Hyperactivity vs ADHD: Are They the Same Thing?

Hyperactivity vs ADHD: Are They the Same Thing?

"Along with reducing symptoms like hyperactivity and inattention, [Brillia] also helps to ease symptoms of anxiety and stress while supporting clarity and focus."
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Hyperactivity is one of the classic symptoms of ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is characterized by constant fidgeting, the inability to sit still in quiet settings, lack of concentration, impulsive behavior, and in some cases, risky or dangerous behavior. 

But it’s possible to have ADHD and not have hyperactivity. It’s also possible, and expected, for some kids to be hyperactive when excited or overly stimulated, but not be diagnosed with ADHD. 

So how can you tell the difference? Read on to find out what hyperactivity is and isn’t, how to spot other symptoms of ADHD, and what you can do to get help if you or your child is displaying any of the symptoms we’re about to discuss.

What is Considered Hyperactivity? 

It’s normal for a child to be hyperactive from time to time, have trouble sitting still, or act impulsively without thinking about the consequences. The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls decision making and impulses, doesn’t fully mature until adulthood. But for kids with ADHD, the prefrontal cortex matures more slowly than typically developing kids. Research shows it is also slightly smaller in size.1

According to the National Library of Medicine, hyperactivity is not easily defined, as behavior that appears excessive to one person may not be considered excessive to another.2 But they define hyperactivity as “constant activity, being easily distracted, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, aggressiveness, and similar behaviors.” 

Hyperactivity will also look different in an adult compared to how it looks in a child. A hyperactive child might climb and jump on furniture, while a hyperactive teen or adult will feel a general sense of restlessness, impulsivity and impatience. A hyperactive child may run around the classroom and miss homework assignments, while a hyperactive adult will have trouble sitting through meetings or making deadlines.

Defining ADHD 

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning. Brain imaging studies have confirmed differences in the brains of people with ADHD, especially in the area of the prefrontal cortex, as mentioned above, as well as the cerebellum, which controls complex motor functions and plays an important role in cognition function and emotions.3

Though ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood, the condition can last into adulthood. Some people don’t even get diagnosed until they are adults if their symptoms are not externalized. This is typically the case for women, who are more likely to have inattentive ADHD, and are often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. When ADHD is not properly treated, it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, job instability, self-harm, substance abuse, and problems with interpersonal relationships.

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What are the Three Types of ADHD? 

There are three types of ADHD, and symptoms will vary according to what type you or your child have. ADHD symptoms can also change over time or become less obvious, especially if a person develops coping mechanisms to hide their condition.

The three types of ADHD are:

  • Primarily hyperactive and impulsive ADHD
  • Primarily inattentive ADHD (formerly distinguished as ADD)
  • Combined type ADHD

Find out how to tell the difference between each type below:

Primarily Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD

According to John Hopkins Medicine, hyperactive/impulsive ADHD is the least common type.4 It is characterized by constant movement, restlessness, and lack of impulsive control. 

In children, hyperactive/impulsive ADHD may look like:

  • Squirming and fidgeting
  • Inability to sit still in the classroom or during meals
  • Excessive talking and blurting
  • Trouble waiting their turn
  • Excessive running and climbing
  • Interrupting others or intruding on their space

In adults, hyperactive/impulsive ADHD may look like:

  • General sense of restlessness
  • Impatience
  • Inability to sit through meetings
  • Engaging in reckless behavior like speeding or excessive substance use
  • Excessive talking; interrupting conversations or finishing people’s sentences
  • Low frustration tolerance

Primarily Inattentive ADHD

Inattentive ADHD is characterized by lack of focus, distractibility, and trouble following directions or finishing tasks. These symptoms can be easily missed, which is why a diagnosis may not come until adolescence or adulthood, especially for girls and women. 

In children, inattentive ADHD may look like:

  • Constant daydreaming
  • Careless mistakes on homework or tests
  • Frequently losing items
  • Easily bored
  • Trouble staying organized
  • Forgetfulness
  • Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Avoiding activities with multiple tasks 

In adults, inattentive ADHD may look like:

  • Trouble staying focused at work or home
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Missing important details
  • Forgetting routine chores like paying bills or keeping appointments
  • Avoiding tasks that require sustained focus
  • Trouble staying organized
  • Frequently losing or misplacing valuables

Combined Type ADHD

A person with combined type ADHD has symptoms of inattention and symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. This is the most common type of ADHD; one study found that an estimated 70 percent of adults with ADHD have the combined subtype.5

According to DSM-5, you may be diagnosed with combined type ADHD if you meet all of the following criteria:6

  • Five or more symptoms of inattention for at least six months
  • Five or more symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity for at least six months
  • Symptoms interfere with work or school performance 
  • Symptoms are present in two or more settings, such as at work or home
  • Other mental health disorders cannot justify symptoms
  • Some symptoms were present before the age of 12

Is There a Difference Between Hyperactivity & ADHD?

Yes. Hyperactivity is just one symptom of ADHD, which is an umbrella term for all three subtypes discussed above. Hyperactivity is associated with two subtypes: primarily hyperactive/impulsive ADHD and combined type ADHD. It is also possible to display hyperactive behavior from time to time, but when it starts to interfere with your day-to-day life, you may be exhibiting signs of ADHD.

Homeopathic Ways to Relieve Symptoms

Many children and adults with ADHD take prescription medication to reduce symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and restlessness. While these medications can be helpful, they do come with a range of side effects, including sleep problems, decreased appetite, headaches, and moodiness. 

An alternative to prescription medication for ADHD is non-prescription homeopathic medication, which refers to highly diluted substances that can range from plants and minerals to animal products and other natural sources.

Brillia is one such homeopathic medication, which uses antibodies to the brain-specific S100 protein (S100B). The S100B protein regulates a number of important intracellular and extracellular brain processes and plays a key role in mood stabilization. Acting like a key, the protein binds to targets in the brain to unlock symptoms of ADHD, and Brillia impedes this process, stopping symptoms from occurring altogether. This process is gentle and extremely targeted, so that no other systems in the body are affected. 

Available in two formulations, Brillia for Children & Teens and Brillia for Adults, the medication is free from harsh chemicals and harmful side effects. There are no effects on sleep or appetite and the medication does not mask the personality.   

Unlike prescription medication, Brillia does not require an official diagnosis for ADHD. Along with reducing symptoms like hyperactivity and inattention, the homeopathic medication also helps to ease symptoms of anxiety and stress while supporting clarity and focus. If you are already taking medications or supplements, Brillia can be safely added to your regimen without harmful interactions. Brillia can also be added to your regimen alongside your prescription medications to help with symptoms that are lingering or a side effect of those medications (like anxiety from stimulant ADHD medications).  

Another important aspect about Brillia is that the medication is part of a holistic approach called the 5 Pillars. This methodology pairs Brillia with healthy lifestyle habits, like getting adequate sleep, eating nutritious foods, limiting screen time and practicing mindfulness. As these healthy lifestyle changes become habits, you and/or your child will eventually need less and less of any medication (although there’s no harm in taking Brillia for as long as you need support). 

Find out more about how Brillia’s 5 Pillars impact anxiety and ADHD and explore more resources on managing symptoms of ADHD at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

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References: 1https://childmind.org/article/how-is-the-adhd-brain-different/, 2https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003256.htm, 3https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51374401_Anatomical_and_functional_brain_imaging_in_adult_attention-deficithyperactivity_disorder_ADHD-A_neurological_view, 4https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adhdadd, 5https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/combined-type-adhd#definition, 6https://add.org/adhd-combined-type/
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