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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD include inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. These are traits that most children display at some point or another. But to establish a diagnosis of ADHD, sometimes referred to as ADD, the symptoms should be inappropriate for the child's age.

Adults also can have ADHD; in fact, up to half of adults diagnosed with the disorder had it as children.  When ADHD persists into adulthood, symptoms may vary. For instance, an adult may experience restlessness instead of hyperactivity. In addition, adults with ADHD often have problems with interpersonal relationships and employment.

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Types of ADHD

There are three different subtypes of ADHD, including:

  • Combined ADHD (the most common subtype), which involves symptoms of of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity
  • Inattentive ADHD (previously known as ADD), which is marked by impaired attention and concentration
  • Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, which is marked by hyperactivity without inattentiveness

For a diagnosis of ADHD, some symptoms that cause impairment must be present before age seven. Also, some impairment from the symptoms must be present in more than one setting. For instance, the person may be impaired at home and school or home and work. Also, there must be clear evidence the symptoms interfere with the person's ability to function at home, in social environments, or at work.

 

Symptoms of ADHD

There are three different categories of ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, 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.

A person 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 careless
  • Easily 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
  • Always being 'on the go'
  • Often talking excessively

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