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What Are Symptoms Of ADHD? Identify, Address, Share And Care

From restlessness to difficulty focusing, know what are symptoms of ADHD. Uncover the subtle indicators. Discover practical solutions for symptom management.

Alexander McCaslin
Jan 19, 20242159 Shares58344 Views
Recognizing and understanding what are symptoms of ADHDare crucial for early identification and intervention.
In this discussion of ADHD symptoms, we cover the basic aspects of the disorder, aiming to shed light on the challenges faced by those affected.
From identification and addressing strategies to sharing valuable information and fostering a caring environment, this discussion can make a difference.
It’s geared towards promoting awareness, understanding, and support for individuals navigating the complexities of ADHD.
The next time someone asks what are symptoms of ADHD, you’ll know what to say and share.

ADHD Meaning

Neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of conditions that affect the development of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves), typically during early childhood.
These disorders are characterized by impairments in areas, such as:
cognitioncommunication
social interactionmotor skills
The onset of neurodevelopmental disorders often occurs during the developmental period, which includes these stages:
  • prenatal (while the child is still inside the mother’s womb)
  • infancy (0-1 year of age)
  • early childhood (prenatal to 8 years of age)
Some examples of neurodevelopmental disorders:
ADHDspecific learning disorders
autism spectrum disorder (ASD)communication disorders
intellectual disabilitymotor disorders
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, affects both children and adults.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), per data from 2016-2019, there were approximately 6 million people in the U.S. with ADHD.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • 3-5 years: 265,000
  • 6-11 years 2.4 million
  • 12-17 years: 3.3 million
Characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, ADHD can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life.
It can have a strong bearing on someone’s academic, occupational, and social functioning.
While knowing what are symptoms of ADHD is vital for diagnosis, understanding the broader context of the disorder involves considering its impact on cognitive and executive functions.
a. Neurobiological Basis
Neurobiology focuses on understanding the mechanisms that underlie the development, structure, and function of the nervous system.
ADHD is believed to have a neurobiological basis, involving differences in the structure and function of certain brain regions, particularly those related to:
  • attention
  • impulse control
  • executive functions
Neurotransmitter imbalances are thought to play a role in the manifestationof ADHD symptoms.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between nerve cells (neurons). They’re essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Therefore, to have a deeper understanding of what are symptoms of ADHD, neurobiology is one area that should be explored.
The letters ‘ADHD’ in all uppercase form written in white under a brain drawn in white
The letters ‘ADHD’ in all uppercase form written in white under a brain drawn in white
b. Executive Dysfunction
Individuals with ADHD often experience challenges in executive functions, which are higher cognitive processes responsible for:
  • goal-setting
  • planning
  • organizing
  • initiating tasks
  • self-monitoring
Difficulties in these areas can affect academic performance, work, and daily activities.
c. Comorbidity
ADHD is frequently associated with other mental healthconditions, such as:
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • learning disorders
Understanding these comorbidities is essential for comprehensive treatment planning.
d. Functional Impairment
The challenges associated with ADHDcan result in significant functional impairment across various life domains.
This may include:
  • academic underachievement
  • difficulties in maintaining employment
  • strained interpersonal relationships
  • struggles with time management and organization
Knowing what are symptoms of ADHD can help one identify which areas of concern in the life of someone with ADHD should be addressed.
e. Impact on Quality of Life
The disorder can have a profound impact on an individual’s overall quality of life.
Challenges with sustained attention and impulse control can affect educational and occupational achievements, potentially leading to:
  • low self-esteem
  • feelings of frustration
  • a sense of underachievement
f. Lifespan Perspective
Recognizing ADHD as a lifelong condition is essential.
While ADHD symptoms may change in severity and presentation over time, the underlying neurobiological differences persist.
Understanding the lifespan perspective as well as what are symptoms of ADHD are necessary for providing ongoing support and interventions.
In summary, ADHD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that extends beyond its observable signs and symptoms.
It involves a range of cognitive and executive dysfunctions that can significantly influence various aspects of an individual’s life, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive and multidimensional approach to diagnosis and management.

What Are Symptoms Of ADHD?

Navigating the complicated landscape of ADHD requires a closer examination of its defining characteristics.
ADHD is known to influence a person’s ability to:
  • maintain focus
  • regulate impulses
  • manage hyperactivity
Understanding the symptoms and manifestations of ADHD will help in arriving at an accurate diagnosis and in achieving effective management.
To further understand what are symptoms of ADHD, below are the three types of ADHD, with their corresponding symptoms, as identified by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
APA’s important note regarding the specific symptoms:
  • At least six of them should happen regularly before they could be attributed to a particular type of ADHD.
  • For individuals aged 17 and above, at least five symptoms should often happen.
Also, the APA states on its website:
It [ADHD] is more commonly diagnosed among boys than girls given differences in how the symptoms present. However, this does not mean that boys are more likely to have ADHD.- American Psychiatric Association (APA)
Here are the three types of ADHD and some of their symptoms, which can vary from one person to another:
A. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (ADHD-PI)
This is also known as the Inattentive type.
What are symptoms of ADHD-PI? The major symptoms are those related to inattention, such as:
  • difficulty sustaining attention
  • being easily distracted
  • may forget daily tasks
  • struggling to organize things
  • making careless mistakes in work or other activities due to lack of attention to detail
1. Other ADHD-PI Symptoms(the more specific ones)
a. lacks attention to detail or commits a lot of mistakes when doing a school work or office task because of carelessness
b. has trouble focusing on activities or tasks (e.g., when reading something, talking to someone, or listening to a teacher’s lecture)
c. during conversations, appears to be not paying attention to the one talking as mind seems to float
d. loses one’s focus on a task that has just been started (therefore, not finishing it); has difficulty following instructions
e. shows poor time management and organizational skills; can’t meet deadlines; works in a disorganized manner
f. isn’t happy doing mental tasks involving continuous thinking (e.g., making a report or presentation or answering forms)
g. misplaces or totally loses things that are part of one’s everyday living (e.g., wallet, prescription glasses, house/car keys)
h. doesn’t remember one’s errands or chores; payment dates of utility/credit card bills; a doctor’s appointment; personal meetups, etc.
B. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation (ADHD-HI)
It’s also called the Hyperactive/Impulsive type.
What are symptoms of ADHD-HI? The two major symptoms are:
  • hyperactivity
  • impulsivity
Hyperactivity, in the context of ADHD, refers to a pattern of excessive and impulsive physical activity and restlessness.
Individuals with the hyperactive-impulsive presentation of ADHD may display behaviors, such as:
Fidgeting and Restlessness:Constantly moving or squirming in their seats, tapping hands or feet, or having difficulty staying seated.
Excessive Talking:Talking excessively, interrupting others, or having difficulty waiting for their turn to speak.
Impulsive Behavior:Acting without thinking about the consequences, making hasty decisions, and having difficulty inhibiting inappropriate responses.
Difficulty Engaging in Quiet Activities:Finding it challenging to engage in activities that require sustained attention, such as reading or working on a quiet task.
1. Other ADHD-HI Symptoms
a. when in class or at work, can’t stand to stay seated for a long time
b. climbs or runs (though there’s no need to do so)
c. displaying an “on-the-go” attitude, like there’s an invisible force driving him/her to be so active
d. won’t let the person talking to finish what’s being said; instead, he/she will be one finish the sentence; will immediately reply to a question without finishing the question
e. finding it hard to wait for one’s turn, like when waiting/standing in line
f. interrupting activities (e.g., games); stepping in when someone is doing something to do it him/herself; using things or belongings without asking for permission from their respective owners
C. Combined Presentation (ADHD-C)
This is also referred to as combination ADHD or Combined type.
As its name suggests, this type of ADHD involves a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.
This is the most common type of ADHD.
What are symptoms of ADHD-C? Individuals with ADHD-C exhibit a mix of symptoms from both the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive categories.
So, there goes the three types of ADHD and some of their common symptoms.
Just remember these three when asking what are symptoms of ADHD:
  • Individuals may exhibit symptoms to varying degrees.
  • The presentation of symptoms can change over time.
  • Individuals may shift from one subtype to another.
In addition, ADHD is diagnosed based on a comprehensive assessment that considers the presence and impact of symptoms across various settings, such as home, school, and work.
A female elementary teacher reading a book to female ADHD students, with female assistant teacher beside her
A female elementary teacher reading a book to female ADHD students, with female assistant teacher beside her
Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD typically involve a multidisciplinary approach, including input from mental healthprofessionals, educators, and other relevant professionals.
Depending on the severity and impact of symptoms, treatment strategies often include:
  • psychoeducation
  • behavioral interventions
  • in some cases, medication
More about them in the next section.

Ways To Address ADHD

Several conditions can mimic ADHD, according to APA, such as:
anxietymood disorders
head injuriessubstance use
learning disordersthyroid conditions
So, by knowing what are symptoms of ADHD, those who have it can receive the appropriate support to help them manage their symptoms and improve their overall functioning.
While there is no cure for ADHD, there are various approaches to address and manage its symptoms.
Here are some common ways to address the symptoms of ADHD:
Fifteen orange-and-white medicine capsules spilling out of an overturned transparent pill bottle
Fifteen orange-and-white medicine capsules spilling out of an overturned transparent pill bottle
a. Medication
According to Pennsylvania-based Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), here are the two categories of ADHD medications:
  • stimulants
  • non-stimulants
Stimulant medications help regulate neurotransmitters. They are commonly prescribed because more people with ADHD benefit from them than from non-stimulants.
Some examples of stimulants:
Stimulant MedicationBrand Name
Amphetamine sulfateAdzenys XR-ODT; Evekeo; Dyanavel XR
DextroamphetamineDexedrine; ProCentra; Zenzedi
LisdexamfetamineElvanse; Vyvanse
MethylphenidateConcerta; Ritalin; Metadate; Methylin
Mixed amphetamine saltsAdderall; Mydayis
Per New York-based non-profit organization Child Mind Institute, below are some of the non-stimulant medications for ADHD:
Stimulant MedicationBrand Name
AtomoxetineStrattera
ClonidineCatapres; Kapvay
GuanfacineIntuniv; Tenex
ViloxazineQelbree (formerly Vivalan)
b. Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy involves teaching individuals with ADHD specific behaviors and skills to help manage their symptoms.
This can include techniques such as reinforcement, goal setting, and time management.
c. Counseling
Individual or family counseling can be beneficial in helping individuals with ADHD cope with the emotional and social challenges associated with the disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common approach that can help individuals develop coping strategies and address negative thought patterns.
d. Parenting Strategies
For children with ADHD, parents can learn specific parenting strategies to help manage behavior.
This may include:
  • using positive reinforcement
  • setting clear and consistent expectations
  • implementing effective discipline techniques
e. Educational Support
In a school setting, accommodations and support can be provided to help students with ADHD succeed academically.
This may include:
  • extra time on tests
  • preferential seating
  • use of assistive technologies
f. Environmental Modifications
Creating a structured and organized environment can be helpful for individuals with ADHD.
This may involve:
  • setting up a routine
  • minimizing distractions
  • using tools like planners or reminders
Adult man sitting on a running track with legs wide apart and both hands touching the tip of his left shoe
Adult man sitting on a running track with legs wide apart and both hands touching the tip of his left shoe
g. Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle
Regular physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on ADHD symptoms. Exercise can help improve:
  • attention
  • mood
  • impulse control
Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring proper sleep are important for overall well-being.
h. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques
Practices such as mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises can help individuals with ADHD improve their focus and manage stress.
i. Support Groups
Joining support groups, either in person or online, can provide individuals with ADHD and their families with a sense of community.
Sharing experiences and learning from others can be valuable in coping with its.
So, individuals with ADHD and their families must work closely with healthcare professionals.
Knowing what are symptoms of ADHD attributed to a particular person will help healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan that addresses that person’s specific needs.
Based on research, the most effective treatment plan often involves a combination of strategies, according to ADDA.

What Are Symptoms Of ADHD? - People Also Ask

What Age Is ADHD Hardest?

In a 2017 article published by Attention magazine, clinical psychologist Thomas E. Brown wrote that for someone with ADHD, the toughest times can be “from middle school through the first few years after high school.”
That will be ages 11 to 17/18.
Brown explains that during those times, the amount and variety of school work can overwhelm studentswith ADHD.
In addition, they have no choice but to struggle because they can’t just quit school because of the condition they have.
Attention is published bimonthly by Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a non-profit organization in Maryland.

Can ADHD Get Worse With Age?

Regarding the developmental course of ADHD, it usually emerges in childhood, and its impact can persist into adolescence and adulthood.
However, the expression of symptoms may change over time.
While hyperactivity may decrease with age, difficulties with attention and executive functions can persist and sometimes become more apparent in adulthood.
All these according to a 2022 article by Healthline, which cited some research.
While the article said that symptoms “typically do not intensify with age,” it doesn’t say that it won’t. Based on one research, ADHD symptoms can fluctuate.
Per a 2017 article by CHADD, the symptoms present during the childhood years of those with ADHD can still be present - some or most of them - when they reach adulthood.
In fact, based on a 2005 study published by the journal The BMJ, an estimated 60 percent of people with ADHD, whose symptoms manifested in childhood, still struggle as adults.
The back view of children and adults with ADHD standing near each other and hugging
The back view of children and adults with ADHD standing near each other and hugging

What Worsens ADHD?

According to a 2023 article by WebMD, where are some of them:
  • lack of sleep
  • not having breakfast
  • not exercising regularly
  • frequent junk food intake
  • taking the wrong medication
  • having a cluttered room/work space
  • poor choices of meals or eating habits (e.g., too much fast food, less veggies, more on fatty food, etc.)

Final Thoughts

A question before you go: What are symptoms of ADHD?
If you can answer that and name a few, it’s already a good start. You can do your share in supporting those affected and help foster an environment that promotes their success and well-being.
Being familiar with their symptoms matters to people with ADHD, to their families, and to all other people who care for them.
By knowing what are symptoms of ADHD, we can explore ways to create a more compassionate and informed community.
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