Skip to content

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Select An Article

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Is ADHD?

Font Size

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition that affects children and adolescents and can continue into adulthood for some.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD. Some experts, though, say ADHD may occurs in 8% to 10% of school-aged children. Some experts also question whether kids really outgrow ADHD. What that means is that this disorder may be more common in adults than previously thought.

Recommended Related to ADD-ADHD

Aging and ADHD

ADHD doesn't just affect kids or young adults. If you're an older adult who often feels distracted and disorganized and struggles to complete tasks, it may be worth finding out if you've been living with undiagnosed ADHD. "I have patients in their 50s, 60s, and early 70s who were never diagnosed before and were prompted to consider ADHD after their child or grandchild got diagnosed. It's highly genetic," says David W. Goodman, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at...

Read the Aging and ADHD article > >

Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating. They can't seem to follow directions and are easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and are impulsive, not stopping to think before they act. These behaviors can be normal in children. But they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD.

The behaviors that are common with ADHD interfere with a child's ability to function at school and at home.

Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions.

What are ADHD symptoms in children?

Symptoms of ADHD in children are generally grouped into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

Inattention -- A child with ADHD:

  • Is easily distracted
  • Does not follow directions or finish tasks
  • Does not appear to be listening when someone is speaking
  • Does not pay attention and makes careless mistakes
  • Is forgetful about daily activities
  • Has problems organizing daily tasks
  • Avoids or dislikes activities that require sitting still or a sustained effort
  • Often loses things, including personal items
  • Has a tendency to daydream

Hyperactivity -- A child with ADHD:

  • Often squirms, fidgets, or bounces when sitting
  • Does not stay seated as expected
  • Has difficulty playing quietly
  • Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things (In teens and adults, this is more commonly described as a sense of restlessness)
  • Talks excessively

Impulsivity -- A child with ADHD:

  • Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  • Blurts out answers before the question has been completed
  • Often interrupts others

For in depth information, see WebMD's ADHD in Children.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Post it notes
Symptoms and treatments.
Close up of eye
What's zapping your focus?
 
man driving car
How to manage your impulses.
Woman shopping for vitamins at drugstore
Should you take them?
 
concentration killers
SLIDESHOW
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Article
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications
Article
 

boy eating egg
Video
smiling man
Article
 
ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Article
Adult man lying awake in bed
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections