WHAT IS ADHD? How is it diagnosed and what are its commonly missed symptoms? Unlocking ADHD writer Stephanie Cheng takes a closer look at the symptoms associated with ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a psychological disorder characterised by excessive hyperactivity and impulsive behaviours.
ADHD may appear difficult and complicated at first, but as you learn more about your condition, you will become better at managing it.
DSM-5 Criteria for ADHD
Clinicians use The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) guide to identify and diagnose mental health disorders.
According to the criteria, ADHD symptoms include inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity:
- Inattention: six or more of the following symptoms for children up to 16 years, five or more for age 17 years and older and adults. Symptoms have to be present for at least 6 months and are inappropriate for developmental level. Common symptoms:
- Fails to give close attention, makes careless mistakes
- Has trouble holding attention on activities
- Frequently struggles with following instructions, and fails to complete work assigned
- Has trouble organising tasks and activities
- Often avoids, dislikes and is reluctant to do things that require much mental effort over a long time period
- Frequently loses things necessary for tasks
- Frequently distracted
- Often forgetful in daily life
- Hyperactivity and impulsivity: six or more symptoms for children up to 16 years, five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults. Symptoms have been present for at least 6 months, to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for a person’s developmental level. Common symptoms:
- Frequently fidgets, taps hands and feet, squirms
- Repeatedly leaves seat when remaining seated is required
- Often runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations
- Oftentimes unable to take part in activities quietly
- Often “on the go” as if “driven by a motor”
- Frequently talks excessively
- Has trouble waiting their turn
- Blurts out answer before question is finished
- Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others
Len Adler, M.D., a leading researcher in adult ADHD and a professor of psychiatry at New York University, estimated that at least 75 percent of people with ADHD are indeed unaware of their condition. This lack of knowledge leaves many with the condition untreated.
What are some commonly overlooked signs which might enable individuals to receive the help they need?
Missed symptoms include:
- Sleepless nights
- Periods of low motivation and choice paralysis
- Over-preparing for tasks
- Poor emotional regulation
- Rejection sensitive (intense feelings after experiencing criticism)
If you believe you or a loved one may have ADHD after reading these symptoms, it is advisable to obtain a professional diagnosis — it is never too late to seek help! Furthermore, most diagnosed ADHDers are able to gradually control their symptoms with treatment. They aretherefore able to leave behind some of the difficulties that were interfering with their everyday lives. With effort, one can travel the healthy route in their ADHD journey, and get closer to reaching their true potential!