Signs & Symptoms of ADHD

Get in front of ADHD by learning its effects. Read what causes ADHD, what signs to look out for, and potential co-occurring disorders. ADHD can affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Understanding your symptoms is the first step to successful healing.

Understanding ADHD

Learn more about ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is a mental health disorder characterized by an inability to maintain focus or regulate one’s behaviors in an appropriate manner. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) more clearly defines this disorder as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes both with a person’s ability to function and his or her development.

Some people with ADHD will only experience the set of symptoms associated with one category of the disorder, either inattention or hyperactivity. Others, however, will experience symptoms associated with a combination of both.

If you are suffering from ADHD, you are likely experiencing turmoil in most, if not all, aspects of your life. But it is never too late to get help. Know that there are many treatment options available that can help you learn to manage symptoms and overcome the challenges that you are facing.


ADHD statistics

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects approximately 2.5% of adults and 5% of children. In order for a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, he or she must have experienced the onset of symptoms before the age of 12.

Additional research has concluded the following:

  • Males are more frequently diagnosed with ADHD than females.
  • Males who are suffering from ADHD typically present with symptoms of hyperactivity.
  • Females who are suffering from ADHD typically present with symptoms of inattention.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for ADHD

While there is not any one factor that will determine whether or not a person will develop symptoms of ADHD, there are a number of causes and risk factors that researchers have determined can place an individual at a higher risk for suffering from the disorder. These suggested causes and risk factors include the following:

  • Personal history of another form of mental illness
  • Family history of ADHD or another type of mental illness
  • Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Being the victim of abuse and/or neglect
  • Chronic exposure to violence and crime
  • Living in a highly stressful or chaotic environment
  • Being male

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ADHD

There are a number of signs and symptoms that could indicate that a person is suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The specific symptoms that are displayed, however, will vary from one person to the next. Symptoms will also vary based on whether a person is suffering from the inattentive type, the hyperactive type, or a combination of the two. The following list contains a summary of examples of the symptoms that may present as a result of all types.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors
  • Sudden, unprovoked, angry outbursts
  • Frequent tardiness
  • Decreased ability to complete tasks
  • Inability to sit or remain still for prolonged periods of time
  • Rapid and/or excessive speech
  • Frequently losing or misplacing items (e.g., keys, wallet, etc.)
  • Abusing drugs and/or alcohol

Physical symptoms:

  • Chronic stomachaches
  • Frequent headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Muscle tension
  • Decreased appetite

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory disturbances
  • Procrastination
  • Ritualistic thinking patterns
  • Repetitive thought patterns
  • Easily distracted
  • Impatience
  • Paranoia
  • Absentmindedness
  • Problematic inattentiveness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Disorganized thoughts

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Abrupt changes in mood
  • Feelings of insecurity
  • Low self-esteem
  • Excessive levels of anxiety
  • Pervasive feelings of irritability and agitation


Effects of ADHD

If you are suffering from ADHD, there are many treatment options available to you. Receiving treatment can both alleviate your symptoms and teach you how to control them in the future. If you do not receive treatment, however, you are at risk for experiencing a number of negative effects, including the following:

  • Inability to maintain employment
  • Academic failure
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Social isolation
  • Low sense of self-worth
  • Financial strife
  • Familial discord

Co-Occurring Disorders

ADHD & co-occurring disorders

Many individuals who are suffering from ADHD also experience symptoms of other mental health conditions. Some studies have shown that people with ADHD are actually six times more likely than the rest of the population to struggle with other mental illnesses. The most common co-occurring disorders to be diagnosed alongside ADHD include the following:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Antisocial and other personality disorders