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ADHD Symptom Snapshot

There are 3 core symptoms of ADHD: inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The following are examples of how ADHD symptoms may appear in adults.

Only a doctor or other health care professional can diagnose ADHD.

Only a doctor or other health care professional can diagnose ADHD

Symptoms of Inattention

  • Often makes careless mistakes and lacks attention to details
    (Examples: overlooking or missing details or handing in work that is inaccurate)
  • Often has difficulty paying attention to tasks
    (Example: difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy readings)
  • Often seems to not listen when spoken to directly
    (Example: mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of obvious distraction)
  • Often fails to follow through on instructions, chores, or duties in the workplace
    (Example: starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked)
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities 
    (Examples: messy, disorganized work; poor time management; fails to meet deadlines) 
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to participate in tasks requiring sustained mental effort, like preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers 
  • Often loses things like tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and mobile phones
  • Often easily distracted by other things, including unrelated thoughts
  • Often forgetful in daily activities, such as running errands, returning calls, paying bills, and keeping appointments

Symptoms of Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands and feet or squirms in seat
  • Often leaves seat when remaining seated is expected
    (Example: leaves their place in the office or other workplace setting or in other situations that require remaining seated)
  • Often runs or climbs where it is inappropriate or feels restless (in adults, may be limited to feeling restless)
  • Often unable to participate in leisure activities quietly
  • Often acts as if “on the go" or “driven by a motor”
    (Example: is unable to be or uncomfortable being still for an extended time, as in meetings or restaurants) 
  • Often talks excessively
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been fully asked
    (Examples: completes people’s sentences; cannot wait for next turn in conversation)
  • Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn, for example, while waiting in line
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others
    (Examples: butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people’s things without asking or receiving permission; may intrude into or take over what others are doing) 
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How ADHD May Appear in Different Settings

ADHD symptoms may affect adults at home, at work, or at school, and in social situations. For a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, symptoms must be present in two or more settings. Learn more about how ADHD is diagnosed.

At home

At Home

  • Forgetful in daily activities such as running errands, returning calls, keeping appointments
  • Loses things like homework, keys, eyeglasses, wallets, and mobile phones
  • Difficulty doing leisure activities quietly
At work or school

At Work or School

  • Trouble getting organized (Examples: difficulty keeping materials in order; poor time management skills; tends to miss deadlines)
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
Social situations

Social Situations

  • Difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others 
  • Talks excessively

Symptoms must occur often

 

Please note: This is not a diagnostic tool. Only a health care professional can accurately diagnose ADHD. 

 

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ADHD May Appear Differently in Adulthood

ADHD symptoms in adults may be more subtle and less noticeable than those in children (ages 6–17). Although symptoms such as hyperactivity may be less apparent, they are just as important to identify. For example, symptoms of hyperactivity in children such as climbing or running excessively may appear in adults as a feeling of restlessness.

Below are some examples of how ADHD symptoms in kids (6–12), teens (13–17), and adults may appear differently:

Kids (6–12) with ADHD

Inattention:
Kids may make careless mistakes in schoolwork, have difficulty remaining focused in class, and seem not to listen when spoken to directly.

Hyperactivity & Impulsivity:
Kids may often fidget or squirm, have trouble staying seated, have difficulty playing or working quietly, or blurt out answers in school.

Teens (13–17) with ADHD

Inattention:
Teens may avoid homework and may be easily distracted by many things, including unrelated thoughts.

Hyperactivity & Impulsivity:
Teens may feel restless, have difficulty waiting their turn, use other people’s things without asking, and intrude or take over what others are doing. 

Adults with ADHD

Inattention:
Adults may forget to keep appointments, pay bills, or return calls and avoid completing forms or reviewing paperwork.

Hyperactivity & Impulsivity:
Adults may feel restless, be uncomfortable being still, and frequently interrupt conversations or complete people’s sentences. 


Please note: This is not a diagnostic tool. Only a health care professional can accurately diagnose and manage ADHD. Be sure to review the full list of ADHD symptoms and talk to your doctor.

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How ADHD Is Diagnosed

Only a doctor or a health care professional can diagnose ADHD.

Many people may occasionally experience inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, but may not necessarily have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed based on specific criteria. The official criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD say that 5 or more inattentive symptoms and/or 5 or more hyperactive/impulsive symptoms (6 or more in people under the age of 17) must occur for at least 6 months. In addition:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive symptoms must have been present prior to age 12.
  • Several symptoms must be present in 2 or more settings, for example, at home, at work, or in social settings. 
  • There must be clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with social, academic, or work functioning.
  • These are not the only criteria used to diagnose ADHD. Diagnosis should be based on a complete history and evaluation by the health care provider.
  • The symptoms are not due to another mental disorder.
  • Only a doctor or other trained health care professional can accurately diagnose ADHD.

Learn more about ADHD symptoms and ADHD diagnostic criteria.

Need help finding a doctor? Click here

If you are concerned about ADHD, take the next step and make an appointment with your doctor

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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Vyvanse is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep Vyvanse in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Vyvanse may harm others and is against the law.

Vyvanse is a stimulant medicine. Tell the doctor if you or your child have ever abused or been dependent on alcohol, prescription medicines, or street drugs.

Who should not take Vyvanse?

Do not take Vyvanse if you or your child are:

  • taking or have taken an anti-depression medicine called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within the past 14 days.
  • sensitive or allergic to, or had a reaction to other stimulant medicines.

Serious problems can occur while taking Vyvanse. Tell the doctor:

  • if you or your child have heart problems, heart defects, high blood pressure, or a family history of these problems. Sudden death has occurred in people with heart problems or defects taking stimulant medicines. Sudden death, stroke and heart attack have happened in adults taking stimulant medicines. Your doctor should check you or your child carefully for heart problems before starting Vyvanse. Since increases in blood pressure and heart rate may occur, the doctor should regularly check these during treatment. Call the doctor right away if you or your child have any signs of heart problems such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Vyvanse.
  • if you or your child have mental (psychiatric) problems, or a family history of suicide, bipolar illness, or depression. New or worse behavior and thought problems or new or worse bipolar illness may occur. New psychotic symptoms (such as seeing or hearing things that are not real, believing things that are not true, being suspicious) or new manic symptoms may occur. Call the doctor right away if there are any new or worsening mental symptoms or problems during treatment.
  • if you or your child have circulation problems in fingers and toes (peripheral vasculopathy, including Raynaud’s phenomenon). Fingers or toes may feel numb, cool, painful, sensitive to temperature and/or change color from pale, to blue, to red. Call the doctor right away if any signs of unexplained wounds appear on fingers or toes while taking Vyvanse.
  • if your child is having slowing of growth (height or weight). The doctor should check your child’s height and weight often while on Vyvanse, and may stop treatment if a problem is found.
  • if you or your child have symptoms of serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, coma, or changes in mental status; problems controlling movements or muscle twitching, stiffness, or tightness; fast heartbeat; sweating or fever; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if symptoms occur. Serotonin syndrome may occur if Vyvanse is taken with certain medicines and may be life-threatening.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed while taking Vyvanse. Talk to your doctor about the best way to feed your baby if you take Vyvanse.

What are possible side effects of Vyvanse?

The most common side effects of Vyvanse in ADHD include:

    • anxiety
    • decreased appetite
    • diarrhea
    • dizziness
    • dry mouth
    • irritability
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • trouble sleeping
    • upper stomach pain
    • vomiting
    • weight loss

The most common side effects of Vyvanse in adults with moderate to severe B.E.D. include:

    • dry mouth
    • trouble sleeping
    • decreased appetite
    • increased heart rate
    • constipation
    • feeling jittery
    • anxiety

For additional safety information, click here for Prescribing Information and Medication Guide and discuss with your doctor.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.