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Hyperactivity Overview

Hyperactivity is a state of being unusually or abnormally active. Hyperactivity is often difficult for people around the hyperactive person, such as teachers, employers, and parents. Hyperactive people often become anxious or depressed because of their condition and how people respond to them.

People who are hyperactive may develop other problems due to their inability to stay still or concentrate. For example, hyperactivity may lead to difficulties at school or work, and may strain relationships with friends and family. It can lead to accidents and injuries, and it increases the risk of alcohol and drug abuse.

Hyperactivity has many different characteristics, including:

  • constant movement
  • aggressive behavior
  • impulsive behavior
  • being easily distracted

Hyperactivity is often a symptom of another underlying cause, such as varying mental diseases and medical.

One of the main disorders associated with hyperactivity is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. ADHD is a disorder that causes you to become overactive, inattentive, and impulsive. This condition is usually diagnosed at a young age, but some people experience ADHD as adults.

Hyperactivity is treatable. For the best results, early detection and early treatment are required.

What Causes Hyperactivity?

Hyperactivity can be caused by mental and physical disorders. The most common are:

  • ADHD
  • hyperthyroidism, or having too much thyroid hormone
  • brain disorders
  • nervous system disorders
  • psychological disorders

Recognizing the Signs of Hyperactivity

In children, hyperactivity may lead to difficulty concentrating in school. They may also display impulsive behaviors such as:

  • talking out of turn
  • blurting things out
  • hitting other students
  • being overactive

Adults who display hyperactivity may display the following:

  • difficulty concentrating at work
  • short attention span
  • difficulty remembering names, numbers, or bits of information

You may develop some anxiety or depression if you are distressed about your condition. Adults who have hyperactivity probably displayed these symptoms as children.

How Is Hyperactivity Diagnosed?

If you or your child is displaying signs of hyperactivity, speak with your doctor. Your doctor will question you about your symptoms, focusing on when the symptoms began and any recent changes in your overall health. They will also ask if you are taking any medications to treat a medical or mental health condition. The answers to these questions will help your doctor determine what type of hyperactivity you are displaying and whether it is a new or worsening condition, or simply a side effect of medication.

It is important to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor in order to effectively treat your condition.

How Is Hyperactivity Treated?

If your doctor thinks your hyperactivity is being caused by an underlying condition, they may prescribe medications to treat that condition. Conditions affecting the following parts of your body often contribute to hyperactivity:

  • thyroid
  • brain
  • nervous system

Your doctor may take a blood or urine sample to check your hormone levels, since hyperactivity can also be caused by a hormonal imbalance. For example, you might have an imbalance in your thyroid hormone, or other hormones.

Hyperactivity can also relate to an emotional disorder. In this case, you will be treated by a mental health specialist. Your specialist will review your symptoms to determine what condition you may have. Once a condition is diagnosed, you may be given medications or therapy to help control your hyperactivity.


Cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy are common practices used to treat hyperactivity.

Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change your patterns of thinking and behavior. Talk therapy involves discussing your symptoms with a therapist. Your therapist can teach you how to cope with your condition and reduce its effects.


When therapy isn’t enough, you may also need to take medicine to control symptoms. These medications have a calming effect and are prescribed for both children and adults. These drugs include:

Some of these medications are habit-forming. Your doctor or mental health care provider will monitor your medication usage.

You may also be advised to avoid stimulants that may trigger symptoms. Common stimulants to avoid are caffeine and nicotine.

Content licensed from:

Written by: Shawn Goodwin
Medically reviewed on: Feb 24, 2016: Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PMHNP-BC

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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