Hyperactivity refers to inappropriate or excessive activity for a person's age or situation. Hyperactivity is not always a continuous behaviour, as is often assumed. A person who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with hyperactivity as the main symptom may only sometimes be overactive. If a person has the primarily inattentive type of ADHD, he or she may even seem less active than normal.
Children may have more obvious symptoms of hyperactivity than teens and adults. Children whose main symptom is hyperactivity seem to be "on the go" much of the time or act as if "driven by a motor." Behaviour may range from subtle to extreme. For example, a child may squirm in his or her chair at times, and then at other times be completely unable to stay seated. Children with hyperactivity also frequently climb and run around when it is not appropriate.
Hyperactivity may be less obvious as people with ADHD mature, but they usually still struggle with symptoms. For example, teens and adults may be fidgety. Some adults say they feel restless even when they do not show it.
Some symptoms are common in all age groups, such as talking excessively or having difficulty doing quiet activities.
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Current as of: May 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics