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ADHD: A comprehensive guide to symptoms, causes and clinical trial solutions


Olivia Ustariz

Date Published

10 January 2024


ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by difficulties with staying focused, being overly active, and acting without thinking. ADHD can significantly impact a person’s academic, professional, and personal pursuits.

In this blog post, we will explore the various aspects of ADHD, including its symptoms, causes, prevalence, complications, and current treatment options. We will also shed light on how clinical trials can help researchers develop a better understanding of ADHD, investigate potential new treatment options, and ultimately help people with this condition manage their symptoms better.

Read on for a comprehensive understanding of ADHD, and how your participation in ADHD clinical trials could help advance medical science and deliver better health outcomes.


ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can significantly challenge a person’s ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and actions. There are three types of ADHD:

  • Inattentive ADHD: Inattentive ADHD is commonly characterised by difficulties sustaining attention, organising tasks, and following through on responsibilities. As such, people with inattentive ADHD often appear forgetful and easily distracted.
  • Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD: Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is generally signalled by near-constant movement and an inability to act without thinking. Consequently, people with this ADHD subtype can find it difficult to sit still, wait their turn, and engage in quiet tasks.
  • Combination ADHD: Combination ADHD is typically marked by symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

Though the exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, research suggests it may involve a combination of factors, including:

  • Genetics: Research indicates that there is a hereditary component to the development of ADHD, as it often runs in families.
  • Brain function and structure: Studies show that people with ADHD may have variations in the size of certain brain regions, with some appearing smaller and others larger; additionally, they may exhibit an imbalance in the levels or functioning of neurotransmitters.
  • Environmental: Premature delivery, low birth weight, and prenatal exposure to alcohol and tobacco are thought to raise the chances of developing ADHD. Exposure to other environmental toxins, such as lead, during pregnancy or childhood may also contribute to the development of ADHD.
  • Brain injuries: Brain trauma, especially in areas responsible for attention and impulse control, has been associated with an increased risk of developing ADHD.

ADHD often occurs alongside other mental health or neurodevelopmental disorders, as it is a complex condition that affects multiple areas of the brain and can manifest in many ways. These co-occurring conditions can include:

  • Depression: A mental health disorder characterised by persistent or recurring feelings of sadness.
  • Anxiety: A mental health disorder indicated by persistent worry about everyday situations that is out of proportion to the actual circumstances and can be difficult to control.
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD): Mostly diagnosed in childhood, ODD is a behavioural disorder marked by a pattern of anger, hostility, and disobedience towards authority figures.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): A developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour; as such, common symptoms include challenges in social interaction, restricted patterns of behaviour, and variations in sensory processing.
  • Learning disabilities: For instance, dyslexia (difficulties in recognising and processing written words), dyscalculia (difficulties in understanding and processing numbers), and dysgraphia (difficulties in forming letters in writing).

According to Healthdirect, ADHD affects roughly one in twenty Australians, which equates to over 1.2 million people.

ADHD can make everyday activities more challenging and impact all areas of a person’s life. As such, complications of living with ADHD can include:

  • Difficulties with planning, prioritising, and completing tasks, which can lead to problems at work, school, and home.
  • Difficulties with maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners, as people with ADHD may struggle with communication, impulsivity, and regulating their emotions.
  • Increased risk of substance abuse, as people with ADHD may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or cope with their symptoms. 
  • Increased risk of accidents, as people with ADHD may struggle with inattention and poor decision-making.
  • People with ADHD may struggle with impulse control, time management, and organisational skills, which can impact their ability to maintain stable employment, plan their finances, and ultimately avoid financial hardship. 
Diagnosis & Treatment

For a diagnosis of ADHD, you should speak to your GP in the first instance. They can subsequently discuss your concerns and refer you for a specialist assessment with a psychiatrist or paediatrician if necessary. Once a diagnosis of ADHD has been made, there are several treatments available to help manage symptoms, including:

  • Stimulant medications: These medications work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain, which can help improve focus, attention, and impulse control.
  • Non-stimulant medications: These medications also work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain; however, they may be beneficial to people who do not respond well to stimulants.
  • Behavioural therapy: Behavioural therapy primarily uses reinforcement and conditioning to help eliminate unhealthy or self-destructive behaviours. It can help people with ADHD reduce their impulsivity, enhance their organisational skills, and develop effective coping strategies.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talking therapy that focuses on recognising and addressing negative thought patterns to help people respond to problems more effectively. CBT can help people with ADHD change the negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to their symptoms.
  • Lifestyle changes: Healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise, can help regulate mood, enhance cognitive function, and ultimately improve symptoms of ADHD.
Clinical trials for ADHD

While current available treatments for ADHD can be effective for some, they often fall short in managing the full spectrum of symptoms. In fact, 80% of people with ADHD still struggle with symptoms despite available treatment, according to MTP Connect

Fortunately, clinical trials are helping to reverse this trend by exploring new and improved treatment options for ADHD. But what exactly are clinical trials? 

Clinical trials are research studies conducted on human volunteers to investigate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, medications, or interventions. Clinical trials help researchers find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat various health conditions. As such, they play a vital role in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient care.

Why participate in clinical trials?

Clinical trials can inspire hope in people affected by ADHD, as they can pave the way for innovative treatments and a deeper understanding of this complex condition. Here are some key benefits of participating in clinical trials: 

  • Access to new treatments: Participants may receive ground-breaking treatments before they are widely available.
  • Contributing to science: Participation can help advance medical knowledge and contribute to breakthroughs in ADHD treatment.
  • Supporting others: Participation can lead to the development of treatments that may benefit others with ADHD.
  • Expert medical care: During the trial, participants often receive close medical care and monitoring from specialist healthcare professionals. 
  • Potential for personal benefit: Participants may experience improvements in their ADHD symptoms.
How to participate in clinical trials

At Evrima, we make participating in a clinical trial an easy and convenient process. If you are interested in joining a clinical trial for ADHD, here are the steps you need to follow: 

  • Go to the Active Trials page on our website and browse the list of current and upcoming trials for ADHD.
  • Click on the trial that interests you and read the eligibility criteria and other details (where relevant).
  • If you meet the eligibility criteria and/or want to apply, fill out the online registration form with your personal details and some information about your medical history.
  • We will review your application and contact you as soon as a clinical trial that may be of benefit to you opens up.
  • You will then receive further instructions on how to enrol in the trial and what to expect during the trial.

If you have any questions about the clinical trial process, please feel free to submit an enquiry form on our website, and our dedicated Patient Experience team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Final thoughts

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can impair a person’s ability to control their thoughts, feelings, and actions, thereby leading to inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity.

It affects roughly one in twenty Australians and can cause significant problems in all areas of life, including professional performance, personal obligations, and social relationships. Current treatments for ADHD can help some people; however, they often fall short in managing the full spectrum of symptoms.

That is why clinical trials are essential for advancing medical knowledge, exploring innovative new treatments, and helping people with ADHD manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. 

If you are interested in joining a clinical trial for ADHD, please visit the Active Trials page on our website and register your interest today.

For more details about our latest clinical trials, visit the Active Trials page on our website.