There is no one gene that accounts for ADHD…there are many. But it is largely hereditary and so it makes sense that some people wonder if their genes seal their fate.
Having a set of genes is different from the expression of those genes. And the expression of genes can be impacted by environmental changes. This is what the non-medicinal parts of ADHD management are often about, in fact. An adult with ADHD does not have to be a victim of their ADHD. Improving sleep hygiene, increasing exercise, and managing stress all impact the severity of, and expression of, ADHD symptoms. Medications do, too. In fact, research done by Russell Barkley and others suggests that the majority of adults with ADHD can find a medication that significantly improves their management of ADHD. Meaning, of course, that genes do not dictate what your life is about.
One refrain that I hear from ADHD-impacted couples is “is this just the way it is? Does the non-ADHD partner just have to adapt to ADHD?” From the ADHD partner’s perspective, the question is asked as “Can’t you just love me as I am?” My answer to both is ‘It’s important that both partners contribute their ‘best selves’ to their relationships.” That means that ADHD partners do need to manage ADHD symptoms that get in their way…and non-ADHD partners need to address their frustration, anger, co-dependency and more.
Genes do not seal your fate. There is much that couples can do to improve their partnership.
Resources For those in relationships impacted by ADHD