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Problems Focusing

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

While problems focusing can be caused by many things (stress, anxiety or depression) they can also be caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is one of the most common childhood mental health disorders. It affects millions of children and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. People with ADHD may be hyperactive (over-active) and have difficulty paying attention and controlling behaviors.


Symptoms of ADHD usually appear early in life, often between the ages of 3 and 6. Formerly referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), ADHD is now the preferred term because it describes both primary aspects of the condition: inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior. Most children with ADHD demonstrate a combination of both inattention and hyperactive-compulsive behaviors.

Inattention Behaviors

  • Being easily distracted, daydreaming
  • Confusion, forgetfulness and switching activities frequently
  • Difficulty focusing on one thing—becoming bored quickly
  • Trouble completing homework or tasks and losing things
  • Difficulty following instructions

Hyperactive-Impulsive Behaviors

  • Fidgeting or squirming
  • Talking excessively
  • Constantly in motion and generally restless
  • Being impatient or having trouble waiting his/her turn
  • Interrupting and intruding

Effective Treatment

ADHD is one of the most researched and treatable mental health disorders. There are numerous options for treatment, which is personalized for each individual's needs. Most people respond extremely well to medication. Along with medication, treatment for ADHD usually includes education and counseling, which can help a great deal in reducing or eliminating symptoms.

Most healthy children seem inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive at one time or another. Sometimes these normal factors may be mistaken for ADHD. However, if ADHD is suspected, a parent may want to talk to the family pediatrician. Some pediatricians can assess the child themselves, but many will refer the family to a mental health specialist.

ADHD is not only a disorder that affects children. If you or an adult you know seems to fit the description of these symptoms, it may be a good idea for them to talk to their primary care physician or a mental health professional. 

Take our free, confidential mental health screening to help decide if treatment is right for you.

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