Finding out exactly what is causing behavioral problems can be difficult,
since symptoms of
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may
also be caused by other problems. The main symptoms of ADHD—inattention,
hyperactivity, and impulsiveness—may also result from:
Giftedness. Some gifted
children will show signs of inattention in class. Often they are not challenged
and are bored. So they lose interest in normal class activities. (It is also
possible for a child to be both gifted and have ADHD.)
Undernutrition. Without proper nutrients, especially in the
first year of life, a child is at risk of not developing normally. This
includes compromised brain development and function.
Abuse or neglect. Emotional problems that often result from
abusive conditions can cause a child to have behavior
Stressful home environment.
Temporary or permanent family or household situations, such as divorce or a
death of a loved one, may cause a child to act differently than normal.
Children can become confused and frightened when there are major changes in
Parenting skills. Sometimes
parents do not know how to effectively handle challenging—but normal—behavior
in a child. If parents are inconsistent or unsure of themselves, their child
may develop behavior problems.
Alcohol or drug abuse (most common in teens and adults). It is important to screen for
alcohol or drug problems, especially in adults, when evaluating behavior
Other medical conditions. Some
other medical conditions have symptoms similar to ADHD. These conditions can be
the primary cause of symptoms, but can also occur along with ADHD (coexist). Children with ADHD often have at least one other condition along with ADHD, such as:
Learning disabilities. Symptoms like those of ADHD,
especially inattention, are common when children are in learning environments
that are too difficult for them.
In order to best treat symptoms of ADHD, a doctor must
carefully investigate these other possibilities as a contributor to or cause of
When symptoms are primarily a result of ADHD,
they develop early in life (before the age of 7) and get worse when school
demands are placed on the child. Symptoms of ADHD can be expected to continue
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.