What Are the Symptoms of ADD

Diagnostic Criteria for ADD - ADHD

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Diagnostic Criteria and Symptoms of ADD / ADHD

A diagnosis of ADD/ADHD requires that an individual meet the criteria requirements listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

DSM-IV Criteria for ADHD

I. Either A or B

A. Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level.


  • Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  • Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  • Often has trouble organizing activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  • Is often easily distracted.
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

B. Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level.


  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
  • Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor."
  • Often talks excessively.


  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
  • Often has trouble waiting one's turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

II. Some symptoms that cause impairment were present before age 7 years.

III. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school/work and at home).

IV. There must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.

V. The symptoms do not happen only during the course of a pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder. The symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder).

Based on these criteria, three types of ADHD are identified:

1. ADHD, Combined Type: if both criteria 1A and 1B are met for the past 6 months

2. ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type: if criterion 1A is met but criterion 1B is not met for the past six months

3. ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion 1B is met but Criterion 1A is not met for the past six months.

Additional Reading:
Understanding the Symptoms of ADHD
Difference Between ADD and ADHD
ADHD: More Than Just Hyperactivity
Myths About ADHD


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, D.C. 2000


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