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Specialist Advice — 12 minutes

Trouble concentrating? It could be ADHD.

Michel Cameron, PhD
Michel Cameron, PhD
Associate Director, Pharmacogenomics, Medical Science Liaison

  • “He always does things at the last minute!”
  • “Her parents are not strict enough and we can see the result!”
  • “He can’t focus on anything!”
  • “Lack of willpower – where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

All of these comments, sometimes harsh, are well known to people living with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD). Living with ADHD clearly has its challenges, but the better we understand this disorder, the better we can equip ourselves to manage it.

Fact: It is estimated that 5%-9% of children and adolescents and 3%-5% of adults suffer from ADHD. [1] These people are also more likely to suffer from depression, mood disorders, anxiety and sleep disorders. [2]

Diagnosing ADHD

ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children and persists into adulthood in about 50% of cases. [11,12] Experts now recognize ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder, but diagnosis is not always obvious, especially when ADHD is combined with other disturbances or illnesses such as oppositional defiant disorder, language disorder and anxiety. [3,4,5] Consequently, diagnostic tests should be performed by pediatricians or mental health professionals who have experience in diagnosing and treating ADHD.

Diagnosis is based on observing the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity as well as a comprehensive assessment of psychiatric health. [6] This preliminary examination is essential, as treatment failure is often due to a psychiatric component that was not detected and treated. This may make the imbalance worse.

When school grades do not meet expectations, ADHD is often the main suspect for parents and teachers looking for a culprit. However, while pressure to perform in school is an incentive to correct the problem quickly, a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the student reduces the risk of missing an important part of the problem and making the situation worse.

The role of genetics

The exact cause of ADHD has not yet been clearly defined, but a recent study confirms that genetics play a major role. A person’s DNA may indeed be a predisposing factor in developing ADHD. [7, 13, 14, 15] Environmental factors are also believed to be involved: family context, diet, lifestyle habits, etc.

Currently, there is no genetic test to predict the risk of developing ADHD.

A parent with ADHD has a 50% chance of having a child with ADHD. [8]

Treating ADHD

The most efficacious treatment usually involves combining medication with psychological and behavioural therapies. Close co-operation between therapists, doctors, teachers and parents is essential. Consequently, team meetings actively contribute to the success of the treatment.


Medication often reduces hyperactivity and improves concentration. To avoid potential side effects, the physician must carefully monitor the dosage of the stimulant medication to determine the optimal amount. In addition, media attention surrounding ADHD in recent years has led to a growing concern about the rise in prescriptions for psychostimulants.[9,10]

Psychological therapy

Behaviour modification, often combined with specific educational interventions, is now the most recommended therapy for children and adults.

Living with ADHD

ADHD does not only have disadvantages. For example, hyperactivity can be useful for people who work in occupations where endurance is important or who have to manage multiple activities at once in the same day. By seeking to better understand the condition and positive aspects associated with it, we may be able to make the most of it and develop our full potential.

For professional support, we’re here.

We offer services that can help your doctor identify the right medication at the right dose to treat ADHD.

Do you have a medical prescription for one of these tests? Book an appointment online or contact Biron Health Group’s customer service at 1 833 590-2712.

  1. Polanczyk, G. et coll., « The Worldwide Prevalence of ADHD: A Systematic Review and Metaregression Analysis » American Journal of Psychiatry, 2007, 164(6):942-948.
  2. Jensen, P.S., et coll., « ADHD comorbidity findings from the MTA study: comparing comorbid subgroups ». J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 2001. 40(2): p. 147-58.
  3. Goldman, L.S. et coll. « Diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents », JAMA, 1998, 279(14):1100-1107.
  4. Sciberras, E. et coll. « Language problems in children with ADHD: a community-based study », Pediatrics, 2014, 133(5):793-800.
  5. Charach, A. et coll. « Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Effectiveness of Treatment in At-Risk Preschoolers; Long-Term Effectiveness in All Ages; and Variability in Prevalence, Diagnosis, and Treatment », AHRQ Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, no 44, oct. 2011, Rockville, MD.
  6. CADDRA, Lignes directrices canadiennes sur le TDAH, 4e édition, 2018.
  7. Demontis et coll. « Discovery of the first genome-wide significant risk loci for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder », Nature Genetics, 2019, 51:63-75.
  8. Faraone, S.V. et A.E. Doyle, « The nature and heritability of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder », Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 2001, 10:299-316.
  9. Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec. Trouble de déficit de l’attention/hyperactivité — Agir ensemble pour mieux soutenir les jeunes – Document de soutien à la formation, 2016.
  10. Polanczyk, G.V. et coll. « ADHD prevalence estimates across three decades: an updated systematic review and meta-regression analysis », International Journal of Epidemiology, 2014, 43(2):434-442.
  11. Faraone, S.V., J. Biederman, and E. Mick, The age-dependent decline of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analysis of follow-up studies. Psychological Medicine, 2006. 36(2): p. 159-165.
  12. Wilens, T.E., S.V. Faraone, and J. Biederman, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults. JAMA, 2004. 292(5): p. 619-23.
  13. Biederman, J., et al., The CBCL as a screen for psychiatric comorbidity in paediatric patients with ADHD. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2005. 90(10): p. 1010-1015.
  14. Franke, B., et al., The genetics of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults, a review. Mol Psychiatry, 2012. 17(10): p. 960-87.
  15. Faraone, S.V. and E. Mick, Molecular genetics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Psychiatr Clin North Am., 2010. 33(1): p. 159-180.
Michel Cameron, PhD
Michel Cameron, PhD
Associate Director, Pharmacogenomics, Medical Science Liaison
Seeking to make the science of genetics accessible for everyone, in 2014 Michel Cameron co-founded BiogeniQ, a company specialized in genetics, where he directed the design and development of pharmacogenomics tests. Today this company is owned by Biron. Michel Cameron holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the Université de Montréal and completed postdoctoral studies in pharmacogenomics at the Montreal Heart Institute’s Pharmacogenomics Centre.