What Is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? When does this happen in your life? What does it feel like? What are some causes? When does it show up? How does it affect us? What are the results of this? Lets YAC about it!

Infographic created by You are Collective to educate the public on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Defined by American Psychiatric Association:

"Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. ADHD also affects many adults. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought)."

So.. What Does This Mean?

Basically, there are three different types of ADHD, Predominately Inattentive, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, or Combined. Meaning that individuals with ADHD can have trouble with focusing, listening, and organizational skills or they could have a hard time sitting still, not fidgeting, and not being able to wait their turn. Or, they could have problems with both being inattentive and being hyperactive. It is generally diagnosed when children begin going to school, with the majority of individuals exhibiting symptoms into adulthood. Diagnosing ADHD when you're older can be more challenging as its symptoms align with many other common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. In fact, many individuals who experience ADHD also live with other mental illnesses. It's important to note, ADHD has been classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, however it is also referred to as a neurodevelopmental disorder by other agencies.

What Causes Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder??

Researchers aren't quite sure what causes ADHD, but they are certain that increased amounts of sugar and TV aren't the culprits.

There is research linking alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, brain injury, being born prematurely, and high-stress pregnancy conditions to a diagnosis of ADHD. 
Individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD if they have a family member who also lives with ADHD. 

Chemical Imbalance is also a factor in the diagnosis of ADHD as individuals with the mental illness experience a reduction in dopamine which helps move brain signals from one nerve to the next. This means they have a harder time controlling emotional responses and movements.

What Are The Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?


Predominately Inattentive  Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
  • Not detail-oriented 
  • Makes careless mistakes in jobs and tasks
  • Has problems staying focused when being spoken to or having to listen especially for long periods of time 
  • Can seem very spacey 
  • Doesn't listen when spoken to 
  • Doesn't follow instructions or complete tasks, assignments or job duties 
  • May start projects, but quickly loses focus 
  • Not time-management oriented
  • Can have a messy or disorganized space 
  • Often misses deadlines 
  • Stays away from tasks they don't like or avoids things that require sustained mental effort like preparing, filing, filling things out etc.
  • Often loses things
  • Is easily distracted
  • Forgets daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands
  • Fidgets or squirms in seat
  • Not able to stay seated
  • Runs about or climbs where it is inappropriate
  • Unable to play or do leisure activities quietly
  • Always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor 
  • Talks too much
  • Impulsive
  • Has difficulty waiting for their turn 
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others, may take over what others are doing 
    Exhibits both Inattentive and Hyperactive-Impulsive traits.
    Our community partners, Disability Credit Canada, has created a test + self-assessment to help you address signs and symptoms.

    How Is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Treated?

    ADHD is treated typically with a combination of medication and psychotherapy or talk therapy. Much like other mental disorders, ADHD success rates are much higher in those who use a combination of resources to cope. It's important to recognize any symptoms or tendencies that feel unusual so you can help narrow down your diagnosis. Often in adult cases, ADHD can take a long time to diagnose or be misdiagnosed because its symptoms are so similar to many other mental illnesses. Different therapies such as talk therapy, support groups, social skills trainings, and other environments can be beneficial for people living with ADHD. Stimulants like:

    help control hyperactive and impulsive behavior and increase attention span. However, stimulant medications don't always work, which is why Nonstimulants like:

    may be prescribed for people older than 6. There are many natural remedies that can help to cope with ADHD as well such as tai chi and mindfulness activities and exercises. Spending time outdoors and ensuring you get proper rest, diet and exercise can help lessen symptoms as well.

    Learn More About ADHD:

    Myhealth1st article explains What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


      Let's YAC About It!
      It's time to break down the barriers and end the stigma surrounding mental health. If you live with mental illness or just want to chat, our comments and inboxes are always open.

      We strongly believe in the value of sharing our experiences + stories in hopes even one person knows they're not alone. If you would like to share your experience with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder please contact us at info@youarecollective.ca!

      This blog is an introduction to a two-part series, the second part will introduce all sorts of resources and ways to find the help you need. Thank you again for everyone who got to this point- and again, don't be afraid to YAC about it!

      1. What Is ADHD?. (2020). Psychiatry.org. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd
      2. NIMH » Could I Have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?. (2020). Nimh.nih.gov. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/could-i-have-adhd/index.shtml#pub1

      3. What is ADHD?. (2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.htm

      4. Cold, F., Health, E., Disease, H., Disease, L., Management, P., & Conditions, S. et al. (2020). What Is ADHD?. WebMD. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd#1

      5. Everything You Need to Know About ADHD. (2020). Healthline. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd

      6. is adhd a mental illness - Google Search. (2020). Google.com. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=is+adhd+a+mental+illness&oq=is+adhd+a+mental+illness&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.4826j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

      7. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults. (2020). Cmha.bc.ca. Retrieved 10 February 2020, from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/attention-deficithyperactivity-disorder-in-adults-2/

      8.  Mayo Clinic. (2020). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children - Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350889 [Accessed 10 Feb. 2020].

      9. Disability Tax Credits & Benefits Service, Child Disability Tax, t2201 Certificate. 2020. Disability Tax Credits & Benefits Service, Child Disability Tax, T2201 Certificate - We Specialize In Canadian Adult & Child Disability Tax Credits & Benefits, Best Results With Disability Tax Credit Applications, Forms & T2201 Certificate. [online] Available at: <https://disabilitycreditcanada.com/> [Accessed 21 October 2020]. 

      10. Myhealth1st.com.au. 2021. MyHealth1st | What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?. [online] Available at: <https://www.myhealth1st.com.au/health-hub/articles/what-is-ADHD/> [Accessed 10 February 2021].

      Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals and are not able to provide licensed medical advice. This is a platform to relay information and share about mental illness. In the event of a crisis, contact 1-800-668-6868 or 911 in an emergency.

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