What is ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder meaning and ADHD symptoms

What are ADHD symptoms? What is ADHD definition?

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD (internationally known as Hyperkinetic Disorder) is a mental disorder that affects how well someone can focus, sit still, and pay attention, to the point that it impacts their overall ability to function. It is one of the most common disorders affecting children. ADHD is often misdiagnosed by parents and teachers without officially consulting a mental health professional. With proper treatment, your child will be able to manage their ADHD.


There is no definitive ADHD test to determine a diagnosis. Diagnosis is reached by observation over a period of time. The causes of ADHD are not known. ADHD symptoms start before the age of 12, with as young as 3 exhibiting symptoms. Symptoms of ADHD may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe and can continue into adulthood. ADHD occurs more often in males than females with symptoms manifesting differently.

There are three subtypes of ADHD; Inattentive, Hyperactive-impulsive, and Combined.
Inattentive means someone has problems maintaining focus or are easily distracted and does not include Hyperactivity-impulsive.

Hyperactive-impulsive means someone has hyperactive and impulsive, but does not necessarily inattentiveness.

Combined means someone has a combination of both Inattentive and hyperactivity-impulsive.

The mental health professional tells you how severe your child’s disorder may be. This will help you know what treatment option is best for your child.

Treatment for ADHD can involve behavior skills, therapy, and medication. Due to the side effects of ADHD medications, such as insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, headache, and increased blood pressure, parents should consider using behavioral and therapy techniques first. Parents should work closely with behavior specialists and medical professionals to determine the best treatment course. Not all ADHD treatments will work the same on every child.

ADHD DSM 5 criteria states the following are required for diagnosis.

For Inattention six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to 6, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults with symptoms of inattention ehaving been present for at least 6 months and are inappropriate for a person’s developmental level.

For Hyperactivity-impulsive six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity having been present for at least 6 months and are disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level

In addition, the following conditions must be met:
Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12

Several symptoms are present in two or more setting, (e.g., at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities)

There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning

The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder and are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder)

Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation of symptoms may change over time as well.

The ADHD meaning has given rise to some common misconceptions. Someone with ADHD is not lazy. In fact, their ADHD makes it the opposite. They are often very aware of what needs to be done but cannot remain on task. Someone with ADHD does not make them dumb. People with ADHD find creative ways to adjust and become productive as they grow older. Having ADHD does not mean they will have problems for the rest of their lives. Often children outgrow ADHD.

Additional videos about ADHD and other behavioral issues are available on the Smarter Parenting website.

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