Causes of hyperactivity disorders and information for hyperactive children and adults

hyperactivity disorder - information to help hyperactive children

Select a Topic

  1. What is Hyperactivity?
  2. Diagnosing Hyperactivity
  3. What Causes Hyperactivity?
  4. Help for Hyperactivity
  5. More Information on Hyperactivity

What is Hyperactivity?

Hyperactivity refers to a physical state in which a person is easily excitable and exhibits an abnormally high level of activity. People who are said to be hyperactive are constantly moving and on the go.

A hyperactive person may react emotionally, be easily distracted, be impulsive, and have a short attention span. They also generally struggle to participate in activities that require them to sit still. They also talk a lot.

Many people have some of these characteristics naturally incorporated into their personality, but it differs from person to person. Hyperactivity is not easily defined because it often depends on the judgment of the assessor.

What may appear to be hyperactive to one person may not seem excessive to another. However, when hyperactivity starts to become a problem for either the individual or others, it may be then classified as a medical disorder.

Hyperactivity in Children

Generally speaking, when dealing with children, hyperactivity is often considered more of a problem for their schools and parents than for the child. But there are a number of cases where many hyperactive children are unhappy or even depressed.

When dealing with other peers socially, hyperactive children may exhibit behaviors that may make them a target for bullying, or make it harder to connect with other children. Schoolwork may be more difficult, and hyperactive kids are frequently punished for their behavior. Hyperactivity in teenagers can also present similar problems.

Hyperactivity and Related Conditions

Hyperactivity is commonly associated with other conditions like ADHD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and autism.

The Difference Between Hyperactivity and ADHD


This generally refers to a person who is hyperactive and has difficulty concentrating, as well as keeping their minds focused on a task.


Alternatively, a person who is is hyperactive will show the hyperactive symptoms of ADHD, but their attention span, focus, and ability to concentrate are not affected at all.


Diagnosing Hyperactivity

Generally, children and adults who are often labeled as fidgety are good candidates for further diagnosis. In children, hyperactivity is often noticed because child is constantly moving about with a high level of energy.

Often times, this may interfere with their schoolwork, or even their ability to play in groups. Other signs include excessive talking or running, even when instructed to do otherwise. In adults, hyperactivity also causes subjects to act antsy, and may make it difficult for them to relax.

Hyperactivity is usually diagnosed with the help of a professional by taking into account different situations in which the subject displays signs of hyperactive behavior.

This often requires the help of outside witnesses, especially in the case of children or with hyperactivity in teenagers. In many cases, a child's or teen's teacher will notice signs of hyperactivity even before a parent. In order to aid diagnosis, it's often helpful to get the input of the child's teachers.

What should be done about hyperactivity?

The first thing to do if you suspect that you or your child is hyperactive is to have an assessment. Many well-meaning doctors simply prescribe very strong drugs without having the patient assessed by a psychologist to determine what the problem really is.

Other causes of hyperactivity symptoms can include food intolerance, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), allergies, perceptual difficulties, nutritional problems, candida, hyperthyroidism, Tourette's syndrome, brain dysfunction, family and/or emotional problems, poor discipline, anxiety, depression, and other conditions.

Each of these problems would require different treatments, and some may even be exacerbated by prescription medications. Assessing before prescribing is the golden rule!

If you have already been assessed, diagnosed, and are already taking prescription medication, be aware that there ARE alternatives! In addition, there are many safe, effective natural supplements for hyperactive children.

What are the Causes of Hyperactivity?

In the past, there has been a great deal of focus on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a cause of hyperactivity. However, other conditions can cause it as well.

Normal young children can be very lively and have short attention spans. Hyperactivity in teenagers can also be the normal result of puberty. Children who are bored, suffering from mental conflict or having problems at home - which may even include sexual abuse - can be hyperactive.

The disorder has a large range of effects on children. Some have learning disabilities while others may be very gifted. Sometimes even both can exist in the same child.

Hyperactivity can also occur because of problems with hearing or vision. Overactive thyroid, lead poisoning, depression, a lack of sleep, anxiety, or a range of other psychiatric illnesses can also be associated with the disorder.

Hyperactivity is sometimes also associated with mania. More severe cases of hyperactivity can be very harmful if left untreated, since hyperactive people seldom think about the consequences of their actions.

Factors Contributing to Hyperactive Behavior
  • Younger children are more active than older ones and have a shorter attention span
  • Boys tend to be more physically active than girls
  • Teenagers may display hyperactive behavior during puberty
  • Caffeine and sugar intake can contribute to increased energy levels and rowdiness
  • Problems at home may also contribute to a person being 'hyped-up' and can cause him or her to act out


Causes of Hyperactivity
  • Learning disorders
  • Sexual abuse
  • An overactive thyroid
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mania
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Drugs
  • Prescription medication


Help for Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is often treated using conventional prescription medications, including stimulants as well as the non-stimulant drugs.

While there is a place for prescription medication in certain cases of hyperactivity, careful consideration and caution should be taken regarding possible side effects.

There are also alternative treatment options available for treating adults with hyperactivity. Making simple changes in diet, sleep, exercise, and routine can help. Even trying more involved approaches like incorporating relaxation therapies such as guided imagery, meditation techniques, or yoga can be beneficial.

There are also other ways to help maintain harmony, health, and systemic balance in the brain and nervous system, without side effects or sedation.

More Information on Hyperactivity

Treatment Options for Hyperactivity

While there is a place for prescription medication in certain cases of hyperactivity, careful consideration should be taken regarding possible side effects and cautions.

While it seems that prescription medications are extremely common, it’s important to realize that there are alternatives.

Osteopathy. Osteopathy refers to treatment designed to focus on maintaining proper functioning of the muscles and bones. It is particularly useful for treating problems with the ligaments and spine. This can be a very effective treatment for hyperactive children, as it works to help increase blood flow and breathing in the body, which can produce a relaxing effect. Improving these functions also means enabling better concentration and brain health.

Nutritional therapy.  Although we hear it all the time, many people still don’t fully appreciate the value of a diet full of proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Since many of the foods we eat are refined or processed, we often miss out on the essential nutrients that keep our bodies functioning at peak levels. Nutritional therapy aims to fight hyperactivity by eliminating from the diet foods that may cause hyperactivity and replacing them with foods that will provide the nutrition needed to restore balance.

Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a well-known treatment designed to improve energy flow and restore balance in the body. The treatment involves poking long, thin needles into pressure points around the body to improve the flow of energy, which is called “Qi”.  The use of needles may scare some, in which case the treatment can be replaced with massage or simply applying pressure in key locations. Often times, acupuncture can be an excellent cure for hyperactivity, as it focuses on releasing pent-up energy in the body.

No matter which of these treatments you pursue, be sure to consult a team of experts to help you make the best decisions regarding treatment.


Getting a Proper Diagnosis

When going for a diagnosis for hyperactivity, it’s important to provide as much information to your doctor as you can.

More information will help them better understand your unique situation and make a more accurate diagnosis. It can also help them to decide on the proper treatment.

Some of the questions your doctor may ask are listed below:

  • How long have you been experiencing symptoms of hyperactivity?
  • How old is the person displaying signs of hyperactivity? Some children are naturally active at young ages.
  • Did the subject experience any childhood disorders such as a learning disability, autism, or anything else?
  • Are there any environmental factors involved (such as family troubles, or troubles socially)?
  • Is past medical history an issue (such as hypothyroidism or brain damage)?
  • Have there been psychological issues in the past to precipitate this (such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety)?
  • Does the subject have any allergies? Many believe certain food allergies to cause hyperactivity.
  • Is the subject using illicit or recreational drugs? Amphetamines and other substances may cause hyperactivity.
  • Is lead poisoning a factor? Simple tests can decide.

Questions your doctor may ask about related symptoms:

In some cases, symptoms may exist beyond the normal characteristics of hyperactivity. Your doctor will examine these to determine if there is another cause of your hyperactivity, or if there is an additional disorder that needs treatment.

  • Does the subject have a learning disability? This is especially relevant in children, as hyperactivity in the classroom may be a child simply acting out at their inability to function in a learning environment. This is very commonly a source of hyperactivity.
  • Does the subject have hearing problems? These often accompany hyperactivity.
  • Does the subject exhibit symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? This is an extremely common disorder that often results in hyperactive behavior.
  • Is the subject showing symptoms of bipolar disorder? Episodes of extreme depression and correspondingly extreme elation often are seen as mere hyperactivity, but in many cases can be signs of bipolar disorder.
  • Does the subject show symptoms of anxiety? These can include restlessness, insomnia, poor concentration, and other symptoms of hyperactivity.
  • Does the subject show symptoms of depression? If a person seems moody, experiences a decrease in appetite and/or weight, undue feelings of worthlessness or guilt, then they may have a problem with depression.
  • Do symptoms of hypothyroidism exist? These can include muscle weakness, increased appetite, weight loss, emotional upheaval, agitation, and certain hyperactive symptoms as well.


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