Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Also Known as ADHD)


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by symptoms that include restlessness, hyperactivity, inattentiveness, impulsiveness, attention deficits, and uncontrollable behaviors (Kewley, 2001).

It emerges during childhood and in many cases progresses to later stages of development. Other challenges that people with the disorder encounter include anxiety, depression, and irregular sleep patterns. The symptoms of the disorder are usually noticed during early stages of development and diagnosis is common during school-going stage. Children are generally overactive, impulsive, and inattentive depending on their stage of development. However, these behaviors are severe in children with ADHD. Many children with the disorder also have other conditions such as conduct disorder, anxiety and depression, learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, and Tourette syndrome. Psychotherapy is one of the treatments used for ADHD (Wender, 2001).

Causes of ADHD

The main cause of the disorder is not fully known. However, scientists have come up with certain factors that they believe play a key role in its development. These factors include genes, brain injuries, and environment. Several research studies have shown that ADHD is inherited from parents and the probability of developing the disorder is higher in children whose parents have the disorder than among children whose parents do not have the disorder (Larimer, 2005). Alcohol consumption, drug use, and smoking during pregnancy increase the likelihood of the fetus developing disorders such as ADHD (Kewley, 2001). Other risk factors include premature birth and low birth weight.

Psychological causes of ADHD

There are several emotional and psychological factors that are responsible for ADHD among children. They include low self esteem, bullying at school, parental neglect, rejection, unresolved emotional difficulties, sexual abuse, stressful events such as divorce, and death (Kutscher, 2009).

Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression give rise to intense feelings that result in ADHD symptoms. Children need great parental care and attention during the various stages of development. Lack of attention causes great stress that has adverse effects on their development. On the other hand, environmental stressors such as abandonment and divorce have negative effects on development and contribute towards the development of ADHD (Selikowitz, 2009). Children are greatly affected because unlike adults, they cannot deal with psychological problems on their own. The aforementioned psychological; factors interact with genetic and environmental factors to increase the severity of the disorder.

Psychological treatments

Psychotherapy is the main type of psychological treatment used to treat ADHD. Different types of psychotherapy are used depending on the needs of the child. The most common forms of psychological therapy used include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and behavior therapy (Martin, 2011). Others include social skills training and parent-management training. The main aim of behavior therapy is to teach children how to monitor their actions, act in desired ways, and eradicate behaviors that do not serve them (Selikowitz, 2009).

For instance, children are taught how to deal with difficult emotional situations, do their homework, think before acting, and reward themselves when they behave in desired ways. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an advanced form of therapy that teaches children how to change their thinking and behaviors. The treatment method deals with the adjustment of an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitude (Martin, 2011). CBT does not eradicate the disorder but helps children to deal with the challenges associated with the disorder in an effective manner. For instance, it empowers them to deal with anxiety and depression. According to CBT, an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related (Wender, 2001).

Therefore, it is possible to learn how to change one’s thinking in order to alter feelings and behavior. CBT has several variations that include mindfulness and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. CBT has been shown to be the most effective fro of therapy to use among adults with the disorder. It helps them solve the problems they face in their daily lives and change their thinking in order to alter their behavior. This method is highly effective because it is both action and problem oriented (Wender, 2001).

It solves prevailing problems and helps patients develop strategies to solve the problems. One of the disciplines of behavior therapy is referred to as applied behavior analysis (ABA). It involves modifying behavior by first studying its relationship to the environment and replacing it with another one that serves the individual better. Therapists usually apply operant conditioning by introducing positive reinforcements that encourage individuals to repeat certain behaviors that have been identified as positive and beneficial to them (Larimer, 2005).


ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that develops in childhood and persists through adolescence into adulthood in certain cases. It is characterized by impulsiveness, over activity, and inattentiveness. The main cause of the disorder has not yet been discovered. However, researchers have identified genetic and psychological factors as potential causes. Psychological factors that cause the disorder include low self esteem, bullying at school, parental neglect, rejection, unresolved emotional difficulties, divorce, and sexual abuse. Treatment of ADHD includes medication and psychotherapy. Psychological treatment is effective because it aims to alter the thinking and behaviors of individuals by equipping them with certain coping strategies.


Kewley, G. D. (2001). ADHD: Recognition, Reality and Resolution. New York, NY: ACER Press. Web.

Kutscher, M. (2009). ADHD: Living Without Brakes. New York, NY: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Web.

Larimer, M. P. (2005). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Research Developments. New York, NY: Nova Publishers. Web.

Martin, J. (2011). ADHD: Beyond the Meds. New York, NY: Xulon Press. Web.

Selikowitz, M. (2009). ADHD. London, England: OUP Oxford. Web.

Wender, P. H. (2001). ADHD: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children, Adolescents and Adults. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Web.