What Are the Symptoms of ADHD (cont.)

In adolescents and adults, hyperactivity may manifest itself as feelings of restlessness and difficulty engaging in quiet sedentary activities.

Impulsivity symptoms include:

  • impatience
  • difficulty delaying responses
  • blurting out answers before questions have been completed
  • difficulty awaiting one's turn
  • frequently interrupting or intruding on others to the point of causing problems in social or work settings
  • initiating conversations at inappropriate times

Impulsivity may lead to accidents such as knocking over objects or banging into people. Children with ADHD may also engage in potentially dangerous activities without considering the consequences. For instance, they may climb to precarious positions.

Many of these symptoms occur from time to time in normal youngsters. However, in children with ADHD they occur frequently -- at home and at school or when visiting with friends. They also interfere with the child's ability to function normally.

ADHD is diagnosed after children consistently display some or all of the above behaviors in at least two settings, such as at home and in school, for at least six months.

Long-Term Prognosis With ADHD

Some children with ADHD -- approximately 20% to 30% -- develop learning problems that may not improve with ADHD treatment. Hyperactive behavior can be associated with the development of other disruptive disorders, particularly conduct and oppositional-defiant disorder. Why this association exists is not known.

A great many children with ADHD ultimately adjust. Some, though, especially those with an associated conduct or oppositional-defiant disorder, are more likely to drop out of school. These individuals fare more poorly in their later careers than individuals who did not have ADHD do.

Inattention tends to persist through childhood and adolescence and on into adulthood. The symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to diminish with age.

As they grow older, some teens that have had severe ADHD since middle childhood experience periods of anxiety or depression.

There are several warning signs for ADHD that seem to get worse when demands at school or home increase. They include:

  • difficulties following instructions
  • being unable to get organized, either at home or at school
  • fidgeting, especially with the hands and feet
  • talking too much
  • failing to finish projects, including chores and homework
  • not paying attention to and responding to details
  • getting poor grades in school
  • being isolated from peers due to poor grades and secondary depression

WebMD Medical Reference


CDC: "Symptoms of ADHD."

American Psychiatric Association. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed. (DSM-IV). 1994.

Reviewed by Marina Katz, MD on February 21, 2011

© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Last Editorial Review: 2/21/2011

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