Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD or ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder. It is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children affecting about 3 to 5% of children globally with symptoms starting before seven years of age. It is characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness and inattention, with or without a component of hyperactivity. ADHD is diagnosed twice as frequently in boys as in girls, though studies suggest this discrepancy may be due to subjective bias. ADHD is generally a chronic disorder with 30 to 50% of those individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to have symptoms into adulthood. As they mature, adolescents and adults with ADHD are likely to develop coping mechanisms to compensate for their impairment.

Though previously regarded as a childhood diagnosis, ADHD can continue throughout adulthood. Four percent of American adults are estimated to live with ADHD.

ADHD management usually involves some combination of medications, behavior modifications, life-style changes, or counseling.

ADHD and its diagnosis and treatment have been considered controversial since the 1970s. The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents and the media, with opinions regarding ADHD that range from not believing it exists at all to believing there are genetic and physiological bases for the condition and also include disagreement about the use of stimulant medications in treatment. Most healthcare providers accept that ADHD is a genuine disorder with debate in the scientific community mainly around how it is diagnosed and treated.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD and ADHD). The Official Guide to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD and ADHD) is Geraldine Markel Ph.D.. Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. is principal of Managing Your Mind Coaching & Seminars, LLC, which provides results-oriented, work/life and performance enhancement programs for leaders and their staffs. Dr. Markel specializes in working with idea generators to keep them on target and to ward off unnecessary distractions. She coaches adults and adolescents with ADD and/or learning disabilities and specializes in working with independent professionals, writers, and graduate students.

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