10 ADHD Facts You Need to Know


Spreading awareness about mental health disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) helps families, communities, and societies offer effective structural and social support to young people with the conditions.

This blog offers 10 facts about ADHD to learn and share with others.

  1. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a Neurodevelopmental Condition

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition, meaning that affects the way your brain develops and works. Young people with ADHD may have more difficulty concentrating than their peers, experience hyperactivity, and be more likely to behave impulsively. While unaddressed ADHD can make a young person’s life more difficult, it’s possible to effectively manage ADHD symptoms so they can live a healthy and happy life.

  1. ADHD Is a Common Condition Among Young People

Studies estimate the worldwide prevalence of ADHD among children and adolescents to be around 5%. That means that about one in every 20 young people may live with ADHD, equivalent to at least one student in an ordinary classroom.

ADHD is common, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a young person. It just means they may need some extra support to engage effectively in aspects of everyday life, such as school and socialising. The good news is that there is plenty of evidence-based, effective support out there to help young people thrive.

  1. Symptoms Usually Start Early in Life

Most people with ADHD begin to show symptoms around the age of six. However, many young people do not receive an ADHD diagnosis until much later – sometimes even in adulthood. In general, children with more severe ADHD receive a diagnosis sooner.

Diagnosing ADHD can be difficult because symptoms often overlap with other mental health and behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Moreover, ADHD affects young people differently, depending on age, sex, gender identity, and the presence of other neurodevelopmental conditions. Healthcare providers use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose ADHD in children and adults.

  1. Young People With ADHD Are Often Passionate and Driven

Living with ADHD can be hard for young people. However, it can also come with positive traits. ADHD can mean a young person is passionate about things and have hyperfocus, creativity, spontaneity, and abundant energy. Focusing on these superpowers can help young people appreciate their value among peers and in the world.

  1. Symptoms of ADHD Often Change with Age

As children grow up, ADHD symptoms often improve or manifest in different ways. One of the biggest changes is often in the expression of hyperactivity.

Children with ADHD may express hyperactivity by getting up when they shouldn’t, climbing around, or always playing loudly. On the other hand, hyperactivity in adult ADHD may manifest as internal discomfort or restlessness. They may not enjoy sitting still for long periods, and find long meals, movies, and meetings difficult.

Other symptoms of adult ADHD include:

  • difficulties organising time
  • problems focusing or completing tasks
  • feeling impatient
  • engaging in impulsive or risky behaviours – research by the Clinical Psychology Review found that childhood ADHD is associated with higher levels of substance use and dependence across an individual’s lifetime
  1. ADHD and Our Brains

Research suggests that the presence of ADHD may be linked to our brain chemistry.

The nerve cells in our brain communicate with one another, and other cells in the body, through electric and chemical messengers. These chemical messengers are known as neurotransmitters. Unbalanced levels of neurotransmitters can affect certain cognitive functions, such as memory and concentration.

Studies suggest that the ADHD brain may have different levels of dopamine and norepinephrine than is normal.

  1. ADHD Medication Can Help Young People to Manage Symptoms

Some young people benefit from certain medications that alter their brain chemistry, reducing symptoms of ADHD. Licensed ADHD medications include methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, dexamfetamine, atomoxetine, and guanfacine. According to the Prevalence of Parent-Reported ADHD Diagnosis and Associated Treatment study among US children and adolescents, almost two-thirds of health care provider diagnosed children were receiving medication.

Other ADHD treatment options include cognitive-behavioural therapy, counselling, and educational support. Doctors and mental health professionals can work with young people and their families to determine the best treatment options for them.

  1. ADHD Can Affect a Person’s Mental Health

ADHD can leave young people feeling overwhelmed and anxious. They may feel like other people don’t understand what they are going through, and that society isn’t made to work for them. They may feel isolated, depressed, and have trouble sleeping. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3 in 10 children diagnosed with ADHD had an anxiety disorder.

  1. Self Care Practices can Help Manage ADHD Symptoms

Young people with ADHD often find that looking after their mental health and general well-being helps to improve symptoms of ADHD. This may include:

  • taking regular breaks and time out
  • finding ways to relax, such as mindfulness, yoga, reading, or walks in nature
  • regular exercise
  • making lists of things they need to do
  • following structured routines
  • healthy eating
  • removing themselves from stressful situations or developing strategies to cope with them
  • reflecting on positive achievements of the day

Young people can also benefit from joining self-organised support groups for people with ADHD. Support groups help young people feel accepted and understood. They’re also a chance to share advice and learn from the experiences of others.

  1. ADHD Can Run In Families

While the causes of ADHD are mostly unknown, evidence suggests that ADHD can run in families. Research shows that the brothers, sisters, and parents of someone with ADHD are more like to have the condition themselves. However, although genetic factors likely play some role in the development of ADHD, the relationship is complex and it doesn’t seem to be related to any single genetic structure.

The Wave – A Centre of Transformation

The Wave offers transformative, affirming experiences for young people living with ADHD and other mental health conditions. A treatment centre like no other, we work with young people to become world citizens, equipped with all the skills they need to follow their dreams.

The Wave draws in mental wellness specialists in adolescent psychiatry from around the world, who share their expert knowledge with every young person. We combine clinical excellence with all-around care and support, helping to inspire and teach our members. We celebrate culture, diversity, and difference, ensuring every young person recognises their value.

Our treatment approaches involve looking at the inside of a young person, and it affects their outwards behaviours. Our team is trained to sensitively deal with issues of trauma and past adversity, helping young people to heal from within. We aim to help young people understand themselves and their experiences, leading to a more harmonious way of living.

We understand that it can be difficult for families to have space from their children during the treatment process. At the Wave, we involve the family in our programs from beginning to end, providing regular updates about their child’s progress. We also provide family therapy and support to help heal relationships – including those who have become family members by choice.

If you are looking for specialized mental health support combined with a transformative gap year experience, contact us today. We treat every interaction with the utmost respect, care, and confidentiality.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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