What is ADHD?

According to the American Psychological Association, ADHD, or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday requests and routines challenging.   People with ADHD typically have trouble getting organized, staying focused, making realistic plans and thinking before acting. They may be fidgety, noisy and unable to adapt to changing situations

ADHD Symptoms

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).

 

ADHD is common in children and adolescents. Adults also can have ADHD. With ADHD in adults, there may be some variation in symptoms. For instance, an adult may experience restlessness instead of hyperactivity. In addition, adults with ADHD may have problems with interpersonal relationships and employment.

 

 

ADHD has three subtypes:

  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
    • Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.
    • Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.
  • Predominantly Inattentive
    • The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree
    • Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD.
  • Combined Hyperactive-Impulsive and Inattentive
    • Six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present
    • Most children have the combined type of ADHD.

Treatments can relieve many of the disorder's symptoms, but at this time there is no cure. With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives. Researchers are developing more effective treatments and interventions, and using new tools such as brain imaging, to better understand ADHD and to find more effective ways to treat it.

When identifying ADHD symptoms there are three different categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. 

 

Inattention may not become apparent until a child enters the challenging environment of school. In adults, symptoms of inattention may manifest in work or in social situations.


An individual with ADHD may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and carelesse 
  • asily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
  • inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
  • difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
  • frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
  • procrastination
  • disorganized work habits
  • forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
  • failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
  • frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one's mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations

Hyperactivity symptoms may be apparent in very young preschoolers and are nearly always present before the age of seven. Symptoms include:

  • fidgeting, squirming when seated
  • getting up frequently to walk or run around
  • running or climbing excessively when it's inappropriate (in teens this may appear as restlessness)
  • having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities
  • being always on the go
  • often talking excessively

Hyperactivity may change with age and developmental stage. In adolescents and adults, hyperactivity may manifest itself as feelings of restlessness and difficulty engaging in quiet sedentary activities.

 

Impulsivity symptoms include:

  • impatience
  • difficulty delaying responses
  • blurting out answers before questions have been completed
  • difficulty awaiting one's turn
  • frequently interrupting or intruding on others to the point of causing problems in social or work settings
  • initiating conversations at inappropriate times

ADHD in Adolescents

If a child is diagnosed with ADHD it will most likely continue into their teenage years. The symptoms of ADHD are intrusive to an adolescent's life. Symptoms of ADHD in a teenager are similar to those in children. Some symptoms include:

  • Distractibility 
  • Irritability 
  • Poor Concentration 
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Impulsivity 

During the teenage years, ADHD may intensify due to the hormonal changes of adolescence.