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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Disorder that begins in childhood, but can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

About ADHD

ADHD is a disorder that has three different types of symptoms:

  • Difficulty paying attention or focusing on certain tasks
  • Being overactive (or hyperactive)
  • Acting on impulse (without thinking)

Children or teens with ADHD may:

  • Get distracted easily and forget things often
  • Switch too quickly from one activity to the next
  • Have trouble following directions
  • Daydream too much
  • Have trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores
  • Lose toys, books, and school supplies often
  • Fidget and squirm a lot...

Read more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Diagnosis and Management of ADHD in Children, Young People and Adults

This guideline has been developed to advise on the treatment and management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The guideline recommendations have been developed by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, service users and carers, and guideline methodologists after careful consideration of the best available evidence. It is intended that the guideline will be useful to clinicians and service commissioners in providing and planning high-quality care for people with ADHD while also emphasising the importance of the experience of care for them and their carers (see Appendix 1 for more details on the scope of the guideline).

Medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children with tics

As many as half of all children with tic disorders also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD are often more disabling for children than their tics. Historically, the reported ability of stimulant medications to worsen tics has limited their use in children who have both a chronic tic disorder and ADHD. To evaluate evidence for this reported phenomenon we searched for clinical trials of medications for ADHD used specifically in children with tic disorders. The trials indicate that a number of stimulant and non‐stimulant medications are safe and effective treatments for ADHD symptoms and do not worsen tics. High dose stimulants may transiently worsen tics in some children, and worsening tics may limit dose increases of stimulants in some children, but in the majority of children both tics and ADHD symptoms improve with use of stimulant medications.

Meditation therapies for attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects a significant number of children and adults in a variety of ways. It is characterized by chronic levels of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Meditation therapy could be a beneficial treatment for those diagnosed with ADHD. The objective of this review was to assess the efficacy of this treatment. As a result of the small number of studies that we were able to include in this review and the limitations of those studies, we were unable to draw any conclusions regarding the effectiveness of meditation therapy for ADHD. No adverse effects of meditation in children have been reported. More trials are needed on meditation therapies for ADHD so that conclusions can be drawn regarding its effectiveness.

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Summaries for consumers

Medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children with tics

As many as half of all children with tic disorders also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD are often more disabling for children than their tics. Historically, the reported ability of stimulant medications to worsen tics has limited their use in children who have both a chronic tic disorder and ADHD. To evaluate evidence for this reported phenomenon we searched for clinical trials of medications for ADHD used specifically in children with tic disorders. The trials indicate that a number of stimulant and non‐stimulant medications are safe and effective treatments for ADHD symptoms and do not worsen tics. High dose stimulants may transiently worsen tics in some children, and worsening tics may limit dose increases of stimulants in some children, but in the majority of children both tics and ADHD symptoms improve with use of stimulant medications.

Meditation therapies for attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects a significant number of children and adults in a variety of ways. It is characterized by chronic levels of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Meditation therapy could be a beneficial treatment for those diagnosed with ADHD. The objective of this review was to assess the efficacy of this treatment. As a result of the small number of studies that we were able to include in this review and the limitations of those studies, we were unable to draw any conclusions regarding the effectiveness of meditation therapy for ADHD. No adverse effects of meditation in children have been reported. More trials are needed on meditation therapies for ADHD so that conclusions can be drawn regarding its effectiveness.

Social skills training for children aged between 5 and 18 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are hyperactive and impulsive, cannot maintain attention, and have difficulties with social interactions. This review looks at whether social skills training benefits children with ADHD in their social interactions. Eleven trials including a total of 747 participants met the inclusion criteria. This review suggests that there is little evidence for social skills training for children with ADHD at the moment. It is not possible to recommend or refute social skills training for children with ADHD. There is need for more randomised clinical trials, with low risk of bias and with a sufficient number of participants, investigating the efficacy of social skills training for children with ADHD.

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More about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Also called: Attention deficit disorder, ADD

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