When a person has ADHD, they may have trouble paying attention, staying organized or following through on tasks. They can easily become distracted and often make careless mistakes, like forgetting to turn in homework or not following directions at work. They can also have problems with relationships, because they are not always good at listening or taking turns in conversation. Their symptoms can have serious effects on their life and health, making it hard to live up to their potential.
ADHD is a mental health condition that affects how people function at school, work and in their social lives. There is no one test to diagnose ADHD, so it is important for healthcare providers to carefully evaluate each individual with the disorder and rule out any medical or other conditions that could contribute to their symptoms, according to CHADD. Symptoms of ADHD can appear in children and adults at any age, although they usually start before middle school.
Symptoms can include having a difficult time sitting still or waiting one’s turn, fidgeting, being overly talkative and having trouble keeping track of things. They can also be “on the go” or “always running around,” as if they are driven by a motor. This type of ADHD is called the hyperactive-impulsive type and about 70% of cases fall under this category.
Inattentive symptoms, which are the most common for all ages, involve having a difficult time paying close attention or remembering things. They can also have a tendency to lose things that are important to them, such as keys, eyeglasses, books, toys or tools. They are more likely to be forgetful in daily activities, and they can find it difficult to stay seated or sit quietly (either in class or when they are expected to).
Girls and women with ADHD are more likely to have co-occurring depression and anxiety, difficulty in romantic relationships that lead to intimate partner violence and have at least one area of their home or personal space in disarray, according to NIMH. In addition, they are more likely to be sexually active at a younger age due to impulsiveness and poor planning skills, placing them at higher risk for unsafe, unprotected sex.
It can be hard to tell whether a person has ADHD, because many of the symptoms are part of normal behavior, and it is easy to mistake them for other conditions. But if a child or adult has symptoms that interfere with their everyday functioning and cause distress, parents should talk to their primary care doctor about getting an evaluation. Depending on the results, doctors can recommend treatment options that may include behavioral therapy, medication or both. These treatments can improve symptoms, improve functioning and increase self-esteem and success at school and work, and in relationships. It takes time, patience and effort to manage ADHD, but with the right help and support, it is possible for people to succeed in their lives.