No matter how long your to-do list is, you can’t seem to make any progress. No matter how much you want to, you can’t seem to stay organized. You’re always missing meetings, forgetting dates, or losing important documents.
Is this just part of your personality? Or could you be affected by ADHD symptoms without realizing it?
Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition. ADHD presents with several long-term problems, such as difficulty focusing, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD can impact all areas of a person’s life, including relationships, career, school, and self-esteem.
ADHD is commonly thought of as a condition that only affects children. But this isn’t true. (This misconception keeps many adults from getting help for their symptoms.) Current research shows that around 3-5% of adults have ADHD.
Adults with ADHD may have trouble getting motivated to complete tasks, which affects their performance at work or school. They may also struggle to navigate social situations and maintain friendships.
Fortunately, ADHD can be treated. With medical advice and support, adults with ADHD can manage their daily responsibilities well, achieve their goals, and thrive.
The first step to positive change is getting a proper diagnosis.
Continue reading to learn about the symptoms of ADHD in adults. We’ll also explore how ADHD can be diagnosed and treated by your healthcare team.
ADHD Symptoms in Adults
Research suggests that only 10-25% of adults who have ADHD receive the proper diagnosis and treatment for their symptoms.
Why is ADHD harder to diagnose in adults?
This may be due to the differences in adult ADHD symptoms.
For instance, a child with ADHD may constantly talk, run around, or fidget in inappropriate situations. These disruptive behaviors get noticed early – and they fit the stereotypical ADHD profile.
Meanwhile, symptoms of hyperactivity in adults may be limited to feeling restless or tense. This can cause ADHD to be misdiagnosed as anxiety or other mood disorders in adults.
Adult ADHD may be trickier to detect. But there are various symptoms to look out for that could suggest you or your loved one has ADHD.
The signs of ADHD in adults are divided into two main categories: Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.
Some symptoms of inattention in adult ADHD include the following:
- Trouble maintaining focus when doing boring, routine, or repetitive tasks
- Missing details and making careless mistakes
- Struggling to listen when spoken to
- Failing to follow instructions and complete tasks
- Trouble organizing, prioritizing, and managing time
- Disliking or avoiding tasks requiring sustained focus
- Losing essential things needed for work or tasks
- Forgetting important dates, chores, work, or errands
- Distracting thoughts
The symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity in adults with ADHD include:
- Fidgetting and tapping hands or feet
- Leaving their seat in meetings, lectures, or the office
- Feeling restless constantly
- Talking excessively
- Moving all the time and unable to sit still
- Struggling to wait their turn
- Interrupting people’s sentences
- Intruding on other people’s tasks, conversations, or activities
These symptoms may look different from one adult to another, depending on the type of ADHD they have.
For example, an adult with combined-type ADHD may experience a balanced mix of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
Meanwhile, an adult with predominantly inattentive ADHD may struggle more with a lack of focus and organization – rather than impulsive or hyperactive behaviors.
Emotional symptoms are also gaining more attention as a core feature of ADHD in adults.
How Is ADHD Diagnosed in Adults?
There is no easy test to diagnose adult ADHD. Instead, your doctor will examine your symptoms and medical history.
They’ll also ask about your childhood struggles or experiences that could be related to ADHD. If you can’t remember this clearly, they may ask to speak to a parent or teacher who knew you well when you were younger.
A diagnosis of ADHD may be made if:
- You have five or more persistent symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity or five or more persistent symptoms of inattention.
- Some of these symptoms appeared before the age of 12.
- Your symptoms affect you in two or more settings, such as work or school.
- Other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, do not fully explain your symptoms.
When seeking a diagnosis, seeing a specialist with experience in adult ADHD is best.
ADHD Treatment for Adults
The most effective treatment plan for adults with ADHD often combines medication and therapy.
The most common types of medication used to treat ADHD are stimulant medications. These help regulate the levels of chemical messengers in your brain, normalizing brain activity.
Non-stimulant medications may be recommended if you don’t respond well to stimulant medications.
You may also receive professional therapy and support to help manage your ADHD symptoms. This may include:
- Cognitive behavioral training (CBT): This psychotherapy aims to change unhelpful thought patterns that prevent you from being productive or getting things done.
- ADHD coaching: An ADHD coach helps you build strategies and structures to address ADHD-related challenges. They support you in getting organized and working toward your goals.
- ADHD support groups: Through ADDA’s virtual support programs, you can meet other people with ADHD. Here, you can learn from and journey alongside people who have walked in your shoes.
Getting proper treatment and support helps you manage your symptoms and form strategies to overcome the challenges you face due to ADHD.
This empowers you to reach your career or academic goals and build happier, healthier relationships with friends and family!
It’s Never Too Late to Seek Help for Adult ADHD
ADHD affects adults, not just children.
Fortunately, many adults with ADHD benefit significantly from treatment.
Seeking medical advice may seem daunting at first – which is understandable. But having an ADHD diagnosis doesn’t define your worth, intelligence, or capabilities.
On the contrary, a proper diagnosis will pave the way for you to get the support you need, empowering you to succeed and thrive in all you put your mind to!
If you think you may have ADHD, check out ADDA’s ADHD test for adults. This checklist of symptoms helps you understand the condition better. That way, you can make an informed decision on what medical support and advice to pursue.
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