develops during childhood, the information presented here focuses on children. The primary symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. At some time in their lives, all children are inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive. However, children with ADHD have symptoms that are noticeably more severe and consistent. They have difficulty in school and with their family and peer relationships.
There are several different types of ADHD. Some children are mainly inattentive and don't display signs of hyperactivity (classic attention deficit disorder [ADD]). However, some are hyperactive, some are impulsive, and others exhibit a mixture of these symptoms.
Behaviors linked to ADHD can last into adulthood, often resulting in problems with relationships and employment. Specific symptoms include:
Inattentive (classic ADD)
Easily distracted by sights and soundsDoesn't pay attention to detailDoesn't seem to listen when spoken toMakes careless mistakesDoesn't follow through on instructions or tasksAvoids or dislikes activities that require longer periods of mental effortLoses or forgets items necessary for tasksIs forgetful in day-to-day activitiesHas difficulty organizing tasksHyperfocuses on certain activitiesHas difficulty with transitions
Is restless, fidgets, and squirmsRuns and climbs and is not able to stay seatedHas difficulty playing quietlyTalks excessively
Blurts out answers before hearing the entire questionInterrupts othersHas difficulty waiting in line or waiting for turn
Combined (most common type)
Has a combination of the above symptoms
People with ADHD also can have: DepressionAnxietyConduct disorderSubstance abuseLearning disorders
Tic disorder (
Bipolar disorderTrouble sleepingConstipationEncopresis—leaking stoolEnuresis—inability to control urinationCigarette use
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Last reviewed September 2014 by Kari Kassir, MD
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