Attention deficit disorder, or attention hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), is a disorder that typically presents in children at the age of 3, but is often diagnosed at school age. The symptoms vary in presence and severity according to each individual situation, and may continue throughout an individual’s entire life. It is important to obtain a clear diagnosis, as some of the symptoms of ADHD may be similar to symptoms of anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder or depression. A diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is made when the patient has six or more symptoms that persist for six months or longer, are seen in two or more settings and are documented by a parent, teacher and a health care provider.
A patient who has ADHD tends to be disorganized and messy. He often tends to lose things that are necessary for activities, as well as things needed for daily functioning such as keys, his wallet, or documents. Help guide.org states that an individual may forget commitments, appointments and deadlines. The patient may also avoid any activities or tasks that require mental effort and may procrastinate on activities. He may also be late on a regular basis.
A patient who has ADHD may experience difficulty concentrating and focusing on the task at hand. He may overlook details, which can cause careless mistakes at work or school. The individual with ADHD often demonstrates an inability to maintain attention during activities and is easily distracted, making it hard for him to stay on track. He may have poor listening skills and not remember conversations, leading to incomplete tasks, or the inability to follow instructions correctly.
An individual with ADHD often exhibits impulsivity, reacting without thought. According to “Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach,” the patient may blurt out answers before questions have been completed, and may interrupt or intrude on other individuals. Adults exhibit poor self-control and may react spontaneously without thinking of the consequences.
Hyperactivity is another characteristic of individuals who have ADHD. A child with ADHD often runs around and climbs excessively. She may experience an inability to wait her turn and may talk constantly. Also, she may get bored easily and be unable to play quietly. Both adults and children may exhibit an inability to sit for long periods of time. “Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach” notes that these patients often fidget with their hands or feet, and squirm in their seats. Racing thoughts and feeling restless or agitated are also symptoms of hyperactivity. A craving for excitement may occur in adults, and may lead to an increased tendency to take risks.
An individual with ADHD may have low self-esteem and a sense of underachievement. Helpguide.org explains that the individual may become easily flustered or stressed, and may be unable to deal with frustration. The patient may also have trouble staying motivated and may not complete tasks.