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The below information is purely for educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. This content should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (commonly known as ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder. It is a complex brain disorder that has many symptoms, including but not limited to restlessness, trouble concentrating, and impulsiveness. Although ADHD is associated with other features such as executive dysfunction and emotional dysregulation, these are commonly observed in other disorders and are not core diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

ADHD Definition

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people’s behaviour and is usually diagnosed in the early stages of life. However, there is an increasing recognition for diagnosis in adults who were not diagnosed in childhood. Notably, since 2020, searches online for information specifically on ADHD in adults and ADHD in women has increased greatly and searches for the term ‘do I have ADHD?’ have increased by almost 300% between March 2020 and March 2022.

Person sitting on bench in a park holding a fidget spinner

What Causes ADHD?

it is not known what the exact causes of ADHD are, however, there are factors that are thought to cause ADHD.


Genetics can play a factor, as ADHD tends to run in families, and the presence of a first degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) with ADHD increases the likelihood of an individual having ADHD.

Brain structure and function

It is also thought that people with ADHD have different brain structures than those without the condition. There is also research that shows people with ADHD may have different brain function than those without it e.g., an imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters in the brain.

How to get diagnosed with ADHD?

For a person showing symptoms of ADHD, an appointment with a healthcare professional or GP is the first step on the way to an ADHD diagnosis. It is also useful if the individual keeps a diary of symptoms and a note of when symptoms first presented themselves. It is also important to ask family if there is a history of ADHD. Although this is not an essential criterion for a diagnosis, it can help as ADHD is more common in individuals with a family member who is also affected by ADHD.

Diagnosing a child or teenager with ADHD

Signs of ADHD in children can often be difficult to spot. If a parent suspects their child or teenager may have ADHD, they may be asked to undertake a period of “watchful waiting” to see if symptoms improve. They may be asked to join ADHD-focused parent training or an ADHD education programme. Specialists are often required to help with the diagnosis if symptoms do not improve.

Diagnosing adults with ADHD

When there are signs of ADHD in adults, a GP will assess the symptoms. They will discuss childhood behaviours as well as whether the current symptoms can be explained by other medical or mental health conditions. A diagnosis will usually require a specialist, however.

ADHD Symptoms

The main symptoms of ADHD are struggling to pay attention, being overactive, and being impulsive.

ADHD symptoms are commonly grouped into two main categories:

  1. Inattentiveness
  2. Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

People who have ADHD may suffer with either or both types of symptoms. ADHD is usually diagnosed in children, but an individual can be diagnosed at any age. To make a diagnosis, even in adulthood, it is necessary to demonstrate that the symptoms have been present by the age of 12. It is also necessary that these symptoms are present in more than one environment (i.e both home and school). Individual symptoms of ADHD are very common in the general population; however, it is only once an individual meets all these diagnostic criteria that a diagnosis can be made.

Inattentiveness symptoms include:

  • Short attention span
  • Forgetfulness
  • Being unable to stick to menial or time-consuming tasks
  • Appearing to be unable to listen
  • Finding it difficult to successfully follow instructions
  • Finding it difficult to organise tasks

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness symptoms include:

  • Excessive fidgeting
  • Being unable to sit still
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Excessive talking
  • Acting without thinking
  • Lack of patience
  • Interrupting conversations

ADHD Treatment

How to Treat ADHD

ADHD treatment varies depending on the type and severity of symptoms.. It may be that some people with ADHD don’t need any treatment. Whilst others may require sessions to help manage specific symptoms, counselling, or prescription medication.

What medication is used for ADHD

Medication can help those with ADHD. Types of ADHD medication can include:

  • Methylphenidate
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Dexamfetamine
  • Atomoxetine
  • Guanfacine

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Medicinal Cannabis

Research into the effect of medicinal cannabis on ADHD is limited. However, following the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes in 2018, there has been a rise in people looking towards medical cannabis. When first-line therapies have not proved effective at reducing symptoms, medical cannabis may be considered an option for ADHD.

For further information and to find out more about medical cannabis, click here to discover more about our award-winning Curaleaf Access Scheme. Alternatively, complete an eligibility assessment now. Once complete, one of our clinicians will review your application and advise whether you are eligible for progression to an appointment.

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Frequently Asked Questions about ADHD

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ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

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To get a diagnosis for ADHD, would require a medical professional. The diagnosis is typically only made by specialists, however typically the first port of call is a GP, who can refer an individual to the most appropriate service locally. People can get assessed via the NHS or privately.

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If you are consistently struggling to pay attention, being overactive and being impulsive, these are potential signs of ADHD. These symptoms, however, are very common in the general population so even if these are present it does not necessarily mean that an individual has ADHD.

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Yes, ADHD is considered a disability in the UK and therefore employers or schools are required to make reasonable adjustments to support individuals with ADHD.

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There is currently no evidence to suggest that ADHD worsens with age. Symptoms tend to improve when a correct and proper treatment plan is in place for an individual.

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There are many different things people with ADHD may struggle with, but their main struggles tend to be paying attention and staying focused on tasks. Conversely the symptoms of ADHD may have paradoxical benefits for certain areas of life.

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ADD is sometimes used to describe inattentive ADHD, but this is generally considered an outdated term.