According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV or DSM IV, Attention Deficit Disorders or ADD is a composite of learning and behavioural problems that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorders and is characterized especially by difficulty in keeping up attention, by impulsive behaviour and usually by extravagant physical activity. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD belongs under the category of ADD.
To qualify for ADHD, a child of at least 7 years old must display six or more criteria within the domains of Inattention or Hyperactivity-impulsivity or both. A child may be diagnosed for the disorder with the symptoms of inattention only, or with hyperactivity and impulsivity only without the inattention. Some children will show signs of multiple symptoms along both dimensions. These symptoms must be present in at least two situations (school and home) to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. If the symptoms are only seen in a singular setting, then it is not ADHD.
There are three subtypes of ADD/ADHD: predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type and the combined type. Then there is the ADD/ADHD Not Otherwise Specified (NOS). This does not meet any of the criteria for inattention or hyperactivity for ADHD. Further studies have to be made and observed for this particular criteria is relatively new and just introduced into the DSM IV.
ADD/ADHD symptoms for Inattention include the following: carelessness in a school setting, lack of attention span, seems to hear but does not actually listen to what is being said, does not follow instructions carefully in work involving school, chores, or other duties in the work place, has difficulty in organizational tasks and activities, does not really like activities that may involve concentration or thorough decision making, frequently misplaces things, gets easily distracted which is the reason behind failure to finish tasks and easily forgetful.
For the Hyperactivity-impulsivity domain, the ADD/ADHD symptoms include: fidgety, cannot remain o the seat for a certain amount of time, climbing or running about without regard for the situation ( for adults this is relegated to feelings of restlessness that cannot find appeasement), loud play, has a ‘gogogogogogogo’ behaviour that is exhausting to simply observe and talking incessantly. In short, children displaying ADD/ADHD symptoms are ‘explosively irritable’ and accident prone.
In adults, lingering signs of the disorder include impulsivity and attention deficit like difficulty in organizing, or completing work started, lack of concentration, easy distractibility, and impulsive decision making without prior weighing of possible pros and cons. Most adults who have ADD/ADHD symptoms may also suffer form a secondary disorder like that of depression usually associated with low-self-esteem. The low self-esteem is usually affected by low performance ratings by colleagues and can affect the work performance considerably.