What is ADHD?

Not being able to focus makes life difficult. You may find yourself easily distracted and unable to complete daily tasks such as chores, schoolwork, and work projects. Or struggling to focus on the right things. This feeling is absolutely frustrating and can interfere with your academics, relationships, and overall enjoyment of life.

While most people may have trouble focusing when they’re really bored or anxious, people living with ADHD have trouble focusing most of the time — even when they are feeling ok in other areas.

ADHD— or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as ADD) — is a real and common mental health condition that can affect both children and adults.

Symptoms of ADHD

Everyone’s experience with ADHD is different.

There are three main characteristics of ADHD: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. There are also three types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type, and combined type– experiencing aspects of both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive types.  People living with ADHD may experience symptoms in one or a combination of both types. And their ADHD symptoms can change over time.

Some of the common symptoms of ADHD are [1] [2]:

 Inattention

  • Often fails to give close attention or makes careless mistakes
  • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks and/or activities
  • Avoid or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Often losing things needed for tasks like school papers, keys, wallet, phone, etc.
  • Often forgets daily tasks such as chores or errands

Hyperactivity

  • Excessive fidgeting, tapping, or talking
  • Extreme restlessness or difficulty sitting still
  • Interrupting others or finding it hard to wait your turn
  • Always “on the go” as if driven by a motor
  • Moves around constantly even in situations where it’s not appropriate

Impulsivity

  • Difficulty with self-control
  • Often acting without thinking
  • Making decisions before considering long-term consequences
  • Needing immediate rewards

Symptoms of ADHD can often be confused for or appear alongside other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.  In children, ADHD symptoms can be confused with emotional or disciplinary problems or learning disabilities in school. [2]

Life problems

For people who have ADHD, the symptoms are frustrating and may cause problems in their lives. ADHD may interfere with the ability to function at school, at work, and in relationships. [3] It can be challenging for people living with ADHD to complete daily tasks such as taking a test, organizing a space, remembering things, and more.

Treatment and recovery

ADHD is treatable. Many people benefit from some combination of therapy, medications, and/or lifestyle changes. ADHD doesn’t have to control your life.

CHADDChildren and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder— is an organization that believes in improving the lives of people living with ADHD. They offer education, toolkits, support, and more.

  1. Centers for Disease Control. (2021, September) Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. (2021, September). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2017, July). What is ADHD? https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd
  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA.

Was this helpful?(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Topics

​Click on each topic to see more articles:

  1. ADHD

Take a PTSD Test

The PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) Test is for those who are experiencing ongoing distress after a traumatic life event.