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Your brain has 1,000 tabs open at once, and you’re not sure which one to click on — work? love? cute animal videos? But is this overload just life, or is it something else?
If your lack of concentration is constant and overwhelming, and you think you might be causing stress to those around you, then it’s time to get checked out for hyperactivity.
What’s more, negative fallout from hyperactive behavior can leave you feeling depressed and anxious. So what gives?
The thing about hyperactivity is that it varies from person to person and it’s often marked by a poor attention span and a lack of focus.
Kids with hyperactivity might have a hard time concentrating in class or completing tasks. Other signs your kiddo is hyperactive include:
- aggression toward others
- interrupting others
- changing topics abruptly
It’s a myth that only kids are hyperactive. (Lest we forget Jim Carey is an adult?) Many hyperactive adults had symptoms as kids and never outgrew it.
And sometimes hyperactivity doesn’t show up until later in life — when you find yourself learning the guitar and cleaning the attic simultaneously on a Monday night.
Signs you’re a hyperactive adult include:
- struggling to concentrate at work (not just during the boring stuff)
- interrupting others
- having a bad short term memory (remembering new names, directions, and numbers)
- being disorganized
Hyperactive peeps are more likely to have depression and/or anxiety, largely because of how others interpret and react to their behavior.
Some other not so fun conditions related to hyperactivity include:
- chronic stress
- eating disorders (more common in women)
- learning disabilities
But is hyperactivity the same as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
Sort of. Hyperactivity is one of the three defining categories of ADHD, along with inattention and impulsivity. Around 11 percent of children and 4.4 percent of adults in the United States have ADHD, so it’s fairly common.
Your hyperactivity may be a symptom of ADHD, but there are other unrelated causes as well.
There isn’t any one cause of hyperactivity or ADHD, but there are few directions to point fingers, including:
- Genetics. You’re more likely to experience hyperactivity if it runs in your family.
- Hyperthyroidism. In addition to hyperactivity, this condition can cause a rapid metabolism, weight loss, and an irregular heartbeat.
- Hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalances can lead to a decrease in your body’s dopamine and serotonin levels. This may cause symptoms of hyperactivity such as memory lapses, irritability, and concentration issues.
- Use of stimulant drugs. Chemical stimulants like cocaine and meth increase levels of dopamine in the body. This can throw your brain’s normal functions out of whack, leaving you hyper and unfocused.
If your hyperactivity causes problems for you and/or others, it’s time to reach out to your healthcare provider for some answers.
You can expect to give them a rundown of your symptoms and a list of any lifestyle changes — like a new diet, medications, or possible stress factors. This will help them figure out what type of hyperactivity you’re living with and put you on a path toward chill town.
If they suspect your hyperactivity is caused by a bodily issue, your doctor may want to run a blood or urine test. This will help them check for hormonal imbalances and thyroid issues.
If your doctor thinks your hyperactivity is caused by a psychological issue, they may evaluate you according to an ADHD rating scale. These tests assess ADHD symptoms, factoring in your age and gender. And don’t worry, they only last 5 to 20 minutes.
Your doctor will aim to treat the cause of your hyperactivity, not the symptoms. For instance, if a hyperactive thyroid is causing your behavior, then medications targeting thyroid function should help eliminate your symptoms. Long-term success depends on getting to the root of the issue.
Hyperactivity as a result of ADHD can be managed a number of ways, depending on what fits into your lifestyle.
No shame in the therapy game
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and talk therapy are fantastic treatments. CBT works by helping you change behaviors and thinking patterns.
With talk therapy, you discuss your symptoms with a mental health professional so they can tailor coping strategies to reduce the effects of hyperactivity.
Meds can be your friend
If your hyperactivity is caused by a mental health condition like ADHD, your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist. They may prescribe medications to help control your symptoms. Some common treatments include:
- dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall)
- methylphenidate (Ritalin)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat)
A few more words of advice: switch to decaf and, if you smoke, quit smoking. Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can worsen symptoms and medication side effects (though some people find that caffeine helps their ADHD). Also, any reason to quit smoking is a very good reason.
Hyperactivity (the state of being unusually or abnormally active) doesn’t need to get in the way of your or anyone else’s happiness.
Your constant fidgeting or talking could be a sign of ADHD or something totally different, like hyperthyroidism. Take the guesswork out of it and talk to your healthcare provider ASAP. Depending on the cause, achieving focus could be just a pill or therapy session away.