Close this search box.

ADHD in Children and Adults: Symptoms and Treatment

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.

More and more people in the modern world complain of fatigue, loss of attention, and inability to concentrate on an important task. Sometimes, this is just due to tiredness and information overdose, which can be easily treated with rest without gadgets and good sleep. But, sometimes, these symptoms tell us about a more severe problem — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that provokes hyperactive and impulsive behavior.

Every one of us can sometimes find it difficult to control emotions and complete specific tasks. However, people suffering from ADHD find this difficulty in every aspect of their lives — in studies, at home, at work, and even in communication with others. Just think about it: 11% of school-age children in the US suffer from attention deficit disorder.

ADHD: The History of The Term

The problem of hyperactivity in children has been a worrying topic for physicians and teachers since the mid-XIX century. In 1845, a German doctor, Heinrich Hoffmann, described an extremely active child in poetic form and gave him the name «fidget Philip.»

The history of attention deficit disorder (which got its current name just in the second half of the XX century) started in 1902, when a pediatrician, George Frederic Still, described a group of impulsive children who have difficulties understanding information. He proposed that this behavior is not linked to developmental delays. The hypothesis was confirmed later; however, the physician could not explain the reasons for this phenomenon.

25 years later, another physician, Charles Bradley, began prescribing Benzedrine, a psychological stimulator derivative of amphetamine, to hyperactive children. Stimulators were effective, but doctors could not understand the mechanism of their activity on patients for a long time.

In 1970, an American psychiatrist, Conan Kornetsky, proposed for the first time that the disease can be caused by the low level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and these medications helped to increase them. The American Psychiatrist Association proposed the first diagnosis methods in 1968.

In 1980, the terms «attention deficit syndrome» — Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and one of its types, «attention deficit syndrome with hyperactivity» — Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD+H), were added to the DSM-I classification (Diagnostic and statistical manual for psychiatric disorders).

Differences Between ADD and ADHD

Many people use the terms ADD and ADHD as synonyms, but these do not mean the same thing. ADD (attention deficit syndrome) is a colloquial term for ADHD, a predominantly inattentive type of attention deficit disorder. Since 1994, physicians have used the term ADHD to describe the hyperactive and inattentive subtypes of attention-deficit syndrome with hyperactivity. Despite this, many parents, teachers, and adults continue to use the term «ADD.»

3 Types of ADHD: What are The Differences?

  • Combines type ADHD. This is the most common type of disorder. A person shows impulsive and hyperactive behavior. He or she is easily distracted and cannot concentrate.
  • Just impulsive or just hyperactive type of ADHD — the rarest type. A person shows signs of hyperactivity and is always on the move. He or she does not have signs of inattentiveness.
  • ADHD with inattentiveness. People with this diagnosis do not show signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity. This type is often mentioned as ADD, as the term does not contain the word «hyperactivity.»

Diagnosis of the ADHD type is only made according to crucial signs.


  • inability to concentrate on tasks and actions
  • the person does not listen when he or she is talked to
  • it is hard for him/her to follow instructions
  • demonstrates signs of forgetfulness and makes simple mistakes
  • chronic problems with organization and planning
  • often loses things


  • it is hard for the person to wait for his/her turn in the queue
  • often disrupts others
  • shouts out answers without waiting for the question
  • suffers from emotion-related problems (irritability, anger)
  • cannot calculate the consequences of own actions


  • the person cannot sit still
  • always talking
  • moves a lot

Children are often not diagnosed with ADHD until they start school, as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity do not always mean that the child suffers from ADHD. Some conditions, psychological states, and life events may cause similar symptoms.

  • Reading difficulties, problems with writing and speech.
  • Traumatic experiences include moving from home or school, bullying, parental divorce, or the death of a loved one.
  • Psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Behavioral disorders.
  • Medical problems, including sleeping disorders, epilepsy, and thyroid gland problems.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

According to the American Classification of Psychological Disorders DSM-5, it is possible to diagnose attention deficit and hyperactivity syndrome no earlier than 12. With this, symptoms should be manifested in different situations and relatively strongly affect the person’s life. When is it advised for parents to seek exceptional help?

  • Hyperactivity — the child shouts out answers during the lesson before the teacher finishes asking the question. Or can start a fight when he is not able to wait his turn during the game.
  • Attention disruption — any task tires him or her out a few minutes after beginning. It is nearly impossible to concentrate on studying a new subject.
  • The distraction of attention — the child confuses subject notebooks and cannot keep track of his or her schedule.
  • Terrible memory — a child can repeat the exact phrase 20 times and forget it the next minute.
  • Mild neurological disruptions — facial muscle twitching, shaky fingers (tremor), involuntary muscle contraction (hyperkinesis), disruption of the regulation of movements and tendon reflexes, and changes in associative movements.
  • Emotional lability — frequent mood changes, increased irritability, anxiety, fear, and tearfulness. A constant feeling of inner restlessness makes the child fidget in the chair, jerk his legs, swing his arms, or fiddle with something. Anxiety increases when adults make him behave quieter and calmer. This causes a strong reaction – when asked not to make noise, children respond with violent laughter, stomping, or jumping up from their seats.
  • Impaired perception — often, this is caused by the affected visual analyzer. Children cannot go around the object’s edges, draw figures, understand sizes and directions, have poor orientation in space, cannot distinguish a part of an object from a whole object, do not read letters correctly, poorly distinguish different sounds, and cannot replay the rhythm.
  • Increased tiredness (psychological and physical).
  • Speech and pronunciation disruption.
  • Supporting Disorders in Children With ADHD
  • Neurotic habits — biting nails (onychophagia), sucking a thumb, numerous stereotypical movements (head shaking, body bending, constant squeezing of the fingers, etc.) All this shows the state of inner tension.
  • Sleep disruption soon after the child’s birth. The sleep rhythm is disrupted — the child is tired during the day and cannot sleep during the night. At a later age — the child falls asleep late and has problems waking up.
  • Fearfulness.
  • Increased psychological fatigue, which is manifested by quick tiredness and frequent headaches.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Obsessive tics — in most cases, occur on the face but sometimes on the trunk and neck.
  • Stuttering.

To get more detailed information about symptoms of hyperactive/impulsive ADHD in children, do the test.

But it happens that your child is just active. He or she likes to play a lot or be outside. He or she is always busy and is constantly meeting new people. This is not a reason to diagnose him or her with ADHD. However, suppose you notice some symptoms of hyperactivity and attention loss. In that case, it is best to seek medical help to get more information.

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

ADHD is a child diagnosis. Therefore, do you think it goes away at the age of 18? Unfortunately, no. Over 60% of ADHD patients still experience symptoms in adulthood. The symptoms decrease and become less frequent with age.

Considering the disease features and age group, the following problems in adult patients with ADHD can be seen.

  • emotional lability, mood changes
  • socializing problems
  • these people are not punctual
  • people forget a lot
  • depressive states
  • apathy, boredom, carelessness
  • people cannot concentrate on work
  • due to dysfunction of cognitive function, these people often delay their tasks and cannot do them on time
  • low-stress tolerance
  • abuse of many things
  • absence of leadership qualities
  • impulsivity
  • aggression, uncontrollable outbursts of anger and rage
  • low self-esteem
  • anxiety

These people are often on the job hunt, but can never find it or work in the same place for a long time. There are difficulties in the marriage (if it exists) or a constant search for a partner. If ADHD is not treated in adults, it may affect many aspects of their life.

To get more information about symptoms of hyperactive/impulsive ADHD in adults, please do the following test.

Treatment: How to Help a Person With Attention Deficit Syndrome and Hyperactivity?

Nowadays, ADHD cannot be fully treated. Medicinal and non-medicinal treatments can help to cope with symptoms.

Medicinal Treatment of ADHD

There are several medications that are FDA-approved for ADHD in children (after the age of 6) and adults.

  • Stimulators — the most popular treatment for ADHD. 70-80% of ADHD patients resolve most of their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
  • Non-stimulating — was approved by the FDA in 2003. They are not as fast-acting but have a long-term effect.

Sometimes, it is not possible to get the correct ADHD treatment the first time. Some patients experience side effects from one of the medications. For example, patients often note the loss of appetite and sleeping difficulties after this therapy. In these cases, your physician will correct the medication dose to find the correct balance between the advantages of the medication and the side effects.

Non-medication Treatments of ADHD

  • Physiotherapy and massage therapy are prescribed to children with birth trauma of the head and neck to restore the blood flow in the neck.
  • Biofeedback therapy (biofeedback method) — normalizes the bioelectrical activity of the brain, that is, the ability of its departments to send nerve impulses to the neurons of all body systems. This therapy removes the main reason for ADHD. The patient’s body is supplied with sensors, which show his or her biorhythms. Brain and physical activity cause their fluctuations. The child is given a task that induces sound or visual support (signal or image).
  • Psychotherapy is made to help the patient with attention deficit syndrome to accept his/her features and adapt to the surrounding world and social life. In addition to this, there are exercises for an increase in concentration, perseverance, development of memory, and reduction of impulsivity. The positive effect of psychotherapy occurs no earlier than in 2 months.
  • Family therapy — During the conversation with parents, the specialist explains features of the development and behavior of a child with attention deficit syndrome, talks about how it is possible and not possible to affect him, gives advice on organizing classes and leisure time, and selects games and teaching aids.
  • Art therapy — sculpting, sand, painting, playing musical instruments, breathing, and meditation practices — all this is designed to reduce anxiety, develop perseverance and self-control, reveal talents, and increase the child’s self-esteem.
  • Sport is one of the easiest and most effective methods of reducing ADHD symptoms and improving concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity burns extra energy – the reason for impulsivity. Regular exercise increases dopamine levels, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain, which positively affects concentration and memory.

Positive Sides of ADHD

Scientists found out that ADHD also has positive sides. The hyperactive child is:

  • Very creative. He or she has many thoughts in his or her head and, in the future, can turn a lot of these creative ideas into reality and solve complex tasks in unusual ways.
  • Very flexible and resourceful, able to find ways out of many difficult situations.
  • Enthusiastic. These children, who are never bored, are interested in life in all of its bright manifestations and are interested in people. They are people magnets, which attract people to themselves and charge others with their energy.
Share the Post:

Related Posts