Core Symptoms of ADHD: Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is one of the core symptoms of ADHD, alongside attention deficit and impulsiveness. However, there are forms of ADHD in which hyperactivity is not present (such as "ADD" – Attention Deficit Disorder; so without hyperactivity).

Important: In adults, the symptom of hyperactivity may be different than in children and adolescents. While children often suffer from genuine motor hyperactivity ("hyperactive syndrome", constantly running around, getting up from the table, etc.), the symptom in adults frequently turns inward and manifests itself more as an inner restlessness or nervousness. This may or may not always be the case.
  • Squirms, fidgets
  • Cannot stay seated
  • Cannot wait until it's their turn
  • Runs around, climbs a lot
  • Blurts out answers
  • Disturbs / interrupts others
  • Inefficiency at work
  • Restlessness during long meetings
  • Cannot get started on things
  • Drives too fast
  • Interrupts others
  • Makes inappropriate comments
Source: Weiss MD, Weiss JR. A guide to the treatment of adults with ADHD. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65:27-37

Hyperactivity: Check list

Primary problems in connection with hyperactivity are:

Increased need to move / inner restlessness:
  • Discomfort, irritability when forced to physically "keep still"
  • Feeling agitated / inability to settle down
  • Increased motor activity (such as tapping the feet to and fro)
  • Inability to sit still for long periods

Hyperactivity: Signs in everyday life

In everyday life, hyperactivity can show itself in many scenarios. We have summarised some examples for you here:

  • Always having to be "on the go"
  • Difficulties working in an office, constantly wandering around (such as when on the telephone)
  • Constantly drumming one's fingers / tapping one's feet / changing body posture
  • Difficulties with "switching off" – even at the end of the week
  • Regarding cinema visits or watching television as a "challenge" (sitting still for a long time is a problem)

Help with hyperactivity

If you find your hyperactivity or restlessness very stressful, it's helpful to find a suitable form of ADHD treatment. Firstly, pay a visit to your family doctor or a psychiatrist/neurologist in your area.

In addition, there are simple behavioural measures you can take in everyday life that will help you cope better with your hyperactivity! >> Tips with hyperactivity

Hyperactive? Recognise your own strengths

People who are hyperactive often have many positive traits that just need to be recognised.

Here are some of the positive aspects that often occur in connection with hyperactivity:

  • High energy level – hyperactive people can often handle a huge amount of work
  • Enthusiasm that is often contagious
  • Great inventiveness
  • Openness towards others, wide circle of friends
  • Creativity, openness to trying something new
  • Tasks that are really important to you are tackled and completed with great energy
  • Tendency to be a breath of fresh air in everyday life (everything that is not boring or entrenched is attractive)

Read more here on recognising strengths.

Stefan O. (44 years old) I feel like I'm a constantly live wire, and the feeling just intensifies when I get the impression that others notice it.
Sandra G. (30 years old) For me, a visit to the cinema is sheer horror. I get bored quickly and I usually have to get up now and again to stretch my legs. Of course, my partner doesn't understand.
Steffi J. (35 years old) My husband has often told me that I bring in a lot of unrest to the home. For example, when I jump up from the table or shut the doors loudly.