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Overall list of ADHD symptoms by manifestations.


Overall list of ADHD symptoms by manifestations.

The overall list of ADHD symptoms presented in this chapter should be distinguished from the symptoms in the DSM or ICD diagnostic guidelines.
DSM and ICD focus on the diagnostically relevant symptoms, i.e. those that (here:) distinguish ADHD particularly well from other disorders. This sometimes creates the misunderstanding that the symptoms mentioned by DSM or ICD are the only possible ADHD symptoms.
In the following, all symptoms that can be originally caused by ADHD are presented. The symptoms that are added to those of DSM and ICD can result originally from ADHD, but also from other disorders.
Example: driving faster is one of the most common symptoms in ADHD. However, it is not very ADHD-specific. It often also occurs in people in (hypo)manic states or with certain personality disorders, such as feeling allowed to drive faster than others or being above the law. A symptom alone is therefore not meaningful.
Which symptoms are particularly prominent in ADHD is controversial, even among experts.1

The following list of all possible symptoms of ADHD is therefore in a diagnostic context that differs from DSM and ICD. The diagnosis of ADHD is not based on the presence of a specific type of symptoms (categorical), but on the set of applicable symptoms and their intensity (dimensional).23 The symptoms must occur over a longer period of time and in several areas of life and must have first become apparent before the age of 12.

Regarding the 18 symptoms mentioned by Barkley:4

  • Non-affected individuals often have, on average, 1 to 2 of the 18 symptoms listed by Barkley, or about 5%.
  • ADHD sufferers often have an average of 12 of the 18 symptoms listed, or about 66%.
  • Hardly any affected person has all symptoms “often”, and it is hardly typifiable which symptoms occur together in clusters.

With regard to the 35 symptoms mentioned in our online symptom test version 2

  • Non-affected people often have an average of 9 of the 35 symptoms mentioned, or about 26%.
  • ADHD sufferers often have an average of 26 of the 35 symptoms listed, or about 74%.
  • Hardly any affected person has all symptoms “often”, and it is hardly typifiable which symptoms occur together in clusters.
  • If* categorically assessed test scores by whether more than (9+26)/2 = 17.5 symptoms were achieved* 94% of all subjects who already had a physician diagnosis of ADHD would be correctly identified.
    *However, the test results are output dimensionally and not as a simple yes/no result.
    ADHD online tests

Regarding the 42 symptoms mentioned in our online symptom test version 3:

  • Non-affected people often have an average of 12 of the 42 symptoms mentioned, or about 28%.
  • ADHD sufferers often have an average of 30 of the 42 symptoms listed, or about 72%.

The presentation of this page is not a diagnostic tool. This would require a weighting of the listed symptoms, as well as the determination of comparative values, how often a symptom occurs in ADHD and how many symptoms must occur together frequently in a person to be able to give an indication of the presence of ADHD.
An indication of possible ADHD based on the number of existing symptoms is provided by our online test at
ADHD online tests and surveys.

More important than for diagnostics is the knowledge of all possible symptoms of ADHD for therapists and affected persons themselves.

  1. Motor symptoms of ADHD
  2. Drive problems with ADHD
  3. Impulsivity / inhibition problems in ADHD
  4. Attention and concentration problems in ADHD
  5. Memory and learning problems in ADHD
  6. Thinking blockades / decision making problems in ADHD
  7. Executive problems / planning and organizational difficulties in ADHD
  8. Perceptual symptoms in ADHD
  9. Motivation problems with ADHD
  10. Emotional dysregulation / emotion symptoms in ADHD
  11. Communication problems with ADHD
  12. Social problems with ADHD
  13. Sleep problems with ADHD
  14. Impaired performance in ADHD
  15. Reaction time changes in ADHD
  16. Sexual behavior in ADHD
  17. Addiction problems with ADHD
  18. Messy tendency / hoarding / not being able to throw anything away in ADHD
  19. Creativity increased in ADHD (?)
  20. Regulation problems in ADHD
  21. Personality traits in ADHD
  22. Increased muscle tension

A wonderfully entertaining and sympathetic collection of reports by sufferers of ADHD-typical behaviors can be found in the ADHD-Anderswelt forum (in the Waybackmachine archive).5

Other common symptoms do not stem from ADHD itself, but from disorders that often co-occur with ADHD, so-called typical comorbidities.
For more details, see ADHD - Comorbidity and the subpages on individual comorbidities.

Several symptoms may be original to ADHD and may also be original to other mental or physical disorders. Differential diagnosis is required to determine whether a symptom results from ADHD or another disorder
For more details, see Differential diagnostics in ADHD And the subpages on individual differential diagnoses.

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