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What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects children and teens and can continue into adulthood. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses. Or they may have trouble paying attention. These behaviors interfere with school and home life.

It’s more common in boys than in girls. It’s usually discovered during the early school years, when a child begins to have problems paying attention.

Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction.

Symptoms in Children

Symptoms are grouped into three categories:

Inattention. A child with ADHD:

  • Is easily distracted
  • Doesn't follow directions or finish tasks
  • Doesn't appear to be listening
  • Doesn't pay attention and makes careless mistakes
  • Forgets about daily activities
  • Has problems organizing daily tasks
  • Doesn’t like to do things that require sitting still
  • Often loses things
  • Tends to daydream

Hyperactivity. A child with ADHD:

  • Often squirms, fidgets, or bounces when sitting
  • Doesn't stay seated
  • Has trouble playing quietly
  • Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things (In teens and adults, this is more commonly described as restlessness.)
  • Talks excessively
  • Is always “on the go” as if “driven by a motor”

Impulsivity. A child with ADHD:

  • Has trouble waiting for his or her turn
  • Blurts out answers
  • Interrupts others

Symptoms in Adults

Symptoms of ADHD may change as a person gets older. They include:

  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems at work
  • Trouble controlling anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Unorganized
  • Procrastination
  • Easily frustrated
  • Chronic boredom
  • Trouble concentrating when reading
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems

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What symptoms of ADHD does your child have?