Common Signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Common Signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
October 11, 2023 Sue Riordan
ADHD awareness month

ADHD is a very common behavioral health condition. According to one of our in-network virtual mental health providers, Brightline, it affects nearly one out of ten kids and teens in the U.S.1 The condition can also follow kids into adulthood, creating difficulties at home, at work or in relationships. Do you know the common signs of ADHD? October is ADHD Awareness month. This has us exploring some of the causes of this commonly diagnosed condition, signs to look for, popular treatments and more.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental (brain-based) disorder that’s marked by a persistent, ongoing pattern of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsive behavior. It can be difficult for those with ADHD to organize, listen closely, remain still or remember important information. Though usually diagnosed in early childhood, symptoms of ADHD can continue well into adulthood. In addition, many adults may have the disorder without realizing it.

Causes of ADHD

There isn’t a single cause for ADHD. However, it’s often thought to be both genetic and influenced by environmental factors. In addition, scientists are studying other possible risk factors that could play a role, including brain injury, premature or low birth weight, exposure to alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy or exposure to things like lead or pesticides. Things once thought to be linked, such as watching too much tv, eating sugar or family stress are not believed to cause ADHD, but can make symptoms worse in some cases2.

What are common signs to look for?

ADHD usually falls into one of three types: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive or a combination of the two. Depending on the type, common signs to look for include:

    • A likelihood to daydream.
    • Being easily distracted.
    • Acting fidgety.
    • Having trouble listening or paying attention.
    • Talking excessively.
    • Being prone to forgetting or losing things.
    • Having difficulty planning or finishing projects.
    • Acting without thinking.
    • Not being able to stick to tedious or time-consuming tasks.
    • Making careless mistakes.
    • Tendency to interrupt.

These are just a few symptoms that often show up in children or adults with ADHD. Symptoms may also change over time.

Having ADHD diagnosed

After reading the list of common signs, you may be wondering—how is ADHD diagnosed? If you or your child regularly exhibits multiple symptoms, the first step is to talk to a health care provider. There’s no test for ADHD, but a qualified provider can help in reviewing symptoms. You can begin by consulting your primary care physician, pediatrician or a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

They can assess patterns of behavior, including how long symptoms have been happening and how they’re impacting daily life. It’s also worth noting that many symptoms of ADHD mimic other conditions, like sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities and can also overlap with perfectly normal behavior. That’s why consulting a professional is key to receiving a proper diagnosis.

Common and popular treatments

Treating ADHD usually requires a combination of approaches. While it can’t be cured entirely, symptoms can be managed to help individuals cope and reduce the severity of other problems over time. It’s commonly treated with a combination of behavioral health therapy, counseling, education and medication. Parents can also receive training or coaching to help kids succeed at home and at school.

One interesting thing to note about ADHD is one-third of the time, it coexists with one or more other conditions. Individuals with ADHD may also have:

    • Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder.
    • Anxiety.
    • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.
    • Sleep disorders.
    • Substance abuse disorders, including cigarette, drug or alcohol use.
Putting your health benefits to good use

If you, your children or other dependents are living with behavioral health conditions, it’s important to look to your health benefits for the help you need. Working with Aetna®, Meritain Health® is proud to have an expanded network of 307,000 behavioral health specialists. We’re also adding more  virtual mental well-being providers. So, in many cases, finding a quality provider is just a click away.

If you’re a Meritain Health member, explore resources available to you at for members, or by calling the number on the back of your ID card. You can also search for in-network providers and connect with virtual behavioral health providers, .

You can also learn more about ADHD Awareness month at


This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice.