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WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a treatable, neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs in kids, teens, and adults.

ADHD affects millions of adults

ADHD is defined as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs in children, teens, and adults. Its core symptoms are inattention, impulsivity/hyperactivity. In an adult with ADHD, symptoms of hyperactivity may be less obvious, but difficulties with inattention, poor planning, and impulsivity may persist. These symptoms can appear at home, work or school, or in social settings. For a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, symptoms must be present in two or more settings.

Symptoms sound familiar? Tell your doctor about your symptoms and how they impact you. This can help.

3 Core Symptoms of ADHD

This list is an overview of what these symptoms may look like in adults. It is not a diagnostic tool.

Symptoms of Inattention

Symptoms must occur OFTEN.

  • Makes careless mistakes and lacks attention to details
    Examples: overlooking or missing details or handing in work that is inaccurate
  • Has difficulty paying attention to tasks
    Example: difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy readings
  • Seems to not listen when spoken to directly
    Example: mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of obvious distraction
  • Fails to follow through on instructions, chores, or duties in the workplace
    Example: starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    Examples: messy, disorganized work; poor time management; fails to meet deadlines
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to participate in tasks requiring sustained mental effort
    Example: avoids or dislikes preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities
    Example: loses tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and mobile phones
  • Easily distracted by other things, including unrelated thoughts
  • Forgetful in daily activities
    Example: forgets to run errands, return calls, pay bills, or keep appointments

Symptoms of Impulsivity and Hyperactivity

Symptoms must occur OFTEN.

  • Fidgets with or taps hands and feet, or squirms in seat
  • 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
  • Runs or climbs where it is inappropriate, or feels restless (in adults, may be limited to feeling restless)
  • Unable to participate in leisure activities quietly
  • 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
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been fully asked
    Examples: completes people’s sentences; cannot wait for next turn in conversation
  • Has difficulty waiting his or her turn
    Example: has trouble waiting in line
  • 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

ADHD can appear in different settings

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

HOME

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

WORK/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

  • 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 healthcare provider can accurately diagnose ADHD. Be sure to review the full list of ADHD symptoms and talk to your doctor.

Questions you
may have

  • ADHD can be a lifelong condition, but symptoms may appear differently as you get older. For instance, symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity in children may show up as trouble staying seated and blurting out answers in school. In an adult, symptoms of hyperactivity may become less obvious, but difficulties with restlessness, poor planning, and impulsivity may persist.

  • The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but researchers believe it may be linked to an imbalance in chemical messengers that affect the brain.

  • Complete the Discussion Guide, and take it with you to your next doctor's appointment. Have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about any symptoms that may be affecting you and where you are experiencing them. The guide can help you prepare for that conversation.

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When it's time to talk to your doctor

It all starts with an open and honest conversation about your health. This Doctor Discussion Guide can help. A couple things to remember, this discussion guide is not a diagnostic tool. Only a doctor or other healthcare provider can diagnose ADHD.

DOCTOR DISCUSSION GUIDE