Typical ADHD symptoms

ADHD presents in many different ways. It is characterized by three main groups of behavior traits and a range of typical additional behaviours within these. Not all of these need to be present in any one person, however, as ADHD affects people in a wide variety of ways and symptoms can be confused with other disorders, correct ADHD diagnosis is often missed.

Research shows that episodes of depression in patients with ADHD reduce by 20% during periods of ADHD treatment.

The three main groups of typical ADHD behaviour indicators are as follows;-

Attention Deficit

ADHD Symptoms - Attention Deficit is an inability to focus and be organised. Disorganisation can lead to underachievement and have a negative impact on home life, social life, working life or educational performance.

Attention deficit symptoms are where a person may often:

  • Fail to give close attention to detail or make careless mistakes (e.g. overlook or miss details, complete inaccurate work).

  • Have difficulty sustaining attention (e.g. struggle to remain focused during conversations, lectures, tasks or when reading).

  • Not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g. mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).

  • Fail to finish tasks, quickly lose focus, get bored quickly or become easily side-tracked.

  • Have difficulty organising tasks (e.g. have messy, disorganised work, have poor time management, fail to meet deadlines or frequently leave important things to the very last minute).

  • Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g. putting off preparing written work, have difficulty completing forms).

  • Lose things (e.g. wallets, keys, paperwork, glasses, mobile telephones, tools).

  • Become easily distracted by things in the environment, by unrelated thoughts or mind wandering and finding it impossible to stay on track.

  • Forgetful (e.g. forgetting to do chores, run errands, return calls/messages, pay bills, keep appointments).


ADHD symptoms in adults, are often characterized by mental restlessness rather than more obvious physical hyperactivity, although fidgeting may be present. A busy restless mind with uncontrollable, active thought processes is often experienced. Adults with ADHD commonly suffer with excessive spending, sensation seeking and being impatient. They may speak or act before they think things through.

Hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms are where a person may often:

  • Fidget or tap with hands or feet, or squirm in their seat.

  • Leave their seat in situations when remaining seated is required or expected. Some people may find sitting for long meals or in meetings difficult.

  • Feel restless and keen to change position or location.

  • Be unable to engage in activities quietly and are a loud or noisy disruption to others.

  • Feel 'on the go' or ‘as if driven by a motor' and find it hard to switch off and relax.

  • Talk excessively and without letting others have their turn.

  • Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed.

  • Have difficulty waiting their turn.

  • Interrupt or intrude on others (e.g. may take over what others are doing).

Mood Instability

Although mood instability is not an official, guideline based indicator of ADHD, it is considered as a useful additional measure when diagnosing the condition and is frequently seen in ADHD patient behaviour.


Typical ADHD symptoms of mood instability behaviour traits are where a person is easily irritated or angered, where family members, partners, friends and colleagues describe someone as ‘moody’ and that they are ‘treading on eggshells’ carefully around them. A person’s mood may change rapidly or dramatically, from feeling happy to sad to angry to irritated many times a day, often for no particular reason.


Mood instability can often be as a result of frustration or over-reaction created by attention deficit, impulsivity or hyperactivity e.g. ADHD patients are often unduly angered because they have forgotten something or because another person is being too slow in an action.


We have also observed many patients whose mood instability seems to be precipitated by being especially sensitive to rejection or perceived rejection by others. This is not a core ADHD feature and is not present in all patients, but is a frequent finding in our experience.

How to book an assessment or appointment

If you find the information in our site useful and feel that you would benefit from a full ADHD assessment, we would be delighted to consider booking an appointment for you at one of our clinics. Please click here for more information.

The Impact of ADHD

ADHD can severely affect an individual’s education, working life, home life, relationships and social life.

Who can be affected by ADHD?

ADHD occurs in both males and females and across all ages and all levels of social status, intelligence and capability.

Take a simple ADHD questionnaire

ADHD at home

ADHD at work

ADHD in relationships


ADHD in social sitautions

Real stories - how ADHD affects real people

josh adhd story attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Zoning out

Josh was really struggling to focus at work, in his cubicle, in an open plan office. The office floor was loud and distracting and he could not concentrate.
Read More
stuart adhd story attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Chopping and changing

Stuart had a long history of starting college courses and dropping out - or trying out various hobbies and jobs and not sticking with any of them.
Read More
philip adhd story attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Married with children

Philip was a married man with two children. His marriage was under a lot of stress, as his wife complained that with him, she had three kids to look after not two.
Read More


I used to flit from one job to another being fired. I was extremely disorganized and always wondering what I'd forgot or who I might have let down, I was in awe of how most people did these "easy" tasks that I seemed to be failing at. My self esteem was low. But after treatment, I can now hold down jobs, I look forward to work, I feel competent and useful, like my opinions matter and that I can contribute something positive to the future. Before starting treatment my career goals were "don't get fired". Now I look forward to the future, and all the things I could be and do in my work life.

Extract from iwantgreatcare.org recommendation.


Adult ADHD Clinic is dedicated to providing the highest quality of information, clinical assessments and treatments for ADHD in adults.

Correspondence address:

Adult ADHD Clinic
The Manor Hospital
Beech Road

Tel: 07887 640 102
and 0845 5280 898


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