New Series Explains Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

adhd can cause major problems for sufferers

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 2.2% of children. Three out of four children diagnosed with ADHD experience symptoms into adulthood. A new Wondrium series explores the condition.

adhd brain concept
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder occurring in childhood and lasting throughout a person’s lifetime. Photo by Berit Kessler / Shutterstock

Identifying and treating ADHD has been difficult in the last 20 to 30 years due to a rash of over-diagnosis in the 1990s and 2000s. However, it is a genuine disorder that may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Prenatal risk factors, exposure to environmental toxins, and dietary decisions may all factor into why ADHD develops, but its exact causes have yet to be determined.

There are three categories of ADHD as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In her video series Understanding Disorders of the Brain, Dr. Sandy Neargarder, Professor of Psychology at Bridgewater State University, breaks down the three kinds of ADHD currently recognized.


The first category of ADHD is inattention. In previous versions of the DSM, inattention was listed as a separate disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD). Now it’s been absorbed into the overall umbrella of ADHD.

“People with ADD have difficulty with sustained attention,” Dr. Neargarder said. “Some of the behaviors they might exhibit include needing things to be repeated multiple times before fully understanding them or appearing spaced out when someone is talking to them. They may also be forgetful—needing reminders throughout the day to complete daily tasks like chores.

“They may also lose things like homework assignments, books, keys, and so on, and may be easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.”

Other signs of ADD include having trouble with organization, exhibiting poor time management, and missing deadlines.

Hyperactive and Impulsive

The second category of ADHD is when people are hyperactive and impulsive. In order to be diagnosed with this, the person must exhibit its symptoms for over six months and their life must be negatively affected by it. Those who have this type of ADHD may struggle to sit still or may often fidget with their hands or feet. They may also talk excessively or be unable to engage in leisure activities quietly.

“In addition, they might appear to always be on the go, they may have difficulty waiting their turn, they may interrupt others when they are engaged in conversation or activities, and they may blurt out answers before a question has been completed,” Dr. Neargarder said.

Someone who compulsively clicks their pen in class or meetings or struggles to stop tapping their foot or fingers while they sit may be exhibiting signs of this type of ADHD.

The third category of ADHD combines symptoms of the previous two. An individual who is both inattentive and hyperactive may suffer from this kind.


“In addition to identifying the specific type of ADHD a person exhibits, criteria put forth by the DSM-5 also requires professionals who diagnose ADHD to include the severity of the disorder as either mild, moderate, or severe,” Dr. Neargarder said.

At the mild level, someone would exhibit just some of the symptoms of ADHD, resulting in minor impairments of their social and professional life. A sufferer of severe ADHD exhibits many more symptoms than are needed for a diagnosis and face marked impairments to their lives. Somebody with moderate ADHD would fall somewhere in between.

“Individuals with ADHD can be very successful in life,” Dr. Neargarder said. “However, without identification and proper treatment, the disorder can have serious consequences, including school failure, family stress and disruption, depression, relationship problems, substance abuse, delinquency, accidental injuries, and trouble maintaining a job.

“Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important contributors to success later on.”

Understanding Disorders of the Brain is now available to stream on Wondrium.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily