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What is ADHD?

Have you ever wondered if you have ADHD? It’s essential to know what it is and what it isn’t so you can explore whether or not you might have the condition. You don’t want to self-diagnose, but if you find that you’re having symptoms that could point towards Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it’s essential to see a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis. There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to ADHD. Sometimes the term is misused as slang for when someone’s inattentive when in reality, ADHD is a diagnosis that comes with a host of challenges outside of getting distracted. Everyone loses focus from time to time, but that does not mean that they have ADHD. To receive a diagnosis, you must meet at least six symptoms related to inattentiveness. You also need to meet six or more symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity in the DSM-5. There are different ways that ADHD can present. Someone with ADHD can have predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, mostly inattentive ADHD, or they can experience ADHD with a combined presentation that doesn’t lean more to either side. Here are some symptoms to look for: 

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Inattentive symptoms

  • Difficulty organizing tasks 
  • Trouble following through with instructions
  • Notable difficulty in paying attention at work, school, and in other settings
  • Struggling to focus on tasks or complete them 
  • Difficulty with jobs that require prolonged concentration or effort
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Trouble with listening or attending to what others are saying
  • Misplacing or losing essential items regularly 

Hyperactive-impulsive symptoms

  • Fidgeting 
  • Getting up and moving around at work or school when unprompted to do so or feeling an intense urge to do this
  • Restlessness 
  • Speaking excessively or quickly
  • Struggling to wait for one’s turn to talk or do something else
  • Blurting out answers in class or other settings
  • Frequently interrupting others
  • An atypical sense of urgency or being on-the-go 

A certain number of these symptoms need to be present before the age of 12 for you to receive a diagnosis. Your symptoms must interfere with your daily life for you to receive a diagnosis. Additionally, they must not be explained by other diagnoses such as Bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and so on, although these diagnoses can be comorbid with ADHD.

ADHD and stigma 

ADHD doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of all genders and ages. While so much of the narrative surrounding ADHD relates to children, it impacts adults as well. It’s crucial not to self-stigmatize or make assumptions. Media depictions of the condition can be inaccurate and may lead people to form untrue beliefs about themselves. The stereotypes that the media presents about people with ADHD are dangerous. They can keep people from pursuing a diagnosis. ADHD is not getting distracted by something shiny, but rather it causes real issues with executive functioning. It doesn’t mean that you’re broken. Many highly successful people have ADHD. 

Getting diagnosed 

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The only way to know if you have ADHD is to see a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat the condition. If you believe that you or your child has ADHD, ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist. You may be wondering if your child has ADHD, but aren’t sure if you should pursue testing. If that’s the case, ask them questions about the issues they seem to be facing. For example, if they struggle to get good grades, you can say, “is it hard for you to remember what the teacher said when you’re at school?” Or, if they interrupt you, instead of merely telling them not to, you can ask, “do you sometimes interrupt people because it’s hard to wait your turn to speak?” A diagnosis can make a world of difference both for children and adults because it allows you to get the appropriate support and learn to cope with the condition. 

Coping with ADHD 

ADHD is often comorbid with other diagnoses. Whether you struggle with another condition or with ADHD alone, ADHD can come with a host of struggles. You might feel misunderstood or alone in living with ADHD, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Seeing a therapist is a great way to gain a sense of understanding. Whether you see someone online or in your local area, it is essential to reach out for support when you need it. It is possible to thrive with it.  Support from others can be the life-changing thing that helps you do that. ADHD is nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t be afraid to open up and ask for help. 

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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