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What Are The 3 Main Symptoms of ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people of all ages. It can impact many areas of life, from school and...
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What Are The 3 Main Symptoms of ADHD?


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people of all ages. It can impact many areas of life, from school and work to relationships and daily functioning. Understanding the main symptoms of ADHD is key to getting a professional diagnosis and accessing the right treatment and support.

In this article, we’ll explore the three main symptoms of ADHD and what they can look like in different age groups. Whether you’re a parent concerned about your child’s behaviour or an adult struggling with ADHD, this information can help you better understand the condition and take the first step toward getting help.

Understanding ADHD

As mentioned, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 5-7% of children and 2-5% of adults in the UK. It is a condition that can make it challenging for people to focus, stay organised and control their impulses.

ADHD is a complex condition that can present itself in various ways. In some cases, people with ADHD might struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity, while in others, it may manifest as difficulty with attention and organisation. These symptoms can make it challenging for people with ADHD to carry out everyday tasks, such as completing homework, staying on track at work, or following through with plans.

One of the key ways that ADHD can affect people is by impacting their executive functioning. Executive functioning refers to a set of mental processes that allow us to plan, organise and execute tasks. These processes can include things like attention, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. In people with ADHD, these processes don’t function as efficiently, making it more difficult to carry out day-to-day activities.

While the exact cause of ADHD is still unknown, it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is also evidence to suggest that certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and noradrenaline, may play a role in the development of ADHD.

If left untreated, ADHD can have a significant impact on a person’s life. It can affect academic and professional performance, as well as personal relationships. However, with the right diagnosis and treatment, people with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.


Inattention: What is it and How Does it Affect Individuals with ADHD?

Inattention is a common symptom of ADHD and is characterised by difficulties with sustained attention, distractibility, forgetfulness, and disorganisation. Inattentive type ADHD is the second most commonly diagnosed type of ADHD, but most people with an ADHD diagnosis will experience symptoms of inattention.

People with inattentive ADHD symptoms may struggle to follow through with tasks, forget important details, have trouble organising their thoughts and belongings, and get easily distracted by external stimuli. These symptoms can make it challenging to perform well at work, school, or in social situations.

At work, people with inattentive ADHD symptoms might find it hard to focus on tasks, miss important details, and have difficulty meeting deadlines. They may also have a hard time prioritising tasks, leading to poor time management and a lack of productivity. This can make it hard to progress on the career ladder. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that adults with ADHD have a 60% higher chance of getting made redundant, they are 30% more likely to experience ongoing employment problems, and they are three times more likely to resign impulsively.

This can be a big source of stress for people with ADHD and can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety disorders, depression, and financial instability.

At home, individuals with inattentive type ADHD may struggle with basic household tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and paying bills. They may also have trouble remembering important appointments or family events.

At school, children with inattentive ADHD may have difficulty sustaining attention in class, following instructions, and completing homework. They might also make careless mistakes, despite not meaning to. This can lead to poor academic performance and low self-esteem.

Treatment Options for Inattention

Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available for people with inattentive type ADHD. These treatments may include medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

Medication, specifically stimulants, can help to increase focus and attention, allowing people with inattentive type ADHD to perform better at work, school, and in social situations. It’s important to note that medication is not a cure, but it can be a helpful tool in managing symptoms.

Therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people with inattentive symptoms learn skills to improve focus and organisation. It can also help to address any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to or exacerbating certain behaviours.


Hyperactivity: What is it and How Does it Affect Individuals with ADHD?

Hyperactivity is characterised by restlessness, fidgeting, excessive talking, and an inability to sit still for long periods of time. Though predominantly hyperactive type ADHD is the least commonly diagnosed subtype of ADHD, lots of people with ADHD will experience hyperactive symptoms, regardless of subtype.

People with hyperactive symptoms of ADHD may struggle to focus and concentrate, often interrupt others, and may have difficulty waiting their turn. One of the major symptoms of this type of ADHD is being impulsive and acting without thinking, which can lead to problems in social situations or at school.

At work, hyperactivity can manifest as an inability to sit still or concentrate, leading to decreased productivity and difficulty completing tasks. At home, hyperactive symptoms may make it hard to relax, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and difficulty maintaining relationships. In school, hyperactive impulsive symptoms can affect academic performance and make it difficult to follow instructions and participate in classroom activities.

Treatment Options for Hyperactivity

There are several treatment options available for people with hyperactive type ADHD. The most commonly prescribed treatment is stimulant medication, which can help improve focus and reduce hyperactivity. However, medication is not always necessary, and other interventions can be effective, such as behavioural therapy or counselling.

Behavioural therapy can help people with hyperactivity learn strategies to manage their symptoms, such as organisation and time-management skills. Counselling can also help individuals with ADHD cope with the emotional impact of their diagnosis and develop strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Lifestyle changes can also be beneficial for some people, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, which can improve focus and reduce hyperactivity.


Impulsivity: What is it and How Does it Affect Individuals with ADHD?

Impulsivity is a common symptom of hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD, but it’s a symptom that is prevalent across people with all types of ADHD.

Characteristics of impulsivity in ADHD can present in various ways, such as interrupting others during conversations, blurting out answers before hearing the entire question, making impulsive decisions without considering consequences, and difficulty waiting for turns or delays. These symptoms can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life, particularly in social settings, at school or work, and in personal relationships.

At work, impulsivity can lead to difficulties with time management, prioritising tasks, and completing projects on time due to distractibility. This can result in increased stress, decreased productivity, and potentially job loss. In school, impulsivity can lead to disruptive behaviour, difficulty following classroom rules, and poor academic performance.

At home, impulsivity can cause issues with personal relationships and family dynamics, particularly when it comes to managing household responsibilities, finances, and decision-making. This can lead to conflict and tension, and may affect overall mental health and wellbeing.

Treatment Options for Impulsivity

Stimulant medication can improve attention and reduce impulsive behaviour; however, medication isn’t suitable for everyone with ADHD, and other treatment options, such as therapy, might be more appropriate for some people.

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help people with ADHD develop strategies to manage their impulsivity, such as improving time management, reducing distractions, and learning to think before acting. Family therapy can also be beneficial, particularly for parents and children who may struggle with communication and managing behaviour at home.

The Importance of Seeking a Professional Diagnosis and Treatment for ADHD

If you suspect that you or your child might have ADHD, it’s important to seek a professional diagnosis. While you might be hesitant to do so due to stigma or other concerns, getting ADHD diagnosed is key to accessing the right treatment and support. A professional assessment can help determine whether ADHD is the cause of the symptoms, rule out other possible conditions, such as oppositional defiant disorder, and guide treatment planning.

Treatment for most ADHD symptoms often involves a combination of medication and therapy, tailored to your specific needs. Medications such as stimulants or non-stimulants can help improve focus and reduce impulsivity, while therapy can provide strategies for managing symptoms and improving functioning in daily life. There are also lifestyle changes that can be helpful, such as improving sleep habits, getting regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet.

It’s important to remember that ADHD is not a character flaw or a lack of willpower. It’s a real, treatable condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Getting a professional diagnosis and treatment can help improve quality of life and increase the chances of success in various areas of life, such as education, career, and relationships.

ADHD Support at The ADHD Centre

At The ADHD Centre, we have a team of specialists who are experts in helping people of all ages navigate ADHD. With bespoke treatment plans, our team can help you find the right treatment to manage your ADHD symptoms effectively, be them inattentive or hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. We can also diagnose ADHD if you’re experiencing these symptoms and think you might have it. To find out more, please get in touch with us by calling 0800 061 4276 or emailing us at

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We have been diagnosing and treating people with ADHD since 2009.

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