is adhd genetic

Is ADHD Genetic?

This article will look at attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and answer the question, is ADHD genetic? 

Table of Contents

What is ADHD?

While there is no single cause of ADHD, many researchers repeatedly ask the question, “Is ADHD genetic?” ADHD is a mental illness characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Inability to focus: People with ADHD may have difficulty focusing on a specific task.
  • Fidgeting: Hyperactivity is a common ADHD symptom. Affected individuals may fidget if they are asked to keep still.
  • Inability to complete a task: ADHD causes an inability to focus which makes it difficult for people to complete a task.
  • Easily distracted: If you talk to a person with ADHD, you may find they easily become distracted by what’s around them.

What Causes ADHD?

The genetics of ADHD could come into play but it is not the only thing that increases the risk. Here’s what needs to be considered. 

Genetics and ADHD

The short answer to if ADHD is connected to genetics is that, yes, ADHD is genetic. Research shows that people with a family history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to develop the condition.2


Scientists are unsure of the genetics of ADHD, but some suspect it may be because people with ADHD have unusual brain structures that are passed down through generations. Others think it is a chemical imbalance that is inherited. 

Environmental Factors

Genetics and ADHD

Environmental factors could also contribute to the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These include:
  • Unsupportive parents or caregivers
  • Poverty
  • A disorganized home environment
  • Maternal depression

Risk Factors That Can Influence ADHD

Several risk factors can make attention deficit hyperactivity disorder more likely to occur. Although unproven, some say an unhealthy diet can cause ADHD to develop. On a different note, a traumatic brain injury can alter the structure and/or chemicals in the brain causing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to occur.


If a mother smokes or drinks while pregnant, she is also increasing the risk that her baby could be born with ADHD. Furthermore, premature babies and babies born underweight are more likely to develop ADHD. 

Comorbidity of ADHD

People with ADHD are likely to develop comorbid (simultaneously occurring) conditions including the following:

  • Reading disability: ADHD causes an inability to focus, making reading difficult.
  • Autism: Individuals with autism are often also diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Tics: It is not unusual for people with ADHD to develop nervous tics.
  • Tourette’s: ADHD is the most common comorbid condition in people with Tourette’s Syndrome.3

ADHD and Genetics

Those wondering if ADHD is genetic may be interested in the following genetics and ADHD facts. 

First Degree Relatives

Your first-degree relatives are those directly related to you such as your parents and siblings. If these relatives have a family history of ADHD, you are more likely to develop it. 

Twins More Likely to Have ADHD Than Singletons

A genetic study will show that twins who share several phenotypes are at higher risk for ADHD than singletons. Additionally, if one twin has ADHD the other is likely to have it as well. 

Missing DNA

An ADHD genetic test published on The Lancet has shown that people with ADHD have small pieces of DNA that are either missing or duplicated in the brain.

Thinner Brain Tissue

A genetic study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has found that individuals with ADHD have thinner tissues in the areas of the brain that control attention. 

ADHD and the Brain

Neurotransmitters are responsible for sending messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that affect brain function. One genetic study reveals these may unusually travel through the body causing ADHD to occur.


Researchers also believe that ADHD may be caused by the nerve pathways neurotransmitters travel through. This sequence could be inherited by one’s family which further answers the question, is ADHD hereditary?

Treatment for ADHD

Once scientists conduct an ADHD genetic test, they can determine its underlying causes and come up with the best ADHD treatment methods. These include the following:

  • Medication: ADHD medication typically comes in the form of stimulants that increase focus. Non-stimulant medications are available as well.
  • Counseling: A counselor can provide a patient with coping tools so they can effectively deal with ADHD symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy: There are many types of psychotherapy (talk therapy) available for ADHD treatment. Generally, it works to get to the root of the condition and aims to replace harmful behavior with positive thought patterns.
  • Brian mapping: Brain mapping is a type of imaging used to capture brain activity so scientists can discover abnormal behavior and find the best form of treatment. 

Brain Mapping for ADHD

Brain mapping is often integrated with ADHD treatment. It is a type of imaging that captures unusual brain activity that may be contributing to ADHD symptoms. Once providers understand how the brain functions, they can come up with the most effective ADHD treatment methods. 

Type of Brain Scans

Three kinds of brain scans may be used in neurofeedback brain mapping. These include CT scans, which are a type of x-ray that does not use contrast dye. MRI scans use magnetic field radio waves to produce images of the brain. Finally, unlike MRIs and CTs that show the brain’s structure, a PET scan shows the brain’s function. 

Why Choose J. Flowers for Brain Mapping?

Several clinics offer brain mapping services, but J. Flowers is known for its superior equipment and in-house devices.


J. Flowers offers brain mapping neuro-engineering used by NASA and Olympians. Our equipment can treat and diagnose mental illness and measure growth and healing as wellness increases. We offer in-house services, so patients don’t need to travel from clinic to clinic to get the help they need.


Now that scientists know the answer to the question, is ADHD genetic, they can come up with treatment methods that are effective in improving quality of life. Reach out to J. Flowers to take advantage of the psychopathology methods that can help you achieve optimal wellness. You will be happy that you did.