Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood and lasts into adulthood. Sometimes, ADHD is diagnosed for the first time in adolescence or adulthood; however, the symptoms of the disorder must have been present earlier in the person's life for the diagnosis to be made.

There are three types of ADHD, each with different symptoms: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. Most people living with ADHD have a combination of the inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.

People with predominantly inattentive ADHD often:

  • Fail to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • Struggle to sustain attention to tasks or leisure activities
  • Do not seem to listen when addressed directly
  • Do not follow instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Experience difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoid, dislike, or express reluctance about engaging in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Lose things necessary for tasks or activities
  • Forget details about daily activities and are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

People with predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD often:

  • Squirm in their seats or fidget with their hands or feet
  • Leave their seats when expected to remain still
  • Move excessively or feel restless during situations in which such behaviour is inappropriate
  • Experience difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • Talk excessively and blurt out answers before questions have been completed
  • Find it difficult to wait their turn; interrupt others

How is ADHD treated?

Stimulant medication is effective in most cases to help reduce (often dramatically) the signs and symptoms of ADHD. Psychotherapy (which may include Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy) is employed to help improve time management and organizational skills, develop more effective problem-solving strategies, and enhance self-esteem.

Next Up: Autism Spectrum Disorder