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Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2015 Aug 6;1:15020. doi: 10.1038/nrdp.2015.20.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Departments of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience and Physiology, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.
K.G. Jebsen Centre for Psychiatric Disorders, Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway.
Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Radboud University Medical Center, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Karakter Child and Adolescent Psychiatry University Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
ADHD Program, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.
Biomedical Network Research Centre on Mental Health (CIBERSAM), Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
ADHD Outpatient Program, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
National Institute of Developmental Psychiatry for Children and Adolescents, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Program, Research Institute of The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Radboud University Medical Center, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Departments of Human Genetics and Psychiatry, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a persistent neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 5% of children and adolescents and 2.5% of adults worldwide. Throughout an individual's lifetime, ADHD can increase the risk of other psychiatric disorders, educational and occupational failure, accidents, criminality, social disability and addictions. No single risk factor is necessary or sufficient to cause ADHD. In most cases ADHD arises from several genetic and environmental risk factors that each have a small individual effect and act together to increase susceptibility. The multifactorial causation of ADHD is consistent with the heterogeneity of the disorder, which is shown by its extensive psychiatric co-morbidity, its multiple domains of neurocognitive impairment and the wide range of structural and functional brain anomalies associated with it. The diagnosis of ADHD is reliable and valid when evaluated with standard criteria for psychiatric disorders. Rating scales and clinical interviews facilitate diagnosis and aid screening. The expression of symptoms varies as a function of patient developmental stage and social and academic contexts. Although there are no curative treatments for ADHD, evidenced-based treatments can markedly reduce its symptoms and associated impairments. For example, medications are efficacious and normally well tolerated, and various non-pharmacological approaches are also valuable. Ongoing clinical and neurobiological research holds the promise of advancing diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to ADHD. For an illustrated summary of this Primer, visit:

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