What are the signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

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ADHD is a mental health condition that is typically diagnosed in children but some adults may grow up without knowing they have it. There are three types of ADHD — primarily inattentive (formerly known as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD), primarily hyperactive, and combined presentation (both inattentive and hyperactive).

The following are the criteria for ADHD-Primarily Inattentive as outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). A child up to 16 years old must present six or more symptoms, and a teen or adult aged 17 or older must present five or more of these symptoms, over at least six months. These activities must all happen frequently and disrupt a person’s functioning or development:

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities
  • Has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace because they get sidetracked or lose focus
  • Has trouble organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework)
  • Loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones)
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

The following are the criteria for ADHD-Primarily Hyperactive as outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). A child up to 16 years old must present six or more symptoms, and a teen or adult aged 17 or older must present five or more of these symptoms, for at least six months. These activities must all happen frequently and interfere with a person’s functioning or development:

  • Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
  • Leaves seat in situations when staying seated is expected
  • Runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations. For adolescents or adults, this may appear as feeling restless
  • Unable to quietly play or take part in leisure activities
  • Is often “on the go,” and acting as if “driven by a motor”
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been completed
  • Has trouble waiting their turn
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

A Special Note for Girls and Women

Girls and women are often under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed for ADHD. Women and girls may have different symptoms than men and boys. ADHD Symptoms for women and girls lay include mood-related issues, difficulties with social skills, anxiety about school, and emotional over-reactivity.

If any of these symptoms seem to resonate, use Mental Health Match to connect with an experienced expert in ADHD. The expert you see can give you an official diagnosis and help you cope with ADHD.

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