ADHD And The Various Factors That Contribute To Its Development

Updated April 2, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Do You Want To Learn More About ADHD And How To Manage It?

Researchers and doctors have hypothesized for years about the potential causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including genetic factors. One of the questions that often arises when discussing the disorder is "Is ADHD genetic?" In recent years, the condition has been discussed more openly, especially as the number of diagnoses continues to rise. However, despite the increased conversation, the root cause of ADHD remains unknown. It is a complex condition that affects millions of people; because it affects so many individuals, research suggests that there may be a combination of factors that lead to the development of ADHD instead of one single reason. Environmental factors, genetics, and neurological factors may all play a part in the development of the disorder.

Because ADHD is so complex and the cause is still unknown, it can be essential to learn about the condition and how it may affect an individual’s life. It is important to remember the following:

  • The cause of its development is still unknown.

  • Symptoms are often manageable.

  • There are a variety of treatment options available.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect people from childhood into adulthood. Symptoms often include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and trouble paying attention for long periods of time. These symptoms can affect an individual’s daily life, especially when it comes to completing academic or professional work. Because of the inattention, finishing assignments, staying present in meetings, or following instructions may be a struggle for individuals with ADHD. Early struggles with school is often a catalyst for those who receive a diagnosis in childhood.

The understanding of ADHD has changed significantly as more research and information has contributed to the discourse. The disorder was priorly known as ADD, or simply attention deficit disorder. In 1994, the name transitioned from ADD to ADHD include the classification of subtypes. Forbes notes, “ADHD presents in three types: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive and combined, which is a mix of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive.” Having these three types has expanded the symptoms those with ADHD might experience and offers more language for those symptoms. ADHD can be challenging, but a further understanding of the disorder, its symptoms, and treatment options can assist individuals in managing it effectively. 

What The Experts Say About ADHD Development

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Why ADHD develops has been debated by experts for many years. Though there are many theories and potential factors that may contribute to the disorder, there is no conclusive evidence on what specifically causes it. Some experts think that there is a combination of factors that contribute to developing ADHD and gaining a deeper understanding of the possible genetic, environmental, nutritional, and societal effects of the disorder must all be considered. Some research suggests that ADHD neurotransmitters (a deficit of dopamine and serotonin) can be the cause of ADHD. Because ADHD is so complex and presents in many different ways, the research is complicated and ongoing. Studies often use different methods and strategies to address a variety of hypotheses and may only illuminate one aspect of the disorder. However, conducting a large amount of research could eventually lead to connections between individual aspects or symptoms.

Even though experts may disagree on the cause of ADHD, work is being done to determine which demographics might be most affected. Time references details that shows “a snapshot of the rates of ADHD broken down by gender, race and family income, the information could help public health officials better understand who is being diagnosed with the condition and potentially find better ways of providing support to those families, both in school and at home.” The survey concluded that the continued surveillance of diagnosed ADHD is warranted to support the potential benefits of treatment. In understanding the demographics most affected by ADHD, experts could better understand the disorder as a whole. Continuous studies could show patterns in prevalence, symptoms, and response to treatment that could lead to more effective strategies for treating the disorder. 


It is important to remember that symptoms of ADHD can vary from individual to individual and may impact them at different levels. However, some of the most commonly expressed symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Difficulty paying attention: This is probably the most commonly reported symptom, as evidenced by its ties to the name of the disorder.  

  • Being easily distracted: This symptom is often confused with difficulty paying attention but actually highlights a separate issue; if an ADHD individual is able to pay attention, they are still more likely than those without ADHD to become distracted from the topic at hand and potentially miss important information. 

  • Impulsivity: Impulsivity may lead to procrastination and poor-decision making that can affect long term goals an individual may have. 

  • Difficulty completing tasks: When an individual is struggling to complete a task despite having the necessary knowledge or skills, it may be indicative of ADHD. 

  • Hyperactivity: ADHD is associated with neurotransmitter overactivity which can contribute to overactivity in the areas of the brain that control movement or behavior, leading to hyperactivity in many ADHD individuals.

  • Trouble with time management/organization: ADHD can cause problems with self-control, which can manifest through difficulty making a schedule and/or sticking to it. 

  • Struggles with controlling emotions: Similar to time management, ADHD can affect an individual’s ability to control impulses, emotions, thoughts, or behaviors. 

These symptoms can make certain aspects of life more challenging, but ADHD is a treatable condition and many individuals who seek treatment are able to manage the symptoms effectively and find success in their personal and professional lives.

Do You Want To Learn More About ADHD And How To Manage It?

Treatment Options

There are many potential treatment options available for individuals with ADHD. Because the disorder is so complex and many elements are still not fully understood, there is no universal treatment option that works for everyone. Those with ADHD may find that the best option is a combination of many separate treatment options. Three of the most commonly recommended treatment options are:

  • Medication - Stimulants are often prescribed to individuals with ADHD to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity or impulsivity. Medication can be highly effective in managing many ADHD symptoms, but it is not a universal fix. The best medicine for an individual will depend on their specific symptoms, and they should consult a doctor or primary care provider for more information. 

  • Lifestyle Changes - Small changes like good sleep habits, exercising regularly, and eating healthily may contribute to mitigating ADHD symptoms. These habits are beneficial to overall health and can have a positive effect on mental health also. Lifestyle changes are not a substitute for professional help but may be used cohesively with other treatment options. 

  • Therapy - Therapy can provide ADHD individuals with strategies to manage their condition more effectively in a supportive environment. It can also be a place to discuss other treatment options and gain a fuller understanding of what is or is not working. Therapy may also help the individual improve their communication skills when it comes to discussing ADHD.

Benefits Of Online Therapy

Online therapy may be a helpful option for those wanting to learn more about ADHD. Seeking professional help could help an individual gain deeper insight into how the disorder affects their personal life and relationships. An ADHD diagnosis may also cause an emotional impact, which therapy can provide support and guidance for. Therapy could also be a space to address any related mental health concerns. If an individual is experiencing symptoms that don’t align with ADHD, a therapist could help address those issues and create strategies to overcome them. Online therapy can be a great opportunity to connect with a specialist and gain knowledge and resources that might otherwise be unavailable. 

People with ADHD may find online therapy especially effective because of the flexibility and anonymity it offers. Flexible scheduling from the comfort of home is often much easier to accommodate than regularly scheduled face-to-face appointments in a traditional therapy setting. Those with an ADHD diagnosis may also seek a place to ask questions freely and learn more about the disorder; a therapist can potentially provide answers and resources that make the diagnosis more manageable. Fortunately, studies support online therapy for patients with ADHD. One study aimed to “explore how adult patients with ADHD and their therapists experienced therapy sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic in three different settings: face-to-face with the therapist wearing a face mask, via telephone, or via videoconferencing.” The study found no significant differences regarding session flow, post-session positivity, satisfaction, or therapeutic alliance.


The understanding of ADHD, its symptoms, and potential treatments are changing all the time. Right now, the cause of its development is still unknown, but research is being done on various factors and their potential impact on the disorder. More information is available now than ever about ADHD symptoms and possible treatments. Medication, therapy, and healthy lifestyle habits are just a few possible options to mitigate ADHD symptoms. With the right resources and support, individuals with ADHD can have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

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