sociable behavior.

For Kids:

Parents and teachers can take the following measures to improve their child’s productivity:

  • Keep a routine and schedule, with writing down changes in routine as far in advance as possible.
  • Assign places to all everyday items and organize school supplies and homework to reduce forgetfulness and improve concentration.
  • Explain things in a clear and consistent manner to help children understand.
  • Promote motivation and continuance of good behavior through praise and small rewards.
  • Adolescents and adults can break down large tasks into small manageable portions for clarity and an improved sense of accomplishment.

The Future:

ADHD cannot be prevented or cured, but early detection and appropriate symptom management through medications, therapy, and personal effort can help those diagnosed with ADHD lead productive, fulfilling lives, with many people able to stop treatment entirely with time.

Does your child display signs of Inattention, Hyperactivity, or Impulsivity? If that is the case, we recommend you to consult a nearby child specialist or Psychiatrist.

At oladoc, you can find a Psychiatrist in Multan, Lahore, and Islamabad and get an appointment. Moreover, you can also get an appointment by calling our helpline: 042-3890-0939.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Prof. Dr. Javaid Akhtar
Prof. Dr. Javaid Akhtar - Author Prof. Dr. Javaid Akhtar is a top Psychiatrist with 22 years of experience. You can book an in-person appointment or an online video consultation with Prof. Dr. Javaid Akhtar through oladoc.com or by calling at 0518151800.

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