HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, usually shortened to ADHD, is when you have difficulty concentrating on something for a long time or get easily distracted. You may have a lot of energy and say or do things without thinking, so it’s very difficult for you to control your behavior.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is similar but without the hyperactivity so you don’t have quite so much energy – the main problem for people with ADD is finding it difficult to concentrate.

ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in children, but we’re not sure what causes it – it is thought to run in families, and may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. As you get older you might find that the symptoms improve – about 30-50% of people continue to have symptoms as they grow up.

It can be hard to concentrate on things when you are growing up so if you have some of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have ADHD – you should go to see your GP as only a specialist can decide if you have ADHD or not.

Treating ADHD

ADHD affects one or two children out of every 100, and is more common in boys than in girls.

There is no test for ADHD, so a specialist would need to talk to you and maybe your parents about the difficulties you are having and find the best way to help.

There are a lot of different options to help. There is a range of self-help options available, talking therapies with a psychologist or counsellor, or medication. Talking to your GP is the best place to start getting help and they will talk with you about which option would work best for you. 

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD may include the following:

  • Feeling restless
  • Talking a lot and interrupting others
  • Being easily distracted
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Getting bored quickly
  • Saying or doing things without thinking
  • Fidgeting or difficulty sitting still
  • Being impatient or having trouble waiting for things

Related Conditions

If you would like more information about behavioural disorders and the ways they affect young people, you can visit the YoungMinds website


Medication should not be the first suggestion for young people with ADHD – only if your symptoms are quite bad and other support has not helped should medication be given.

Where medication is appropriate, recommended ones include methylphenidate (Ritalin) and atomoxetine. These medications may help reduce hyperactivity and improve your concentration. Your doctor will assess which, if any, medication is right for you, but you should ask your doctor any questions you have about taking the medication.

Other options for treating ADHD include psychological therapy, where you talk with a professional on a one-to-one basis about your feelings, mood and behavior, and making changes to your lifestyle including diet and exercise – young people have found that certain foods and drinks have negative effects on their behavior.

Adhd and ritalin listing
Taking Ritalin to treat ADHD
It really helps me to focus on stuff

Common medications for this condition

  • Atomoxetine

    Other names:


  • Dexamfetamine

    Other names:

  • Methylphenidate

    Other names:

    Equasym XL"ECK-wa-sim"

    Medikinet XL"medi-KIE-net"

    Matoride XL"MAT-o-ride"

    Xenidate XL"ZEN-i-date"

    Ritalin ®"RIT-a-lin"

    Concerta XL ®"con-SERT-a"