Adhd symptoms causes

Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - Symptoms and causes


Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Adult ADHD can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems.

Though it's called adult ADHD, symptoms start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. In some cases, ADHD is not recognized or diagnosed until the person is an adult. Adult ADHD symptoms may not be as clear as ADHD symptoms in children. In adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, restlessness and difficulty paying attention may continue.

Treatment for adult ADHD is similar to treatment for childhood ADHD. Adult ADHD treatment includes medications, psychological counseling (psychotherapy) and treatment for any mental health conditions that occur along with ADHD.

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Some people with ADHD have fewer symptoms as they age, but some adults continue to have major symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. In adults, the main features of ADHD may include difficulty paying attention, impulsiveness and restlessness. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Many adults with ADHD aren't aware they have it — they just know that everyday tasks can be a challenge. Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to focus and prioritize, leading to missed deadlines and forgotten meetings or social plans. The inability to control impulses can range from impatience waiting in line or driving in traffic to mood swings and outbursts of anger.

Adult ADHD symptoms may include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

What's typical behavior and what's ADHD?

Almost everyone has some symptoms similar to ADHD at some point in their lives. If your difficulties are recent or occurred only occasionally in the past, you probably don't have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed only when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in more than one area of your life. These persistent and disruptive symptoms can be traced back to early childhood.

Diagnosis of ADHD in adults can be difficult because certain ADHD symptoms are similar to those caused by other conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. And many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.

When to see a doctor

If any of the symptoms listed above continually disrupt your life, talk to your doctor about whether you might have ADHD.

Different types of health care professionals may diagnose and supervise treatment for ADHD. Seek a provider who has training and experience in caring for adults with ADHD.

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While the exact cause of ADHD is not clear, research efforts continue. Factors that may be involved in the development of ADHD include:

  • Genetics. ADHD can run in families, and studies indicate that genes may play a role.
  • Environment. Certain environmental factors also may increase risk, such as lead exposure as a child.
  • Problems during development. Problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development may play a role.

Risk factors

Risk of ADHD may increase if:

  • You have blood relatives, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or another mental health disorder
  • Your mother smoked, drank alcohol or used drugs during pregnancy
  • As a child, you were exposed to environmental toxins — such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings
  • You were born prematurely


ADHD can make life difficult for you. ADHD has been linked to:

  • Poor school or work performance
  • Unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Trouble with the law
  • Alcohol or other substance misuse
  • Frequent car accidents or other accidents
  • Unstable relationships
  • Poor physical and mental health
  • Poor self-image
  • Suicide attempts

Coexisting conditions

Although ADHD doesn't cause other psychological or developmental problems, other disorders often occur along with ADHD and make treatment more challenging. These include:

  • Mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD also have depression, bipolar disorder or another mood disorder. While mood problems aren't necessarily due directly to ADHD, a repeated pattern of failures and frustrations due to ADHD can worsen depression.
  • Anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders occur fairly often in adults with ADHD. Anxiety disorders may cause overwhelming worry, nervousness and other symptoms. Anxiety can be made worse by the challenges and setbacks caused by ADHD.
  • Other psychiatric disorders. Adults with ADHD are at increased risk of other psychiatric disorders, such as personality disorders, intermittent explosive disorder and substance use disorders.
  • Learning disabilities. Adults with ADHD may score lower on academic testing than would be expected for their age, intelligence and education. Learning disabilities can include problems with understanding and communicating.

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD

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Deciding if a child has ADHD is a process with several steps. This page gives you an overview of how ADHD is diagnosed. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms.

If you are concerned about whether a child might have ADHD, the first step is to talk with a healthcare provider to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthcare providers ask parents, teachers, and other adults who care for the child about the child’s behavior in different settings, like at home, school, or with peers. Read more about the recommendations.

The healthcare provider should also determine whether the child has another condition that can either explain the symptoms better, or that occurs at the same time as ADHD. Read more about other concerns and conditions.

Why Family Health History is Important if Your Child has Attention and Learning Problems

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use the guidelines in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5)1, to help diagnose ADHD. This diagnostic standard helps ensure that people are appropriately diagnosed and treated for ADHD. Using the same standard across communities can also help determine how many children have ADHD, and how public health is impacted by this condition.

Here are the criteria in shortened form. Please note that they are presented just for your information. Only trained healthcare providers can diagnose or treat ADHD.

Get information and support from the National Resource Center on ADHD

DSM-5 Criteria for ADHD

People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development:

  1. Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
    • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
    • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
    • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
    • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • Is often easily distracted
    • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
    • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
    • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
    • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
    • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
    • Often talks excessively.
    • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
    • Often has trouble waiting their turn.
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
In addition, the following conditions must be met:
  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
  • Several symptoms are present in two or more settings, (such as at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.
Based on the types of symptoms, three kinds (presentations) of ADHD can occur:
  • Combined Presentation: if enough symptoms of both criteria inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past 6 months
  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: if enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: if enough symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity, but not inattention, were present for the past six months.

Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.

Diagnosing  ADHD in Adults

ADHD often lasts into adulthood. To diagnose ADHD in adults and adolescents age 17 years or older, only 5 symptoms are needed instead of the 6 needed for younger children. Symptoms might look different at older ages. For example, in adults, hyperactivity may appear as extreme restlessness or wearing others out with their activity.

For more information about diagnosis and treatment throughout the lifespan, please visit the websites of the National Resource Center on ADHD and the National Institutes of Mental Health.


American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Arlington, VA., American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

Attention Deficit Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (abbreviated as ADHD) are certain disorders in the psycho-emotional development of a child. The first symptoms begin to bother from the age of three: the baby cannot sit still and tries in every possible way to attract attention to himself by deliberate disobedience.

Many parents do not consider it necessary to deal with hyperactivity in children, attributing bad behavior to a difficult age. However, in the future, the disease turns into serious problems for the student: inability to concentrate, poor progress, frequent criticism from teachers and friends, social isolation, and nervous breakdowns.

Hyperactivity is a dysfunction of the central nervous system. If left untreated in childhood, the disorder can greatly affect the quality of life of an adult. Therefore, it is worth seeking the advice of a specialist and conducting a comprehensive corrective therapy if you suspect a child has ADHD.

The development of ADHD is hidden in several reasons that have been established by scientists on the basis of facts. These reasons include: genetic predisposition; pathological influence.
Genetic predisposition is the first factor that does not exclude the development of malaise in the patient's relatives. Moreover, in this case, both distant heredity (i. e., the disease was diagnosed in ancestors) and near (parents, grandparents) play a huge role. The first signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child lead caring parents to a medical institution, where it turns out that the predisposition to the disease in a child is associated precisely with genes. After examining the parents, it often becomes clear where this syndrome came from in the child, since in 50% of cases this is exactly the case. Today it is known that scientists are working on isolating the genes that are responsible for this predisposition. Among these genes, an important role is given to DNA regions that control the regulation of dopamine levels. Dopamine is the main substance responsible for the correct functioning of the central nervous system. Dysregulation of dopamine due to genetic predisposition leads to the disease of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pathological influence is of considerable importance in answering the question about the causes of the manifestation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pathological factors can serve as: the negative impact of narcotic substances; influence of tobacco and alcoholic products; premature or prolonged labor; interrupt threats. If a woman allowed herself to use illegal substances during pregnancy, then the possibility of having a child with hyperactivity or this syndrome is not excluded. There is a high probability of the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child born at 7–8 months of pregnancy, i.e. premature.


Attention deficit disorder is expressed primarily in hyperactivity and inattention of the child. These are the main symptoms of the disorder.

Signs of hyperactivity:

  • A constant feeling of internal restlessness causes the child to fidget in a chair, jerk his legs, wave his arms or fiddle with something.
  • Feelings of anxiety increase when adults are forced to be quiet and calm. This causes a backlash: the children respond to the request not to make noise with stormy laughter, stomping or jumping up from their seats.
  • Hyperactivity is expressed in impulsive behavior. For example, a child shouts out an answer in class before the teacher has finished speaking the question. Or he may get into a fight because he is unable to wait his turn in the game competitions.
  • Inattentiveness inherent in the hyperactivity syndrome is expressed as follows:
  • Any task tires very quickly, just a couple of minutes after the start. It is almost impossible to focus on learning a new subject. Usually children are able to keep their attention on what they are really interested in. But in a child with ADHD, boredom and an absent-minded look appear in any activity, even in the one with which he “fired up” in the first minutes.
  • Concentration problems develop distraction. Sitting down for homework in the language, the child opens a math notebook and does not notice that he is writing the text on a sheet in a cage. He forgets to write down information in a diary, he may forget his textbook and notebooks on his desk, or he may not hear a request addressed to him.
  • Very poor memory noted. Trying to learn something by heart, a child can repeat a phrase twenty times and not reproduce it after a minute. This happens due to constant distractibility: children mechanically pronounce the words they are learning, but mentally follow the crawling fly on the wall or listen to the sounds from the street.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed using a questionnaire, behavioral observation of the child, and MRI brain examination.

Asking questions to parents, the medical specialist builds a clinical picture, differentiating normal behavioral symptoms from actual abnormalities, in order to accurately determine whether it is ADHD or normal puberty.

Frontal brain scan serves both to investigate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The best treatment option for ADHD is a complex - psychological correction in combination with medications.

A lot depends on the actions of mothers and fathers. Do not constantly scold the baby for wrong actions and inappropriate behavior. It is much more useful to offer your help in cleaning things or preparing for school, to praise for the diligence shown and overcoming difficulties. It is very important to emphasize every achievement, no matter how small, and give the child confidence in their own abilities.

Praise the child for any possible reason - he washed his cup after himself, put away his toys, wrote neatly in a notebook or helped his mother set the table. Do not skimp on words of support even in case of failure, because adults quite often make mistakes and minor misconduct.

Relaxing music, board games, and a warm bath can alleviate irritation or dissatisfaction.

A daily routine put together will help the child gain peace and confidence, it is important for him to understand his duties and their sequence. It is useful to teach the student to make a list of upcoming tasks, given their importance. In order not to postpone the started lesson, the unobtrusive help of parents will also be required.

Communication is an important component of normal family relations and the normalization of a child's behavior.

Raising a child with Attention Deficit Disorder is not easy, but do not forget that this diagnosis is not a death sentence. It's just a disease that can be treated.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children - description of the disease, causes, symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - a condition in which the activity and excitability of the child exceed the norm.


  • Pregnancy complications: toxicosis, high blood pressure, intrauterine fetal asphyxia.
  • Violations of the normal lifestyle of a pregnant woman: difficult working conditions and bad habits, such as smoking.
  • Complications of the course of labor: prolonged or, conversely, rapid labor.

Symptoms almost always appear between 2 and 3 years of age. The average age of going to the doctor is 8-10 years: at this age, study and housework begin to require independence and concentration from the child.


  • Restlessness, fussiness, restlessness.
  • Impulsivity, emotional instability, tearfulness.
  • Ignoring the rules and norms of behavior.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Delayed speech development.
  • Tendency to perform simultaneously without completing several tasks at once.

Suspecting such violations in a child at any age, parents should definitely consult a neurologist for an examination, since sometimes the cause of hyperactive behavior in a child is another, more severe disease.

Of the additional methods, electro- and echoencephalography are used, in some cases - computed tomography, electroneuromyography, emission spectrometry, etc.


Correction of ADHD should include a set of techniques, i. e. be multimodal. The main directions are: physical activity, psychological and pedagogical correction, family psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, treatment of comorbidities.

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