ADHD Brain

People throughout history have had what is now considered an ADHD Brain, most of whom did not have the benefit of a specific means of diagnosis or treatment. Research into how the brain functions accelerated in the last 10-20 years of the 20th century. Neurotransmitters, brain chemicals or molecules which cause signals to be passed throughout the brain, have been identified as well as the pathways in which they work. Nearly all the pathways in the brain have now identified specific "neurotransmitters" which are critical for normal brain functioning.

Likewise, studies in patients with each mental disorder have identified specific neurotransmitters which are out of balance, diminished, increased or absent in most patients who are diagnosed with those illnesses. Brain synapses - the connecting space between neurons - require specific neurotransmitters to send normal messages to and from the brain. It is not clear, and more research is needed, to figure out if low levels of transmitters are the direct cause for the illness or a result of the illness, or how often the illness is a result of heredity or an external factor.

It is important to note that more has been learned about what goes on in the brain in the last 30 years than in all of medical history. This is true about those persons with ADHD as well. Because of this, if you, your child or a neighbor have symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) you can find professionals who are trained to diagnose, offer a wide variety of treatment and/or therapy options which can impact the funcionality of the individual brain. Most of all, there is a great deal of hope in navigating the sometimes crazy and frustrating world of ADHD.

History of ADHD

Although symptoms of what we now call ADHD have been described for centuries, it was not formally recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) in their handbook of diagnosis until the late 1980's; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V, Released May of 2013 - current edition)

Symptoms resembling what we now call ADHD may have been first described by Dr. Alexander Crichton in 1798, when he described his patient as having "mental restlessness."

In the early 1900's, symptoms resembling ADHD were labeled as Post Encephalitic Behavior Disorder (1922) and then began to be called, Hyperkinesia or hyperkinetic disorder (1960s). The APA, in 1980, formally recognized Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but as separate from ADHD, which included hyperactivity.

In the late 1980s, the APA listed ADHD as a specific individual diagnosis, noting that this could also be present with and / or cause behavioral issues.

Definition of ADHD

ADHD (Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder) is characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Studies of school aged children estimate that as many as 3-7% of school-aged children may have symptoms of ADHD. The incidence of ADHD appears to be more frequent in boys than girls - two to four times more frequent. ADHD historically was perceived as a disorder of childhood and adolescents, but it is important to know that symptoms of ADHD can persist through out an adults live which can cause great issues for them as well. In fact, DSM - V confirms that in a significant number of individuals their symptoms to not diminish or fade with years.

Causes of ADHD

It has not been determined exactly what causes ADHD; however, certain factors appear to be linked to an increased incidence of ADHD if you have one of the following:

  • Genetics - Parent of Sibling who also has ADHD
  • Environmental Factors
  • Neurological issues and/or brain injuries
  • Diet, including sugar intake and/or food additives

ADHD Symptoms

ADHD Signs and symptoms can be categorized into three diagnostic categories: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive or a combination of both.

Signs of Inattentiveness

  • Inability to focus
  • Daydreaming and confusion
  • Slow to process information
  • Difficulty listening and following instructions

Signs of Hyperactivity

  • Fidgeting
  • Incessant talking
  • Can't sit still, constant need for motion
  • Difficulty with quiet tasks and activities

Signs of Impulsivity

  • Impatience
  • Inability to control emotions and/or outbursts
  • Unable to wait in line or for turn
  • Interrupts conversations and activities

Many questionnaires or surveys are available that will ask if these and other signs indicative of an ADHD Brain are present. However, a qualified health care professional should discuss with you your specific results before you accept a diagnosis of ADHD.

Qualified Professionals

If you or your child is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, a number of professionals can help.

Teachers and school counselors may be the first to recognize early symptoms and direct you to ADHD professionals.

A family doctor or pediatrician can offer an initial diagnosis and refer you to medical and/or mental health professionals who specialize in ADHD.

The ADHD brain can be very complex and a neurologist, or physician who specializes in disorders of your body's nervous system, can accurately diagnose and prescribe treatments which can include medications.

Psychologists and psychiatrists also play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Both can provide counseling, but a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can also prescribe medications.


ADHD is a life-long diagnosis and, with the right professional, you will be able to find the treatment option(s) that will work best for you or your child. Possibilities include:

  • Medication
  • Psychological and/or behavioral therapy
  • Natural remedies
  • Classroom-based interventions
  • Diet

Famous People With ADHD

Having an ADHD Brain does not mean that the individual with ADHD is inferior. The exact opposite is true for many well-known successful individuals, including scientists, actors/actresses, artists, athletes and political figures have lived very creative and productive lives with ADHD including:

Albert Einstein
  • Albert Einstein, physicist
  • Thomas Edison, inventor
  • Jim Carrey, comedian/actor
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, novelist
  • Ansel Adams, photographer
  • Norman Schwartzkopf, military general
  • Vincent Van Gogh, artist
  • Stevie Wonder, musician
  • Andrew Carnegie, steel entrepreneur
  • Patty Duke, actress
  • Michael Jordan, athlete
  • Abraham Lincoln, president


ADHD is a recognized disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyper-activity and lack of impulse control. Although many quizzes and questionnaires detail signs of ADHD, a formal diagnosis needs to be made by a qualified professional. Treatment options can include prescriptions medications, allopathic and alternative medications, counseling, behavior modification, and changes in diet. Children and adults with an ADHD brain will have obstacles to overcome, but can live productive, healthy, happy and, most of all, successful lives.

This site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services.