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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that affects how you pay attention, sit still, and control your behavior. It happens in children and teens and can continue into adulthood.

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children. Boys are more likely to have it than girls. It’s usually spotted during the early school years when a child begins to have problems paying attention.

It can’t be prevented or cured. But spotting it early, plus having a good treatment and education plan, can help a child or adult with ADHD manage their symptoms.

Symptoms in children

Symptoms are grouped into three types:

Inattentive. A child with ADHD:

  • Is easily distracted
  • Doesn’t follow directions or finish tasks
  • Doesn’t seem to be listening
  • Doesn’t pay attention and makes careless mistakes
  • Forgets about daily activities
  • Has problems organizing daily tasks
  • Doesn’t like to do things that require sitting still
  • Often loses things
  • Tends to daydream
Hyperactive-impulsive. A child with ADHD:

  • Often squirms fidgets, or bounces when sitting
  • Doesn’t stay seated
  • Has trouble playing quietly
  • Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things. (In teens and adults, this is more often described as restlessness.)
  • Talks excessively
  • Is always “on the go,” as if “driven by a motor”
  • Has trouble waiting for their turn
  • Blurts out answers
  • Interrupts others

Combined. This involves signs of both other types.

Symptoms in adults

Symptoms of ADHD may change as a person gets older. They include:

  • Often being late or forgetting things
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems at work
  • Trouble controlling anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • Substance misuse or addiction
  • Trouble staying organized
  • Procrastination
  • Easily frustrated
  • Often bored
  • Trouble concentrating when reading
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems
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