For decades, many considered ADD and ADHD different sides of the same coin. What is now known is that these two related disorders are actually two of three subtypes of ADHD:   

  • Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive

  • Primarily Inattentive

  • Combination

Someone who may have received a diagnosis of ADD in the past would now be considered someone with Primarily Inattentive ADHD. Likewise, those formerly called ADHD now fall under the category of Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD Combination ADHD refers to those who show some signs of both.

Defining ADHD

ADHD is a disorder that affects one's ability to concentrate along with one's memory and cognitive functions, ADHD is believed to occur in almost 10 percent of children under 17 and 4.4 percent of adults. While some patients do not receive a diagnosis until later in life, even though they may have symptoms during childhood or adolescence.  

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

ADHD can look very different in adults as opposed to children. Symptoms vary from person to person, but in general symptoms include:  

ADHD, Inattentive type (Formerly Known as ADD)

  • Inability to focus on detail in work

  • Short attention span

  • inability to focus on speech of others

  • Faulty executive function

  • Forgetting common daily tasks

  • Avoiding tasks that require focus

  • Losing keys, phones, etc.

  • Distracted quickly

Symptoms of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD

  • Continuous fidgeting

  • Feelings of restlessness

  • Inability to relax

  • Rapid talking, interrupting others

  • Bad at taking turns

  • General impatience

Adults should show five of these symptoms to qualify for diagnosis. A patient can have any combination of the above symptoms, especially in Combination cases.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

Diagnosing ADHD in children is more complex. A mental health professional may loop in teachers, parents, and other caretakers in the diagnostic process. Symptoms in children can include:  

Inattentive ADHD:

  • Making the same easy mistake in homework

  • Inability to play with one toy for long periods of time

  • Detachment when talked to

  • Refusal to engage in concentration activities

  • Loses toys and belongings

Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD:

  • Continuous interruptions in class

  • Constant fidgeting

  • Inappropriate climbing or running

  • High energy levels

  • Rapid, continuous speech

Testing for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Diagnosis of ADHD should be done by a trained medical professional. Many turn to online tests to assess their symptoms, but these tests are not medical diagnoses. Anyone looking for help with ADHD needs the help of a trained mental health professional. The diagnostic process includes interviews, written tests, and tasks assigned to the patient and observed by the clinician.

Adults seeking help with ADHD may undergo psychological testing of this sort with a goal of setting up medication as an intervention for the disorder.  

Treating ADHD

There are a wide array of treatments that ameliorate the symptoms of ADHD, though there is no cure at this time. Options include medication, lifestyle changes, therapy, or a combination of any of these treatment options.

Medication

A fact that surprises many is that stimulants actually serve as one of the best medications for those with ADHD. In children especially, stimulants have a success rate of 70 to 80 percent.

In the last two decades, doctors have also turned to non-stimulants to help ADHD patients. These medications can be better and safer answers in the long term, though they do not act as quickly as stimulants.  

Parents who are hesitant to medicate their children or adults who want to avoid medication have therapeutic interventions to consider, including lifestyle changes and behavioral therapies.

Behavioral Therapy

In behavioral therapy, the therapist helps the patient focus on positive behaviors and avoid negative ones. Part of this process involves identifying triggers and helping the patient avoid those triggers. The parents of children with ADHD may need their own behavioral therapy to teach them how to help their child and respond well to problematic behaviors.

Lifestyle Changes

Changes to lifestyle that can benefit adults and children alike include:

  • Creating and adhering to daily itinerary

  • Reducing distractions at home and in the classroom or at work

  • Living a healthy lifestyle, including sleeping well, eating well, and getting regular exercise

  • Maintaining a calendar and agenda