Tired female office worker with ADHD symptoms headset in hand leaning on desk and staring into distance

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article on ADHD symptoms is Megan Septer, PsyD, LP, Outpatient Psychologist and Testing Clinician.   

Have you ever struggled to pay attention and then started wondering if you have ADHD? In this post, we'll explore some of the most common ADHD symptoms and how to find out if you have ADHD.  

According to Megan Septer, LP, Outpatient Psychologist and Testing Clinician, ADHD is "one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders," and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is "marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development."  

One of the biggest indicators of ADHD is that its symptoms interfere with functioning – that is, it makes doing everyday things more difficult for you than for other people. Let's explore what those symptoms are.  

Related: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)  

The Symptoms of ADHD 

It's important to note that everyone is different, and symptoms may manifest differently for different people. Also, girls are more likely to have their ADHD attributed to anxiety or other mental health conditions rather than being tested for ADHD.  

Related: ADHD: Learn All About the 3 Types  

ADHD Symptom: Inattention

One core aspect of ADHD is inattention. This can manifest in a few ways:  

  • Trouble focusing: Tasks that require sustained concentration, like homework or meetings, feel like a struggle for you. 
  • Easily distracted: A sudden noise or interesting thought can pull your attention away from the present moment.  
  • Disorganization: Keeping track of schedules, appointments, or belongings can be a constant challenge.  
  • Forgetfulness: You might forget instructions, deadlines, or even where you placed your keys. 

ADHD Symptom: Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

While often associated with childhood, hyperactivity and impulsivity can also be present in adults with ADHD. Here's what it might look like:  

  • Restlessness: You feel a constant urge to move around, fidget, or tap your feet.  
  • Impulsive actions: Speaking out of turn, blurting out answers, or making quick decisions without considering the consequences are common.  
  • Difficulty waiting your turn: Standing in lines or waiting for others can feel especially trying.

Related: 4 Ways to Support Children's Mental Health this School Year  

How do you know if you have ADHD?  

Getting an ADHD diagnosis can be difficult because certain ADHD symptoms can look a lot like symptoms of anxiety or mood disorders. The best way to find out if you have ADHD is through psychological testing, with assessments specifically designed to assess for ADHD.  

This will include a meeting with a psychologist specially trained to test for ADHD, like Megan. There may be several meetings to administer the tests and go over the results. Once you complete all your sessions, you'll be able to determine if you have ADHD or something else.   

Once you have an ADHD diagnosis, you'll be able to start pursuing treatment designed for ADHD. Many people with ADHD get great benefit from talk therapy combined with ADHD medication prescribed by a psychiatrist.   

Related: Bipolar Disorder Symptoms & Treatment

Megan's Patient: Assessing and Treating ADHD Symptoms  

When Megan's 15-year-old patient first came to see her, he and his parents were confused and frustrated. They knew he was smart, but the teen wasn't completing his assignments and would forget to turn them in. His teachers thought he was unmotivated and lazy; the best the teen could manage was getting Cs in class.   

As this went on, he began to feel terrible about himself. He felt disconnected from his friends and family, and he wanted to give up on school.  

Until Megan diagnosed him with ADHD.   

She discovered that he was an intelligent person with many strengths, but ADHD symptoms were hindering him. This diagnosis gave him and his parents a roadmap for where to go. They got him in with a therapist to learn skills he could put into place to help him stay on top of his homework, and they also met with a doctor who prescribed ADHD medication.  

When Megan saw them a couple of months later, the family's life had dramatically changed. Megan says:  

About two months later, I saw this teen and his mother in the waiting room as they arrived for another appointment. The mother waved me over and said that it has been a "night and day" difference for her son since being diagnosed with ADHD and starting treatment. Her son was gaining back his confidence and feeling better about himself.  

Thanks to this diagnosis, the teen understood now that he didn't have any problem with his intelligence and that, instead, it was just that he was living with ADHD and hadn't known about it. His grades were improving, stressors at home had reduced, and relationships with teachers and peers were back on track.  

Related: What is Social Anxiety?  

A Word from Nystrom & Associates  

Reach out if you need help. Contact us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online. We'll help you find a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychological tester who specializes in ADHD. 

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