Hyperactivity is a state of being unusually or abnormally active. It’s often difficult to manage for people around the person who’s hyperactive, such as teachers, employers, and parents.
Common characteristics of hyperactivity include:
- constant movement
- aggressive behavior
- impulsive behavior
- being easily distracted
If you’re struggling to stay still or concentrate, you may develop other problems as a result. For example, it may:
- lead to difficulties at school or work
- strain relationships with friends and family
- lead to accidents and injuries
- increase the risk of alcohol and drug abuse
Hyperactivity is often a symptom of an underlying mental or physical health condition. One of the main conditions associated with hyperactivity is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD causes you to become overactive, inattentive, and impulsive. It’s usually diagnosed at a young age. Although, some people may be first diagnosed as adults.
Hyperactivity is treatable. For the best results, early detection and treatment are important.
Hyperactivity can be caused by mental or physical conditions. For example, conditions that affect your nervous system or thyroid may contribute to it.
The most common causes are:
- brain disorders
- nervous system disorders
- psychological disorders
- use of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine (meth)
Children with hyperactivity may have trouble concentrating in school. They may also display impulsive behaviors, such as:
- talking out of turn
- blurting things out
- hitting other students
- trouble staying in their seat
Adults with hyperactivity may experience:
- short attention span
- difficulty concentrating at work
- difficulty remembering names, numbers, or bits of information
In many cases, adults who experience hyperactivity showed signs of it as children.
If you or your child is experiencing hyperactivity, speak with your doctor.
Your doctor will ask about symptoms, including when they began. They’ll ask about recent changes in your overall health and about any medications you might be taking.
Answering these questions will help your doctor determine the type of hyperactivity you’re experiencing. It’ll help them learn if the hyperactivity is caused by a new or existing condition, or a side effect of medication.
Your doctor may also take a blood or urine sample to check your hormone levels. This will help them learn if you have a hormonal imbalance. For example, a thyroid hormone imbalance may be causing the hyperactivity.
It’s important to get a proper diagnosis in order to effectively treat your condition.
If your doctor thinks the hyperactivity is caused by an underlying physical condition, they may prescribe medications to treat that condition.
Hyperactivity may also be caused by a mental health condition. In that case, your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist. The specialist may prescribe medication, therapy, or both.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and talk therapy are often used to treat hyperactivity.
CBT aims to change your patterns of thinking and behavior.
Talk therapy involves discussing your symptoms with a therapist. Your therapist can help you develop strategies to cope with hyperactivity and reduce its effects.
You may need to take medications to help control hyperactivity. These medications may be prescribed to children or adults. They have a calming effect in people with ADHD.
Medications used to treat hyperactivity include:
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
- dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall)
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- methylphenidate (Ritalin)
Some of these medications may be habit-forming if used incorrectly. Your doctor or mental health specialist will monitor your medication use.
Your doctor may also advise you to avoid stimulants that may trigger symptoms. For example, they might encourage you to avoid caffeine and nicotine.
If left untreated, hyperactivity may disrupt your work, schooling, and personal relationships. It may be sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment.
If you suspect that you or your child has hyperactivity, talk to your doctor. Depending on the underlying cause, they might recommend medication, therapy, or both. They might also refer you to a specialist for care.
Treatment can help you manage hyperactivity and limit its effects on your life.