Symptoms Of ADHD

Do You Have ADHD? Find Out Here

The symptoms of ADHD are similar in children and adults (just a little more suble or nuanced in adults) and fall into three categories: inattention (lack of focus), hyperactivity-impulsivity, or a combination of both. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) is diagnosed via a list of behavioral symptoms listed in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The DSM is used by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists (clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors) to diagnose ADHD and other mental health conditions.

Symptoms Of ADHD: Inattention

The official DSM symptoms of Inattention are:

- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes. 

- Has difficulty sustaining attention.   

- Does not appear to listen.   

- Struggles to follow through on instructions.   

- Has difficulty with organization.   

- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring a lot of thinking.

- Loses things.

- Is easily distracted.

- Is forgetful in daily activities. 

A child or teen must present with 6 or more of the above symptoms for at least 6 months to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. Older adolescents and adults must present with five of the symptoms and symptoms must have been present prior to age 12

These behaviors must also have a direct, negative impact on the person’s social and academic functioning.

Symptoms Of ADHD: Hyperactivity And Impulsivity

The diagnostic symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity as listed in the DSM:

- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair. 

- Has difficulty remaining seated.   

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- Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in adults.  

- Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.   

- Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel inside like they were driven by a motor.   

- Talks excessively.   

- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed. 

- Difficulty waiting or taking turns. 

- Interrupts or intrudes upon others. 

child or teen must present with 6 or more of the above symptoms for at least 6 months to qualify for this type of ADHD diagnosis. Older adolescents and adults must present with five of the symptoms and symptoms must have been present prior to age 12

These behaviors must also have a direct, negative impact on the person’s social and academic functioning.

The diagnostic behavioral feature most associated with ADHD in the public's mind is hyperactivity. One of the reasons is that such behavior is often disruptive and therefore easily noticed by others (parents, teachers, etc).

Sufferers of ADHD who present with impulsive behavior basically act without first considering the consequences. They often interrupt conversations, blurt out inappropiate answers in class, etc. They are often impatient and find it difficult to wait in line or take their turn. They prefer instant gratification.

Note: It is important to understand that not every child you see “bouncing off the walls” has ADHD. As my fellow parents understand, every young child has the capacity to exhibit hyperactive energy that would even make the Energizer Bunny tired. The difference is that ADHD is a chronic condition.

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Symptoms Of ADHD In Girls

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In girls, inattention is a much more common presentation of ADHD than hyperactivity.

Due to the public misconceptions that ADHD only involves hyperactivity and only affects boys, girls who present with Inattention are often labeled “daydreamers” whose poor grades are often attributed to lack of motivation rather than ADHD.

Sadly, such cases often go undiagnosed and untreated, and these girls often continue to struggle into adulthood.

Through increased awareness by teachers, school officials, parents, and caregivers we can help girls receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms Of ADHD In Adults

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Think ADHD just affects children? Think again. The fact is that an alarming number of older adolescents and adults lead their lives unaware that that they have ADHD. 

In adults, Inattention can present as disorganization, forgetfulness, missing work deadlines or assignments, careless work, unable to complete household tasks due to lack of focus, challenges focusing during meetings, easily bored, poor money management, etc.

Hyperactivity may present as constant talkativeness, inability sit still at work or in meetings, chronic restlessness, jumping from one project to the next without completing the first, etc.

Impulsive behavior may lead to an increased risk of substance abuse, gambling, etc. 

Undiagnosed adults may think they are simply “wound up” all the time, and many self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in order to help relax without realizing they have ADHD.

If You Think You May Have ADHD...

If you suspect that you, your child, or another loved one may be suffering from ADHD, make an appointment with a professional who has experience diagnosing ADHD. This typically means a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist) but it can also include physicians and neurologists, etc.

ADHD treatments typically includes ADHD medications and/or some type of therapy. Every individual is different so treatment plans will vary.