Since attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) comes with such a broad spectrum of symptoms, it can be difficult for some to know whether or not they struggle with the condition. So, how do you know if you have ADHD?
Throughout today’s article, we’re going to explore the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis for ADHD. From there, we’ll give our take on how people can know whether or not they’re actually struggling with this disorder or another mental health condition. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that is chronic and cyclical in nature. Often developing during early childhood, the mental illness typically lasts through life, leading into and lasting through adulthood.
Those with ADHD will exhibit behavioral patterns that will include inattentiveness as well as hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Understandably, all three of these factors combined can greatly impact day-to-day functionality as well as hinder social, personal, and professional development, especially if symptoms go unchecked and aren’t treated properly. ¹
Signs & Symptoms
When it comes to symptoms of ADHD, there are three categories mental health professionals look into. These include: ²
- Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort – such as schoolwork, homework, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
- Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
- Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
- Complications in sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
- Have problems organizing tasks and activities – such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and failing to meet deadlines
- Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
- Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Not following through on instructions and failing to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
- Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
- Constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor”
- Fidgeting while seated or during times where one is expected to remain still and attentive for a prolonged period of time
- Have trouble waiting for his or her turn
- Interrupting conversations, interjecting when not appropriate
- Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities
- Run or dash around or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate
- Talk nonstop
- Unable to engage in hobbies or activities quietly
- Dangerous behaviors (ignoring safety)
- Emotional and physical outbursts that can be disruptive and, in certain extreme cases, violent
- Reckless spending
What Causes ADHD?
The causes of ADHD are varied and depend on certain factors that could be biological, developmental, or neurological. Brain function plays a large part in the causation of ADHD and research has found decreased levels of activity in the parts of the brain that control attention and activity level.
ADHD can also be hereditary. In fact, there is a 1 in 4 chance of a child developing ADHD if one parent also has the condition. This genealogical link can also affect siblings of the said child down the line. In rare occurrences, it can occur that a parent is diagnosed alongside the child who’s showing signs and symptoms of ADHD.
Other situations in which ADHD can be caused are head injuries that occur during brain development or when a child is born prematurely. Furthermore, certain substance exposure during pregnancy can increase the likelihood that a child will develop ADHD. ³
How is ADHD Diagnosed and Treated?
To get an official diagnosis for ADHD, one will be introduced to a mental health professional and undergo clinical testing. These tests are conducted through behavioral observation, cognitive aptitude measurements, and clinical discussions. ⁴
Most cases are diagnosable if the patient is experiencing symptoms that meet the criteria for 6 months or longer. Symptoms must also intrude on day-to-day functionality. While a patient may meet all of these criteria points, it’s possible that they may only meet a few. ⁵
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- Has difficulty sustaining attention
- Does not appear to listen
- Struggles to follow through with instructions
- Has difficulty with organization
- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort
- Loses things
- One loses attention easily
- One is forgetful in daily activities
Unfortunately, there is no overall comprehensive cure for ADHD. Although there are ways to treat and manage the symptoms of ADHD. This requires a multifaceted approach and can involve the following: ⁶
- Behavior Therapy – involves behavior management which uses a system of rewards to encourage control of ADHD impulsive behavior. Behavioral therapy helps identify types of behavior, finding the best options to deal with negative influences. It can also help in choosing the correct behavioral response to stressors.
- Mental Health Counseling – can help those with ADHD be able to comprehend the diagnosis of their condition. Counseling can also assist in how to deal with the ramifications of having such a complex disorder. It can also greatly assist with providing coping mechanisms.
- Medications – can be helpful for those trying to deal with the symptoms of ADHD. While medications are not a permanent cure for ADHD, they may increase concentration, reduce impulsivity, and allow you to practice new skills.
How to Know If You Have ADHD
Understandably, not everyone has all the tell-tale symptoms of a disorder and it’s important to remember that each and every case is unique. Having a broader comprehension of what these symptoms are and how they look in the real world is also important. We have compiled the key signs of ADHD which can help clarify whether someone might be suffering from ADHD:
Lack of Control
Those with ADHD often have concerning behavioral patterns that resemble a lack of impulse control. This could be as small as making an unnecessary purchase or being unable to hold back certain emotions. It could also be as consequential as not being able to resist fighting during times of strife.
Failing to understand the pattern of impulsivity control could lead to punishment, injury, or, in certain extreme cases, death. For those with ADHD, it’s vital to be aware of how they are controlling their emotions and impulses.
When disorganization causes complications at work or home, you might be experiencing one of the most frustrating symptoms of ADHD. Disorganization doesn’t just mean the workspace is messy or you’re home is in a state of chaos, it’s also a broader issue.
Disorganization in those with ADHD could be failing to follow through on tasks, missing deadlines, or a lack of following up on social interactions. If you find that these examples apply to you, it might be best to take notes of the regularity of such situations and brings them up to a trusted mental health professional.
Complications in Concentration
Those with ADHD tend to have trouble contracting on a single task. While this can be with work or school, it can also start to appear into day-to-day life at home through daily chores around the house.
The continual decline in concentration can spell consequences both in professional and personal circles with loss of work performance, declining interpersonal relationships, and lower standards of self-care which can lead to health complications. Addressing complications in concentration can help with not only diagnosing ADHD early on but also getting proper care down the line.
Fumbling With Forgetfulness
You ever get those gut feelings where you’ve realized you’ve forgotten something? It happens from time-to-time, but if you find that it’s happening more often than normal, it could be a sign you’re struggling with ADHD. It’s best to take note of times of forgetfulness to understand the frequency and report it to a trusted mental health professional.
How to Know If You Have ADHD Test
Still not sure if you’re experiencing ADHD or not? Here are 10 questions to ask yourself in order to come to help you figure it out:
- Do you find you struggle starting on a task?
- Are most of the tasks you have to complete boring or repetitive to you – so much so that they are difficult to finish?
- Have you found periods of time where you are fidgety or restless?
- Do you consistently forget important meetings or tasks?
- Have you found yourself losing concentration during conversations with others?
- When there is stuff going on around you do you find that you are focusing on these things rather than a task or conversation at hand?
- Do you often avoid having to wait in line when such situations are normal or expected?
- Do you feel it difficult to let go or that you have to be constantly on the move in order to get tasks done on time?
- Have you found that you regularly misplace items or have difficulty in finding them?
- Do you find yourself avoiding social situations due to having to be patient, still or in one place for long periods of time?
The way in which you answer these questions can determine whether or not you have depression and the severity of your ADHD. We suggest writing down your response and discussing it over with a doctor.
ADHD can be incredibly disruptive in any stage of life. The mental health condition, if gone unchecked, can result in decreased productivity, difficulties in functionality, and a decline in professional, personal, or social interactions.
However, there is hope – ADHD can be managed through a multi-focused treatment approach by combining behavioral modification teachings, psychological counseling, and the use of appropriate medications. ADHD doesn’t have to be a crushing inescapable situation.
With the right support system, an understanding of the disorder, and proper treatment, there is a way through to a happier and well-rounded life.
Still, have questions regarding whether or not you might be suffering from ADHD?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ Centers for Disease Control: What is ADHD?
² Mayo Clinic: Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
³ Healthy Children Organization: What Causes ADHD?
⁴ Brain and Behavior Research Organization: ADHD Diagnosis
⁵ Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD Diagnostic Criteria Breakdown
⁶ National Health System UK: ADHD Treatment