Infographic titled 'Most Common ADHD Symptoms' featuring cartoon images of a pink-haired character illustrating different symptoms. The character is shown with thought bubbles filled with various symbols to represent being easily distracted, smiling with a speech bubble to denote interrupting conversations, looking at a pile of papers labeled 'Struggling with organization', and others. Artist credit to @the_mini_adhd_coach.

Common ADHD Symptoms Explained

Common ADHD symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, manifesting as difficulty maintaining focus, excessive movement or talking, and acting without thinking. These behaviors significantly impact daily functioning and social interactions. Recognizing these symptoms is the first step towards understanding ADHD and seeking effective management strategies.

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Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

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Everyday ADHD Symptoms You Might Experience

Do you ever find yourself wondering if your quirks and struggles might be more than just everyday challenges? Understanding ADHD and what are and aren’t symptoms, may help you find the best way you can manage those symptoms or struggles day-to-day.

In this article, we’ll look at the most common symptoms, and also break down:

  • How diverse the range of ADHD symptoms and experiences are.
  • Strategies for recognizing and managing ADHD traits.
  • The importance of seeking support and embracing self-acceptance.

Ready to dispel the myths and finally understand what symptoms are linked to ADHD? Let’s dive in. 🏃

The ADHD Experience

When I first received my diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), I found myself in a world with limited resources and understanding of the common traits and symptoms associated with ADHD. 

It was a confusing yet eye-opening journey, filled with moments of self-discovery and the realization that certain aspects of my life weren't as straightforward as they seemed.

From struggling with day-to-day tasks to excelling in areas that piqued my interest, I experienced a whirlwind of all-or-nothing extremes that became increasingly harder to ignore over time. It led me to wonder: What exactly are the main symptoms of ADHD, and how do they shape our lives?

Understanding The ADHD Types 

When it comes to understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, serves as a critical resource. This manual not only lists the symptoms associated with ADHD but also categorizes them into three distinct types.

The types identified in the DSM-5 include:

  • Predominantly Inattentive ADHD, where individuals often find themselves easily distracted, facing difficulty organizing tasks, and making careless mistakes.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD, characterized by symptoms such as an excessive amount of energy and taking unnecessary risks without considering the consequences.
  • Combined Type ADHD, which encompasses symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, reflecting a more diverse presentation of the disorder.

Getting an accurate diagnosis, alongside considering environmental factors and the potential for co-occurring conditions like learning disabilities and anxiety, is essential. It enables effective management strategies, from educational adjustments for children to coping mechanisms for adults with ADHD.  💕

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasize the importance of understanding these types and facilitating better outcomes through personalized support and interventions. 

As ADHD is so complex, grasping how symptoms vary between types can bridge the gap from being misunderstood to being supported and heard. 🥰

The Most Common ADHD Traits

Before we dive into the common symptoms, let's remember that everyone's ADHD journey is unique 🌟. While there are shared symptoms many of us might recognize, it's the personal nuances that truly define each experience. 

It's essential to recognize that each ADHD type encompasses a unique set of symptoms, and individuals may experience these symptoms with varying degrees of intensity. Additionally, this list includes both adult ADHD symptoms and child ADHD symptoms, meaning that they may change and evolve over time. 

So, as we explore the different ADHD symptoms, keep in mind that you may (or may not) experience them, reflecting the diverse and personal nature of ADHD.

Being Easily Distracted

While scrolling TikTok, I came across a video showing a great representation of what it’s like to be easily distracted due to ADHD. 

In the video, a wife wondered why her husband, who said he’d tidy up a mess in the living room, hadn’t cleaned it up yet. The man replied that he was about to tidy up, but noticed the unfinished dishes on their sink. As he went to do the dishes, he remembered last night’s rubbish and threw that away first. 

Illustration of a pink-haired character reading a book with a butterfly nearby, labeled 'Being easily distracted'. The simplistic and colorful drawing aims to capture the challenge of maintaining focus, typical in ADHD. Artwork by @the_mini_adhd_coach.

His wife was confused but understood that this was one of his ADHD traits: being easily distracted. 

Adult ADHD can look like losing track of tasks because of things we see or remember or difficulty sustaining attention for any period. 

Earlier today, for example, I was about to finish writing this section you’re reading right now, but got distracted by my social media account. It ended up taking me another half an hour to finish what could have been done in just 5 minutes.

Interrupting Conversations

Certain symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity can impact how we interact with others. 

We may find ourselves interrupting conversations and cutting people off to share our thoughts or ideas, or blurting out words at inappropriate times. We might also tend to finish other people’s sentences. 😬

When we do this, the other person might understandably get frustrated or feel insulted by this behavior, even if we know we genuinely care about what they’re saying.

Cartoon of a cheerful pink-haired character speaking with a speech bubble, captioned 'Interrupting conversations'. This image encapsulates the ADHD symptom of impulsivity in social interactions. Credit to @the_mini_adhd_coach.

The problem is that many with ADHD simply can’t control these impulses. If you’re experiencing racing thoughts, the need to express them can become overwhelming. 

The best thing that we can do when having lengthy conversations? Inform them beforehand that we tend to interrupt and express our minds abruptly, and that while we try our best to manage our symptoms and be mindful of our actions, it may slip out.

Struggling with Organization

Our difficulties in organization aren't just limited to our often messy environment. Sometimes, ADHD adults also have difficulty organizing thoughts, emotions, and ideas. 

When an ADHD brain has a hundred things going on at once, it can be challenging for us to catch up and put our feelings into words, which can frustrate people we’re talking to if they don’t understand. 

The part of the brain affected by ADHD handles our executive functions, which are responsible for our ability to get things done. Executive functions include planning, organization, and prioritization

Depiction of a pink-haired character looking at a scattered stack of papers, labeled 'Struggling with organization'. The image portrays the difficulty in organizing tasks often experienced by individuals with ADHD. Illustration by @the_mini_adhd_coach.

Getting on top of paperwork, finishing homework, and keeping up with home organization can be quite an overwhelming challenge, and as a result, we tend to feel guilty, ashamed, or restless because we cannot get things done or make careless mistakes.

Losing Things

Do you often misplace your things? I do, too! 😅 

I tend to spend more time looking for something than actually using it. And then there are the things I lose almost every day: my phone, keys, TV remotes, etc - I’m usually sitting on whatever it is. 

This can be frustrating as it wastes time, effort, and sometimes, money. When I lose things, I tend to buy a replacement immediately, partly because I don’t want to waste time searching for it and partly due to my impulsive behaviors.

Cartoon image showing a pink-haired character with an exclamation mark in a speech bubble, under the label 'Losing things'. This artwork highlights the common ADHD symptom of misplacing items. Art by @the_mini_adhd_coach.

Some reports are saying that this trait can be linked to problems with Object Permanence, which is the ability to understand that even though some things are out of sight, they still exist. 

For us, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is literal.

So when we misplace something (the item becomes out of sight), our brains tell us that it's gone forever and we need to replace it. So if you're an adult and tend to lose things often, don't worry. You're definitely not alone.

Avoiding Difficult Tasks

Since we already struggle so much in our daily lives and have trouble focusing, we usually try to avoid tasks that can cause us distress and require sustained mental effort. When faced with complex or overwhelming responsibilities, it can trigger anxiety and frustration, leading to avoidance and procrastination.  

Drawing of a pink-haired character with a stern face and arms crossed over a label 'Work', accompanied by the text 'Avoiding difficult tasks'. It symbolizes the ADHD tendency to procrastinate, especially on challenging tasks. Art from @the_mini_adhd_coach.

It also means we might be more conflict-avoidant.

Many children with ADHD develop defensive mechanisms that enable them to prevent conflicts from happening. For instance, they might mask their attention deficit hyperactivity symptoms so they can be accepted by their peers. 


Are you always on the go? Do you feel like you’re driven by an invisible motor? Restlessness is one of the hyperactive-impulsive symptoms that can make you fidgety, have difficulty sitting still, or talk excessively

A pink-haired character sits surrounded by a swirl of stars and scribbles, indicating 'Feeling restless', a frequent ADHD symptom. The visual metaphor expresses the internal sensation of restlessness. Created by @the_mini_adhd_coach.

While sugar doesn’t cause ADHD in children (that’s a myth!), having too much sugar can cause more restlessness because of the surge of energy it gives

When we feel extreme restlessness, it is our brain's way of telling us that we need to move. However, our restlessness isn’t always physical. It can also manifest in our thoughts, emotions, and decision-making, which can even cause sleep disorders since racing thoughts often occur at night.

Visualize your ADHD traits!

Take our fun online quiz to visualize your ADHD traits and learn more about your brain!


Managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Okay, so now we know the symptoms, how do we treat and manage ADHD? 

Professional Treatment Options

Firstly, your healthcare provider may suggest treatment options, such as stimulant medications, behavioral therapy (such as CBT), or both. But before you do anything, you’ll need an ADHD diagnosis from a qualified professional to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

This is because several mental disorders and conditions such as anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or Tourette syndrome can have overlapping symptoms with ADHD and can be mistaken for ADHD.

Plus, these mental health conditions can also coexist with ADHD. So, it is essential to get a comprehensive evaluation to ensure that you are getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. 

If the common symptoms of ADHD we’ve discussed aren’t managed properly, they can lead to a mood disorder or more serious mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.

Find Your Community

Surrounded by the right, empathetic crowd, you're free to explore as many strategies as necessary to handle your ADHD symptoms. 💪

For me, the most crucial support that adults with ADHD can receive is kindness. ❤️ 

It’s essential to understand your diagnosis and learn to accept yourself for who you are. To do this, look for community support groups and social events for other neurodivergent people to help you better understand and manage your ADHD symptoms.

Many people with ADHD are living happy and successful lives. Take inspiration from them and learn from their stories. With the proper knowledge and support, you can also achieve the same level of success in managing your ADHD symptoms. 🙌

Educate Yourself

Finally, if you're keen to deepen your understanding of ADHD, whether for yourself or your child, and explore its effects more comprehensively, there has never been more information available than there is now. Through self-help guides, support groups, and treatments, individuals navigating life with this neurodivergent disorder have access to a wealth of resources.

But sometimes, the sheer volume of information out there can be overwhelming. 🤯That's precisely why I developed my workbook. Designed to cut through the noise, it offers a direct, simplified approach to understanding and managing ADHD symptoms. This resource stands out for its practicality, guiding users through a step-by-step self-assessment process to gain clarity and take control of ADHD in their lives. 💪

Key Takeaways

  • The DSM-5 outlines three ADHD types:
  • Predominantly Inattentive
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
  • Combined Type

Recognizing the specific type aids in tailoring treatment and support.

  • The most common symptoms of ADHD vary widely, but include:
  • Being easily distracted
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Struggling with organization
  • Losing things
  • Avoiding difficult tasks
  • Restlessness.
  • Everyone's ADHD journey is different, with a mix of symptoms that can change and vary in intensity over time, highlighting the unique and personal experience of living with ADHD.
  • Treatments include stimulant medications, behavioral therapy, and comprehensive evaluations to ensure proper diagnosis.
  • Finding supportive communities and practicing self-acceptance are key to managing ADHD.
  • A wealth of information on ADHD is available, including self-help guides, support groups, and treatments.

Always remember, you're not alone in your ADHD journey. Shared experiences bring us together, so don’t be afraid to connect with like-minded people who understand your struggles. 💕

Comprehensive infographic by @the_mini_adhd_coach showcasing 'The Most Common ADHD Symptoms' with individual illustrations of a pink-haired character depicting being easily distracted, interrupting conversations, losing things, avoiding difficult tasks, feeling restless, and struggling with organization.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 3 main symptoms of ADHD?

The three main symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Inattention involves difficulty staying focused, following detailed instructions, and organizing tasks. Hyperactivity is characterized by seemingly endless energy and an inability to stay still, which is more evident in younger children. Impulsivity manifests through hasty actions without much thought, often leading to unexpected consequences.

What are the 12 symptoms of ADHD?

The 12 symptoms of ADHD, as categorized by the DSM-5, include: Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes. Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly. Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork or chores. Has difficulties organizing tasks and activities. Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort. Loses things necessary for tasks and activities. Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli. Is often forgetful in daily activities. Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat. Leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected. Runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless). The 12 symptoms of ADHD apply to both children and adults, with variations in how they manifest and impact individuals at different ages and stages of life.

What is the number one symptom of ADHD?

Identifying a ‘number one’ symptom of ADHD is challenging as it varies significantly among individuals. However, inattention is often highlighted as a core feature, especially because it affects various aspects of life, such as academic performance, work efficiency, and social interactions. This does not diminish the impact of hyperactivity and impulsivity, which can be equally disruptive depending on the individual's age and environment.

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