Psychological Disorders

Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder begins in childhood, with key symptoms including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive behavior that goes beyond an age-appropriate level. Symptoms must appear before the age of 12 years and last for more than six months. Major symptoms include difficulty sustaining focus, disorganization, forgetfulness, fidgeting, interrupting, and impulsive behavior. In the DSM-5, this disorder has three subtypes: predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and combined presentation. The most common subtype is the combined presentation, and the least common is the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation.

Symptoms of ADHD

Inattentive Symptoms Hyperactive/Impulsive Symptoms
  • Having limited focus
  • Showing poor attention to detail
  • Having trouble organizing tasks
  • Frequently losing things
  • Being forgetful
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Failing to follow through on tasks
  • Avoiding tasks that require mental effort
  • Being easily distracted
  • Fidgeting
  • Leaving seat at inappropriate times
  • Running or climbing at inappropriate times
  • Being excessively noisy
  • Talking too much
  • Blurting out answers
  • Having difficulty waiting one's turn
  • Interrupting or intruding
  • Being always "on the go"
  • The DSM divides symptoms of ADHD into broad inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive categories. People may have symptoms from one or both of these categories

    People with ADHD often have difficulty at school, at work, and in relationships. Hyperactivity and impulsivity also increase risk for serious physical injury and substance use problems. ADHD runs in families. Up to 60 percent of adults with ADHD will pass it on to their children. Medication, academic support, and talk therapy are used to manage ADHD. ADHD persists throughout the lifespan, although symptoms may become less severe with age.