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.
Many people mistakenly believe that ADHD is a problem seen only childhood -- one that children "grow out of." Yet, about one-third to one-half of those who had ADHD in childhood -- nearly 5% of Americans -- continue to have it into adulthood.
The inattentiveness and difficulty finishing tasks that made it tough for children to sit still in school can evolve into self-esteem issues, trouble holding down a job, and substance abuse problems. These symptoms of adult ADHD can also put a real strain on...
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
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