What are the Symptoms? 

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is a diagnosed disorder, which affects concentration, attention span and the ability to focus on the task at hand.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity) is usually much easier to identify. Apart from their difficulties with concentration and memory, children and adults with ADHD often have associated behavioral problems in class, at home and in the workplace, due to their impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders with an estimated 5.4 million diagnosed in the U.S. In May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), changing the criteria to diagnose a person with ADHD.

While the majority of ADHD symptoms remained the same, the DSM-5 made small changes to how experts can diagnose the disorder that affects approximately 9.5 percent of Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What are the Symptoms? 

While anyone can be fidgety or have trouble paying attention, when these symptoms become a distraction at home, classroom or workplace, some extra therapy may be needed to control your symptoms. ADHD presents itself with persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or a combination or all three.

ADHD presents itself with persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or a combination or all three.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must meet the requirements set forth in the DMS-5: ADHD and Inattention

The number of criteria for inattention that need to be met vary by age. Children up to age 16 must show six or more symptoms, while anyone over the age of 17 only need five.

The DSM-5 states a child or adult may have an inattentive symptom of ADHD if he or she often:

  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful, even in daily activities
  • Fails to give close attention to details in school work or other activities, including making careless mistakes
  • Has trouble keeping attention on tasks or activities
  • Ignores a speaker, even when spoken to directly
  • Does not follow instructions, fails to finish schoolwork or chores, and loses focus or is easily side-tracked
  • Has trouble with organization
  • Dislikes and avoids tasks that require long periods of mental effort

Loses vital things needed for tasks and activities, such as books, keys, wallet, phones, etc.

ADHD, Hyperactivity and Impulsivity 

Just like the inattentive criteria, a child under the age of 16 must show six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, while those older than that only need to meet five. Again, the symptoms must be present for at least six months, be disruptive, and inappropriate for their developmental level.

The DSM-5 states a child or adult may have a hyperactive or impulsive symptom of ADHD if he or she often:

  • Appears to be "driven by a motor" and always "on the go"
  • Excessively talks
  • Has trouble waiting his or her turn
  • Squirms in his seat, taps his hands or feet, or fidgets
  • Gets up from a seat when remaining seated is expected
  • Runs around or climbs in inappropriate situations
  • Unable to quietly play or take part in leisure activities
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished
  • Intrudes on and interrupts others

Additional Symptoms of ADD & ADHD 

Bipolar Symptoms

  • Bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depression) is a serious, lifelong medical condition. It affects more than 2 million people in the United States.
  • Bipolar disorder is a treatable illness and when symptoms are treated, life can be better.
  • The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. It's a medical condition. Bipolar disorder may be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, or abnormalities in brain structure.
  • People with bipolar disorder can have mood swings, including depression (extreme lows) and mania (extreme highs).
  • A period of depression or mania is called an episode. Individuals may experience episodes of depression or mania throughout life.
  • Episodes may be separated by long periods with few or no symptoms. To help keep bipolar disorder under control, medication is often taken even when few or no symptoms are present.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 


  • Recurring and persistent ideas, thoughts or images that are often experienced as senseless, intrusive and difficult to control.
  • Attempts to ignore or suppress these thoughts or to neutralize them with another thought or action.
  • The person realizes that these thoughts, images or ideas are the product of his or her own mind, yet finds them almost impossible to resist.


  • Repetitive, intentional and often stereotyped behavior performed in response to an obsession or according to certain rules.
  • Although the behavior is intended to neutralize or prevent some dreaded event or situation, it is clearly not connected in a realistic way with what it is designed to prevent or is excessive (e.g. repetitive hand washing in order to prevent death).
  • The obsessions or compulsions cause a great deal of distress and anxiety, are time consuming (take more than an hour a day) or significantly interfere with the person's health, social or occupational functioning. The person is often secretive and may attempt to conceal the compulsive thoughts and behaviors.

The Three Types of ADHD: 

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This is what is typically referred to when someone uses the term ADD. This means a person shows enough symptoms of inattention, but doesn’t meet the full criteria for hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Inversely, this type occurs when a person has enough symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity but not enough for inattention.

Combined Presentation: This type is when a person meets the criteria of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

In all subtypes, the symptoms must be present for more than six months. But, as symptoms can change as a person ages, he or she may change subtypes over a period of time.

Adults with ADHD have typically had the disorder since childhood, but it may not have been diagnosed until later in life. An evaluation usually occurs at the prompting of a peer, family member, or coworker who has observed problems at work or in relationships.

Adults can be diagnosed with any of the three subtypes of ADHD discussed above. However, due to the relative maturity of adults, as well as physical differences between adults and children, adult ADHD symptoms can be somewhat different from those experienced by children. For example, adults with hyperactive/impulsive ADHD are unlikely to run and jump around.

ADD and ADHD Severity 

The symptoms of ADD and ADHD can range from mild to severe, depending on a person’s neurobiology and environment. Some experience mild inattentiveness or hyperactivity when they perform a task they do not enjoy, but have the ability to focus on tasks they like. Others may experience more severe symptoms, which can have a negative impact in school, at work, and in social situations.

Symptoms seem to be more severe in unstructured group situations (e.g. on the playground) than in more structured situations where rewards are given (e.g. in the classroom). Other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or a learning disability may worsen the symptoms of ADD or ADHD. Some patients report that symptom severity diminishes with age. For example, an adult with ADHD who was hyperactive as a child may find that he or she is now able to remain seated or curb some impulsivity.

The good news is that by determining your type of attention deficit disorder and its severity, you are one step closer to finding the right treatment to help you cope. Be sure to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor to ensure an accurate diagnosis.