What are the symptoms of a childhood disorder

Symptoms of ADHD

The core symptoms of ADHD in adulthood are:

Hyperactivity: Inner restlessness

The urge to move around, which is often noticeable in children (especially boys), with the typical fidgeting and unable to sit still, often changes in the course of ADHD in the direction of inner restlessness. Externally imposed inactivity creates negative emotions and great anxiety in many adults with ADHD. Situations that z. B. are associated with long periods of still sitting or cause boredom (e.g. meetings, long flights), are avoided as far as possible. If this is not feasible, many sufferers try to relieve their restlessness by continuously tapping their feet or drumming their fingers.


Attention disorder: difficulty concentrating

Attention problems are a common constant in ADHD and are often at the forefront of symptoms in adulthood. For example, those affected remain easily distracted. The concentration can often not be well controlled or directed specifically to a situation or a conversation partner. Those affected also report that all environmental stimuli storm on them unfiltered and they have difficulty concentrating on details or distinguishing important from unimportant. You therefore often have to read sections in books or magazines several times in order to grasp the content. In lectures, conferences, or office work, it can also be difficult to maintain concentration. Flight of thought and thought circles are often present.


Impulsiveness: impulse control disorders

During the transition into adulthood, the excessive impulsiveness remains pronounced as a symptom in many cases. Those affected are often experienced by their environment as people with “impulse control disorders”.

ADHD - Diagnosis in Adulthood

In order for the diagnosis of ADHD to be made in adulthood, the symptoms must have been present in childhood and currently lead to impairments in at least two different areas of life, e.g. B. in the family environment and at work.


When diagnosing ADHD, a distinction is made between so-called subtypes of the disease, depending on the main symptoms. In the frequently used DSM-5 diagnostic manual, these are:

  • the ADHD subtype with predominantly attention deficit
  • the ADHD subtype with predominantly hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • the ADHD mixed type (with attention disorder plus hyperactivity-impulsivity)

In order to assess ADHD symptoms, it is important to know / take into account that a subtype of ADHD diagnosed in childhood can migrate to another subtype in the long term. Therefore, the term “current presentation” is often used today when diagnosing subtypes. This underlines that some symptoms of ADHD are constant throughout the life cycle, while other symptoms can change.

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In adults affected with ADHD, other disease features can occur in addition to the known symptoms.

Short films on the behavior of adults with ADHD.

Information on diagnosing ADHD in adults can be found here.