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How to Identify the Symptoms of ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of children and adults worldwide. ADHD can cause problems with attention, focus, organization, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can interfere with various aspects of life, such as school, work, and relationships.

But how do you know if you have ADHD? What are the signs and symptoms to look out for? And how can you get a diagnosis and treatment?

In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more. We will also provide some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and resources for further information.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a condition that affects the brain’s ability to regulate attention, activity, and impulses. People with ADHD may have difficulty paying attention to details, staying on task, following instructions, managing time, planning ahead, and controlling impulses. They may also be restless, fidgety, talkative, or disruptive.

ADHD is not a sign of low intelligence, laziness, or bad behavior. It is a biological disorder that is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. ADHD can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status.

ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, but many adults also have the condition. Some people may not realize they have ADHD until later in life, when they face new challenges or responsibilities. Others may have been misdiagnosed or undiagnosed in the past.

What Are the Types of ADHD?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are three types, or presentations, of ADHD:

  • Predominantly inattentive presentation: People with this type of ADHD have trouble focusing, paying attention, and staying organized. They may be easily distracted, forgetful, or lose things. They may also make careless mistakes, miss deadlines, or struggle with complex tasks.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation: People with this type of ADHD have trouble controlling their impulses, activity, and emotions. They may be restless, fidgety, or impatient. They may also talk excessively, interrupt others, act without thinking, or have difficulty waiting their turn.
  • Combined presentation: People with this type of ADHD have symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. They may have a mix of the above-mentioned behaviors and difficulties.

The type of ADHD may change over time, depending on the person’s age, environment, and treatment. The symptoms may also vary in severity and frequency, depending on the situation and context.

How Do You Know If You Have ADHD?

There is no single test that can diagnose ADHD. The diagnosis is based on a comprehensive evaluation that involves multiple sources of information, such as:

  • Medical history: A doctor will ask about your current and past symptoms, health conditions, medications, and family history of ADHD or other mental disorders.
  • Behavioral observation: A doctor will observe your behavior, mood, and interactions with others. They may also ask you to perform some tasks that measure your attention, memory, and executive functions.
  • Psychological testing: A doctor may administer some standardized tests or questionnaires that assess your cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. These tests may also screen for other conditions that may co-occur with ADHD, such as depression, anxiety, or learning disabilities.
  • Feedback from others: A doctor may ask for input from people who know you well, such as your family, friends, teachers, or coworkers. They may use rating scales or interviews to gather information about your behavior and performance in different settings and situations.

The diagnosis of ADHD is made when the person meets the following criteria, according to the DSM-5:

  • The person has at least six symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that have been present for at least six months, are inappropriate for the person’s developmental level, and cause significant impairment in two or more settings (such as home, school, or work).
  • The symptoms started before the age of 12.
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder, medical condition, or substance use.

How Is ADHD Treated?

There is no cure for ADHD, but there are effective treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life. The most common treatments for ADHD are:

  • Medication: There are two main types of medication for ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, that help regulate attention, activity, and impulses. Non-stimulants work by affecting other brain systems or pathways that are involved in ADHD. Medication can help reduce the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and improve the person’s focus, concentration, and productivity. However, medication may also have some side effects, such as appetite loss, weight loss, insomnia, headache, or mood changes. Therefore, medication should be prescribed and monitored by a doctor who can adjust the dosage and type of medication according to the person’s needs and response.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a process that involves talking to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor, about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Psychotherapy can help you understand your ADHD, cope with your challenges, and improve your self-esteem, confidence, and relationships. There are different types of psychotherapy that can be helpful for ADHD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches you how to identify and change negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors; or interpersonal therapy (IPT), which focuses on improving your communication and social skills.
  • Behavioral interventions: Behavioral interventions are strategies that aim to change or modify your behavior, or the behavior of others around you, in order to reduce the negative impact of ADHD. Behavioral interventions can be applied at home, school, or work, and involve setting clear rules, expectations, and consequences; providing positive reinforcement and feedback; using rewards and incentives; creating a structured and organized environment; and teaching coping and problem-solving skills. Behavioral interventions can be delivered by parents, teachers, or coaches, or by yourself, with the guidance of a therapist or a self-help book.
  • Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes are actions that you can take to improve your physical and mental health and well-being. Lifestyle changes can complement or enhance the effects of medication, psychotherapy, and behavioral interventions. Some examples of lifestyle changes that can benefit people with ADHD are:
    • Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for your brain to function properly and regulate your mood, energy, and attention. Lack of sleep can worsen the symptoms of ADHD and impair your performance and health. Therefore, you should aim to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and follow a regular sleep schedule and routine.
    • Eating a balanced diet: Diet can affect your brain chemistry and function, as well as your overall health and well-being. A balanced diet can provide you with the nutrients and energy you need to cope with your ADHD. You should eat a variety of foods from different food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. You should also limit your intake of processed foods, added sugars, caffeine, and alcohol, as they can affect your mood, sleep, and attention.
    • Exercising regularly: Exercise can boost your mood, energy, and focus, as well as your physical health and fitness. Exercise can also help you release stress, improve your self-esteem, and enhance your brain function and structure. You should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. You can choose any type of exercise that you enjoy and that suits your abilities and preferences, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, or playing sports.
    • Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness is a state of awareness and attention to the present moment, without judgment or distraction. Mindfulness can help you improve your focus, concentration, and memory, as well as your emotional regulation and stress management. Mindfulness can also help you cope with negative or intrusive thoughts and feelings, and increase your self-compassion and acceptance. You can practice mindfulness by doing meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or other activities that involve paying attention to your body, sensations, thoughts, and emotions.


Here are some common questions and answers about ADHD:

  • Q: Can ADHD be cured?
  • A: No, there is no cure for ADHD, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life.
  • Q: Is ADHD a disability?
  • A: ADHD can be considered a disability if it causes significant impairment in one or more major life activities, such as learning, working, or socializing. People with ADHD may be eligible for accommodations or support services at school, work, or in the community, depending on their needs and the laws and policies of their country or region.
  • Q: Is ADHD genetic?
  • A: ADHD has a strong genetic component, meaning that it tends to run in families. However, genes are not the only factor that influences the development of ADHD. Environmental factors, such as prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, or exposure to lead, trauma, or stress, can also play a role.
  • Q: Is ADHD more common in boys or girls?
  • A: ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in boys than in girls, but this may be due to differences in the way the symptoms are expressed and perceived. Boys tend to show more externalizing symptoms, such as hyperactivity and impulsivity.
  • Q: Can adults have ADHD?
  • A: Yes, adults can have ADHD. Some adults may have been diagnosed with ADHD in childhood and continue to have symptoms in adulthood. Others may have been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in childhood and only discover they have ADHD later in life, when they face new challenges or responsibilities. Adults with ADHD may have difficulties with time management, organization, planning, prioritizing, multitasking, decision making, self-regulation, and social skills. They may also experience low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or relationship problems.
  • Q: How can I help someone with ADHD?
  • A: If you have a friend, family member, partner, or colleague with ADHD, you can help them by being supportive, understanding, and patient. You can also help them by:
    • Learning more about ADHD and how it affects them
    • Communicating clearly and respectfully
    • Providing positive feedback and encouragement
    • Helping them set realistic goals and expectations
    • Assisting them with organization and reminders
    • Creating a calm and structured environment
    • Respecting their preferences and needs
    • Seeking professional help if needed


ADHD is a common and complex disorder that affects the brain’s ability to regulate attention, activity, and impulses. ADHD can cause various challenges and impairments in different aspects of life, such as school, work, and relationships. However, ADHD can also be a source of creativity, energy, and resilience.

The symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person, depending on their type, severity, and context. The diagnosis of ADHD is based on a comprehensive evaluation that involves multiple sources of information. The treatment of ADHD is usually a combination of medication, psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, and lifestyle changes.

If you think you or someone you know may have ADHD, you should consult a doctor or a mental health professional for a proper assessment and treatment plan. You should also seek support from your family, friends, or other people who understand your condition. Remember, you are not alone, and you can live a fulfilling and successful life with ADHD.

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