ADHD is an extremely common disorder that is characterized by difficulty paying attention, distractibility and hyperactivity. And some say it's even more common than previously thought. For one, it's now believed to be common in adults - not just children - and that a diagnosis of ADHD doesn't always have all the symptoms commonly associated with it.
That means you don't have to be hyperactive to have ADHD, though what you have would then be characterized by ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, not Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
It turns out there are several types of ADHD each with its own criteria. There's the typical hyperactive form and then the inattentive form, characterized by poor attention. And then there's the combined form, which has both. That puts the total at three, but some have argued for the existence of six different types.
There are good and bad aspects to this wider approach. On the one hand, it means that effected adults will greater understand what's going on in their life and potentially get access to treatment. On the other, it's part of a trend that increasingly makes normal human experiences into mental disorders.
After all, it's only human to occasionally feel restless, unable to focus, or distractible. And despite claims of some ADHD proponents, there's still no real test for ADHD like there is for Diabetes. There are diagnostic lists, but ultimately no black and white physical signs of the condition.
Yet there is research being done into this, and the signs seem to be that there is some evidence on a neural level for ADHD. Importantly, ADHD is genetic, meaning it runs in families.
Treatment for ADHD is no simple matter. Although the medications seem to be safe, they are potent stimulants, all of which have been used as street drug. Adderall, for instance, is also popular as "speed." While medications work most of the time, especially when combined with supportive therapy, it's not clear what that means.
Stimulant medications are, after all, also used by college studies to cram for tests. Some say that they would help anyone focus and be less impulsive. Proponents respond that stimulants seem to have a paradoxical calming effect on people with ADHD. Instead of making them hyperactive and energetic, stimulants might calm them down and help them be focused.
Ultimately, everyone is a little ADD. Just like everyone is occasionally a little depressed, a little anxious. It's when the symptoms are serious that treatment is called for.
Author David Gurevich is a entrepreneur with a love for biology. You can catch him at his site, Health and Life, a Medical Blog where he talks about subjects like Comparing Zoloft vs Prozac.