Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopment disorder. It is more common in children, but people can continue to have symptoms throughout adulthood. 

ADHD is sometimes considered a childhood condition, because it’s most commonly diagnosed when the person is very young. But in recent years there’s been an increase in the number of people being diagnosed as adults. 

Between 15 and 65% of people diagnosed as children continue to experience symptoms throughout their lives. 

Symptoms of ADHD

If you have ADHD you may find that you

  • Struggle to pay attention and are easily distracted
  • Find it hard to sit still or wait your turn
  • Have problems listening or following instructions
  • Struggle to complete tasks that you find dull
  • Act without thinking and with no sense of risk
  • Talk a lot and find it hard to stay quiet

Causes of ADHD

The exact causes are unknown. Researchers believe that genetics play a key role. Environmental factors like exposure to chemicals during pregnancy and low birth rate may also contribute.

Studies show that people who have ADHD often have lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine and this drives them to constantly look for new sources of stimulation.


There’s been an increase in the number of adults seeking a diagnosis in the past few years. The NHS Business Services Authority reported a 20% increase in the number of patients who were prescribed at least one drug for ADHD from 2021 to 2022.

You should

  • Talk to your doctor if you believe you, or your child, may have ADHD
  • Make a list of the symptoms you experience so you don’t forget to mention these
  • Ask how long you are likely to wait before you are referred to a specialist

ADHD Aware suggests that the average person with ADHD will receive 3 or 4 wrong diagnoses before they are diagnosed with ADHD. You may first be diagnosed with a rarer mental health condition or have  your symptoms interpreted as anxiety or deprssion, especially if your mental health is suffering.

ADHD is under-diagnosed in girls, often because girls internalise how they are feeling and teachers, parents and doctors may miss the symptoms.

ADD-NI  can talk you through the process of requesting an adult diagnosis and provide support programmes for young people and their parents.


Doctors can prescribe treatment – this could be

  • Medication to increase dopamine and improve focus
  • Behavioural therapy to help manage symptoms and learn coping skills

If you’re finding it tough to manage your symptoms or understand your diagnosis, it might help to

  • Meet up with other people who have ADHD and can support you
  • Find out more about the condition by researching it
  • Talk to friends and family about your symptoms and how you can manage these
  • Work the 5 steps to wellbeing into your daily routine