What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Reviewed by:
Dr. Austin Lin, MD – Staff Psychiatrist at Talkiatry
July 12, 2021

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with everyday functioning or development. 

People with ADHD usually have trouble getting organized, staying focused on a single task, sitting still for long periods, making realistic plans, and thinking before acting. They may also be fidgety, interruptive, and unable to adapt to changing situations. 

This brain disorder impacts approximately 11% of children and almost 5% of adults in the U.S. ADHD is frequently diagnosed during childhood and can last into adulthood, but can be diagnosed in adults, too. Unfortunately, all too often, ADHD goes undiagnosed and untreated. As a result, nearly 75% of adults who have ADHD are unaware they have this condition, which can have significant impact on their daily functioning. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may suffer from poor academic performance, difficulties at work, or troubled relationships. In addition, they may have made adjustments in both their personal and professional life to compensate for their untreated symptoms.

If you or your child experiences symptoms of ADHD, you should speak with a mental health specialist so that a proper diagnosis and treatment can be made.

Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Mental health professionals diagnose ADHD using the criteria listed in the DSM-5 and classify it into three types: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined inattentive/hyperactive.

Inattentive type

  • Lack of attention to detail or making careless mistakes while performing school work or work duties
  • Unable to focus during tasks, lectures, conversations, or intensive study
  • Doesn't seem to listen when spoken to
  • Doesn't follow through on instructions or complete schoolwork, chores, or job duties
  • Has problems organizing tasks and work
  • Frequently loses items needed for daily tasks, such as school papers, books, keys, wallet, eyeglasses, and cell phone
  • Easily distracted

Hyperactive type

  • Tends to fidget with hands or feet or squirm while seated
  • Unable to stay seated 
  • Runs about or climbs in inappropriate places 
  • Unable to play quietly or participate in leisure activities 
  • Constantly "on the go," as if driven by a motor
  • Talks too much

Symptoms of ADHD can emerge as early as 3 to 6 years old and persist into adolescence and adulthood, although symptoms may improve with age for some. These symptoms can be mistaken for emotional or behavioral problems or missed altogether in quiet, well-behaved children, resulting in a delay in diagnosis. 

Treatment for ADHD

Among the most common treatments for ADHD are medication management, behavior therapy, counseling, and education. However, these treatments can only reduce or help manage symptoms of ADHD, as ADHD cannot be cured. 

How Talkiatry treats ADHD

Medication management

Our psychiatrists at Talkiatry who specialize in treating ADHD may choose to prescribe medications that reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity while improving people's ability to concentrate, learn, and work. Currently, stimulant medicines (or psychostimulants) are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. Stimulants act by temporarily altering brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and effectively treating inattention and hyperactivity within a short timeframe. However, stimulants aren't appropriate for every patient, which is why you must work with a knowledgeable psychiatrist who can identify your individual needs and provide alternative medication options if needed.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is frequently recommended in conjunction with meditation and mindfulness classes as an additional form of psychotherapy since concentration and focus require one to be aware of their thoughts and feelings. Treatment for ADHD may include teaching patients to think before they act, avoid unnecessary risks, and implementing strategies to sustain focus. In addition, our psychiatrists provide emotional support to our patients to help them cope with the changes that come with treatment.

Next steps with Talkiatry

Talkiatry provides outpatient mental healthcare services including diagnosis, psychotherapy, and medication management to people with ADHD.

At Talkiatry, we are dedicated to providing you with accessible and affordable mental health care solutions. We provide customized treatment plans focused on helping you feel better, faster. We also offer flexible telemedicine and in-office appointment options to match our therapeutic and modern approach to psychiatric care.

If you believe you have ADHD, we highly recommend you start by taking our free and easy assessment to receive a preliminary diagnosis so you can better understand your current symptoms. We'll then match you with a Talkiatry psychiatrist who can assist you in managing your ADHD symptoms. 

Take the assessment today to get started.

Talkiatry is a mental health practice, and our clinicians review everything we write. However, articles are never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may need mental health help, talk to a psychiatrist. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.

Related posts

Mental health is personal.
So is our approach to psychiatry.