Is ADHD a Mental Illness?

In the UK 13-19 May is Mental Health Awareness Week. I often get asked the followin question:

Is ADHD A mental illness?

Yes it is. If you have been newly diagnosed with ADHD or you suspect that your child may have ADHD, understanding that ADHD is a mental illness may be very distressful. So what does mental illness mean? It refers to any condition that affects a person’s mood, thinking or behaviour. Mental illness is a very broad term. Some examples being anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

The three main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivityimpulsivity and inattention. All of these impact behavior, mood and thinking. That’s why ADHD meets the criteria for mental illness.

ADHD is a Behavioural Disorder

Few people use the term mental illness around ADHD. In the UK ADHD in children is referred to as a behavioural disorder. Behaviour is brain based. The three main criteria for ADHD diagnosis are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and distractibility.

Mental illness affects over 20% of children. Mental illness is a combination of nature, versus nurture. It is largely hereditary, however environmental factors and stress do play a large role. We’re still learning about how the brain and body chemistry influence behavior. And the more we learn, the more stigma around mental illness will decrease.

Why do you need an ADHD diagnosis?

If you are concerned about labelling your child, please understand that the term ADHD doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the label opens doors to get the right help for yourself or your child. With the right tools those with ADHD can be just as successful if not more so than their peers.

If you have just found out that your child has ADHD there is a lot you can do. The most important thing you can do right now is to become an informed parent.

My book “Own Your ADHD – Discover Your True Potential” is available on kindle and paperback. Download here

There is more information on my youtube channel, subscribe here.

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