What is ADHD?

What are the presentations of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? According to the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition), ADHD is typically diagnosed as one of these 3 presentations1:

  • Combined (Inattentive/Hyperactive/Impulsive)
  • Inattentive only (formerly known as attention-deficit disorder)
  • Hyperactive/Impulsive

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) provide important information for caregivers of children with ADHD. Here are their answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

Will my child outgrow ADHD? ADHD continues into adulthood in most cases. However, by developing their strengths, structuring their environments, and using medication when needed, adults with ADHD can lead very productive lives.2

Why do so many children have ADHD? The number of children who are being treated for ADHD has risen. It is not clear whether more children have ADHD or more children are being diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD is now one of the most common and most studied pediatric conditions. Due to greater awareness and better ways of diagnosing and treating this disorder, more children are being helped.2,3

Is there a cure for ADHD? At this time, there is no scientifically proven cure for ADHD. The proper treatment plan, including medication, can help manage the symptoms of ADHD, but may not alleviate them altogether.2,3

What causes ADHD? Research to date has shown that ADHD is a biological condition whose symptoms are also dependent on a number of factors, including family genetics.2

References: 1. American Psychiatric Association. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:59-66. 2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2001. 3. ADHD Parents Medication Guide. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Web site. https://www.aacap.org/App_Themes/AACAP/Docs/resource_centers/adhd/adhd_parents_medication_guide_201305.pdf. Updated July 2013. Accessed December 30, 2015.