ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

ADHD is a neurological condition that is usually genetically transmitted. It is characterized by an intense degree of distractibility, impulsivity, and restlessness or hyperactivity. These symptoms are present from childhood onward, interfering with everyday functioning.

Common Symptoms of ADD

  • Easily distractible
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Low tolerance for boredom
  • Impulsiveness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness

Clinical Definition of ADHD

People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development:
  1. 1. Inattention: The presence of six or more symptoms in children up to age 16, or five or more symptoms in adults age 17 onward, for a period of at least six months. Symptoms must be inappropriate for the child/adult’s developmental level:
    • Often fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes at school, work, or other activities.
    • Often has trouble maintaining attention on tasks or in 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 workplace duties (i.e.. loses focus and becomes side-tracked).
    • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    • Often dislikes, avoids, or is reluctant to perform tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (e.g. schoolwork or homework).
    • Often loses supplies and necessary items (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • Is often easily distracted.
    • Is often forgetful in the performance of daily activities.
  2. 2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: The presence of six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity in children up to age 16, or five or more symptoms in adults age 17 onward for a period of at least six months. Symptoms must be disruptive and inappropriate for the child/ adult’s developmental level:
    • Often fidgets, taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    • Often gets up in situations that warrant remaining seated.
    • Often runs or climbs about in inappropriate situations (adolescents or adults might make do with feeling restless).
    • Is often unable to play or quietly take part in leisure activities.
    • Is often “on the go” and seems “driven by a motor”.
    • Often talks excessively.
    • Often blurts out an answer before the question has been fully phrased.
    • Often has trouble waiting for his/her turn.
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g.. butts into conversations or games).

In addition to the presence of symptoms, the following conditions must be met:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to age 12.
  • Several symptoms are present in two or more settings (e.g. at home and school or work).
  • Evidence show that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms cannot be attributed to another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or Personality Disorder).

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