If I have trouble paying attention, do I have ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
If you have severe difficulties paying attention and it is causing a great deal of distress in your life, you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There is a subtype of ADHD that only includes problems with inattention. This subtype is called ADHD, predominantly inattentive type. This type occurs when children and adults have extreme difficulties paying attention, without signs of excess hyperactivity.

To be clinically diagnosed with ADHD, predominantly inattentive type, you must display at least six of nine symptoms of inattention. These symptoms must also cause a great deal of distress in several areas of your life, such as at home, school, or at work. If you have trouble paying attention from time to time, but tend to perform well at work or school, you probably do not have ADHD. If you are concerned about your short attention span, you may want to talk to your doctor about it.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

While we all have trouble concentrating, especially after lunch (all except me, of course), and can feel hyper after a huge cup of strong coffee (or gallon; one cup barely wakes me up), the effects wear off and do not affect our ability to function (save if you have as much as I do). That’s one of the toughest things about ADHD. The symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your ability to function.


However, if you think that your difficulty concentrating is affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask for an evaluation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.