Signs, Effects & Symptoms of ADHD

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Cross Creek Hospital helps children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with ADHD through an unmatched quality of care and support. Located in Austin, TX, Cross Creek is the leading provider of ADHD treatment.

Learn More About ADHD Treatment

Learn more about ADHD treatment at Cross Creek Hospital in Austin, TX

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as the presence of a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with an individual’s development or ability to function appropriately. ADHD is typically broken down into two types, inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, with specific symptomologies defining each. Individuals with ADHD may present with symptoms that are more predominantly characteristic of one type versus the other, while others may present with symptoms of both types simultaneously.

Although the symptoms that are characteristic of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be exhibited by anyone at any time (i.e. everyone will inevitably lose their keys or wallet at some point, and anyone can experience periods of time where they have difficulty concentrating), individuals who are suffering from ADHD experience such symptoms to a point where it begins to impair their ability to function appropriately on a daily basis, negatively impacts their social interactions, and hinders their ability to perform at an adequate level academically or occupationally.

While having ADHD can cause many disturbances in the lives of those who are afflicted by it, there are many treatment options that can help individuals learn how to successfully manage their symptoms and live full, happy, and productive lives.


ADHD statistics

There have been countless studies conducted on the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The presence of this disorder is believed to be much more prominent in males than it is in females, and males tend to be more likely to suffer from the hyperactive type, while females tend to be more likely to suffer from the inattention type. In regards to both genders, however, approximately 5% of children and adolescents are believed to suffer from the symptoms synonymous with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Within the adult population, estimates have shown that approximately 4-5% meet criteria for a clinical diagnosis of ADHD. It must be noted, however, that should an individual be diagnosed with ADHD, he or she must have displayed an onset of symptoms prior to the age of 12.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for ADHD

Rather than there existing one defining factor that ultimately causes an individual to experience the onset of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, professionals in the field of mental health agree that there are a number of factors that work together in eliciting the development of symptoms of ADHD. Consider the following:

Genetic: As is true for other mental health conditions, ADHD is known to run in families, suggesting a strong hereditary component to its onset. Individuals who have first-degree relatives who suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are at an especially heightened risk for eventually experiencing symptoms of this illness as well.

Environmental: There are some professionals who believe that certain environmental factors can play a role in determining whether or not someone will eventually experience the onset of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Conclusions from various studies have demonstrated that prenatal exposure to alcohol, drugs, infections, and/or other dangerous toxins can place a child at a higher risk of developing the symptoms of ADHD later in life. Furthermore, there have been additional studies conducted that concluded that when individuals are exposed to chronically stressful or chaotic environments, or have been the victim of abuse or neglect, and do not have the appropriate skills needed to successfully cope with such circumstances, there is a heightened risk that they, too, will eventually develop ADHD. It must be noted, however, that for these environmental factors to come into play, an individual must possess a genetic predisposition for the illness.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of ADHD or other mental health conditions
  • Personal history of preexisting mental health condition
  • Family and/or personal history of substance abuse
  • Chronic exposure to crime, chaos, and/or violence
  • Being male

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ADHD

The signs and symptoms that are displayed by an individual who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder will inevitably vary from person to person depending upon a number of factors. A person’s age will greatly impact the types of symptoms that are displayed, as the symptoms of ADHD tend to be most noticeable in school-aged children when they are in a classroom setting. Additionally, the type of ADHD that one is predominantly afflicted by (whether it be inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive) will also have a tremendous impact on which symptoms are displayed. Examples of general symptoms that, when exhibited, can be indicative of ADHD include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Frequently loses important items (keys, wallet, cell phone, school papers, work documents, etc.)
  • Rapid and excessive speech
  • Restlessness
  • Acting out
  • Temper tantrums
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Unable to sit still for prolonged periods of time

Physical symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic headaches / migraines
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Stomachaches
  • Muscle tension

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Repetitive thought patterns
  • Racing thoughts
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Persistent procrastination
  • Chronic forgetfulness
  • Pervasive, problematic inattentiveness
  • Thinking patterns that are ritualistic in nature

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Excessive levels of anxiety
  • Pervasive feelings of insecurity
  • Abrupt changes in mood
  • Low feelings of self-worth / low self-esteem
  • Excessive feelings of irritability and agitation
  • Depression


Effects of ADHD

There are many viable treatment options available for sufferers of ADHD. Receiving such treatment is necessary in order to not only alleviate the distressing symptoms of this disorder, but to prevent future detriments from arising as well. Some long-term effects that may result from untreated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may include:

  • Becoming socially withdrawn or isolated
  • Familial discord
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Academic failure
  • Inability to function appropriately in occupational settings
  • Lacking the ability to maintain steady employment
  • Low self-esteem
  • Financial strife

Co-Occuring Disorders

ADHD and co-occurring disorders

People who are suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder commonly experience symptoms that are synonymous with other mental health conditions. In fact, some studies have concluded that people who have ADHD are six times more likely to suffer from another psychiatric condition or learning disorder than are individuals who do not have ADHD. The most commonly diagnosed disorders known to co-occur with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
  • Conduct disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Substance use disorder
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Past Clients Say

My ADHD was getting out of hand and after attending the treatment and support groups at Cross Creek, it got a lot better.

– Former Patient