Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. It is characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person's age. The symptoms appear before a person is twelve years old, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities) In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance.[ Additionally there is an association with other mental disorders and substance misuse. Although it causes impairment, particularly in modern society, many children with ADHD have a good attention span for tasks they find interesting.
Despite being very commonly diagnosed as a mental disorder in children and adolescents, the exact cause and character is unknown and not investigated in the majority of cases. Genetic studies have identified 26 genes and 2 intergenic loci which correlate to ADHD diagnosis - this indicates that a clinical diagnosis of ADHD is an umbrella label for a quite heterogenous group of genetic and neurological phonomena . The large number of independent factors which may lead to an ADHD diagnosis signifies that ADHD as a disorder should be considered as the extreme tail of a continuum personality trait.
ADHD affects about 5–7% of children when diagnosed via the DSM-IV criteria and 1–2% when diagnosed via the ICD-10criteria. As of 2015 it is estimated to affect about 51.1 million people globally. Rates are similar between countries and depend mostly on how it is diagnosed ADHD is diagnosed approximately three times more often in boys than in girls, although the disorder is often overlooked in girls because their symptoms differ from those of boys. About 30–50% of people diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms into adulthood and between 2–5% of adults have the condition. In adults inner restlessness rather than hyperactivity may occur. The condition can be difficult to tell apart from other conditions, as well as to distinguish from high levels of activity that are still within the range of normative behaviors.
ADHD management recommendations vary by country and usually involve some combination of counseling, lifestyle changes, and medications. The British guideline only recommends medications as a first-line treatment in children who have severe symptoms and for medication to be considered in those with moderate symptoms who either refuse or fail to improve with counseling, though for adults medications are a first-line treatment. Canadian and American guidelines recommend that medications and behavioral therapy be used together as a first-line therapy, except in preschool-aged children. Stimulant medication therapy is not recommended as a first-line therapy in preschool-aged children in either guideline. Treatment with stimulants is effective for up to 14 months; however, its long term effectiveness is unclear.Adults often develop coping skills which make up for some or all of their impairments.
The medical literature has described symptoms similar to those of ADHD since the 19th century. ADHD, its diagnosis, and its treatment have been considered controversial since the 1970s. The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents, and the media. Topics include ADHD's causes and the use of stimulant medications in its treatment. Most healthcare providers accept ADHD as a genuine disorder in children and adults, and the debate in the scientific community mainly centers on how it is diagnosed and treated. The condition was officially known as attention-deficit disorder (ADD) from 1980 to 1987, while before this it was known as hyperkinetic reaction of childhood.