Is ADHD Genetic?Explore ADHD and what your DNA can tell you

What is ADHD?

ADHD can affect attention, working memory, or executive function, which is the brain’s ability to prioritize and manage thoughts and behaviors. ADHD affects people differently, which can make recognizing it a challenge. People with ADHD may experience things like: 

  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Difficulty coping with intense emotions 
  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulty completing tasks or projects 
  • Frequently losing things
  • Forgetfulness

While everyone can sometimes experience these things to different degrees, for people with ADHD these characteristics tend to persist over time and can impact school activities, work, or relationships.

For all individuals, genetic testing is available to identify variants linked to the different types of ADHD. Additional genetic factors may be discovered in the future.

ADHD symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, difficulty with intense emotions, and restlessness

Health conditions associated with ADHD

People with ADHD may be more likely to experience:

  • Sleep disorders like insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea
  • Mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Motor vehicle accidents (due to difficulty concentrating while driving)

While associated health conditions may be improved with a management plan for ADHD, they may also need to be addressed separately to support overall health. 

People with ADHD can experience sleep disorders, mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, and motor vehicle accidents

ADHD and well-being

While medical research can tend to focus on negative impacts and treatments for ADHD, many people with ADHD find that these impacts can be related to external standards imposed by society, rather than being inherent to having ADHD. Finding ways of adapting schools, workplaces, and other institutions to fit the people within them can promote acceptance of differences and reduce the challenges associated with ADHD.

Recent studies focusing on the perspectives of individuals with ADHD show that a majority of people report experiencing positive impacts too. Commonly reported positive aspects include things like drive, adventurousness, creativity, flexibility, hyperfocus, and a willingness to assist others.

Visualized positive aspects of ADHD that include drive, adventurousness, creativity, flexibility, hyperfocus, and a willingness to assist others.

Is ADHD genetic?

Genetics do play a role in ADHD. This means some people may be more likely to have ADHD than others, depending on their genetics. ADHD can run in families, which means that a person has an increased chance of having ADHD if family members have the condition. In most cases, it is a combination of many different genetic variants that impact a person’s chances of having ADHD. Individually, each of these variants only has a small impact on a person’s genetic likelihood, but that impact can grow when many variants are considered together. 23andMe takes into account 15,217 genetic markers to estimate the likelihood of having been diagnosed with ADHD.

Find out if your genetics might increase your likelihood of developing ADHD

Curious whether you have an increased likelihood of having ADHD based on your genetics? Find out more with the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) report (Powered by 23andMe Research), part of the 23andMe+ Premium membership. 23andMe+ Premium includes our Health + Ancestry Service plus new premium reports and features throughout the year. 

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Please note:

  • This report does not diagnose ADHD and should not be used to make medical decisions.
  • The report was developed by 23andMe scientists using data and insights gathered from thousands of customers who consent to participate in our research. Reports based on 23andMe research provide an estimate of your likelihood of having been diagnosed with a condition based on your genetics and other factors. This report does not account for lifestyle or family history.
  • The report does not account for every possible genetic variant that could affect your likelihood of having ADHD.