Posted By Lauren Brawley On December 3, 2019

Inside Behavioral Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Inside Behavioral Health Blog on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a complex and often misunderstood neurological disorder. Millions of children and adults live with ADHD. While the disorder is commonly diagnosed in childhood, it often continues into adulthood. Additionally, there are 3 subtypes of ADHD. New research and data on ADHD are constantly being published. The medical condition is undoubtedly difficult to fully understand. Our goal of posting a general overview of ADHD is to begin a journey of education with research and further resources.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

Signs You May Notice in Children

People with ADHD are often easily distracted, forgetful, and hypersensitive. It is not out of the ordinary for children to have behavior issues and trouble paying attention. The distinction for children with ADHD is these behaviors do not change or improve over time. More than six million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Two million of these children were diagnosed between the ages of 2-5 years olds. For children, symptoms may include:

  • Distracting daydreams
  • Impulsiveness
  • Constant movement, including squirming and fidgeting 
  • Forgetfulness
  • Careless mistakes 
  • Difficulty listening to instructions 
  • Excessive talking
  • Failing to complete tasks, such as chores and homework

The Difficulty of Diagnosis in Adults

In some cases, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not recognized or diagnosed until adulthood. Adults with ADHD show symptoms in different ways than children. Symptoms in adults may not be as clear as in children. It is common to notice a lack of executive function in adults with ADHD. Signs of ADHD in adulthood may include:

  • Difficulty organizing and prioritizing tasks
  • Lack of productivity in the workplace
  • Trouble with working memory
  • Struggles with emotional regulation
  • Excessive talking 
  • Ongoing procrastination
  • Lack of attention to detail

Three Types of ADHD

A common misconception of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is all people living with the deficit struggle with the same issues. Misconceptions may stem from medical terms changing over the years. Since 1994, medical professionals have officially used the term ADHD. Before this date, many people remember (and possibly still use) the term ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Now, instead of having ADD vs. ADHD, doctors use ADHD as the official medical term to describe both hyperactive and inattentive attitudes. Individuals often struggle more predominantly with particular symptoms, which will allow doctors to diagnose one of three subtype presentations: inattentive, hyperactive, and combined. What is the difference between these three subtypes?

Inattentive ADHD

Individuals with inattentive ADHD have trouble completing tasks. People may notice they often seem spacey in conversation. These individuals often have trouble listening. This is noticeable when they can’t follow through on instructions or keep up in a conversation. An inattentive ADHD diagnosis will include signs of procrastination, memory issues, and hesitant behaviors.

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD makes it difficult to stay still for a long time. This difficulty may manifest in constant fidgeting or excessive talking. The constant need for activity will cause restlessness and impulsivity issues. Children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are often not able to play quietly.

Combined ADHD

This ADHD subtype definition is explained in the name, a combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive presentations. These individuals test equally for symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. A detailed evaluation is given when a patient is diagnosed with ADHD. Through a list of questions, a clinician can determine which subtype someone is struggling with. Scores are split into the two subtype categories. When a patient scores equally on both inattentive behaviors and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors, they are diagnosed with the combined ADHD subtype. Among children, combined ADHD presentation is the most common diagnosis. 

Treatment Options

Just as each case for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is different, each treatment plan is different. Adolescents with ADHD will have a treatment based on the child’s and family’s needs. Treatment plans for adolescents may be formed with input from multiple healthcare professionals, parents, teachers, and more. Many children benefit from behavioral therapy as a treatment for ADHD. Behavioral therapists can additionally provide training and best practices for parents. Therapy can also benefit adults struggling with ADHD. Medication is a treatment option for ADHD in children and adults. It is important to work closely with healthcare professionals to form the best course of treatment.

Other Facts and Figures on ADHD

Here are a few more facts about ADHD:

Graphic displaying that 6 in 10 children with ADHD also live with one other behavioral, emotional or mental disorder
  • Around 6 in 10 children diagnosed with ADHD also live with at least one other behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder. For example, 3 in 10 children with ADHD have anxiety. 
  • Boys are more often diagnosed with ADHD than girls. Although, many researchers have recently focused on ADHD in women going undiagnosed.
  • In 2016 it was found that 62% of children with ADHD were taking medication and only 46.7% received behavioral therapy. 

As previously mentioned, research on ADHD is constantly evolving. There are many resources to provide further education on ADHD.  For more information on ADHD, check out the following resources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) National advocacy organization for adults and children 

ADDitude Online Magazine

Patagonia Health works to continue the conversation on ADHD and other behavioral health issues. To fight the stigma against mental health, speak up to those around you and share our posts.


About Lauren Brawley

Lauren Brawley is a Marketing Specialist at Patagonia Health, a cloud-based EHR designed specifically for behavioral and public healthcare. Lauren integrates her strong communications skills with industry research to keep partners up to date on important Behavioral and Public Health resources and news.