ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children vs Adults

Woman with ADHD
Women may have inattention symptoms from ADHD

ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment 

ADHD is one of the most prevalent behavioral disorders among children. Although symptoms mostly appear during childhood, ADHD may continue throughout adolescence and adulthood. Doctors might evaluate an individual’s middle childhood when diagnosing adult ADHD patients. ADHD patients have trouble concentrating and controlling their impulses. Similarly, they have working memory and executive function problems. The executive function represents the brain’s ability to start and manage activities. It’s not uncommon for people with ADHD to interrupt others or struggle with academic and work performance.

ADHD Manifestations

ADHD patients exhibit three types of symptoms:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • Combination variety


Although males are more likely to suffer from ADHD, the DSM-5 suggests that females have a higher chance of exhibiting inattention symptoms. This form of ADHD presents the following signs:

  • Difficulty in completing tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Trouble following instructions
  • Poor time management
  • Avoidance of mentally-demanding tasks
  • Losing items frequently
Little boy distracted
Children may get bored and not pay attention

Inattention in Kids

Inattention is more noticeable in schools because of classroom disruptions and academic difficulties. Kids with ADHD may lose their stationery, process information slower than their peers, get bored quickly. You can also identify these symptoms at home. It’s time to seek treatment if your child constantly misplaces their belongings or zones out during chores.

Inattention in Adults

Adults with ADHD display inattentiveness in different spheres of their lives. They might jump from one task to another at work without completing any. They may also omit crucial details and make careless mistakes in their presentations. On the other hand, they may forget obvious details and appear distracted when you speak to them at home.

Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness

Patients display uncontrolled motor activity. An individual’s impulsivity is more apparent in structured settings that demand high self-control. Here are some symptoms to watch out for.

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Making inappropriate comments
  • Interrupting others during conversations
  • Difficulty in staying quiet
  • Excessive fidgeting
  • Taking unnecessary risks

Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness in Kids

Stillness doesn’t come easy for kids with ADHD. Your little one might climb on things, run around the house, or squirm in their seat at school. What’s more, they may skip queues, disregard personal space, blurt out answers, and interrupt their classmates and siblings.

Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness in Adults

Adults with ADHD have trouble sitting still through movies, meetings, and meals. Similarly, they’re always on the go and display frustration during overwhelming situations. This is in addition to talking too much and getting easily bored when they master a task. Adults with ADHD could also disrupt conversations, make inappropriate comments during meetings, and spend recklessly.

Combination of Both

The patient’s symptoms aren’t entirely related to inattention or hyperactivity. Although you can be impulsive and inattentive without ADHD, the symptoms are more severe among individuals suffering from this behavioral disorder. Note that you can have different types of ADHD over time.

Moreover, children and adults exhibit their symptoms differently. A child’s symptoms are easier to spot than an adult’s. That’s because individuals develop coping mechanisms as they grow. Additionally, children with ADHD have a greater chance of suffering from depression, ODD anxiety, sleep, and learning disorders.

Treatment Options

Untreated ADHD presents many risks. First off, your child might get low grades at school when they don’t concentrate in class. 

What’s more, they might get into fights and lose friends because of their inability to control emotions. 

As teenagers, ADHD patients may have low self-esteem and engage in risky sexual behavior and drug use.

Your child might even carry these issues into adulthood. According to a past study, people with ADHD reported lower marital satisfaction and intimacy. 

Women with ADHD distracted from her work
Adults may have trouble paying attention to their job assignments

Moreover, ADHD patients may struggle with job stability. The inability to focus makes it harder to hold a job for extended periods. That’s why timely ADHD treatment is crucial.

The doctor may look into individual and family medical records during diagnosis to get more information about the condition.

 Patients might also undergo physical examinations to rule out other diseases. 

ADHD treatments take different forms. 

  • The first one is medication. Doctors could prescribe stimulants like methylphenidate to regulate neurotransmitters. If health conditions limit the use of stimulants, doctors can recommend antidepressants like bupropion which are slower but equally as effective.
  • Another option is psychotherapy. Counseling boosts your child’s self-confidence and teaches them how to handle academic failures and manage their time. On the other hand, adults can acquire organizational skills, learn to cope with social shortcomings, and improve family and work relationships.

Parents can help children with their condition: 

  • By reducing distractions. For instance, you can switch off the TV and video games when your little one is doing house chores. 
  • You can also ask teachers to position your child away from the window to increase their concentration in the classroom. 
  • Not forgetting constant rewards. You can praise your child, hug, or give them a high five when they complete tasks on time. You could also treat them to ice cream or their favorite meal.

 Again, healthy living goes a long way in reducing ADHD symptoms. You can increase your focus through regular exercise and proper nutrition.

Seek Professional Help

Though you can manage ADHD independently, you need a professional to design a treatment plan. Your doctor can recommend several treatment strategies depending on your symptoms. They may also refer you to a specialist for further treatment.

Author: Dr. Umar is the Content Lead/Head at Ezcareclinic, a state of–the art medical facility specializing in mental health and online care. After completing his medical degree, he became part of the clinic team as a medical writer and editor. He ensures that each piece of content provides well-researched, authentic, and up-to-date information and advice on mental health and other healthcare topics.

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