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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is exhibited by not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able to control behavior, or a combination of these. For these symptoms to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a person's age and development.

Causes

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children. Although it usually begins in childhood, it is a condition that affects many adults as well.

It is not clear what causes ADHD, but a combination of genes and environmental factors likely plays a role in the development of the condition.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of ADHD fall into three groups:

  • Not being able to focus (inattention)
  • Being extremely active (hyperactivity)
  • Difficulties controlling behavior (impulsivity)

Some people with ADHD mainly have symptoms of inattention and are given the diagnosis of ADHD, Inattentive Presentation. Others mostly have symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity and are given the diagnosis of ADHD, Hyperactive and/Impulsive Presentation.

Inattention

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Has difficulty keeping attention during tasks or play
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish tasks
  • Has problems organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids, or dislikes, tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often loses personal items or tools needed for tasks or activities
  • Is easily distracted, can often be forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity

  • Fidgets with hands or feet
  • Has difficulty sitting still or remaining seated
  • Runs around or climbs in inappropriate situations
  • Has difficulty performing activities or tasks quietly
  • Talks excessively

Impulsivity

  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Has difficulty awaiting turn
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others

Testing for ADHD

There is no one test to diagnose ADHD in children or adults. Clinicians may personally observe the patient, use questionnaires and scales that measure symptoms, conduct psychological tests, and interview or collect rating scales from the patient’s relatives, teachers, or others who are in their lives. They may also use clinical testing to rule out other possible conditions.

Get Help

Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are many forms of treatment that can improve daily life and reduce symptoms. Treatment plans can include medication, psychotherapy, trainings, education, or a combination of these.

Learn how to talk about mental health to help you speak to a loved one who you may think is experiencing any mental health concerns.

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Last Updated
Last Updated: 04/24/2023
Last Updated