As with all psychological disorders, in order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a psychiatrist seeks to identify clusters of symptoms as detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (commonly referred to as ‘DSM’).
They must have an impact on your day-to-day life and have been present since childhood.
ADHD is broadly characterised by inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviour but the diagnosis will also contain a sub type, each tied to one or more of the core characteristics.
These subtypes will often present themselves in childhood in the following ways:
- Inattention: Easily distracted, poor concentration skills, difficulty organising themselves
- Impulsivity: Impatient, risk taking, disproportionately emotional responses
- Hyperactivity: Overly energetic, talkative, excessive fidgeting, difficulty staying on task
Everyone is different, so it isn’t uncommon for two people to experience ADHD in different ways. These behaviours often differ between the sexes, with males displaying high levels of obvious physical hyperactivity while often females may appear to be the opposite, quiet and inattentive but due to mental hyperactivity resulting in excessive daydreaming..
Type 1 – Inattentiveness
If you have this type of ADHD, you may experience more symptoms of inattention than those of impulsivity and hyperactivity. You may struggle with impulse control or hyperactivity at times but these aren’t the main characteristics of the inattentive type.
People who experience inattentive behaviour often:
- Miss details and are distracted easily
- Get bored quickly
- Have trouble focusing on a single task
- Have difficulty organising thoughts and learning new information
- Lose pencils, papers, or other items needed to complete a task
- Don’t seem to listen
- Move slowly and appear as if they’re daydreaming
- Process information slower and less accurately than others
- Have trouble following directions
Type 2 – Hyperactive Impulsiveness
This type of ADHD is characterised by symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity. People with this type can display signs of inattention, but it’s not as marked as the other symptoms.
People who are impulsive or hyperactive often:
- Squirm, fidget, or feel restless
- Have difficulty sitting still
- Talk constantly
- Touch and play with objects, even when inappropriate to the task at hand
- Have trouble engaging in quiet activities
- Are constantly “on the go”
- Are impatient
- Act out of turn and don’t think about consequences of actions
- Blurt out answers and inappropriate comments
Type 3 – Combination ADHD
If you have the combination type, it means that your symptoms do not lean to heavily into either inattention or hyperactive-impulsive behaviour.
Most people, with or without ADHD, experience some degree of inattentive or impulsive behaviour however, it is far more severe in people with ADHD with the symptoms often interfering with your ability to function properly at home, school, work, and in social situations.