Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), is a behavioural disorder. It affects your ability to focus and to control your behaviour. 2.2% of people around the world have this condition, including 1 in 20 children and 1 million adults in South Africa. The condition affects people of any intelligence and is not something which you can help. It is a lifelong condition which begins in childhood.

Causes of ADHD

The exact cause of this condition is not known, but it is thought that multiple factors might lead to it. It runs in families, and so it is thought to be genetic. Research has shown that there are differences in the functions and structures of brains of people with ADHD compared to those without the condition. For example, the areas of the brain to do with concentration and impulse control are smaller in children with symptoms of this condition compared to those without. Certain groups of people are at higher risk of developing the condition, including people who were born prematurely.

Effects of ADHD

This condition mainly affects people in three different ways: it can cause inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. 

  • Inattention often means that people with the condition struggle to complete activities because they become easily distracted. Inattention also means that they frequently find it hard to organise activities. 
  • Hyperactivity means that people with ADHD are restless, often finding it hard to sit still. The amount of hyperactivity someone with ADHD has can vary depending on their age: adults struggle less with hyperactivity. 
  • Impulsivity can result in people with ADHD being reckless.

Some people with the condition may have two or more of these three symptoms, others may only have one of these three symptoms. The symptoms may also vary in severity. They can be less noticeable in adults than in children. People with ADHD can have other related problems, like anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties.

Benefits of having ADHD

Living with ADHD can be hard. It can cause problems at school, work, and in relationships and social interaction. Having this condition can become more difficult as you get older and more is expected of you.

However, there are advantages to having ADHD. People with this condition tend to be very creative, making links between different ideas. Being creative is valuable in business. For instance, businessman Sir Richard Branson has ADHD and is a billionaire. People with ADHD often have lots of energy, and their impulsivity can take them on adventures. They can have the ability to focus on activities that interest them for hours at a time. They are good at doing different tasks at once.

With support, and sometimes therapy and medication, people with ADHD can live very productive and fulfilling lives. In this way, it is important to appreciate other people. We all are different, yet we make valuable contributions to society with our unique gifts.