What is ADHD?

This is week 4 of a 5-part series that I’m doing on some of the most common mental health conditions. Past articles in the series include:

Today’s post is about ADHD, which has three types and stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 

ADHD, predominantly inattentive presentation (formerly known as ADD)

This type of ADHD includes the following symptoms (lasting at least 6 months):

  • Struggles paying attention, as evidenced by frequent careless mistakes.
  • Short attention span in work, school, or social tasks.
  • Zoning out during conversations (mind is elsewhere/ daydreaming).
  • Struggles with following instructions or completing tasks.
  • Disorganization and poor time management.
  • Avoidance of tasks that require prolonged periods of focus.
  • Often forgetful and loses things often.
  • Easily distracted by unrelated thoughts, things, sounds, or situations.

ADHD, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation

This type of ADHD includes the following symptoms (lasting at least 6 months):

  • Restlessness, fidgeting, or can’t sit still.
  • Unable to complete tasks quietly and efficiently.
  • Always physically “on the go,” which can look frantic. (There’s a high correlation between ADHD and anxiety)
  • Rapid or excessive speech.
  • Struggles with patience, interrupts others, or struggles with thinking before acting.

ADHD, combined presentation

This type of ADHD includes symptoms from the aforementioned inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive types.


ADHD can be further specified based on severity (mild, moderate, or severe). These specifiers are based on the frequency, intensity, and duration of symptoms. Only a trained physician, psychologist, or therapist can diagnose ADHD based on the criteria in the DSM 5 (the big book of mental health disorders). Treatments for ADHD include school and workplace accommodations, medication, and therapy.

Still have questions? Leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to continue the conversation.

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