Being easily distracted and fidgeting occasionally is normal, but if you’re regularly experiencing these symptoms and they interfere with your life professionally or socially, you might have ADHD.
ADD is the old name for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but now it’s called ADHD. The new term emphasizes that people can have different presentations of the condition.
Children with inattentive type ADD have trouble paying attention. They may forget to do schoolwork or tasks around the house or be easily distracted during a conversation. They often lose things needed for daily activities, such as their keys or wallets.
Inattentive ADD symptoms can be difficult for parents and teachers to recognize, especially when the child is in a less structured environment like home with their family. Inattentive ADD kids can easily become non-compliant and exhibit emotional dysregulation, which can harm their social life and job performance in adulthood.
Similarly, adults with inattentive ADD need help keeping their work organized and may leave a trail of incomplete projects around the house. These could be a vegetable garden that never gets planted, a new organization system thrown out the window, or a whole series of music lessons that were started but abandoned after a few weeks. Taking exams can also be an issue, as the person’s mind may wander while trying to answer questions or complete tasks.
Some people continue to use the term ADD to describe their ADHD symptoms, even though it’s inaccurate since hyperactivity is no longer included in the disorder’s official diagnosis in the DSM-5. Regardless, this neurotype of ADHD is very responsive to treatment.
Children with this type are constantly on the go. They cannot remain seated for extended periods, especially at school or dinner; they may fidget and wiggle their feet or legs in their seat. They often talk too much, interrupt others, or take over games or activities before they have finished. They are impulsive and tend to jump into things without thinking about the consequences or getting permission first (as described by many as acting like Tigger from the Winnie-the-Pooh series).
They also need help staying organized, resulting in messy desks, rooms, and disorganized work. They often must be reminded, lose their belongings, or turn in assignments on time. In addition, they are prone to getting stuck in negative thoughts and worry excessively.
Symptoms are more severe in children but can persist into adulthood and create significant challenges for anyone. Everyone needs to remember dates or lose their keys occasionally. Still, if you consistently lose your car keys, misplace assignments, or show up late to work, these symptoms may be more serious and need to be evaluated by a doctor.
All types of ADHD are diagnosed the same way, through a detailed evaluation by an experienced healthcare professional. This might include a family medical history, a mental health evaluation and interview, intellectual screening, memory tests, and attention and distraction testing.
When children have symptoms of ADD or ADHD, it can cause problems with schoolwork, relationships, and daily life. It can also make it hard to get enough sleep and eat well. There are many ways to help your child with attention and hyperactivity issues. One way is to minimize distractions by turning off the TV, using auto-pay features, and choosing a quiet workplace. Another way is to try medications, such as atomoxetine. But, not all drugs work the same way in every person, so choosing a medication that is right for your child and their specific needs is important.
The mixed type of ADHD, more common in children and adolescents, is characterized by symptoms from both the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive categories. To meet the criteria for this type of ADHD, a child or teen under age 17 must have at least six symptoms from each category; adults with this presentation need at least five. People with this presentation may need help sitting still, fidgeting or restless, talking excessively, interrupting others, acting without thinking, and being impatient while waiting their turn.
Researchers believe that the different subtypes of ADHD and the difference between ADD and ADHD are based on other genetic causes and neuro(physio)logical processes. For example, the cortisol stress response varies between ADHD-HI/ADHD-C and ADHD-I, and the brain’s neurotransmitter (hormone) reactions vary between the two subtypes.
According to one popular (though not scientifically backed) theory, there are seven types of ADD. This theory posits that each style has its own specific set of challenges and, therefore, requires different treatment recommendations than the traditional approach that treats all types of ADHD as if they were the same.
Psychiatrist and nuclear brain imaging expert has developed a system to categorize the seven types of ADD. He bases his method on functional neuroimaging, which uses SPECT scanning to measure cerebral blood flow and shows psychiatrists whether the brain works well or too hard. This helps doctors differentiate the seven ADHD types and determine the best treatments.
The inattentive ADHD type is the most common. It is characterized by trouble paying attention, forgetting things and being slow to start tasks. People with inattentive ADD also have reduced dopamine levels and problems with organization and planning. This type of ADD is more commonly found in girls than boys.
Hyperactive/impulsive ADHD is what most people think of when they hear the word “ADD.” The little boy bounces off the walls and interrupts the teacher during class. This type is more common in boys than girls and is often misdiagnosed in females. These people struggle to sit still and are always on the go, fidgeting or tapping their feet. They need help waiting their turn and finding it difficult to pay attention in school or work.