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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD)

What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a disorder in which people have difficulty with (1) focusing and sustaining attention, and/ or (2) hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Most people have problems with attention or feel overly active in certain situations. This alone does not constitute ADHD.

In order to diagnose ADHD, problems with attention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity must be present in many situations, must cause significant impairment (e.g., resulting in major problems at school or work), and must be shown to have been present to some degree before age seven.

Here are some common symptoms of ADHD:

Attention Problems:

  • Failing to pay attention to details or frequently making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty sustaining attention during activities
  • Complaints from others that the person does not listen
  • Failing to follow through on instructions or failing to finish activities  (e.g., school work or chores)
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Dislike of activities that require sustained attention or focus
  • Frequently losing things
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Experiencing forgetfulness

Hyperactivity & Impulsivity Problems:

  • Frequently fidgeting or squirming with hands or feet
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulty doing things quietly
  • Feeling constantly “on the go”
  • Talking too much
  • Frequently frustrated when having to wait
  • Frequently interrupting others
  • Failing to think things through before acting

ADHD can manifest itself in different ways:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Type is a form of ADHD in which the person mainly has difficulty with attention and has fewer symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type is a form of ADHD in which the person mainly has difficulty with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity and has less difficulty with attention.
  • Combined Type is a form of ADHD in which the person has major difficulties with both attention and with hyperactivity or impulsivity.

Want to learn more about ADHD?

Try the following resources:

Are you concerned that you might have ADHD?

See our resource database for a list of books, websites, and local options for seeking professional evaluations and treatment.

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